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  • Okay, not that this isn't a topic I've discussed before (so don't groan when you hear it), but it is taken from a different angle. I was looking up things about the loss of the Connection, and one of the biggest things talked about was that Korra is no longer "reliant" on the past lives for extra information. My first reaction was "come on, when have you seen her actually rely on them for anything but a medium-sized wave?", but the post went on to suggest that the past lives were definitely political and sociological masters, and that it was better for Korra not to have them to rely on, seeing how the Avatar is highly important in world politics.

    So that got me thinking: how would politics appear in this world? We know about Aang's time, and Korra's to some degree, but what about earlier? What does it actually mean to have an ultimate diplomat, the (now) metaphorical spirit of the planet looking over your shoulder? How might this influence politics, one way or another? What do you think?

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    • Well, as we've seen in the seires, it seems to depend on the person who is being influenced. Some rulers don't seems to care about the Avatar's opinions, even seeing it as intrusive to a degree. However, they all seem to fear, to a degree, the power the Avatar holds. I would guess it was the same in times before.

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    • ...okay, that works. But personally I was wondering about government decision-making. Seeing how the Avatar was linked to their history in a way that was far greater than any mere dynasty–actually having memories' of past conflicts and cultures–do you think the general sentiments would be more geared towards respect and compromise than they were in, say, Medieval China? Or would it simply not count for as much?

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    • I still think it'd depend on the ruler. A wise ruler might take that into consideration and therefore accord the Avatar more respect and compromise, while a more arrogant ruler would care less about it and treat the Avatar like anyone else

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    • With so many past lives to use, Aang and other featured Avatars certainly felt like diplomats more so than the bridge factor. Part of that was the lack of spirits around so the human relation portion of the Avatar and its idea of balance took precendent more often. Even in the last comic trilogy, the idea was more of the Avatar having more of a emphasis on humanity and physical realm matters. 

      But now we have no past lives, a new spirit portal, and numerous spirits around so the tables are essentially turned. There's also the aspect that Korra was never much of a diplomat so the relationship might vary between individual Avatars. From what we know, Kyoshi seemed focused on the physical realm, Yangchen on spiritual issues, and Roku and Aang on the physical realm as well.

      Sure, Korra doesn't have the previous connections, but did she really use them often enough to serve as effective counsel?

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    • True, Korra didn't use the connection half as much as even Aang, and he was twelve. But there's something that people really tend to miss: by the time most Avatars have mastered the elements, and the Avatar State, they're in their twenties. For the most part, the tradition seems to be to learn of your identity when you reach sixteen, to allow the child to grow up with what is basically a normal life. Korra, for multiple reasons, is an exception, more so than Aang in ways, because she knew, from the start, that she was the Avatar. Which meant that, in her own words, all she ever wanted to be was the Avatar, without actually knowing what that meant. Her personality was, and always has been, about the power of Bending the elements; she doesn't seem grounded at all in history or in culture, and strength and compassion aside (because regardless of that final episode, I do find that when she actually takes time to listen to people she can be quite compassionate) she really doesn't have that much of a personality. The shades of her that we get are all...sheltered and sequestered, really, which is probably a third of why she and Mako barely developed in six months. (The other two thirds were Mako being in a relationship coma for whatever weird reason, and Bryke trying to force more love triangles at us.)

      To put it bluntly: Korra is the Avatar. But, as much as I hate to say it, Tarrlok was right; she's a half-baked Avatar. She's got the Bending down pat, I guess, but there's no sense of sharing in things. She's been on something of a closed-off pedestal all of her life, where others have been able to at least remember a time before they were the Avatar. The learning tradition, which Aang had to break because of timing, was broken for her; but unlike Aang, she didn't have anything to counter it, and more to the point, the necessity to connect was never a big thing for her, because the timing was different and she was out in the world, too early to focus and too late to develop fully.

      And she developed, that's true, but the development was focused around her and her alone. With Aang, his development was focussed on the world, the spirits, and the past lives, with a backing of a culture now his to preserve, as well as his own abilities and maturing; with Roku, the development seems to have been the world, since he was practically an adult by the time he was called, and had a happy life of relative peace and joy to call upon in dark times. Korra's Southern Water Tribe, but there's no backing for that besides a basic level of patriotism and her skin and eye colour. She's the Avatar, but there's never any time to try and connect with her past lives, no effort made to do something that's supposed to be the culmination of the Avatar's training. And yes, folk are going to say that the Avatar really shouldn't be the most important thing, and maybe that's true; the Avatar is not the only thing to focus on. But the Avatar is still important; they're the sum, effectively, of history, a living embodiment of human civilization. Forget what Korra's been trying to tell you, look back at the old series! Look at the word "avatar", meaning "one who descends"–a living god, with all the wisdom and power of a god, in the form of a human. Get rid of the Avatar, and it's not impossible for things to go on, and that's perhaps a sign of development that the world leaders don't need a babysitter anymore. But there are still going to be problems, problems that it does take ages to fix and extra experience to solve, so why throw it away for the sake of an Avatar who wasn't trained correctly, wasn't given proper development? Even if the Avatar is no longer the only conduit to the supernatural, they're stil a link to the past and to the people before them, not all of them good, but all of them with something to share. It's a look at the world from everyone's perspective, from different classes, nations, and eras.

      Korra didn't use the Past Lives for guidance, because her story (for a number of reasons) was rushed, and there was no time to focus on who Korra was, just on Korra being there, stealing the spotlight and pushing everyone and everything that she deemed unimportant into the background. But that doesn't make it right, nor does it make the development of the world better than a well-planned-out story, allowing the characters time to simmer and be themselves, allowing them to see another side without that side being so distorted as to be almost clichéd. We need those lives, if the story is to balance itself out, if only so the next Avatar is given a chance like Korra was.

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    • I haven't written a post this long in ages. That was fun!

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    • It's a nice one, AV! The whole past lives issue and its removal and the lack of interaction between previous lives was probably to better differentiate between Aang and Korra. Not saying it was a good reason or a good way to do it though. There's even an easy out to the idea too: Raava.

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    • Thanks, Captain! And yes, it probably was to differentiate between Aang and Korra, though it was the wrong way to do it. Actually, that brings up another big problem: what happened to the Gaang in later years was, if I may reiterate, just wrong. Now, I do know that people change with time, but normally they grow up somewhat and then keep growing. We were around the Gaang for three of our years, one of theirs, and they matured faster than Korra did in one of her years, good spirits, more than in three of her years. So how to balance it out and not have people comparing her to Aang? How to deal with a situation that will inherently cause trouble with fans? Easy! Make your previous characters diminish in ability and personality.

      How to deal with Aang, the last Avatar down the line, the kid whom we watched grow into a strong young man who took the time to balance the ever-changing world while remaining true to his beliefs? Make him obsessed with those beliefs, to the point where the fun-loving and child-loving Avatar neglects the welfare of two of his kids because they aren't Airbenders, doesn't take as much time to show his appreciation for them as he did for a nonbender Fire Nation girl when he wasn't even a teenager, and have them suffer the consequences of being basically ignored by the world. How to deal with Katara, the master Waterbender who made a firm stand for the rights of women and Bending, and who effectively was the first known Waterbender to win an Agni Kai? Just break that strong personality with age and toss her in the "caring grandmother figure" pile, so she can watch her husband's reincarnation grow up–and then somehow not be out there helping her tribe when it so desparately needs her. (Spare me Toph's "You gotta leave it to the kids", we had a whole troupe of over-fifties liberating the biggest city on the planet by themselves, during a Firebending-enhancing cometbefore modern medicine.) Speaking of Toph, what to do with that Bending-enhanced meteor in the form of a twelve-year-old girl, who was brought up in seclusion but learned through much effort and troubling experiences the value of friendship and family? Thrust her into a position of security (which, I'll admit, was a pretty good idea), have her treat her elder daughter like trash while indulging the younger one's highly inappropriate misbehaviour, and then send her off into the wild without a word of contact to any of the group who actually brought her out into the world. Sokka's dead without a glance, Suki's never mentioned all throughout, and Zuko's gone from rookie Firebender to ancient rookie Firebender without any further development of skill at all; so he learned from the dragons and rides one himself–can he stand against a Bending team without falling flat on his face like he did when he was sixteen? I think not. (Also, who on earth decided Zuko was closest to Aang? Did they forget that Katara, his honest-to-spirits wife, had been teaching little Korra since she was about four? Wasn't there time to enlighten her on what Aang would have tried in all those years?) They've been either downplayed or downgraded to make room for other characters, which I find insulting not just to the fans, but to the show itself.

      A show that gave us these memorable characters, allowed them to grow and develop in what was a mastery of storytelling, should not be shoved aside, and in the later seasons of Legend of Korra they did just that. If it's an original show in the same universe, and you didn't want the characters to change things up as they already will, then you might as well give them peaceful deaths. Better yet, you might actually give those remaining some good memories to pass on, some experience to give to the next generations instead of giving half-baked reasons why they aren't able to fight anymore. (After Bumi, I really am not inclined to believe them.) If it's specifically a sequel series, then the same applies, only their work should be a little more obvious. And, in all honesty, with the amount of actual time that LoK was given, it would work better as a sequel series, because there isn't ever any time to explain. For the most part, these are places that we have to recognize, that we already knew something about, and that's why it works. For all the effort that was made to effectively hide the might and power of the original series, it's still obvious, even if the Gaang's been downed one by one. LoK had a storyline which was relatively decent and unique in and of itself, but the way it was handled with relation to ATLA didn't serve to boost the story, it made impressions of both series, both stories, both sets of characters, far worse than it could have been.

      I won't say the Gaang was perfect, but by Raava, when they matured, they actually matured.

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    • I think that one was even longer than the last. Let me know what you think!

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    • Yes it was. 

      Aang's adulthood: I find it interesting that they added so much about his personality during LoK. It was actually shocking at first to hear that he didn't raise his other two kids as well as he might have Tenzin. There was more depth in the exchange between the siblings than the entire Korra and her parents segments.

      Bridge: There's another point that was made in another thread but I'll make it here too. Korra doesn't try to balance spirits but instead goes for the extreme of 'pacifying' them with spirit bending to positive energy. The result, if we go by the creators with Vaatu's fate, is destruction. So we have an Avatar who simply attempts to deal with an spirit issue in a rather terrible method.

      There's also an additional problem of the lack of spirit interaction in LoK, post portals openings. That problem is a lack of real interaction. We get that scene with the hedgehog spirit which just confirms a problem between the two groups and Korra's exchange with the spirits prior to the invasion by Kuvira. In fact, the entire problem seems solved without Korra's direct involvement.

      Explanations: This might be the worst problem I have with the series and really requires a viewer to watch the original series before it. That and many other scenes might require additional viewings or going to into other avenues like commentaries or the art books to figure out some situations. That's never a good thing.

      Characters: To be honest, I find myself liking most of the LoK characters more than the original characters. But that's just the basic characters and some of their traits, as the original series had the development the sequal was lacking. Some of the side characters, like Lin and Tenzin, feature more development than most of LoK's Team Avatar.

      That simply be that these side characters felt like the writing had more effort put into them. The entire Tenzin arc in book 2 alone seems testamount to it. We even had a two parter in book 3 with Lin and there was more going on there than Mako's arc in the entire series.

      Maturity: I made a post quite awhile back where I said about the same thing. I think was that while Korra looks more mature, it acts more childishly while ATLA looks more childish but acts more mature.

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    • Hey, you reincarnated, Captain! You got a new Avatar!

      I agree with you on most of these points–the point about the maturity was something I'd never thought of before, thanks for pointing it out–but there's one thing I wasn't so sure of. Really, what did they actually add to Aang's personality? We got a shot of him taking down a Bloodbender, he used seaweed sushi to do the marbles trick, he gave back Korra's Bending, and he neglected his kids. Last point aside (I'm not sure I can really believe it of him), there's nothing that was really said about him to develop his personality. Now, I'm not saying the comics have done much better (with the possible exception of those bits relating to how he's dealing with aspects of Air Nomad culture in a contemporary setting), but it still needs some work.

      What I will also agree with you on is that Lin and Tenzin are absolutely amazing.

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    • I think it largely came to one major point with the LoK characters: the ideas are fine but the execution is just terrible.

      I was largely thinking about the series in general. I mean,in the original series we see things that you typically don't see very often in these kinds of shows. Early on we even see remains of a fatherly figure for Aang, the actual usage of reeducation, and so on.

      By adding to his personality, did you mean in the original series or LoK? For LoK, i'd probably just point at the kids portion (and maybe his legacy in book 1?). The marbles trick is more of a nice easter egg or inside joke.

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    • Hmm. Truth.

      I was referring to LoK myself. The kids portion I'm personally choosing to leave out of this–because, for one thing, Aang's already proven at twelve years old that he gets along well with (younger) children. If I think about it too much, I shall probably explode. It doesn't make sense with his personality anyway, more just an excuse to be more unfair to their offspring in an attempt to show a grittier side of their parents. Which makes no sense either, seeing as they already had their own flaws in the original series, and they were managing to learn from them instead of reverting back into spoiled little drama queens (yes, I am talking about old Toph).

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    • Maybe it was to show a flaw in the character during LoK? Adult Aang was pretty much proped up during book 1.

      I did go back through most of the whole bridge/diplomat sections and LoK still feels very lacking on those regards, comparatively speaking. It's almost like Korra just lets others do the work after she defeats the villain every book. She doesn't seem to take any role during the Amon aftermath, three year hiatus following book 3, and so on.  Even her best attempt, the Kuvira situation, ends up with Wan deciding what to do with the EK.

      You could say that its just her character and personality? She does at least have the book 4 finale to point at potental progression (not counting the Wan porition at the wedding party).

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    • Eh, maybe. Or maybe not. The fact that Aang was propped up–or maybe just turned out to be a good Avatar after all, which is what the first series seemed to have been building up to–doesn't mean they had to tear down some of his fundamentals in the second season. And frankly I found it a little bit odd that Aang never was given a chance to speak for himself, being destroyed at the end of the season and having no interaction with Korra besides giving back her Bending.

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    • Avatar Vyakara wrote:
      Eh, maybe. Or maybe not. The fact that Aang was propped up–or maybe just turned out to be a good Avatar after all, which is what the first series seemed to have been building up to–doesn't mean they had to tear down some of his fundamentals in the second season. And frankly I found it a little bit odd that Aang never was given a chance to speak for himself, being destroyed at the end of the season and having no interaction with Korra besides giving back her Bending.

      Absolutely, I found it quite odd that they never had any discussion or conversation in book 2 prior to his removal after Raava's death. I would think that Aang might have found Korra's attitude towards the first part of book 2 questionable. Even the lines with Korra talking to Wan were really void of the same conversation. Yes, it was similiar to Aang and Roku but there was also so many other moments of the two talking with each other than Wan simply giving Korra the answer.

      Even more odd was the lack of Korra even thinking about asking Raava anything. During book 4 alone, Korra speaks to Raava after regaining her and Raava simply responds to her for an obligatory line. You'd think Korra might ask the spirit more?

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    • Well, when Wan and Raava fused he decided to act as a bridge between humans and spirits. Stopping wars and minding other nations business came later, and i think how they act is strictly an individual choice. Some may think they don't have the right to tell world leaders what to do, while others may think world leaders should answer to them. I believe both mindsets can be harmful in a way, having a superpowered being watching over our leaders(that as humans, can be corrupted and make mistakes) is a good thing, but if this being is also a human who can be corrupted and make mistakes(and mistakes involving super powers can be even worse) this is a really dangerous situation depending on the person's mindset.

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    • Looking over the OP, I think the Avatar having the connections would be a unique advantage which could also be a major detrement. It has a huge amount of experience to draw from, having dealt with many many varied situations. This very easily could lead to great wisdom. However, on the other hand, it could also serve to be very limiting, creating a particular perspective and world view that could stiffle innovation.

      The Avatar Cycle could serve to combat this, with every few decades or so sort of starting over again with a fresh perspective, but at the same time, it would seem that as time goes on and the past lives are accessed more, the aggregate "Avatar State persona" (or perhaps "animus") could influence the personality of the given living Avatar, reinforcing the collective view. This could make it very slow to change...which has both its pros and cons.

      But from what I've seen, I do not see the Avatar/Avatar State as a master diplomat. More, it just has the power to enforce what it will. In Aang's case, he really seemed to deviate from the will of the previous lives, namely Roku, and broke the segregation of the four nations and sought to make them unified in a literal sense.

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    • Yes, but I think that ATLA and the comics did a great job at circuventing the experience problem: just let the Avatar largely commune with the recent Avatar or the past few. Aang largely talks to Roku rather than every Avatar with some occasional help from Kyoshi or Yangchen.

      The whole experience thing of the Avatar State itself was pretty vague and most of the strength of the state came directly from the increase in bending power. 

      By Avatar State persona I guess you could just say Raava as part of some speculation. She, or it, would be the single constant with the Avatar regardless of past lives.

      I think the "master" diplomat focus, which could be linked with the spirit bridge aspect of ATLA, is actually a good thing. It offers a constrast to the path of least resistance that is the Avatar State.

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    • He severed his connection with Roku and inadvertantly the others. He spoke to Yangchen instead of Roku in the Rift, he has been shown in the show itself to commune with others, it seemed like the implication was that he spoke to more than the handful we saw.

      What? Raava would likely be influenced by them too, she's a personality in there along with the others. If she could change her mind due to Wan over the course of a year, she absolutely could be influenced by the experiences and personalities of the other humans she's bound to.

      How's the Avatar State a "path of least resistence?" 

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    • I think he means that people aren't willing to resist the AS, at least i think it is. And i agree, only a small handful of people would try to resist someone who can create an island like Kyosh did.

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    • Weltall8000 wrote:
      He severed his connection with Roku and inadvertantly the others. He spoke to Yangchen instead of Roku in the Rift, he has been shown in the show itself to commune with others, it seemed like the implication was that he spoke to more than the handful we saw.

      What? Raava would likely be influenced by them too, she's a personality in there along with the others. If she could change her mind due to Wan over the course of a year, she absolutely could be influenced by the experiences and personalities of the other humans she's bound to.

      How's the Avatar State a "path of least resistence?" 

      I'm not too sure with Raava because of how little she speaks after Beginnings. You'd think with all the emphasis and prominance by the creators of Korra with that Raava image on her (I think Bryan did most of the box images and that book 4 mini-poster) that Raava would do a bit more than only responding once in book 4. Yeah, she could be influenced by all the past Avatars but we just don't get that really in the show.

      I think we should have had some Korra/Raava moment talking before they re-combine at the finale of book 2 saying exactly what you mentioned. 

      SaitamaBro put it close to what I meant with the Avatar State. The state itself was very powerful and perhaps overpowered in Aang's case. It was pretty much a win button in most cases. It's why I like the Avatar trying to do something else before the AS, pending story reasons.

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    • Avatar Vyakara wrote:
      Okay, not that this isn't a topic I've discussed before (so don't groan when you hear it), but it is taken from a different angle. I was looking up things about the loss of the Connection, and one of the biggest things talked about was that Korra is no longer "reliant" on the past lives for extra information. My first reaction was "come on, when have you seen her actually rely on them for anything but a medium-sized wave?", but the post went on to suggest that the past lives were definitely political and sociological masters, and that it was better for Korra not to have them to rely on, seeing how the Avatar is highly important in world politics.

      So that got me thinking: how would politics appear in this world? We know about Aang's time, and Korra's to some degree, but what about earlier? What does it actually mean to have an ultimate diplomat, the (now) metaphorical spirit of the planet looking over your shoulder? How might this influence politics, one way or another? What do you think?

      First thing is Korra relied on her past lives to return bending....... and guide her to defeating Amon.

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