I was going to write a thing about male characters in ATLA getting more protective hugs than their female counterparts, like how Hakoda hugs Sokka in “Bato of the Water Tribe”:
And how Iroh first hugs Zuko in the finale:
But I feel like I might be wrong, and speaking too soon since I haven’t finished the series and made all my screenshots yet, given how we still get hugs like:
So, I think a more reasonable think to say would be that the Avatar franchise isn’t afraid of showing male characters showing emotion, or being affectionate–whether that feeling be platonic, familial, or romantic.
I’m not sure how else to word it, but I really like that breaking of traditional gender norms because in any other show, characters like Sokka and Zuko would be considered too old to cry, or too old to receive the sort of protective hug that their father figures give them.
That, or it would be considered unmanly.
So, I like how Avatar moves beyond that, showing that we’re all prone to these emotions, and its totally ok to have them.