fr tho why was the animation in The Southern Raiders like exceptionally gorgeous???
every single character looks like exceptionally and even more gorgeous and hot and spectacular in this episode and like this episode is already the best in the series writing-wise too like it was such God tier like @animation side of tumblr please explain this modern marvel we mere mortals were so unwarrantedly blessed with ty
The fact that the ATLA writers were originally making the Southern Raiders episode “too shippy” for Bryke and Bryke had to constantly tell them to make it more and more toxic to prevent any sort of shipping moments makes me almost as happy as the fact that Bryke’s attempts still backfired
This fight is the first time it feels like Zuko and Azula are perfectly equally matched in bending - I think it’s partially the dragons, partially that Zuko is doing something he is not conflicted about - fighting a good fight, to save the others.
But what is more interesting is what happens once they fall off the airship; until this point, Azula had Mai and Ty Lee to support her, while Zuko was mostly alone (Iroh rarely interfered in the fights), now Zuko has a support net - as he is falling, he is actually looking for the others knowing they will be there, while Azula is in a free-fall,
with nobody to catch her - literally.
And this will tip the balance in the end in Zuko’s favour. (and I think this plays a big part in Azula’s breakdown that she was unable to hold onto her “friends” despite her power and perfection, while Zuko, who left the Fire Nation branded traitor found strong allies despite the fact that he had no power or wealth).
Interesting note: At least with the show, Aang is the first person to save Zuko (and the first person to offer his hand in friendship) and Katara is the last person to do so (and the last person to come around and fully befriend/trust him).
(Also: I included that bit of Aang flipping Zuko over onto his back since he probably would have drowned in that goop if Aang hadn’t done that.)
I’ve seen a bunch of people say that Katara overreacted to her mother’s death in the Southern Raiders and I’m just like,,, how? When she was four years old her village was invaded and her mother was killed. She met the man that killed her and then found her mother’s dead, probably burnt to a crisp, body. And in case y'all are forgetting: KATARA IS THE REASON SHE DIED. Kya died to protect her.
One of the things that really gets me about The Southern Raiders is when you realize that after their trip, they didn’t go back to the camp. Zuko took Katara directly to Ember Island (she’s already there on the beach, when the others fly in). To the place that we know was so special for him - where he felt his family was actually happy. Zuko choosing Azula’s side in Crossroads of Destiny is motivated by that last bit of hope that he could go home, that his family could be whole again.
It’s in The Beach, coming back to the summer house where he finally is ready to face the truth that things will never be the same, and he kind of lets go of that dream (we never see the Ember Island memories again). But also Zuko realizes that he’s been projecting his anger at himself about his betrayal at others.
I think Zuko brings Katara here, before the rest of the group, to give her space to sort through her feelings herself (without anyone telling her what she should feel). And she comes to similar realizations; that her anger at Zuko has nothing to do with her mother and that she’s ready to let go of at least the part of the anger that she was projecting at him (and forgive the very real grievance she has with him instead).
Katara’s forgiveness is the last step for the Gaang to truly become a family, and I just love the symbolism of it happening in the place that Zuko considers home. And there is all the added beautiful parallels of Katara with the sun and Zuko with the moon, and Zuko getting that exact shoulder touch he’s dreamt about during his exile from Katara.
And just as Zuko finds the Avatar in a completely different way than he expected, Ember Island becomes home again, but instead of going back, they move forward, building something new on the ashes of past traumas.