Hello there, and thanks for clicking on this blog.
Soo...it’s been awhile, something like 6 months…soo, Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Yeah...here’s part 3 of my indepth review of ATLA: Book One: Water - back by zero demand... (¬_¬)
A LOOK AT AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER
Book One: Water (Part 3 of 3)
|" Whenever righteousness wanes and unrighteousness increases, I send myself forth. For the protection of good and for the destruction of evil and for the establishment of righteousness, I come into being, age after age."|
|— Text from the Bhagavad Gita|
The title of book makes it clear that it revolves around the element of Water, it doesn’t mean that’s ALL that interests our lead character Aang. Indeed he’s received little to no real training through the story thus far, but that is all about to change with this chapter, “The Deserter”.
Firebending has never been seen as an element used for good, yet it is essential that Aang master it - his spiritual master Roku was himself a firebender, init-of-itself, it’s not evil. So when they get the chance to visit a Fire Nation town having a festival, where firebenders are using firebending (not in an attempt to kill them for once) they jump at it. However, what is often the case with Aang, he’s more interested in the aesthetic side of bending, especially what “cool” things that can be done with it, instead of learning properly.
Aang is fascinated with the performer and jumps on stages to show off, surprisingly they get discovered and whilst on the run, the meet a firebending master. At first he refuses to teach Aang firebending (after being asked to train him) until Roku’s spirit speaks-up and demands for him that he does. Jeong-jeong, is correct when saying, Aang isn’t disciplined yet, as he resents the basics. Very much like Zuko and his Uncle drilling him at the beginning of the series, he wants to make fire rather than learn the fundamentals for controlling it. The episode continues that theme of rushing to the finish rather than doing things the proper way, having patience or ending in disaster. Like when the monks told Aang his destiny too soon, it had its consequences - he ran away.
In a task that Aang is given; to control cindering leaf and stop from catching fire, but Aang's resentment lead to him making fire by himself, he succeeds and boy does he succeed… After burning Katara on accident, Jeong-jeong becomes annoyed at himself and Aang refuses to use fire again, running away like he did before. Jeong-jeong’s annoyance is due to Aang reminding him of a former student of his, one in which we’ve been acquainted to before, Zhao. He to rushed to make fire rather than learn the techniques on how to control it, shown in a fight of Zhao and Aang, Aang uses his lack of discipline against him as he destroys his own boats. What an idiot. Again, this episode, like many before it, is showing that every decision for the Avatar (maybe for everyone really) has consequences: “every action has an equal reaction”.
The Northern Air Temple
On their way to the Northern Water Tribe, Aang and the gang go to the Northern Air Temple after being told Airbenders still inhabited it. Turns out it wasn’t true and was instead colonized by an inventor, who builds for the Fire Nation, in return to leave him and the rest of people who have also settled there, alone. Aang is pissed over this desecration, but helps them to stand-up against the Fire Nation and quickly realizes afterwards, they just simply made a home here. This episode is most significant for introducing Steampunk into this world - science!
The Waterbending MasterFinally, they reach their destination, the Northern Water Tribe. Unlike the small traditional looking tribal settlement in the South, the North is more like a sprawling city of ice with a multitude of Waterbenders. Master Paku is the best (at least they say), he’s a hard man, much more than even Jeong-jeong. He agrees to teach Aang, but refuses to teach Katara due to their strict traditions where women learn healing and men learn combat, but Katara wants to fight. This might have something to do with her motivation to protect, much like Sokka was because of what happened - to be able to fight and keep safe one’s home and one’s loved ones, but it’s all speculation as Paku refuses Katara.
Whilst speaking to her healing instructor, she discovers that her ‘Gran-gran’ was actually from here, the Northern Water Tribe, and was once betrothed but didn’t go through with it. Ouch, the guys probably some old bitter guy, who’s in desperate in need to get laid, who has nothing better to do than play around with his Waterbending for half a century...who does that remind you of…?
In an act of complete stupidity, Paku refuses to train Aang after he taught Katara some Waterbending techniques...yeah, what a great decision, let the whole world fall under Fire Nation rule, arsehole! Anyways, they try to appeal to council members of the Tribe, but want Katara to apologize, as Paku is also on the council - yeah, not teaching the AVATAR simply because of him breaking tradition (which he is not apart of) is slightly ludicrous in my opinion, but hey, if you hurt someone's feelings they automatically have the right to fuck over the world, right? Anyways, it finally becomes too much for Katara (and me) and she challenges him to a fight. ...Makes sense…? Katara doesn’t do half bad against Paku, but is defeated. Which makes sense as she didn’t have a chance in defeating someone she was hoping would TRAIN her? Once he finds her necklace, he reveals he was the one who made it. What a surprise. He changes his mind and decides to train both Aang and Katara.
The Siege of the North (parts 1 & 2)
During everything that happened last episode, Zhao has built-up his forces to capture Aang in an all-out assault against the Northern Water Tribe, but he needs to keep Zuko away from getting under-foot. So, he arranges the pirates from “The Waterbending Scroll” to destroy his ship. With Zuko supposedly dead, Iroh joins Zhao as his general for the attack. In truth, it’s to escort Zuko to the Northern Water Tribe in disguise. Clever ‘old’ man.
Iroh, with him men, sings a song for music night where the instrument plays in the background of this episode and some other before it. However this time, it has words; “Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall (Autumn)”, in association, describing the elements as well; “Water, Earth, Fire, Air” respectively, as we just had the Winter’s Solstice it’s now appropriate to think this is for the end of Winter, the end of the Water cycle. Telling the time for the Fire cycle, the end of Summer, the defeat of Fire Lord.
In the third plot, Sokka falls for the young princess, Yue, which becomes understandable complicated when she’s already in an arranged marriage with a guys she doesn’t love, only wanting her for given power. Which doesn’t seem like it would matter if their conquered by the approaching armada.
We now get to the siege, where Katara has advanced greatly, and Aang...builds snowmen with his new found bending abilities, sounds about right… You know Aang, you really haven’t the time to mess around here, you’ve only got two episodes of Water left, you might want to work on this.
Sokka, still pulling-out the moves, uses his ultimate seduction card, the one which opens the door to every girl's heart, “The Neverending Story” technique [high-5* if you got that reference]. It’s cut short however, when they see the sut mixing with the falling snow, the fleet is approaching. Oh man, is Aang ready to face this threat… (*Aang, rolling around in the snow while laughing*) ...Yeah, we’re screwed! We need a plan be...Plan B is the infiltration of Zhao’s ship, lead by Han who doesn’t really care much for Sokka, and what’s worst, he’s Yue husband to be. After a while, Sokka can no longer stand Han’s jackassery the two scrap, which has Sokka pulled from the mission. However, in reality he’s placed as Yue’s bodyguard, should the worst happen. So, his journey comes back to the beginning, starting out as a lone defender for his people, to the lone defender of the girl he loves.
In the meantime, Aang learns that making a snowman and rolling around in the snow may have been a little-itty bit of a mistake and is distraught that he might not be able to stop the Fire Nation. During the night time cease fire, he hits upon the idea to ask the spirits for help. Luckily there’s a little cubby-hole full of spring happiness and stuff, where the spirit energy is concentrated, there, two fish like Ying and Yang circle one another. This helps Aang enter the spirit world, but it’s also symbolic on the battle about to take place. For Zuko has used his firebender to swim through frigid waters to reach this place and plans of taking the Avatar whilst he meditating, but Katara plans to stop him.
There’s some contradictory sources of information on Ying-Yang on the internet, the source that I’ve been provided and found, will be the one I’ll use for this review. It’s a philosophy on balance through interconnected opposites, while the Fire Nation has been after Aang this entire time, it’s true counterpart isn’t the Airbenders or Temples, but the Water Tribe where it all began. The reason for the cease fire (as some you know already) is that firebenders are stronger with the Sun, the source of energy, while waterbenders are stronger with the Moon, the controller of the tides. The battle between Katara and Zuko includes many elements from the list of Ying and Yang; Moon, Sun. Winter, Summer. Feminine, Masculine. Contraction, Expansion. And of course, Fire and Water.
Katara wins until Sunrise, but Zuko can rally and takes Aang's body and walks into the tundra - might fine plan there Zuko? Meanwhile, Zhao begins the siege on the Water Tribe with his plans to not just crush the Water Tribe and capture the Avatar, but a third project, destroy the Moon… Really, murdering the Moon, that’s not really an evil plan you get that often… Nevermind the obsession that has transpired for Zhao, that it’s “his great destiny”. Uh~, you maybe Zhao actually scared of Werewolves! That would make a lot more sense rather than this insanity.
Anyways, as Zhao manicures his crazy, Aang is in the Spirit world to ask the Moon and Ocean spirits for help. Roku reveals that they left the Spirit world long ago and tells Aang that the only one who might remember them and where they are now, is Koh. Who like to steal face if you show emotion, kind of terrifying if you think about it, a face collector…! To avoid this fate, Aang must become completely expressionless not what Koh does. This requires Aang to be disciplined in self control, which has been absent from his training until this point. While Koh is a threat he does answer Aang's question:
Koh: “Their names are Tui and La, push and pull, and that has been the nature of their relationship for all time”.
Again, Ying and Yang, the Moon and Tide, Fire and Water, War and Peace, all represented by this battle of Zhao for those two Koi fish.Aang escapes Zuko clutches, just in time for the mad Zhao to find the oasis and put the Moon Spirit in a bag, turning Moon Red. Yeah, Zhao has really invigorated the word ‘lunatic’ and bring it back to it’s roots. Everybody's there to try warning what a mistake it is because of the balance, both sides are necessary, even Iroh in preparing to attack Zhao if you goes along with his anti-looner plan. Their something that us saine people need to remember about insane people, THEY ARE INSANE! Zhao is no exception as he kills the Moon Spirit and the sky darkens. Now Aang and the Ocean Spirit unite to fight off the Fire Nation. Well done Admiral Dick-ward!
The solution comes from the story of Yue’s birth, on how she was ill and was cured by the Moon spirit, so a small amount of it lives in her. Iroh realises she could help restore the Moon spirit, but at the cost of Yues life. Despite Sokka’s pleading she insists she needs to do this for her people, before she said the same with the arranged marriage but she despised doing that, while with this sacrifice of herself is her own choice. She and she alone is created her own destiny for her people, and with she restores the Moon.
In the Fire Nation's defeat and Zhao killed-off it’s time for some reflection. Katara will train Aang, and many from the Northern Tribe will go South to help rebuild Katara and Sokka’s village. With that journey complete, it seems that Zuko’s own journey is complete also as him and his Uncle float off away, just the two of them, it seems he’s come to terms in giving-up his quest to capture the Avatar and begin a new one. So, the Fire Lord sends a new player into the game, Zuko's younger sister, the prodigy that he was a joke next to, Azula...oh boy…!
End of Book One: Water Review
I want to thank you again for reading through this long blog/review, I hope you enjoyed the read. Please remember to let me know what you thought of the review, and maybe your own experiences of watching Book One for the first time.
Next review will be part 1 of 3 for Book Two: Earth.
Book One: Water (review parts)