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Avatar Book 1, Disc 1 – Spoiler-free reaction post - A Sorta Fairytale
October 2013
 
 
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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Wed, Nov. 12th, 2008 10:36 pm
Avatar Book 1, Disc 1 – Spoiler-free reaction post

I've decided to re-watch Avatar from the beginning and post my thoughts disc-by-disc. For every disc, I'll do two posts. One will be essentially spoiler-free. (I can't guarantee that I won't make some sort of holistic statement that might give away a little hint of some future development, but these posts will definitely be free of any major revelations that occur later than the disc in the subject line.) The second will contain any observations that involve spoilers for episodes on later discs. I will also include comments on DVD extras as I go along.

I would GREATLY welcome comments from any Avatar fans on my flist, as well as anyone who would like to start watching the series and follow along with my posts. This is the reason I'm making two separate posts: I've been working on the Baka Rosians to get them to watch this fantastic show, and I want them to be able to follow and comment on my observations without fear of being spoiled.

So. Please feel free to comment, but KEEP COMMENTS SPOILER-FREE on this post. If you have spoiler-y comments, please save them for the spoiler-friendly post, which will be along shortly. THANK YOU!


Chapter 1: The Boy in the Iceberg

It's fun to see how wide-eyed and innocent the kids are at the beginning. Katara, especially, seems so young.

I hate Zuko's Book 1 hairdo. Still, I recall I was inclined to like Zuko from the start. I remember thinking early on, as has been said by others, that Zuko is what Draco fans wanted Draco to be. I recall thinking as I watched the first few discs that between the beautifully broken boy and his sanguine, tea-loving father-figure—a fascinating pair quite similar to my favorite characters from Fruits Basket, Kyo and Kazuma—that I was fast becoming a Fire Nation sympathizer. And I recall thinking that was rather like being one of the Slytherfen, only…not.

"Will you go penguin sledding with me?" Gotta love how Aang asks Katara out the very first time he speaks to her. ;)

Avatar has a notably good musical score, IMO. In this episode I enjoyed the wild piccolo* music when Aang first demonstrated flying with his glider to the villagers.

*Maybe not a piccolo, but some similar sort of high-pitched wind instrument. I recall from some of the commentary tracks I've watched that the composer used some unusual ethnic instruments in the score.


Chapter 2: The Avatar Returns

Ah, Zuko. So ruthless and single-minded. The only one with enough sense to realize that when the last air bender shows up after 100 years of everyone believing his kind is extinct that he pretty much has to be the Avatar. *loves*

The brother-sister relationship between Sokka and Katara really warms my heart. I sometimes feel like bro-sis relationships don’t get enough play in fiction, you know? But Avatar definitely delivers on that count.

I really love Sokka. Before Zuko showed his first signs of w00bieness, I think Sokka was my favorite character. (Except for Iroh, of course, whose love of jasmine tea won me over from the beginning.)


Chapter 3: The Southern Air Temple

This is the first episode to add a layer of depth to Zuko. We see that he doesn't entirely approve of his father's administration (he calls him a "fool" for expecting the Earth Kingdom to just submit to Fire Nation rule even if the capital is captured), we get some hints about his banishment and that there is some important backstory on why he is where he is now, and we see that his commitment to the nebulous idea of "honor" outweighs his commitment to his country—and to his father, really—in his decision to try to hide the Avatar's existence from Zhao. Not to mention his behavior in the Agni Kai. Meanwhile, Iroh's hedonism continues to crack me up.


Chapter 4: The Warriors of Kyoshi

This episode has two different romance threads—one between Aang and Katara, the other between Sokka and Suki. I like how the tone is light, humorous, and youthful. It seems very fitting to the characters and the series overall.

I love it when Zuko's fire bending looks like break dancing. Yeah, I think I prefer Shaolin Kung Fu, too (see below).


Behind the Scenes Kung Fu Featurette

These are some very brief featurettes of Sifu Kisu, the show's martial arts consultant, explaining how each form of bending is based on a particular martial arts discipline:

Water bending = Tai Chi
Earth bending = Southern Hun Gar Kung Fu
Fire bending = Northern Shaolin Kung Fu (Sifu Kisu's "preferred style")
Air bending = Ba Gua

The coolest thing about these is the side-by-side shots of clips from the show with footage of Sifu Kisu performing the same moves.

COME GEEK OUT WITH ME, AVATAR FANS!

<3
Joie

P.S. Remember to REFRAIN FROM SPOILERS in the comments.

P.P.S. Does anyone know where I can find good Avatar icons? Or...can I steal some of yours???

Tags: ,
Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

9CommentReply

orcapotter
orcapotter
Orca キンバリー
Thu, Nov. 13th, 2008 04:32 am (UTC)

It's strange, because I generally almost never love a secondary more than the main character. From an early age, the main protagonist was always my most favorite. But for some reason, I immediately loved Zuko. As the series went further and his character was fleshed out more, I fell more and more in love. Aang has always been adorable, but aside from the obvious conflict of being the Avatar, he's very much just a typical 12 year-old kid. Pretty straightforward. And aside from realizing how he feels about Katara and accepting the fact that he has to defeat the Fire Lord, he doesn't change too much. Zuko goes through a full rollercoaster of conflicts and changes, and like you, I felt myself sympathizing with him the most -- especially in particular for the Fire Nation during season 3.

I also love the music and the fact that all the bending movements are based on particular martial art moves.

(I have an Avatar icon community friended at my icon journal, orcapixels)


ReplyThread
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Thu, Nov. 13th, 2008 04:47 am (UTC)

Re: Zuko
I know what you mean. In some ways, it goes against my normal patterns, too, as it's very unusual for me to like an antagonistic character this much, and certainly not more than I like the protagonist.* From what I've seen of fandom, I think this is a common response to Zuko, though. I'm sure sympathy for Zuko is something the creators very much intended to impart, and they did a good job of it.

*In other ways, he fits my favorite-character pattern perfectly, as he is cut from the same mold as Kyo Sohma, Logan Echolls, and many other fictional men I've adored.

(I have an Avatar icon community friended at my icon journal, [info]orcapixels)

Thank you! I'll go take a look.


ReplyThread Parent
peachespig
peachespig
peachespig
Thu, Nov. 13th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)

I don't think Zuko really is a secondary character. He's the other main character.

I do think Aang goes through a bit more than that, though I'm not sure I should say it all in this spoiler-free post :)


ReplyThread Parent
peachespig
peachespig
peachespig
Thu, Nov. 13th, 2008 06:11 pm (UTC)

I basically started studying Chinese martial arts because of Avatar, which I know is super geeky but there it is. I have a very broad school that encompasses (eventually) all four arts associated with the four bending styles, as well as other things. Which makes me very happy, which in turn makes me a big nerd.

Oh, and avatar_icons.

I'm excited you will be posting these! When I got into Avatar during the third season, I always felt a distinct lack of good discussion posts. Avatar fandom, by and large, is amusing but not what I was looking for.


ReplyThread
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Fri, Nov. 14th, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)

Heh. I've been trawling old Avatar-related posts on fandom_wank today and...yeah. I've got to say I'm glad HP fandom has already immunized me against feeling too much disgust or outrage over delusional shipping, character hate, and the like.


ReplyThread Parent
peachespig
peachespig
peachespig
Thu, Nov. 13th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)

Oh, and...

that I was fast becoming a Fire Nation sympathizer. And I recall thinking that was rather like being one of the Slytherfen, only…not.

That's exactly right, like being Slytherfen only not. The key here is that Zuko and Iroh are contrasted against others, particularly Zhao, from the beginning, and they are clearly more sympathetic. For the Slytherin, there was no such deliberate contrasting of (say) Draco to other "more bad" Slytherin.

Being in different fandoms and comparing reactions makes me realize that fans have certain tropes that they try to impose on their favorite shows/books/whatever, and sometimes they fit better than others, but the fans will apply them no matter what. The "antihero who isn't really bad, just misunderstood and misled" got applied to Draco and Zuko, but in the latter case is actually fits and in the first it doesn't; but people wanted to do it anyway. Like how Cassie Claire made it clear in her stories that Lucius was really really bad so that Draco would have someone to be better than; Zhao and later Ozai really do fill that role in Avatar.


ReplyThread
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Fri, Nov. 14th, 2008 04:02 am (UTC)

Being in different fandoms and comparing reactions makes me realize that fans have certain tropes that they try to impose on their favorite shows/books/whatever, and sometimes they fit better than others, but the fans will apply them no matter what.

Yes! To some extent, I'd say it's pretty normal for anyone, even casual fans, to apply familiar--often favorite--tropes to a story when they first encounter it. I sometimes notice myself "trying on" a particular pattern to a character, relationship, or situation, and it may affect my feelings toward it for a while, maybe even mislead me, until something shifts and I realize, "No that pattern doesn't fit." This happened to me when I first started watching Bleach. I felt inclined to like a certain character b/c he reminded me of other characters I had liked in other shows, but after a few more episodes it became clear that I was not really meant to like that character--not like that, anyway. So I think it's normal to seek those patterns--but it's also normal to discard them when it turns out they don't really fit. But take this tendency and multiply it by the fannish experience--finding like-minded fans, and sharing fic and fanart and playlists and the like until they all work themselves up into a frenzy--and you end up with delusions and hate when the trope doesn't fit anymore.


ReplyThread Parent
prongssr
prongssr
Sun, Nov. 16th, 2008 05:27 pm (UTC)

I started watching this on day one because my kids were interested and it became a tradition to plan on watching the latest installment of Avatar together.

I also liked Zuko immediately and felt that his story was more important than it appeared at first (backstory). I think introducing Uncle Iroh at the beginning really helped show that this wonderful, kind hearted man saw thru Zuko's anger and pride and bad behavior. I also liked the Aang, Sokka and Katara together from the beginning. Their relationship(s) was well-written and believable and, over-time, stayed true to their characterizations, I thought! The writers did a great job in adding layers and depth without losing believability.


ReplyThread
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, Nov. 16th, 2008 07:22 pm (UTC)

I think introducing Uncle Iroh at the beginning really helped show that this wonderful, kind hearted man saw thru Zuko's anger and pride and bad behavior.

That's a good point.


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