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Avatar Book 1, Disc 2 – spoiler-friendly reaction post - A Sorta Fairytale
October 2013
 
 
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hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Sun, Nov. 16th, 2008 11:53 pm
Avatar Book 1, Disc 2 – spoiler-friendly reaction post

This post is for commentary with SPOILERS for episodes beyond Book 1, Disc 2.


Chapter 5: The King of Omashu

Here we have the first appearance of the cabbage seller. Poor guy.


Chapter 6: Imprisoned

Haru is hotter clean-shaven, I think. And he's one of two characters in the show whose name drives me crazy because of expectations based on my anime/Japanese culture obsession. I feel like his name should be pronounced HA-ru rather than ha-RU because of Haru Sohma in Fruits Basket. (The other character whose name bothers me is Mai. It's not a big deal, but I would be happier if her name were spelled Mei. Oh well.)


Chapter 7: Winter Solstice Part 1: The Spirit World

The scorched swath of earth that the kids find in the beginning of this episode reminds me of when Katara meets the blood bender and she demonstrates dehydrating the flowers. I like the sense of balance in the mythos of Avatar: that all the elements can either create or destroy, depending on how they are used.

So, on some comment thread somewhere I saw the suggestion that Iroh may have been deliberately hindering Zuko in his search for the Avatar. What do you think? Is this a possibility? While that may be true later on, I can't really think of a good motivation for him to do so this early in the series. Yet, his behavior in this episode does seem to fit the idea that he really is trying to slow Zuko down.

OOOOH, this is where Zuko gets his uncle's sandal that he uses to find him in the finale. I'd forgotten that's where it came from.

The spirit world…it seems like there's still a lot of room for interpretation/speculation on how it works and how one gets there. It's interesting to note that Iroh alone is able to see Aang in the spirit world. peachespig mentioned that in a later episode Iroh is revealed to have made a trip there in the past, so it seems clear that other people besides the Avatar can visit it and make use of its mysteries. I want to know MOAR.

The way the dragon touches Aang's forehead to show him memories/images is rather like spirit bending, ne?


Chapter 8: Winter Solstice Part 2: Avatar Roku

Now begins my quest to find Katara-->Aang hints in the series, since I admit I missed most of them the first time through. First one: "The world can't afford to lose you to the Fire Nation. Neither can I."

So Avatar Roku sets Aang an appropriately impossible task: master all the elements and defeat Fire Lord Ozai before the comet returns. Does anyone else find it funny that Aang didn't really end up doing that? I mean, he mastered the elements and defeated the Fire Lord, but he didn't do it before the comet arrived. He did it while extra-special-supa!Fire bending was still in effect. How cool is that?

Joie

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orcapotter
orcapotter
Orca キンバリー
Mon, Nov. 17th, 2008 05:12 am (UTC)

Hmm, I really should go back and re-watch everything with a more critical eye. I'm surprising myself with so much that you're pointing out that I don't remember too clearly.

It's hard to say for me right now if Iroh was deliberately slowing Zuko down. Perhaps, if that's true, he was doing it in order to protect him? Or not even that, to protect the world. It makes you wonder, then, if he knew so much about what was going wrong and what needed to be done, why he didn't take a more proactive role instead of sitting back and allowing Zuko to continue thinking that he would have redemption by eliminating Aang. There are many levels to Iroh and his motivations. How could he have foreseen that Zuko would ultimately realize he was supposed to help Aang? If things had gone differently, would Iroh had continued to take the backseat and allowed Aang to be killed? Iroh nudges Zuko in the right direction, but Zuko was so volatile and backpedaled often.

Layers, lovely layers.


ReplyThread
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Mon, Nov. 17th, 2008 10:05 pm (UTC)

There are many levels to Iroh and his motivations. How could he have foreseen that Zuko would ultimately realize he was supposed to help Aang?

Yeah, it's tricky. I love Iroh, but I'm inclined to believe he wasn't thinking that far ahead just yet. Basically, I think his primary motivation was to help Zuko find the right path; I don't think he yet knew what that path was.


ReplyThread Parent
peachespig
peachespig
peachespig
Mon, Nov. 17th, 2008 05:26 am (UTC)

I never thought Iroh was so much trying to slow Zuko down, as that he simply didn't think that achievement was all it was cracked up to be, and was trying to get Zuko to see this. Ultimately he knew that Zuko's happiness, worth as a person and "honor" really didn't come down to presenting Ozai with Aang's head on a pike. Iroh was fighting a different battle.

As for Katara->Aang hints, yeah, they are few. There are certainly forebodings of their relationship in all sorts of things, like the Cave of Two Lovers and the Fortuneteller, but to explicitly see signs that Katara views Aang romantically? The only one that I feel was really worth mentioning was ep 3.02 The Headband, when she is obviously jealous to see him dance with another girl and then blushes when they dance together. And that one was definitely present and significant.

And while it's true Aang didn't defeat Ozai before the comet came, he did defeat Ozai before the comet left — and before Ozai could wreak horrible destruction on the rest of the world. And that's what really mattered, I think.


ReplyThread
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Mon, Nov. 17th, 2008 10:08 pm (UTC)

And while it's true Aang didn't defeat Ozai before the comet came, he did defeat Ozai before the comet left — and before Ozai could wreak horrible destruction on the rest of the world. And that's what really mattered, I think.

That is what mattered. But what I was trying to get at is that Avatar Roku putting it that way implies that defeating the Fire Lord on fire bending crack the day of the comet was going to basically be impossible. But it wasn't.


ReplyThread Parent
umadoshi
umadoshi
Ysabet
Mon, Nov. 17th, 2008 01:33 pm (UTC)

I have no thinky-thoughts on Avatar (although I really enjoyed it!), but those two name pronunciation/spellings drive me insane too. It actually makes me twitchy. >.>


ReplyThread
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Mon, Nov. 17th, 2008 10:14 pm (UTC)

That doesn't surprise me. I feel like I heard or read somewhere that they were using some names in the general east Asian milieu that makes up the culture of Avatar that came from Korean or maybe something else besides Japanese and Chinese, so I thought there was maybe a tiny chance Mai's name was spelled accurately if it was based on a Korean (or some other) romanization. Therefore, I feel that I don't know enough to say it's wrong. But it sure does drive me crazy.

And Ha-RU? Sounds like a dog howling to me.


ReplyThread Parent
umadoshi
umadoshi
Ysabet
Tue, Nov. 18th, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)

I imagine it's possible, but I can't really wrap my head around how anyone could get that sound out of "Mai"--I mean, it's still a romanized version, so why spell it that way...? Ugh.

And Ha-RU? Sounds like a dog howling to me.

Yeah. :/ Unfortunately, it also just makes me think of conversations with casual Furuba fans who can't wrap their heads around Japanese pronunciation.


ReplyThread Parent
spin1978
spin1978
Kyouraku Shunsui
Mon, Nov. 17th, 2008 04:35 pm (UTC)

I'm still peeved that we never did find out about Iroh's trip to the Spirit World, it's one of the major loose threads in the grander scheme of things. I also want to second peachespig's argument that Iroh was fighting a different battle - he knows that given time, Zuko would come to see the light, he just wanted to make sure Zuko didn't do anything too rash or regrettable in his pursuit of the Avatar.

I like how elemental bending is fundamentally neither good nor bad, it's all in how one uses it. Of course, we don't really get the sense of fire being as such until Book 3 when Aang and Zuko meet the Firebending Masters, but anyway. I was sort of hoping to see that not only can each element be used for help or for harm, and that elements can be considered opposites, but also that elements could work in synchronization (I blame this notion on having read and watched too much Naruto). How cool would it have been to see Aang have a ball of fire in one hand, and a ball of wind in another, and mix the two?

I honestly never got into the entire shipping thing for Avatar. I mean, I support Sokka/Harem, and Iroh/Lovely Ladies of the Earth Kingdom, but otherwise? Meh. :)


ReplyThread
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Mon, Nov. 17th, 2008 10:27 pm (UTC)

I'm still peeved that we never did find out about Iroh's trip to the Spirit World, it's one of the major loose threads in the grander scheme of things.

That and Ursa's whereabouts. It's hard for me to not feel that the two things might somehow be related. I just have to wonder if the creators will really leave those things hanging, or if they intend to (and will be able to) reveal the answers in later Avatar-related projects.

How cool would it have been to see Aang have a ball of fire in one hand, and a ball of wind in another, and mix the two?

I feel like what he was doing in the last battle sort of *did* do that, though maybe not to the extent you are thinking of. Also, I wonder how deeply mixing the elements could really be explored in this series when there is only one character who can bend more than one element. Unless it could be done by two or more characters working in tandem, which could be very cool.

I honestly never got into the entire shipping thing for Avatar. I mean, I support Sokka/Harem, and Iroh/Lovely Ladies of the Earth Kingdom, but otherwise? Meh.

:D I'm a shipper by nature, so I can't really help myself. Most of the series I was looking for Zuko/anybody cute and female and not an immediate relative. So when it became clear to me that canon would be Zuko/Mai, I latched on to it. Other than that, I was a bit blind to anything else in the romance department, so I'm trying to make up for it the second time around.


ReplyThread Parent
spin1978
spin1978
Kyouraku Shunsui
Tue, Nov. 18th, 2008 12:56 am (UTC)

That and Ursa's whereabouts. It's hard for me to not feel that the two things might somehow be related.

I wouldn't count this out, although - admittedly based on nothing substantive - I have a gut feeling that Iroh may have visited the Spirit World well before this time in his younger days. I can't imagine that Bryan and Mike haven't thought about these major loose threads.

Like I said, it's probably a function of having read/watched too much Naruto, but I was thinking something like, for instance, combine wind and water to make a superpowered hurricane. The comparison is a little wonky, though, the elemental bending/techniques are set up differently.

I'm a shipper by nature, so I can't really help myself.

Heh. No worries, I was dreaming up totally convoluted action/suspense thrillers one could imagine occurring in the Avatar universe when I was watching the show. For instance, I tell myself that the Order of the White Lotus actually has a secret role in keeping the Four Nations peaceable and balanced in the years between the passing of an Avatar and the maturation of the next Avatar. Given that I figure most Avatars are under far more leisurely schedules to master all four elements, that's at least 20 to 25 years where the Avatar is not at his or her peak.


ReplyThread Parent
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Tue, Nov. 18th, 2008 03:01 am (UTC)

I wouldn't count this out, although - admittedly based on nothing substantive - I have a gut feeling that Iroh may have visited the Spirit World well before this time in his younger days.

Maybe. My first guess would be a twist on the Orpheus legend--that he had some idea of finding, and maybe even reviving, his dead son.

I don't really think that his previous journey had something to do with Ursa's disappearance; it's more that I think he may have some knowledge, as a result of his journey, that could help find her. OTOH, that doesn't really seem to fit with the creators' recent statement that they were going to resolve Ursa's disappearance in the finale, but that it got cut. If that's the case, it would seem the answer to the mystery must be rather simple.

For instance, I tell myself that the Order of the White Lotus actually has a secret role in keeping the Four Nations peaceable and balanced in the years between the passing of an Avatar and the maturation of the next Avatar.

I think that would make a lot of sense; I'm not sure the creators' were really thinking that deeply into it, but it's a cool idea and it seems to fit what we do know about the Order.


ReplyThread Parent
peachespig
peachespig
peachespig
Tue, Nov. 18th, 2008 03:04 am (UTC)

I don't know if you saw this anywhere, but in an interview after the finale came out, Bryke actually told us that one of the writers had storyboarded a sequence involving Zuko seeing his mother again that wa sgoing to go in the final episode, but Mike told him to cut it. It was not explained why they removed it, but when asked whether it would be resolved, Mike said "hopefully someday".

I consider the story of Iroh's trip to the spirit world to be a bit of unexplored character backstory, which is cool but they aren't really under any obligation to explore it. The fate of Ursa, on the other hand, is a major unresolved plot thread. If there is never a sequel, I would consider leaving it out bad storytelling. But I try not to get my hopes up too far for a sequel to ever actually come around. I kind of wonder whether they are trying to get Nick to sign onto something like a one-shot movie.... I doubt they are going to make more seasons of the show, but animated TV movies I could definitely imagine.


ReplyThread Parent
hymnia
hymnia
Joie
Tue, Nov. 18th, 2008 03:50 am (UTC)

Yeah, I was aware of that statement. Check my comment to spin1978 above.

I agree that if they never do anything more to answer the question of what happened to Ursa, it would seem like a flaw in an otherwise well-crafted story.


ReplyThread Parent