book-1-commentary

Oh my god.

HOW.

anonymous asked:

I don't know if this was ever pointed out before, but right before Zuko is going to be burned during that Agni Kai, his prostrating himself is a form of an extreme apology in Japan called Dogeza. It's as low as a person can get, and they're showing complete submission and reverence to whoever they're prostrating themselves to; it's only performed by someone who's REALLY screwed up. I don't know very much about Japan's culture, but I'm fairly certain that is what Zuko was doing in that scene.

You know, I don’r think anyone has pointed that out to me yet 

It appears pretty similar to Zuko’s bows:

Thanks for the know!

“This isn’t air temple preschool, this is the real world”

Hey guys! So, a couple of weeks ago I made this post suggesting that Zuko thought forgiveness was childish in “The Southern Raiders,” because of his own experiences with begging for forgiveness as a child backfiring horribly.

With that said, I decided to make a visual about Zuko’s thoughts on forgiveness/mercy from the start to the end of the series.

Keep reading

5

Ladies and gentlemen: the first time Aang uses an offensive firebending strike. move.

Prior to this, Aang only takes the offensive twice: first when he sprays Zuko and his soldiers with snow (if that counts), and second when he fights Zuko using fans in “The Warriors of Kyoshi,” I guess you could also include the kick he does in “The Avatar Returns” to bust open a door but, that was mostly circumstantial. Other than that, he usually sticks with the usual avoidance and evasion tactics employed by airbenders.

In “The King of Omashu,” King Bumi encourages Aang to change up his style, and attack. So, what does he do? He employs the bending style that uses the most offensive, as opposes to defensive, moves: Northern Shaolin/firebending.

Starting now, Aang’s going to start learning to employ both offensive and defensive moves when he bends. Sometimes, he’ll even use a firebender-like defense or a firebender-like attack. He starts taking the initiative, still sticking with his usual airbender style but, adjusting his tactic to match his opponent For example, when he fights Zhao in “The Deserter,” he goes back to a fully defensive form of fighting because he knows Zhao will do all the work for him.

Come Book 3, and he combines his lessons with with what Toph taught him in Book 2 about about targeting weaknesses and pressure points.

By “Sozin’s Comet,”  Aang makes the first move against Ozai instead of waiting for him to fully land and meet him, again demonstrating how he’s learned to to employ both offensive and defensive moves and to take the initiative whenever possible.

7

I had to play around with the order a bit to make things make more sense, but “The Western Air Temple” really is in essence just Zuko’s version of “The Avatar Returns,” but with a few events reversed (and with a few other changes and plot points added into the latter episode as well, so it’s not like “The Avatar State” and “The Southern Raiders” where the storylines were almost exactly the same and in the same order of events).

Anyway, what I’m impressed with the most, and the parallel that I think is the most significant, important, and telling in these two episodes is the parallel between Aang offering himself up as a prisoner to Zuko in “The Avatar Returns,” and Zuko offering himself up as a prisoner to the Gaang in “The Western Air Temple.” It really brings Aang and Zuko full circle. 

While Aang does it out of selflessness, Zuko does it because he has no other open options left. But, It really goes to show just how far Zuko has come in his development. He starts out as someone who never gives up, and never surrenders no matter the circumstances, but here he make this one exception as he stands before the Gaang because he doesn’t have any other option. And yet, despite being bent in the face as he kneels down on the ground (again!), and despite being rejected by the Gaang, Zuko remains true to his nature and doesn’t give up on winning the Gaang’s friendship, just like he never gave up on winning his father’s love.

He ended up gaining both his father’s love and the Gaang’s friendship at some point in the series, but only one of those relationships was permanent, real, and true to who Zuko was deep down.

(You also have to appreciate the irony of the hypothetical scenario where, instead of having their opinion on Zuko change when he tries to fight Combustion Man, the Gaang tries to capture Zuko.)

“That’s who you are, Zuko. Someone who keeps fighting even though it’s hard.”

Dramatic Zuko being dramatic. I wonder if this quote is actually from “Love among the Dragons”? Or, maybe, it’s just a line that Zuko picked up from somewhere prior to his banishment. Granted, Zuko’s no stranger to dramataic monologues and stuff like that.

It would have been neat if “Love Among the Dragons” had some connection to Zuko’s story though. Maybe it’ll still play a role–but, that would be kind of cheesy I think considering how the play is a cheesy romance. That, and Zuko has already been humbled 

Wait, unless–and, I’m not actually being serious–the Dragon Empress is a metaphor for of Zuko’s honor? 

5

Can we take a moment to talk about this moment right here in part 2 of “Winter Solstice”?

First off, this is the first time , as far as I know, that we see Iroh get frustrated with Zuko’s antics. Zuko’s desperation to have his honor back, and go home that he’s willing to risk his life in the worst way possible—by defying his father’s orders, and risking capture.

However, that’s not the most important thing about this scene. Look at iroh’s expression in the final frame. He’s not just worried that his nephew might be captured, and possibly killed. He’s not just afraid for his nephew who will do absolutely anything to regain his honor, and to go home. 

Iroh’s afraid of losing the closest thing he has to a son.

That’s the face of a father who has already lost one son, and can’t bear to think about possibly losing another. That’s the face of General Iroh, the Dragon of the West, dreading the thought of reliving the pain he felt at Ba Sing Se when he heard his son was killed.

6

Aang + mimicking Zuko and airbending like a firebender in “Bato of the Water Tribe.”

I’m also putting this under my “firebending like an airbender” tag because, if you look at Zuko’s hand in the top right gif, Zuko has his palm completely open. Usually, he uses fire punches or, in like 2 rare cases, he’ll have his hand in  claw-like shape. 

And, you can kind of tell it’s airbendery because his flame isn’t as controlled s it normally would be. Airbenders let their element be free, as is their nature but, firebenders need to properly control their element least their element go out of control (a la Aang burning Katara because he firebent like an airbender). 

Compare the way Zuko’s hand is positioned to the Warden’s hand when he firebends in “Imprisoned”:

There’s a difference between how airbenders and firebenders use their hands when they use an open palm gesture but I’m not quite sure how to put it into words. 

So, Zuko is mimicking the way Aang usually positions his hand, and Aang is using an airbendery fire punch with his palm open. 

Edit: To quote @an-avatar-state-of-mind:

firebenders use their hands with an open palm, their hands are flexed and concave, whereas airbenders’ hands are relaxed.

2

Aang and Zuko sharing their backstory with Katara (in a cave no less! Well, technically, one’s a catacomb but, still. Ok, they’re surrounded by rock.). 

Something interesting I want to point out: traditionally, when you have a character like Katara sharing parallels with both the protagonist and antagonist, and sharing experiences that connect them together, I feel like the usual way to go about things would be to make it so that the character connecting the protagonist and antagonist (or, ex-antagonist) would be the force that tries to make the protagonist and antagonist realize that perhaps they’re not so different. 

Instead, it’s Aang who constantly has his hand open to friendship and Katara who needs to become Zuko’s friend. 

On that note, “The Western Air Temple,” would probably play out a lot differently had Mike and Bryan gone with some more traditional storytelling by creating some cheesy scenario where Katara’s all “Aang, you and Zuko should be friends. Look at all the things you have in common.” 

Or, if they really wanted to make this into kiddie fare, Zuko would miraculously see the error of his ways and the ways of the Fire Nation in “The Crossroads of Destiny,” join the Gaang in that very episode, and maybe we’d have an episode that features Katara trying to get Aang and Zuko to be friends. 

Instead, Katara helps to connect the Avatar and the Firelord together through joint experiences. On top of that, you have something that’s almost like a hierarchy of parallels when it comes to comparing different characters to Zuko, with Aang and Zuko sharing the most parallels, Katara and Zuko the second most, and so on. And, while parallels exist between Zuko and other members of the Gaang, the parallels between him anf our two other central characters (Aang and Katara) are by far tge strongest. 

And yet, there’s another layer  on top of that with each character that gets parallels to Zuko taking  on a very specific aspect of Zuko’s story when it comes to drawing parallels. Aang and Zuko get parallels that are mostly based around the events that happen between Aang being unfrozen and the end of the war. And, since Zuko and Aang aren’t exact parallels, Katara gets her Zuko parallels when it comes to her mother and protection. Sokka, likewise, gets parallels to Zuko when it comes to leadership and being a warrior. Even Toph has her own parallels to Zuko by taking on a secret identity to escape her current circumstances (the Blind Bandit for her and the Blue Spirit for Zuko). Each member fits into the equation in their own special way. (There are similarities between the other members of the Gaang and other characters but, that’s the subject of a different post.)

Another interesting thing to note: Katara, as a waterbender, uses a fighting style that uses both positive (offensive) and negative (defensive) energy. Meanwhile, Zuko begins as being completely on the offense (positive energy), while Aang is entirely focused on the defense (negative energy). In time, both Aang and Zuko incorporate offensive and defensive forms into their fighting style all the while remaining true to their native bending style. 

I’m just throwing that out there because I think it fits into the idea of Avatar not following certain tropes. It also  supports the idea that Katara (push and pull) helps connect these two opposing forces. 

6

Some more lighting symbolism for you all.

Zhao captures the spirit of the Moon, and the world goes red. When he decides to kill it, the world turns black and white…except for the firebending, Yue because part of the Moon spirit is within her, and Aang because he is the Avatar and has Raava’s spirit inside him (his eyes are grey, but I’m assuming that, if his eyes were a different color, we’d see the color of his eyes using the same principle I used for Yue).

Once Yue gives up her life and restores balance and becomes one with the Moon, all color and light returned to the world.

3

“You’re not soldiers; you’re bullies. Freeloaders, abusing your power. Mostly over women and kids. You don’t want Lee in your army–you’re sick cowards messing with a family who’s already lost one son to the war.” - Zuko 

So, this was originally just going to be a camera framing post comparing “Zuko Alone” to “The Avatar Returns,” but it just  sort of evolved into something else.

Anyway, this is probably one of my more harsh posts (sorry, Zuko), but I was thinking about this a bit and it just sort of made sense to me.

Zuko obviously doesn’t realize it at the time but, his honor quest is kind of making him a bully. And, just look what he’s doing in the Book 1 screenshots in relation to Katara: 

  1. He’s wanting to take away this kid that has given her a new sense of hope. Not to mention that Zuko destroyed half of her village with nothing but the hull of his ship–never mind the fact that the Fire Nation had been targeting their tribe during raids for years. That, and this is the second time the Fire Nation has tried to take away someone that Katara cared about. 
  2. He’s trying to use Katara’s necklace–the only memento Katara has of her mother–to get her to tell her where Aang is so he can finally capture him. This again ties into what I said in the above point about Zuko trying to take away someone Katara cares about. 

He obviously comes through at the end and realizes the error of his ways but, it’s probably telling that he doesn’t quite put two and two together when it comes to his own actions. He talks about bullies but, given the type of flashbacks we get in “Zuko Alone” and the wording of his quote, he definitely has a long way to go before he really pieces things together–especially given his choice in “The Crossroads of Destiny.” 

2

Dude, Sokka, what’s your deal? Why do you always have to jinx everything? Jeez.

Sokka and Aang are great at the “saying stuff that either comes true or proves to me terribly false” game.

Wait a second…

No, Sokka. You need to practice your knot work.

That said, what exactly was the Gaang planning to do with Zuko anyway?

2

You know what’s funny about Zuko’s impersonation of Azula?

The fact that Zuko isn’t actually impersonating Azula. 

While the “your choice” is in line with Azula’s MO, the “or I can do something unspeakably evil to you and your friends” bit is much more in line with Zuko’s usual MO.

Zuko;s threats and mode of persuasion always involve the threat of violence, or the exchange of something: “if you don’t do that, I’ll burn this,” “if you do this, I’ll give you this,” or “if you don’t give me that, I’ll hurt something or someone you hold dear.” 

Azula, on the other hand, is much more subtle. She gets inside your head and messes with you psychologically and emotionally. She makes you feel guilt, or fear. Azula knows that we humans are always more frightened of the unknown because when we think of the unknown we’ll imagine the worst things that could happen, 

So, if Zuko was really impersonating Azula, he’d probably say something more like “Oh, what a shame…and to think I was going to tell you my father’s plans…but I guess you won’t need that anymore.” And, for a bit of a guilt trip, he could throw something in there about everything burning all because they never accepted Zuko into their group. 

This also brings up the question of “what would Azula do if she was Zuko in ‘The Waterbending Scroll’?” 

My guess is she’d guilt Katara somehow, maybe by saying that they had Sokka somewhere. Or maybe she’d manage to use Kya’s necklace against Katara…not quite sure how yet. 

That said, Sokka’s “He wants you to trust him and feel sorry for him, so you let your guard down, then he strikes,” line is probably more in line with Azula’s MO, funny enough.