Info from the commentary tracks will be marked with a "C".
Chapter 10: The Day of Black Sun, part 1: The Invasion
Bryan Konietzko – Co-Creator
Michael Dante DiMartino – Co-Creator
Benjamin Wynn – Music and Sound Designer
Jeremy Zuckerman – Music and Sound Designer
It's time for the reunion of EVERY COOL CHARACTER EVAR! Well, a lot of them, anyway. I was probably most pleased to see The Boulder again. That voice just cracks me up.
C: Aang's new high-tech glider is based on the original concept for Aang, in which he came from a more advanced civilization.
C: Tennis player Serena Williams voices Ming, Iroh's sympathetic prison guard. She was a big fan of the show and wanted to do a guest spot.
So Sokka fails his attempt to rally the troops with an inspiring speech, which I liked, both for being realistic (he is a 15-year-old boy, after all) and for being funny. Anyway, I'm sure he'll learn in time. :)
I have to reiterate how much I like the fact that this series isn't afraid to change characters' hairstyles. That's pretty rare for animated series. Anyway, the scene of Aang shaving his head—unveiling his arrow and his identity as a master airbender and the Avatar—is inspiring. <3 Aang! (As a shameless FNS, I probably don't express that enough.) Oh, and while I'm on this topic, I should also note Haru's mustache, which makes its first appearance in this episode.
Also inspiring is the scene of Zuko removing his princely trappings—his armor in particular—right after the montage of the invaders putting their armor on. I like the symmetry of it, as well as the "swords to plowshares" symbolism for Zuko's decision to exchange his loyalty to the martial Fire Nation in favor of a new commitment to bringing peace back to the world.
C: When I first watched the series, I watched the commentary on this episode (I was getting the DVDs one at a time from Netflix), and it actually spoiled me for the next episode, because they said that Zuko was preparing to confront his father. (In the episode itself, it's not clear exactly what he's planning to do, just that he's making a big decision that he believes will "set things right".) Anyway, it was the one and only spoiler I had while watching the entire series.
KIIIISSSSS!!!! You go, Aang.
Sokka: Cheek kisses: 2, Lip kisses: 3
Aang: Cheek kisses: 3, Lip kisses: 2
Katara: Cheek kisses: 3, Lip kisses: 2
Suki: Cheek kisses: 2, Lip kisses: 1
Yue: Cheek kisses: 0, Lip kisses: 2
Zuko: Cheek kisses: 0, Lip kisses: 4
Jin: Cheek kisses: 0, Lip kisses: 1
Mai: Cheek kisses: 0, Lip kisses: 3
Azula: Cheek kisses: 0, Lip kisses: 1
Chan: Cheek kisses: 0, Lip kisses: 1
C: I have a hard time telling who's who, so I'm just putting a dash every time the speaker changes, but here's my approximate transcript of the kiss-related commentary:
-This is a very serious moment we're about to watch.
-This is true.
-This is going to anger probably 50% of our fans.
-It's true. The fans seem to be split on whether they want Aang or Zuko to end up with Katara.
-But if you watch carefully, watch Katara's reaction. It's ambiguous. We don't know. We don't know what's going on.
-We don't know what she's thinking.
-Unlike the previous episode, this is the real deal, people. They really kissed right here.
-It's no dream.
-See that? See that little look off to the side? What is she thinking?
-Did she like it? Did she not like it? I don't know.
-I gotta say I'm in the Aang/Katara camp. [pretty sure that's one of the sound guys; the above is mostly—or maybe all—Bryke]
-That's called Kataang.
-I'm with Kataang. [same guy as line before last]
-Zutarans are fierce, though, I tell you.
-They are fierce. Fierce and passionate.
-But they're not supposed to be together! [pretty sure that's a sound guy, not Bryke—maybe the same one as above]
-That's what makes it so great. [pretty sure that's Brian or Mike.]
C: A lot of sound effects they use in the show come from food items, such as crunching lettuce.
C: Jeremy talks about fitting tempos to scenes, and how he makes conspicuous parts of the music fit what's happening in the show. He mentions that some music in "The Swamp" is in 15/16 time signature, and then they laugh at how a lot of people listening to the commentary won't know what he means by that. BUT I DO! And I would be happy to explain to anyone who is curious because I'm a total music dork. ;)
I like the artwork hanging on Mai's wall of her and Zuko together. It's cute. :D
The battle is very well-realized visually. My one complaint is that the explosions and such look so real that I find it hard to believe there were no causalities.
I love it when Sokka hangs off Appa's side and swings his sword at one of the battlements. I recognize that shot and a lot of great intense moments from this episode from the "Remember the Name" fanvid that I love. I linked to it in a previous entry but here it is again. If you haven't watched it before, DO!
I'm remembering how squeeful I was the first time I watched this and got to the part where Zuko says to his mother's portrait, "Today, I'm gonna set things right." HE'S FINALLY GONNA DO THE RIGHT THING!11!1!
Chapter 11: The Day of Black Sun, part 2: The Eclipse"
Bryan Konietzko – Co-Creator
Michael Dante DiMartino – Co-Creator
C: This is a pivotal episode in that it contains both the invasion on the day of the eclipse and Zuko's confrontation with his father, both ideas that had been in the works basically from the beginning for Brian and Mike.
C: They talk about how they got complaint letters about Zuko's decision at the end of season 2, including some that requested they re-do the whole ending after it had already aired. [Gotta love the fan entitlement, eh?] They continue to talk about the timing of Zuko's character arc and how a lot of fans were so anxious and expectant for Zuko's change of heart to come much sooner, even as early as 4 or 5 episodes into the first season. But, in Bryke's words, "You've gotta earn that."
"Put on your
C: The glasses are leather with tiny slits that reduce sun glare. They got the idea from an Inuit film. And no, you still shouldn't use them to look directly at the sun, so don't try it, kids!
Zuko: Growing up, we were taught that the Fire Nation was the greatest civilization in history, and somehow, the war was our way of sharing our greatness with the rest of the world. What an amazing lie that was. The people of the world are terrified by the Fire Nation. They don't see our greatness. They hate us. And we deserve it. We've created an era of fear in the world, and if we don’t want the world to destroy itself, we need to replace it with an era of peace and kindness.
Hmm…political commentary touching on the real world, Y/Y? Either way, it's a great dramatic monologue. I might have to type it up and file it away to pull out at a future Verve meeting (<--drama/theatre ministry at my church). I like the opening part of it (omitted above) as well. Zuko begins by confronting Ozai about his personal grievances ("How can you possibly justify a duel with a child?"), then moves on to the sins of the Fire Nation in general.
C: "It's an important theme for us. People aren't just given things in Avatar. They have to earn them." (Again talking about Zuko's change of heart.)
I have a hard time paying attention to the fight with Azula in this episode. I think I'm just so wrapped up in the Zuko-Ozai confrontation, that the fight with Azula seems boring by comparison.
C: One of the reasons Azula chose Ty Lee and Mai as friends is because they had skills she didn't have that she wanted to learn. She uses both acrobatics and projectiles in this fight.
C: Azula and Toph are a great match, both so comfortable in themselves, and such huge personalities.
C: This episode resolves a number of things from season 2: Azula's discovery of their invasion plan, her appropriation of the Dai Li agents, and the outcome of her fight with Suki. Also, Zuko's use of the lightening redirection technique.
C: Ozai's scene with Zuko mirrors Azula's with the kids: in both they are trying to "bait" the good guys and keep them around until the eclipse is no longer in effect.
It amuses me to no end that Mark Hamill is voicing a character who is throwing lightning bolts from his finger tips at another character, particularly a redemptive, restore-balance-to-the-
C: The airships have a Chinese-style lion on the front. [I never noticed it before.]
Ugh! The part where Haru's dad and Bato wax poetic about Fire Nation prisons makes me cringe. It's so patronizing. "Don't worry, kids! We're just going to prison, where we'll sit around the campfire and sing Kum-bai-ya!"
Aang's sorrow over their defeat and the company's parting is so touching. He's a good man. <3
P.S. Remember to keep comments here spoiler-free! If you have something spoiler-y to say, even if it's in response to this post, please comment in the next post instead. Thanks!