“This is not a test. This is the Citizen Z emergency broadcast system. There’s a flood, a zombie flood. A zunami of biblical proportions. If you’re anywhere in the vicinity of Western Kansas you need to ah… screw it, you need to get the hell out now.”
Goal: Write 1 thought every day re: why I love ATLA
#43: Introduction of the Trio of Dangerous Ladies in “Return to Omashu.”
I love Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai. ATLA does a really good job communicating everything you need to know about this trio and the relationships between the girls in “Return to Omashu,” and it does so very efficiently.
Let’s look at their body language, for example. Ty Lee is immediately established as bubbly, not only through her clothing but also through her enthusiasm. In this screencap, compare her open arms with Azula, whose arms are at her sides:
Yet, Azula does show affection–albeit, restrained–for Ty Lee. (#Tyzula?) Compare the closeness of this embrace with Azula’s later embrace of Mai – Azula actually puts her arms fully around Ty Lee and leans into the hug:
And we see the bare hint of a smile–or at the very least some relaxation in the facial muscles–on Azula’s face here:
Yet Azula’s actions speak louder than her words, as Ty Lee soon discovers. ATLA shows us, without needing to tell us, that Azula uses fear to manipulate her friends into doing what she wants:
I love the contrast between the Mai-Azula hug and the Azula-Ty Lee hug from before. This one is a polite hug, with more distance between the two bodies. The screencap is also a zoomed out shot, instead of a close-up; as such, it conveys that there is more space/distance in Mai and Azula’s relationship.
Then compare with Mai and Ty Lee’s hug here:
The body language in all of these shots tells us everything we need to know about the relationship between these three friends. (Or more than friends? #Tyzula?)
We also see in this episode that Mai independently made a choice to join Azula’s mission, whereas Ty Lee had to be manipulated. This establishes that Mai makes her own choices … which sets up Mai’s later betrayal of Azula.
Really efficient characterization and storytelling.