So, uh, I think this blog may be done. At least for a while. I sort of ran out of good list ideas and the momentum to keep writing them. I’m now working another list blog about Bleach (http://bleachlists.tumblr.com/) which you should check out if you watch that show.
So, while I suppose I may still post occasionally, there will no longer be daily lists. I just wanted to let you all know.
And thank you all for following me thus far! It’s been so much fun writing this blog!
And then this idea came into my head.
1. Aang: Earth day
He’s all about restoring the balance and all of that.
2. Katara: Christmas.
She likes family-centric holidays. And also getting presents.
3. Zuko: Halloween
He dresses up as the Blue Spirit every year.
4. Sokka: Thanksgiving.
He likes holidays that center around eating.
5. Toph: Boxing Day
I don’t think she knows what it’s actually about.
6. Ty Lee: Valentine’s Day
She always gets more Valentines than anyone else.
7. Azula: April Fool’s Day
Because fooling Zuko just never gets old.
8. Mai: New Year’s Eve
Mai always likes it when the year ends. Also, parties aren’t always lame.
9. Iroh: Easter
He likes holidays that celebrate new beginnings.
10. Combustion Man: 4th of July
This would be Iroh II, by the way.
Asami: We *would* make a gorgeous couple.
Bolin: ….i-is this because we were tied together in the jail? That wasn’t our decision!
Korra: I have my own sexy firebender, thanks.
Mako: Stop giving me more options! You people know I have trouble with decisions!
Lin: He seems sturdy enough. I probably wouldn’t break him.
Amon: My lieutenant is pretty possessive, actually.
Lieutenant: Amon is pretty possessive, actually.
Tarrlok: How does he feel about bloodbenders?
Tahno: As a rule, I never date anyone prettier than me.
ikawistoako asked: In response to your post on how you liked season 2: I never liked it, because it was too intense for me. I can't handle all the feels. Because beck in book 1, it was all fun and games, nothing serious. Then Book 2; Earth, was really like Earth. It was hard, rough and tough. Haha. Idk, just want to release my feels. Anywys, good day to you! :)
That is true! And season 3 was even more intense!
In polls that I’ve seen, season 3 tends to be people’s favorite season. I assume because of how well ATLA ends. But my favorite season has always been season 2. And I have reasons!
1. Azula makes for a scarier villain.
As I’ve discussed before, Azula really ups the ante in season 2. Because she’s like Zuko - only competent and cold as ice (or blue fire). Which means that the threat looming over the Gaang in season 2 is that much more serious and interesting.
2. There are three sides rather than two sides.
In season 1, there was conflict between two opposing sides: the Fire Nation, as represented by Zuko / Zhao, and the side of good, represented by the Gaang. But in season 3 there are suddenly three sides - Team Azula, Team Zuko, and Team Aang. And each side is trying to capture / defeat the other two - Azula wants to capture Zuko and Aang; Zuko wants to defeat Azula and capture Aang; and Aang wants to defeat Azula and Zuko. This leads to many good moments, including my all-time favorite fight between Zuko, Azula, and Aang in The Chase.
3. The Gaang is being hunted by three separate groups.
So as you can tell, I like it when there’s more conflict. And in season 2, the Gaang is not only being hunted by Azula and Zuko, but also by the men sent by Toph’s parents - which means that at any given time there are three separate threats that can be activated, in addition to the various threats that pop up in each individual episode. And it all comes together so well at the end, when Azula starts her coup, Zuko realizes that the Avatar is in Ba Sing Se, and Toph is captured….all at about the same time.
4. The tone is slightly more serious (but not too much more).
The first episode of season 2 really sets the tone for me - Aang is asked to just use the Avatar State to take out the Firelord immediately, because if he doesn’t, then all the soldiers currently dying in the war will be his fault. It’s a heavy burden to put on a 12-year-old….something that the second season acknowledges more than the first. There’s still a lot of silliness, of course, because this is ATLA, but there’s also more acknowledgment that the stakes are high and the burden on Aang is great. Plus, there’s the whole “missing Appa” storyline….which dives right past “serious” and goes straight for “tragic.”
5. Zuko’s story becomes crazy-compelling.
Now, Zuko was already my favorite character in season 1, but I acknowledge that it’s really season 2 where his story takes off. Instead of just being that angry guy on a ship who keeps on attacking the Avatar, Zuko gets put into new settings and situations and is forced to make different sorts of decisions. Over the course of the season, Zuko becomes a wanted criminal and a refugee, travels on his own throughout the Earth Kingdom, and lives a semi-normal life in Ba Sing Se…before giving it all up to return to the Fire Nation. And, of course, Zuko Alone is perhaps the best Zuko episode there is.
6. There are more female characters.
I also appreciate season 2 for introducing a bunch of new recurring female characters - Toph, Azula, Mai, Ty Lee, and Suki (Suki is introduced in season 1, of course, but she doesn’t get to recur until season 2). Season 1 really just had Katara.
7. Toph is introduced.
I love Toph - and I think she adds a lot to the show, both in terms of skill (she is a walking deus ex machina) and in terms of personality (the Gaang needed someone tiny and stubborn and argumentative).
8. They reach Ba Sing Se.
Ba Sing Se is mentioned through season 1 - usually as the place where Iroh was defeated. The one place the Fire Nation can’t defeat. And in season 2 we finally see it - and it’s awesome. Not only is it beautifully drawn and designed, but it’s also a crazy dystopia full of schemes and dangers and a bear that’s just a bear.
9. The entire season is basically one storyline.
This may be a strength or a weakness depending on your personal preference, but I loved the fact that from episode 6 (The Blind Bandit) to the end of the season, the narrative is continuous: Toph joins the group, trains the Avatar, they visit the library and lose Appa, go to Ba Sing Se to find Appa, and then try to save Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation. Season 1 and 3 has a lot of one-off episodes; season 2 has practically none.
10. The ending.
The season 2 finale is my favorite episode, and I’ve probably raved about it before. But all of it - Azula’s coup, Aang learning about chakras, Toph inventing metalbending, Zuko being forced to choose between sides, Zuko and Katara being thrown in prison together, the final epic fight…..all of it was fabulous. And I just love the fact that it ends with the Gaang losing.
AKA, Why Toph Could Be Your Favorite Character
1. Being blind only makes her stronger.
One of the things I love most about Toph is that her blindness isn’t just something she overcomes; it’s something that makes her the strongest earthbender the world has ever seen. Her method of “seeing” through earthbending is very cool, and I love that it gives her an advantage over every other bender cursed with sight.
2. She’s tiny and crazy-strong.
Apparently, the original plan was for Toph to be a giant muscular dude (hence the casting in The Ember Island Players), and I’m really glad they decided to make her a tiny girl instead. Because the contrast between her size and her strength never ceases to be wonderful.
3. She’s Katara’s opposite.
Toph doesn’t integrate well when she first joins the Gaang, and part of this is because she and Katara are pretty much opposites in every way: Katara is neat and relatively girly and cares a lot about the rules….and Toph is not those things. I enjoy the conflict between the two, and it’s fun to get a completely different sort of female character.
4. She defies her parents to help the Avatar.
Toph has to run away from home to help the Avatar - something that causes her a lot of grief throughout the series. Because not only are there people hunting her, which is bad, but she is also emotionally burdened by the fact that she could never make her parents understand her.
5. Her crush on Sokka.
I just find Toph’s crush on Sokka to be adorable - it’s fairly subtle but ever-present. And one of the best scenes is when Toph thinks Sokka is rescuing her but it’s actually Suki.
6. She’s a human lie-detector.
I love that the ATLA writers did this with Toph’s ability to sense vibrations - they turned into someone who could sense the heartbeat and breathing of another person, and hence into a human lie-detector.
7. She likes to give people nicknames.
I’m delighted that in the LOK flashback Toph was still calling Aang “Twinkletoes.”
8. She helps even when she thinks it’s a bad plan.
Toph can be a little…abrasive, since she’s stubborn and angry and has strong opinions. But she also helps out even when she doesn’t agree - as she does most memorably when she helps the Gaang infiltrate the Earth King’s palace even while insisting that they should really just leave Ba Sing Se.
9. She does things no one else can do.
Toph can locate underground hideouts, hold up giant libraries, tell when people are lying, take on multiple opponents at once, keep people from falling off of cliffs….she’s just so useful to the Gaang that, as I know I’ve said before, I’m amazed they survived for so long without her.
10. She invents metalbending.
This never ceases to be awe-inspiring. At age 11, she invents a totally new kind of bending that everyone has always insisted is impossible. Because nothing is impossible for Toph Bei Fong.
Ever since LOK ended, people have been talking a lot about how terrible Avatarverse parents can be. And they’re right, of course - a lot of children in ATLA and LOK are horribly treated by their parents. But there are also really wonderful parents in ATLA. So let’s take a moment to consider the range of parents presented by ATLA and LOK.
[They are ranked from best to worst]
Iroh is the #1 parent in my book because not only if he a wonderful father to his own son, but he is also a wonderful surrogate father for Zuko, who really, really needs one.
Ursa is a wonderful mother for Zuko - and she at least tries with Azula. She even kills a family member to save Zuko’s life….which sounds horrible now that I write it down but it was a good thing for Zuko, at least.
3. Pema & Tenzin
These two seem like wonderful parents for their four children. They’re supportive and protective and never try to scar/kill their children even a little.
4. Hakoda & Kya
Hakoda seems like a kind and supportive father - although thanks to the war he can’t be home much. Which takes its toll on Sokka and Katara. And Kya protected Katara with her life.
5. Mai’s parents
Mai’s parents don’t seem terrible or anything; they just don’t seem to quite understand their daughter, and they placed more importance on the dad’s political career than on her happiness. Mai is a little…emotionally repressed as a result.
6. Poppy and Lao Bei Fong (Toph’s parents)
They tried - they obviously care about their daughter and want her to be safe; they just don’t understand that keeping her locked away is not what’s best for her. Also, they send people to hunt her down when she runs away, which is not ideal.
7. Hiroshi Sato
Now we’re getting into “really bad parents” territory. It seems clear that Hiroshi thought he was doing what was best for his daughter…but this quickly snowballed into him deciding that she couldn’t be saved and attacking her, which does not make for good parenting.
As far as I know, all the information we have about Azulon’s parenting skills comes from that one scene when Ozai asks his dad to revoke Iroh’s birthright….in response to which Azulon punishes him in some kind of fiery way AND tells him to murder Zuko. It’s really no wonder that Ozai was a terrible father himself.
Ozai challenged his thirteen-year-old son to an Agni Kai, and then horribly scarred his face and exiled him when he refused to fight. He was also very successful at turning his daughter into a psychopath like himself.
But whereas Azulon and Ozai had their own tragic backstories to help explain why the were horrible people, Yakone was just a terrible person and a terrible father. He was a crime lord bloodbender who was mad about getting his bending taken away, so he tried to turn his two young sons into weapons of revenge by forcing them to be bloodbenders themselves.
Sokka: Hmmm…airbending looks fun. I’d like to be able to fly.
Suki: Waterbending seems most in line with Kyoshi Warrior ethics.
Ty Lee: Firebending, like Azula!
Mai: I’ve never missed bending.
Jet: Waterbending. Because it’s the opposite of firebending.
Asami: Firebending. So I can zap people without this glove.
Pema: Airbending. It’d be nice to be able to keep up with my kids.
Tahno: Enough with the damn jokes, people! The Avatar gave me my bending back!
Most of the ATLA characters change hairstyles in season 3. That is an obvious fact and probably not list-worthy. But I would like to consider what the changes in hairstyle *mean.* Because this is ATLA. Changes in appearance aren’t merely aesthetic; they carry some deeper meaning. For instance…
1. Zuko: More hair = More angst
In season 1, Zuko has a shaved head and a ponytail. By season 3 he’s grown his hair out and lets it hang loose most of the time - so that it can dramatically frame his face during dramatic close-ups and so that it can be stirred by mood wind. Basically, his hair is the physical representation of his angst. Which must be how it grows so fast.
2. Katara: Hair loopies —> Hair sausages = Changes in appearance don’t change who you are
Katara is forced to adopt Fire Nation clothing in season 3 - and she changes her hair loopies to hair sausages at the same time (maybe that’s a Fire Nation style?). But of course Katara doesn’t change who she is - that’s, like, the whole point of The Painted Lady episode. And in a similar way, hair sausages are just as symmetrical as hair loopies - they just look a little different.
3. Aang: Bald —> hair = He has to make the tough decisions now
Having hair may not seem like a tough decision, but it was for Aang - it meant covering up his tattoos, hiding who he was, letting the world think the Avatar was dead, all of which went against Aang’s principles. Keeping that hair meant he realized that maybe he’d have to do things he didn’t like in order to save the world. So long as it didn’t involve killing anyone, of course.
4. Sokka: Shaved head + ponytail —> ponytail = Growing up
I’m just guessing on this one, but when Sokka first appeared he had the half-shaved head, half ponytail look going on. In Season 3, he just had a ponytail. And all the adult Water Tribe men we see have full heads of hair, so perhaps Sokka’s new hairstyle looks more adult. Which is what Sokka becomes in Season 3.
5. Azula: Perfect hair —> Hair she screwed up = She’s going insane
Azula used to have perfect hair. Then she went insane with rage and grief and cut her own hair, causing it to look horrible. Because hair needs to be a visible sign of character change.
6. Toph: Hair doesn’t change
I believe this means she’s perfect.
[To the tune of “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”]
Sokka: A new space sword!
Zuko: My mother back.
Aang: Katara’s love.
Katara: Cool bending moves.
Suki: New make-up, please.
Toph: A badger mole.
Jet: Revenge on all.
Azula: My rightful throne.
Mai: Some new, sharp knives.
Ty Lee: My circus life.
Iroh: Some hot leaf juice!