and he not only protects Korra because she is Aang's legacy

Bumi, Kya, and Tenzin: Analysis

Throughout the Legend of Korra, the myth of the “idealized family” is challenged and torn-down, from Hiroshi secretly working with the Equalists, to the Beifong’s exceedingly complicated dynamics. Yet Katara and Aang’s rather traditional, nuclear family particularly stands out. Going into the series, I think it wouldn’t have been shocking for anyone to say “Toph would be a really weird mother.” But Aang and Katara felt like two characters who could develop into pretty great parents. Learning that things were less than rosey for their children was jarring. This is an attempt to unpack and explore the sibling dynamics of Bumi, Kya, and Tenzin.  For the purposes of this essay, I’ll be referring to their family as “The Kataangs” (why can’t more people have last names). I felt it would constructive to divide this essay by the individuals. For the purposes of our understanding, in Books 2 and 3, when these guys mostly interact, Tenzin is 52, and based on semi-canonical sources, that puts Kya at 55/56 and Bumi at 62.

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"As long as I am breathing, it's not over."

momtara  asked:

hello! i'm not sure if you've addressed this already, but i often hear people criticising aang's parenting style, calling him abusive. i think aang played favourites with his kids, but i don't think he has an abusive bone in his body. do you have any thoughts on this?

I don’t think Aαng has an abusive bone in his body either, but unfortunately, the way Bryke depict Aαng’s children and their problems in LOK is a classic example of neglect and victim blaming. 

From the Center for Child Protection:

Child neglect is the most commonly reported form of maltreatment. 

People (even Bryke) try to excuse Aαng by saying he didn’t really neglect his kids; it’s just that he needed to take Tenzin to do airbending training in all those places like Ember Island. There are two problems with this: one, he could have taken his family on the trips he took Tenzin on and then just taken Tenzin aside if he absolutely needed some airbending-only time; and two, Kya and Bumi could very well have had airbending children of their own who would need to look to them for guidance. Airbending history and culture was a necessary part of their education; even if they weren’t interested/found it boring as some attest, you don’t stop teaching children critical information about their heritage just because they get bored

There are several indicators of neglect with respect to Kya and Bumi:

  • They engage in mean-spirited teasing of the favored Tenzin decades after their father’s death 
  • Despite liking children, neither Kya nor Bumi has any, while Tenzin has several
  • Bumi outright states that he thinks he is a big disappointment to their father because he wasn’t an airbender
  • The Air Acolytes, the keeper of Aαng’s spiritual legacy, don’t know who Aαng’s two older children are or that they even existed

That last one is really telling; it’s as if Aαng never even mentioned his children to the people responsible for carrying on Air Nomad traditions. I don’t know how it could have been made any clearer that Aαng did not consider them part of his cultural legacy.

Speaking of legacy…

And Bryke are still compounding this mistake to this day. Here’s the summary of Bryke’s new book, Legacy:

Earth. Air. Fire. Water. These are the four nations that lived in harmony until the Fire Nation attacked. For the next hundred years, war raged across the globe. It was believed that all inhabitants from the Air Nation had perished. Then, a girl and her brother discovered a twelve-year-old boy frozen in an iceberg. His name: Aαng. He is the Avatar, the master of all four elements. Together Aαng and his friends went on to save the world!

Now a man, Aαng looks back on these adventurous years—from being found in the ice to fighting epic battles to negotiating peace. This is Aαng’s story, his mementos, and keepsakes. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Legacy is the collection that Aαng passes down to his son Tenzin, who will one day be a master Airbender, too. Readers will relish Aαng’s heroic tales and the posters, clippings, cards, and maps he gathered along the way!

Aαng is passing this knowledge on to his son Tenzin. Not to Kya, and not to Bumi, nor is there a mention of him passing anything else down to Kya and Bumi. And keep in mind, this is the story of A:TLA he’s passing down, notteaching specific airbending techniques or Air Nomad philosophy, so the old “but Tenzin’s an airbender” standby doesn’t fly here. I’d really like to know how they’re going to justify it this time.

Now, there is some A:TLA precedent for Aαng favoring Tenzin due to being an airbender. Aαng consistently upheld the Air Nomad beliefs as the gold standard for morality; he was the last of his kind; and he had a huge burden to pass on as the last airbender to whichever of his children displayed that ability. However, Aαng did not develop in A:TLA in a vacuum. He had friends and family who knew exactly how damaging such favoritism could be. His best friend and the man who knew him better than anyone had been a victim of child favoritism and neglect; his wife felt the pressure of being the last bender of her tribe and is extremely protective of people she considers her children; his brother-in-law often felt like he couldn’t measure up because he was a nonbender. All of these people could and should have banded together and given Aαng a stern talking-to about paying his kids equal attention. And Aαng could and should have listened. He might not have been a perfect father (and I wouldn’t ask him to be), but he definitely wouldn’t have left his family a fractured and quarreling mess.

Bafflingly, instead of acknowledging that they had written serious flaws into Aαng’s character in LOK, Bryke tried to foist the blame for the sibling rivalry in Korra onto Kya and Bumi! I talk about it in more detail here.

But the worst part of this whole debacle is the way Bryke constantly recycled the neglectful father trope in order to recapture the lost magic of their original show, entirely missing the fact that the reason Zuko’s character arc is so revered and loved is not because he had daddy issues, but because Team Ehasz’s writing set the bar so high that Bryke’s parade of feeble imitations couldn’t hope to reach it.

My Analysis on Korra's Spiritual Growth and Self-Actualization

Korra is probably the most scrutinized character in The Legend of Korra (apart from the fan-favorite Mako) and it’s expected since she’s the main protagonist. As a successor to Aang legacy in both the Avatar universe and the fandom itself there’s a lot of things expected of her. Thus, her characterization and decisions in these past two seasons spurned a variety of reactions from the audience, both positive and negative.

Judging from fan reactions, Korra received the most intense hate at the beginning of Book 2 due to the way she treated her father, her mentor Tenzin and Mako and because of the way she reacted in the events that unfolded. Surprisingly, that was the period I fell in love with her character.

It’s a general consensus that Korra developed in the latter half of Book 2  but I feel that her characterization prior to that received disproportionate criticism instead of recognition and credit. In this analysis, I’ll discuss why Korra is a complex and complicated character with multiple layers. My analysis do not aim to explain all of Korra’s actions not excuse her mistakes, but rather to provide insight on the depth of her character. For an essay defending her character, check this one.

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Katara, Consumed by Destiny: Water

[Link to previous posts in series.]

We are working backward from the end of The Legend of Korra, pretending we don’t know anything more about Katara than that she is a waterbender and a member of Team Avatar. At this point, however, we’ve accompanied Katara through four books of LOK, four comics series, and two seasons of A:TLA. The progression, or rather, regression, of her character, is all too clear. We’ve seen Katara’s biggest triumphs and most cutting remarks; what more could the initial season of A:TLA have to offer?

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“I’m sorry, Raava. I failed to bring peace. Even with Vaatu locked away, darkness still surrounds humanity. There wasn’t enough time.”

I’ve always thought it was interesting (if terribly sad) that the end of Wan’s life was characterized by such a powerful sense of failure.

If the point of the final scene was that Wan was concerned about who would protect the world after him, he could have died under less violent circumstances, worried about the future, but knowing he’d kept the present safe.  Instead, he dies alone on a battlefield, and his words underscore the Sisyphean nature of the Avatar’s task – there will never be enough time for the Avatar to bring lasting peace.

There’s a strong sense that this scene was designed to contrast with Korra’s story and where the world will end up once she makes her choices; we just haven’t seen that yet.  When Korra says, “Harmonic Convergence has caused a shift in the planet’s energy. I can feel it. Things will never be the same again. We’re entering a New Age,” it implies that things will be better, that the age defined by Wan has been replaced by one where failure to keep peace isn’t quite so inevitable.

Of course, the end of Book 2 doesn’t really get us to that point, and by Book 3 lasting peace seems farther than ever.  Instead, we’re shown again and again just how impossible a task the Avatar’s really is.

Zuko says, “No one knew better than Aang that in times of turmoil, the world needs its Avatar the most,” but Korra realizes that the continued existence of the Air Nation is just as vital to the balance of the world as the Avatar is and is forced to deal with that being used against her.

Raiko says, “With the world getting more and more dangerous, we need the Avatar now more than ever,” but the sheer scope of that danger raises the question of whether it makes sense to rely on one person to fix it.  Even if she weren’t in a wheelchair, Korra couldn’t be everywhere.

And, of course, because the Avatar is such a linchpin in world balance, she’s a prime target for every revolutionary who wants to destabilize that balance.The villains keep telling Korra she’s not needed, but the opposite is true – killing or disabling her wouldn’t do the villains anywhere near as much good if the world wasn’t so dependent on her.  If there were dozens or hundreds or thousands of other peacekeepers out there, removing the Avatar would do the bad guys very little good.

“My mission will always be to use Raava’s light spirit to guide the world toward peace and balance,” Korra says in her speech at the end of Book 2.  The key word there, I think, is guide.  Wan’s task was impossible because he took too much onto himself as an individual – “Only the Avatar can master all four elements and bring balance to the world” – and effectively operated as a loner, and his successors might have built up teams of friends to help but still accepted that bringing balance to the world was a task that could only be performed by the Avatar.  But, as Jinora showed in the Book 3 finale, normal people have strength together, and that strength is more than any individual or group of friends can bring to bear.

And that brings us to the last scene in the Book 3 finale, because Korra really isn’t ready to accept that sort of change yet.

“Of course, there would be no Air Nation without Avatar Korra: she opened the portals and somehow the world began anew for us. She was even willing to lay down her own life in order to protect ours. There’s no way we can ever repay her for all she’s done. But we can follow her example of service and sacrifice. So while she recuperates, the Air Nation will reclaim its nomadic roots and roam the earth.  But unlike our ancestors, we will serve people of all nations, working wherever there is corruption and discord to restore balance and peace. Avatar Korra, I vow that we will do everything in our power to follow in your footsteps and bring harmony to the world.”

Tenzin’s words speak of Korra as a source of inspiration – the Air Nation will follow her example and help bring harmony to the world – but she doesn’t realize how important that really is.  She was raised to be The Hero, not one among many (not even the first among many, really), so being an inspiration kind of feels like being useless to her.

But, the thing is, as far as Book 3 is concerned, that’s where she really shone.  Her victories came by inspiring and teaching and guiding others – Daw, Kai, Opal, the Air Nation – rather than by physical violence; she was kept out of most of the major fight by outside forces, and the ones she did fight tended to have been ill-advised.  Korra is actually good at that sort of stuff when she puts her mind to it, but I don’t think she recognizes it as valuable yet.  If someone said she’d done a lot of good since Harmonic Convergence, I think she’d be kind of confused.

What I want to see moving forward is for Korra to have a Zuko moment where she gets everything she thinks she wanted only to realize that it’s not what she or the world really needs.  She should be given the chance to take down a threat to the world with her own individual strength – maybe in the first episode of the finale so it can be suitably epic – but discover that taking out a bad guy will never be enough to bring true peace, with her real final battle requiring her to lead a group of peacekeepers to resolve the underlying issues.  That, I think, would be the best ending to a story like hers.

And then, when she dies, she won’t be alone on a battlefield like Wan.  She’ll be surrounded by the people who love her and want to carry on her legacy, and they’ll do so as individuals instead of trying to turn her successor into a weapon.  Wouldn’t that be a great contrast to what happened to Wan?