To those who are unfamiliar with the Avatar Wiki newsletter, this is a free-for-all submission system that truly relies on you to keep publishing. If you're anything like me, you also wouldn't mind being part of a fancy blog feature on Avatar Wiki's home page just for submitting a sophisticated ramble in style! See those huge, obvious green buttons above me? One click is all it takes for your journey to glorified publishing to begin... We WILL see you in our article submission office. We will. You know you want to.
Hello, dearest BSST readers!
We didn't take a year to update this time because we just love you too much and want to spend this day with you. We've gotten lots of love on this issue as well! (We know what you're really here for, so we made a huge and obvious column with your valentine submissions.) Indulge yourself in all the Oogie-themed articles. We will not apologize for going overboard with the colorful decorations.
It's a good year to be in love with The Legend of Korra, because the turf wars are lit and they ain't dying down anytime soon. Embrace the joy, hate, or whatever else you feel about the shipping explosion. You are an Avatar fan that transcended the boundaries of air time; it has been four years since the finale of any Avatar series, and here you are. Remind yourself that that love brought you to this community!
If you just hate this holiday with a passion, lighten up. Have a cookie. Dance with someone! Happy Valentine's Day, and Happy Reading <3
Since I had some fun doing this last time, I figured, I might as well try it again for Turf Wars Part 2. Now I should probably say up front that this one has kind of an disadvantage for being the middle child. Frequently in trilogies that were planned from the start as trilogies, the second installment suffers from being connective tissue between the opening and the climax, where they lack a true beginning and end. Part 1 is actually pretty solidly divided into three acts, with an opening act that focusses on our two leads, a second act that's more about the how the world around them has changed, and a finale that brings those two together. Part 2 does unfortunately suffer a little bit from the aforementioned 'middle child' problems, mostly because it ends on a cliffhanger, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Beware spoilers from this point on.
The story picks up the day following the fight around the Spirit Portal at the end of Part 1, with Korra anxious to make sure that the spirits know she is still on their side, which I do like. It's a bit of that post-Book 4 Korra I felt was a little absent in Part 1, so that's a welcome return to form. I also like how even though they are on paper now, the characters we do get to see again feel very much like how they felt in the show, which becomes more obvious now that the scope is broadening a bit and we get to see more distinct characters, most notably the airbenders. Also, yeah, the opening is a bit grim, but it is earned, and also has a purpose in the story.
We get back to the material world, where we see fan-favorite General Iroh, once again being more of a plot-device than an actual character, though that scene is kept pretty brief. I do like the next scene though, where Mako and Bolin are talking to Lin. This feels like yet another apology for past mistakes, mostly those of Book 2, where she's just being dumb with ignoring obvious leads because "You're just a beat cop, Mako." While that kind of reductive storytelling should rub me the wrong way, it works here because it's integrated properly, with Lin telling the brothers to hold their distance until they have something solid on a well-connected and powerful potential suspect. I also like that now that we don't have to listen to his stupid bird-calls, Bolin actually manages to get in a few funny lines while still remaining recognizably himself, just like the airbenders I mentioned before.
And now we come to one of the negatives that I kind of glanced over in Part 1: Raiko. He was mostly played for comedy there, which was clever, because he's fairly one-dimensional. Now, even from the start, Raiko has been portrayed as not terribly bright, going along with whatever is put in front of him that he can seize for either his own sake or for the Republic, and they keep the through line going here. Unfortunately, they stopped playing him for comedy here, and since pretty much all the characters we're sympathizing with are usually annoyed by him, that can't help but slosh over to us, the audience, being annoyed with the story whenever he shows up, which I kind of was. On the other hand, the story does seem to realize this, as the amount of time we spend with him is kept to a minimum and mostly used as a springboard to get Zhu Li to run for office as well. On a side-note, it is very clever how they had Korra make the exact same move to shut up Wenyan that Kuvira used to silence the bandit in the first episode of Book 4. Can't help but like little callbacks like that. I also like that now the story gives everyone a little bit of room to breathe, which is nice for them. Then again, it does give off the vibe that Korra is just inherently bad at relationships, which is a point I'll get back to later, and that's... worrying.
The establishing of the next scene with Bolin basically narrating his own life as if it were a movie trailer gets a laugh, and we finally get some of Mako's reaction that I actually said was almost completely absent from Part 1. It's funny here, so I'm still a little baffled on why they didn't do anything with it before. Maybe it was cut for space, but that's speculation. Bringing Skoochy back in works fine, it's a nice and streamlined way to do things, which is always nice. Probably to save some of that space I was just talking about, but again, speculation. That having been said, Bolin being the 'bad cop' in this scenario kind of comes out of nowhere and then also disappears just as quickly. I'm not really sure what to think of that, because is the point to have it just be a comedic role-reversal, which doesn't work since it's never brought up again, or have Mako turn into a surrogate father figure of someone we've seen only once, so it doesn't really mean anything... I'm probably reading too much into that.
And then we finally learn why the story has the name it does, because we get setup for some actual turf wars, look at that. And the story chooses to do so by seemingly drawing inspiration from Airplane! and the bar scene in Inglourious Basterds. Interesting choice. It does have that feeling like Asami is holding a gun under the table, but she's also outnumbered. A rare kind of tension, and it's done pretty well here, even if I was hoping for a little bit more of it? Maybe? Or it's just Jargala, who I do like. She has a cool design and cocky personality to match, so maybe I just want more of her.
The next scene I love, because it gives us something we haven't really gotten much of from LoK: an insight into what is driving the villains and how they operate. We got little tidbits of it here and there, and I do feel that with a series bent on making its villains relatable and complex this is always welcome. Tokuga get another nice moment, again, he kind of reminds me of Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but in a good way. His physical deformities actually make him stronger than normal humans, which he is keen to demonstrate, and again, shows us that he is a physical threat to be reckoned with, just as much as he is intelligent, which is also shown in the same scene. Intercutting it with the police raid on the warehouse feels a little messier in comic form than it would in animation, but it's still effective, showing us that he planned ahead for basically every contingency. Also, it's a good way to reaffirm him as intimidating, even though I don't think the frame of his full face is quite as intimidating as the last frame of Part 1, but that could just be me.
And now we finally get to the worrisome part that I mentioned a few paragraphs ago. Asami informs Korra of Jargala's veiled threat, who wants to take action, because that's just her nature, got it, makes sense. But when Asami tells her not to blow this out of proportion, even in still frames, Korra's body language suggests a dismissive attitude towards Asami's apparent confidence towards the situation, which makes me think... haven't we been here before? It does have that air of Book 2 to it, and that's never a good thing. Korra being snippy towards Mako all the time is a large part of the reason they failed, and I feel that here too. Maybe she's just inherently bad at relationships, which is an observation that I really don't want to make. Yes, there is a more tender moment after that, but I'm still a little worried.
Then the scene at the refugee camp... I'm also dubious about. Suggesting that Raiko is withholding supplies from people who have literally lost everything just so he can gain a political advantage is just repulsive, and doesn't really square well with what we've seen so far of him. Yes, he'll go for personal glory, but he does have the best interests of his country at heart. Also, if they are struggling for space like I said before, why is there nearly a full page dedicated to Varrick eating a cake? That's just really bizarre, the scene isn't very funny, so I'm not very impressed there. That having been said, I do like how that is followed up, because the scene of Varrick giving Zhu Li a massage rings familiar, but it's also sweet.
When we get to Korra waiting for Asami, and then going to check out her office, the story finds its groove again, as do the visuals. I've heard the complaint that they're turning a decisively strong female character into another damsel in distress with Asami, but that's not really true beyond a surface-level reading. Yes, Asami gets kidnapped, but if you just look at the sheer level of damage done to her office, it should be immediately apparent that she put up one hell of a fight. Withholding the reveal that it wasn't the Creeping Crystals but the Triple Threats instead wasn't a huge shock as a reveal, but I do like how it brings out the more primal instincts in Korra. "You'll have to go through us first!" - "Not a problem!" is precisely the back and forth I was hoping it would be, and like I said, we get more Jargala, who is awesome. Korra makes five gangsters duck for cover with one move, and Jargala just faces her, even though she knows she's outgunned here.
The scene at Air Temple Island feel mostly like a setup for Part 3, which is okay, and it's also clever from a technical perspective, as it gives us more a sensation that some time has passed between Korra talking to Jargala and her being done searching through the Creeping Crystal’s headquarters. And then the final fight, I love. That's a good thing, going out on a high note. First the reveal of Tokuga's face to Korra is totally badass, what with the orange lighting from the fire, the angle, the tentacle on his arm, his coat flapping in the wind, everything just works there. Also, the visual of him being backed up by a whole army of those mecha suits is awesome, giving a deliberate sense of power to him. He's holding all the trump cards here, and he knows it. But Korra is not so easy to beat, and it gives us the most badass visual of her in the Avatar State, one so awesome that when Apple used that for their iTunes poster, I used it as my profile picture. The reveal that Tokuga was the one who had Asami captured wasn't a big surprise, but to the story's credit, they don't dwell on it, and it ends by saying 'let's get ready for Part 3.'
On the whole, I like Part 2. Even though I do think the ending is very typical for a part 2, it's handled okay, and like I said, it gives us some good visuals. I also like how much visual storytelling it does, probably more so than in Part 1, which is always a plus for me, and I'm very curious to see where they are going to take this story next. Focusing more on the world around them as opposed more on Korra and Asami is a good idea, as it makes everything more tangible, but still leaves some room for the main characters to breathe. Comparing them feels a little gauche, but if I had to, I'd say Part 2 has better pacing, but Part 1 a little bit less of a non-ending. Basically six in one hand, half a dozen in the other. Doesn't matter, they're both good, and I'm definitely excited for more.
Your Secret Valentine Submissions BSST Staff
You answered the call, and we've published your love confessions! Boy, have we got a treat for you. Users, beware... You never know who sent you a valentine. Or who responded. Find out if you have a secret admirer below!
♡ Dear Tui and La,
For spirits who control the fate of the world's balance, ya couldn't choose a mortal form that can defend itself? Why didn't you turn into two sharks or something... Oh well, keep on dancing.
A concerned fan
♡ Dear Concerned Fan,
We will go Koizilla on you if you think we cannot defend ourselves.
Tui and La
♡ To the Dai Li,
I'll be the first fangirl to profess my love in this column, because you deserve it. I will NEVER get over you guys. Never...
I am offended because of the way you have just objectified me. That is a completely inappropriate violation of my right to dignity. #metoo
Foaming Mouth Guy Don't Assume My Gender!
♡ Dear A:TLA, TLoK, Avatar Wiki, and the Fanon Portal,
Between other series, gaming, finishing school (well, school school, not higher education school/university), community service (alternative to military service), and an overlying lack of willpower to commit to all my ambitious projects, I'll have to admit, I've gotten out of touch with you all, and it might happen that I never again get back in touch as I once was...
Even so, ATLA, LoK, even the wiki and its fanon section, well, you all will always hold a special place in my heart. You helped make my English skills what they are today (I believe much of the credit here goes to fanon authors, particularly ARG, Fruipit, LL, Minn, OR, and others), made me realise my passion for writing (though it's, granted, far from the best), and, of course, you all introduced me to amazing stories, and every time, the wait was worth it (even if it was over a year).
So yeah. Thank all of you amazing people (for whom I'm ready to overlook the gaping differences in socio-economic and political opinions that exist between (most of) us) for an amazing time, and all the best to all of you!
♡ To Her Majesty Hou-Ting, 53rd sovereign of the Earth Kingdom,
I sang the Internationale in Russian during your assassination.
I mean, I was surprised, but... not negatively.
An Advocate of Revolution
♡ Dear Zaheer,
You are, without a doubt, the worst revolutionary I've ever read of.
Okay, maybe not THE WORST, but certainly one of the worst.
An Advocate of Revolution
♡ Hi Zuko,
I hear you've been missing me a lot lately, even saying my name out loud on occasion. I miss you too, but you know, there are reasons why we can't be together right now. You know what? Maybe ask your uncle Iroh. Yeah, he'll have some advice on how to find me.
♡ Dear Earth Queen Hou-Ting,
You take my breath away, which is why I took yours!
♡ Dear Ming-Hua,
The one with water for arms
I'm in love with your charm
I saw your face in the stars
Though you are far
You'll always have my heart
♡ My Dear Mary Sue,
Everyone else may hate you, but I love you for your utter perfection. We are one, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's us against the world of critical authors.
I come from a world where giant creepy people known as titans ate all my friends, and I have an obsession with red scarfs. You better not have come from Eren, too, or else I will find your owner and hunt him down.
Eren is mine, and so is his scarf.
♡ Dear Hou-Ting,
Sick of breathing? Have some tea!
♡ BSST readers,
What's with all these valentines to Hou-Ting? What about me? </3
Earth King Kuei
♡ Dear Kuvira,
Despite your betrayal, six words can describe how I'm feeling right now: “I can’t imagine life without you.” If I could give you one thing in life, I’d give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes, only then would you realize how special you are to me. If someone asked me to describe you in just two words, I’d say “Simply Amazing.”
You have gripped my soul with a ferocity reserved for a castaway clinging to a raft in the middle of the ocean. If my soul is the raft, it is your hold that keeps me afloat. Don’t ever let go. Just had to let you know… loving you is the best thing that happened to me and I forgive you.
♡ Dear Zaheer, Iroh, and all who have Gravely Disrespected the Crown,
I am a Queen. How dare you insolent peasants show such disrespect towards the crown! If this weren't 'anonymous' I'd have you all thrown in prison!
I love the fact that you have a passion for expanding the canonical database. The impact that you have goes further than this creatively-tardy newsletter; your work makes this Wiki worthy of representing the Avatar series.
♡ Dear Bosco,
You were the last singular-species animal in the world of Avatar. We will honor your memory and hope that you find peace in knowing that the person who ate you suffered a horrible death.
We will never forget your wonderful work in the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics. You kept the Gaang with us for years after Sozin's comet so that we wouldn't have to say goodbye to them so soon. Thank you for your dedication to the series.
You are the king of discussions in the Avatar Wiki forums. While you're not necessarily calm 100% of the time heh, your bold if not fiery input is always in-depth and I can tell you know your Avatar facts very well. Whether people like it or not, you really think things through and that's awesome.
Congratulations on finishing Book 1 of Hikar's Spiritual Chronicles! I always admire any author with a deep passion for their writing and who's willing to stick with it through thick and thin. May the rest of your fanon journey be epic!
I still miss you and wish you could be here to read this! You were such a great author and member of the fanon community, and you were one of my greatest friends. I'll do my best to honor your memory and finish SHiE as epically as possible.
Whether or not you read this I still think you're the coolest user of the mainspace and the coolest friend anyone could have. You don't need a thank-you for every tedious edit you do to improve every page, and that is a very admirable thing indeed.
Where would we be without you?! You and your army of hermit crabs swept in like a wondrous, scientifically groovy storm. You are one of the nicest people I know and your work as a deputy editor is above and beyond! Yes, I think it's time for you to receive your honorary glowing employee lantern.
You really are an Avatar Roku-like presence on this wiki, a timeless veteran who's seen everything and continues to be active in our community. I'm glad to still be nerding out with you after all these years! This wiki wouldn't be the same place without your energy (saga) and your wisdom.
Thank you for helping me code this thing from the shadows whenever something comes up. You always have a solution and you're on a completely different level!
♡ Dear BSST article writers,
Thanks for keeping this gig going. You continually impress us with your wonderful writing and the ideas you can come up with under the cover of anonymity!!!
Urban Dictionary of Avatar Wiki BSST Staff
Inspired by our lovely community and written by Yours Truly:
Pairing together characters for every reason except the ones that make sense. The less it makes sense, the better.
"I ship Soktus!!! (Sokka x Cactus)"
"Hou-Ting and Zaheer would make such a great couple. She's already so excited to see him that she can hardly breathe! Hou-teer foreva <3 "
"I ship The Bourra." "What in tarnation is that?" "Korra x The Boulder."
Death Starship noun
The canonical confirmation of a ship that annihilates an entire fanbase's hopes and dreams about another pairing.
"The world we created with our Zutarian shipping goggles is doomed. We cannot escape the Death Starship Kataang, for it is armed." "Armed with what?" "Kya, Bumi, and Tenzin."
"N-no...it can't be... Korrasami has become a Death Starship!" "WHAT? Impossible! There weren't any signs or warnings!" "It doesn't matter. We've lost the turf war."
The "One True Pairing" that people hold dear to their hearts, driving them to war and insanity more times than not.
"Borra is my OTP. I hate Opal." "Why?" "Because she ruins the possibility of Borra."
"MY OTP IS KORRASAMI, AND IT IS CANON! YOU GOTTA DEAL WITH IT."
The Hermit Crab: Convenient Analogy or Interesting Anatomy? Bomochu
Hey there Avatar Wikians! It was a while ago now, but maybe some of you remember the article I wrote in a past issue about the biology of Sky Bison? Well, here I am again with some more biology in the world of Avatar, but this time discussing one of the smaller, lesser-known inhabitants of the Northern Air Temple: The hermit crab.
'The Northern Air Temple' was an exciting episode, with Aang visiting the temple only to find the refugees who had made a new home there, and the introduction of the Tundra Tanks the Gaang fought against in many subsequent battles. At the end of the episode, a convenient analogy about a hermit crab and the Earth Kingdom civilians living there was made, with Aang explaining that just like a hermit crab changes its shell, the Northern Air Temple too could have a new group of people to call it home.
It may have just been an unrealistic insert to have the hermit crab present in order to explain Aang's point, but can these little critters offer more than just being a convenient analogy? Do they perhaps have an interesting anatomy and behaviour that allows them to live in a climate so extraordinarily different from where one would typically imagine hermit crabs? When I first saw them in the episode I initially thought it was a little far-fetched, but let's dive in and see what these lesser-known residents of the Air Temple have to offer in the world of biology.
First off, let's take a look at the anatomy of the hermit crab (take a look here if you've forgotten what they look like) and try and solve how this little critter can cater for all its basic needs.
The most pressing issue for hermit crabs is their need for water. Land hermit crabs do exist, but they need either freshwater or saltwater (depending on which they are adapted to live in) to keep their gills wet when travelling on land. This is because their gills allow the diffusion, or movement of oxygen from the water into their bloodstream via the gills. It would be safe to assume that these hermit crabs are dependent on freshwater, and in The Legend of Korra we do see the grassy hills and mountains surrounding a lake near the Air Temple in 'Original Airbenders', so there is fresh water present in their environment.
In addition, these greener lands could host a number of mollusc species for hermit crabs to obtain new shells, and different food sources depending on what the hermit crab would eat (though I doubt it would actively hunt lemur or anything too big...).
Temperature changes in the environment could also pose huge problems; as we've seen in The Last Airbender, the temple in winter can be covered in snow, while in LoK it is warmer and more temperate. The hermit crab is shown to have a thick white coat of fur around its legs, which isn't really useful for temperature as they are cold-blooded (well, have cold haemolymph). Rather, the hermit crab would be a thermoconformer, and not regulate its own body temperature but conform to the environment. When winter would come around, perhaps these little critters would hibernate (which actually they don't in ATlA), or live a fairly docile lifestyle with the help of anti-freeze proteins or other molecules. Disaccharides like trehalose are commonly found in hibernating invertebrates, as it interferes with the 'packing' of water molecules, preventing their haemolymph from freezing and forming ice crystals.
So what could the white coat of fur be used for? I would argue that the hairs on their body could provide valuable tactile information about their environment. Hairs on insects are often used for this or for detecting vibrations of prey, and combined with their small, reduced eye size it would suggest that these hermit crabs dwell in dark, damp caves near fresh water, where light information is not as important as tactile information.
While it does seem plausible at this stage, the tricky part is that we don't really have anything to compare the Northern Air Temple hermit crab to in our world. All 17 species of the Coenobitidae family, the land hermit crabs, are dependent on the ocean and live near it. Why the ocean? Well, apart from being adapted to saltwater conditions, these hermit crabs use the expanse of water for breeding.
This poses a problem for our hermit crabs; when breeding season comes around, a modest-sized lake like that seen in LoK, or an even smaller cave stream, would become over-populated within weeks, given the fact that crabs tend to lay hundreds of eggs. Perhaps then there are predators to drive the population down during breeding season? Or a different method of breeding, maybe producing lower numbers of eggs? Either way, their reliance on large bodies of water poses a problem for dwelling inside the Northern Air Temple.
Despite some issues, from an anatomical and behavioural perspective it does seem plausible that the hermit crab could dwell in such a harsh environment where it normally wouldn't in our world. But the next problem is figuring out how in spirit's name did such an animal even get there?
Fortunately, the Northern Air Temple is reasonably close to the coast of the main continent. Unfortunately, it's also situated on a mountain far above sea level, and any journey from sea to the top of a mountain by the hermit crab seems unfeasible.
I think the most obvious answer here to explain how the hermit crab at least found its way to the surrounding area, is through some kind of flooding. Maybe the current land mass was much smaller for a period of time, allowing aquatic species to migrate and exploit resources in new niches, and when the water receded back to what we see on the current map these aquatic species were left behind, with freshwater-breathing species being selected for? Or they could have escaped predators. Considering what other horrendous inhabitants dwell in the ocean like those we've seen in the show, if I were a hermit crab i'd try and escape any day. Either way, having some sort of flooding event could explain how the hermit crab transitioned from an aquatic species to a terrestrial one.
This still doesn't explain how they got to the Air Temple itself, which is quite a different environment to the freshwater lakes nearby, despite the fact that they are close. Maybe then the Air Nomads introduced them? Or kept them as pets? And even then, is there really enough water around in the Northern Air Temple for them to live there long-term?
Perhaps then a more mobile lifestyle is required for these little guys. Maybe they can dwell inside dark, damp caverns for some of the day or week in search of food, and then travel to larger bodies of water or the ocean when breeding season comes around. It would be a hefty journey for such a tiny creature, but it would mitigate the need for the Northern Air Temple to be the permanent unsuitable home for the hermit crabs 24 hours a day.
So is the Northern Air Temple hermit crab a feasible animal? I think everyone can assume that it was only included in the show as a means to explain the moral of the episode. However, with some creative licence of geological events in the world of Avatar I think it could be rather plausible. At least more so than a six-legged wingless fluffy mass flying in sky...
Do you have any theories on the Northern Air Temple hermit crab? Let us know in the comments blow!
So today for the Fanon Spotlight section, rather than look at one fanon in particular we'll be looking at 'romance' across a number of fanons. What do I mean by that? Well, a number of authors were asked to answer this lovey-dovey question about their main characters:
"What is your main character's idea of a 'perfect' date?"
Tricky, right? And surprisingly not a question often asked by authors of their characters. But nonetheless, we have some answers below from authors across the fanon portal:
Song's idea of a perfect date, I think, would start by going for a walk through Republic City Park. Then, part two would be going to see a pro-bending match featuring her favorite team. Then, riding on the good vibes of the night thus far, she'd top the night off by taking her date back to her apartment and... well, you probably get the idea.
Jinora appears to have the façade of the perfect daughter, which is why it's a little strange to think that she only really opens up when she is decidedly not that, and the same goes for her dating life. Her perfect date would be with Kai, to a place where they won't be disturbed by anyone, and they can largely enjoy each other's company in peace. And whether that be going on an active date, like to a theme park, or something a little more quiet, like a fancy dinner, doesn't really matter to her.
A perfect date? How could anyone have time for something such as dating? There's a war on! Well, if you asked Ratana directly what her version of a perfect date would be, you'll probably get a response that sounds a little like that. On a deeper level, she yearns for something more, and someone to sweep her up and show her it. Since she rarely stays in one place for long, her perfect date would be along the lines of her and Lu Ten flying on the back of a dragon and falling into each others arms surrounded by the colored flames of Ran and Shaw. Granted, she's not a firebender so she risks getting burned in that case, but a natural improviser never thinks that far in advance.
Yuhan isn't a very smooth guy nor the most romantically savvy, but something peaceful and soothing like stargazing would be his version of an ideal date with his beloved. It would likely follow a picnic or a long stroll; scenery is really his thing.
Hiroshu, on the other hand, would take his girl to a food festival. He would make sure the festival is top-notch and more likely a fancy kind of party in the Upper Ring where the finest entrees are presented. Hint: His forever-girl has to love food the way he does.
Aroma's ideal date is an intimate get-together with someone nice and easy to talk to, anything they like, as long as they have some privacy and time to get to know each other. Euryale prefers something lively and adventurous, like attending a festival or exploring nature, but which still leaves a great personal memory to share. Thiera values spirited, intellectual conversation with someone who finds her fascinating, and who isn't put off by the occasional stumbling over social graces. Senthose doesn't care about the venue or activity, just so long as he actually relates to the other person, or else what's the point?
Well, first of all, Senqok would need to retroactively cheat death- oh, it's about the perfect, not a realistic date. Right.
Senqok, somewhat of a rebel and an adrenaline junkie (he is, after all, part of the IRA- er, Four Nations Liberation Alliance), would likely have his date begin with some sort of mission, ranging from an overly complicated and (potentially) stupid(ly dangerous) prank, to the assassination of an Earth Empire (not the canon one) military commander, a pitched battle, or tyrannicide - after all, there's nothing like facing a common enemy and near death together to bring people closer to each other. Or they could just meet up with some friends and go dance or something, I don't know
Now that they have each other's trust and after facing grave danger, Senqok would likely want to relax, and to whomever he now likely owes his life. So, after the hurried escape that is usually required after any of the aforementioned, a retreat to a more inconspicuous location is in order, a safehouse, one might say (though any shack would do, if stocked with food and drink and comfortable bedding). So, whatever food is available is to be enjoyed in candle-, moon- or fading sunlight, accompanied by drink, preferably slightly alcoholic, all accompanied by a more or less intimate conversation and, if required, consolation, all in a relaxed atmosphere, for the day has already been exhausting enough.
This review was conducted by the Fanon Review Squad and reflects our best judgment of writing and fanon authorship quality. Please don't take offense if the review wasn't positive. We always give advice!
Happy Valentine's Day Avatar fanondom. Today I will be reviewing Republic City Renaissance, written by longtime user Neo Bahamut. Doing this review was my first venture into Neo Bahamut's fanon worlds, though I have seen his name and the name of this story countless times over the years. Clearly he has invested a lot of time and effort into it, and is dedicated to seeing it through in the long run. So what is Republic City Renaissance about? Well, here's your answer.
A series that looks at the lives of some of Republic City's inhabitants without focusing on the Avatar. Amount of stories depend on how many plotlines I feel I have time to complete and have something interesting to say. Said stories will not necessarily all be set in the same time period--for instance, some may be before the series while others are during, between seasons, or even after.
Book 0: Void (虚), which starts 7 years before the Legend of Korra series and follows a nonbending healer, Aroma, who suffers from feelings of inadequacy. A chance encounter puts her at odds with the Purist Leader, also a nonbender, and exposes her to the dangers of Republic City's underground.
Book -1: Blood & Steel (血与钢), which starts 6 years prior to Book 0, but mostly takes place during the latter 3 years. Follows Euryale, who becomes a detective and tritagonist in Book 0, and Senthose, a Southern Water Tribe warrior who falls in with the Red Monsoons.
Book 0.5: Grief (悲伤), which starts a few weeks after the end of Book 0. Follows Thiera, previously the deuteragonist, as she and her friends try to cope with loss and arrest the remaining Purists. But they may soon discover that the monsters they know are always better than those they never even expected.
After giving a read to the chapters thus far published I can say this is one of the specimens on the portal worth checking out. Perhaps I should have checked it out long ago! The fanon portal of Avatar Wiki is a very large place with so many stories and so little time. Sometimes it can be hard to tell which stories to take the time to read and which fit our own personal tastes and preferences. Hopefully those of you reading this review find it informative on what to expect. So without further ado, let's have a look!
Plot – 9.0: The overall story is well-rounded. The cast of characters has chemistry, there are very few times that one cannot tell what the central drama is that is supposed to be focused on and the realistic angles shine through. Neo Bahamut makes it so the perspective of the nonbenders that the Purists claim to stand up for is as vivid as that of the main characters. It's a plot that can fit into the Avatar World but takes a much different tone than either Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra. Republic City Renaissance has a feel which resembles that of an old-fashioned thriller or urban noir. At times it also feels a little like Orphan Black, partially due to the age, professions and demographics of the characters but also the nature of the plot itself. The plot does move at a confusing pace in some chapters, and some pivotal character interactions are nearly glazed over, but the deduction in this category is small.
Execution - 8.9: Perhaps its because I've read numerous stories on here over the years, but the fact is that a lot of Avatar fanons start out pretty similar. We have our introductions, there's the initial setup and then we dive into the action. To tell the truth, that's probably the case with most stories in general, not just fan fiction. A story is defined by how it gets the point across and what comes next, both of which Neo Bahamut shows his effort in. Our basic story is coated with solid, believable details which are provided for the reader's benefit that make this fanon an enjoyable experience to read. Meanwhile, Republic City Renaissance's pacing varies back and forth. At times, it can be choppy and rushed. One example is when a main character suddenly moves out of an apartment she basically just arrived at, for safety reasons, after a quick argument with her host. If she was really that impulsive, it would have shown at other times as well, but its never that off the norm other than that one scene. There are several instances where the pacing is different from what it should be naturally, but also instances where the pacing is done really well. Examples include the building suspicion surrounding Dr. Avici and a scene where the Purist Leader, the head of a proto-Equalist anti-bending organization, shows up unexpected. Despite the quick change in tone and action, the transition in that case is handled exceptionally well. Due to the quality of the pacing varying at times, the fanon gets a mixed score in this category.
Proper Writing - 8.8:Neo Bahamut is extremely thorough about sweeping away technical errors from his work. In fact, this fanon has some of the fewest that I've seen for a series, and it is deservedly reflected in this score. The bulk of the errors were either spelling errors or those related to bending capitalization. The word for a bending art is capitalized should always be consistent, whether its always capitalized or always not capitalized. Neo Bahamut chooses not to capitalize them, except for a few instances where he did, which count as errors for the purposes of this review. Otherwise, there were a couple cases where a word or piece of punctuation of missing, and one instance where two alternative verbs were both used alongside one another. In the end, there were only twenty errors, which is fairly clean for a story over 160,000 words in length, which according to the scale I employ equals a proper writing score of 8.8.
Creativity - 9.1: Worldbuilding within Republic City is constantly evolving throughout the three books – one of which is completed and two of which are still in progress. While the Purists are not entirely original and have a similar goal to the Equalists, they stand out distinctly in their nature and how they behave. Furthermore, the presence of the electoral politics within the fanon and fresh concepts like the "Other Fire Lord" help this story to somewhat stand apart from the crowd, and it is something that one could picture flowing seamlessly into The Legend of Korra a few years later down the road. Another creative addition that I want to mention is the lingo used by Purists and other citizens of Republic City. Potential missed opportunities for creativity include times when a scene feels rushed or the word choice is rather basic, but more on that later.
Description of Action - 8.6: Action scenes are present from the beginning in Republic City Renaissance, and the flow of them stands out later on. The bending display in Chapter 12 of Book 0: Void is quite worthy of praised and the fast-paced action in Chapter 19 keeps one on the edge of one's seat! On occasion, the movements of the characters can be confusing to follow and the description goes back and forth between being basic and being more descriptive with metaphors included. Particularly for fast-paced action scenes it's important to stay immersive. Also, even though the reader is familiar with the canon, it can still be beneficial to the story to remind us about things such as platinum being impervious to metalbending and not taking that knowledge for granted.
Description of Setting - 8.8: It is important to watch your word choice and use description to reach whatever goal you have for what you're trying to show the reader. Sometimes a lot of description is necessary to get a point across and at others more simple use of language is enough to do the job. For instance, if you say "street", "forest", "police station" or "hospital" then a generic image of those will immediately pop into the reader's mind. There's no reason to tell them what they already know. Also, some parts such as the clothing of a certain character or the appearance of a particular object is described in great detail, but its not really necessary. What's more important than what every single item looks like is what the conflict is and how the characters in the action are feeling about it all. On another note, the dialogue is colorful, and the fan-created lingo and the blunt lines from Aroma's friends and love interests help make Republic City Renaissance as original as it is.
Realism - 9.0: From what I've read so far, Neo Bahamut delivers when it comes to making sense of the story events, and that becomes more apparent as we get deeper into the story. It's certainly the case with Book 0: Void as well as Blood and Steal. The sequel book, Grief, we're not as far into but that may very well be the case later on. Issues mentioned earlier such as the pacing of the moving out fight impact the believability of the story as well. Nevertheless, the dialogue is usually pretty realistic to be pictured as it plays out between both main and minor characters. The story does feel realistic for its setting.
Character Development - 9.2: The cast is made up almost entirely of original characters who stand out on their own well enough. Although Aroma is shy and awkward, her strength shows through at times and she becomes an easy character for a reader to follow and is likable enough for a reader to root as the story progresses. On the flipside, Euryale has a strong temper and her personality bounces well off the other characters in the story. Her interactions with her father in Blood and Steel are refreshing in particular. Most of the other characters are also strong personalities. Prior issues such as pacing are present here too, since it happens during character interaction and building. However, while we got several glimpses of the Purist Leader and Dr. Avici we didn't see enough to know them like we do the good guys, so expanding upon that would've been helpful.
Constructive Criticism: Work on the immersion in your writing. It can be pretty tough, probably one of the toughest parts of writing in general actually. Ultimately it comes with practice, trial and error and there's no simple, easy approach to it. But hey, you've had the gumption to come this far with your writing, so keep it up! Besides that, try to keep your pacing consistent.
To whom I would recommend: Anyone looking to read a unique fanon that stands out on its own merit, particularly one that builds off the world of The Legend of Korra with its own cast of OCs.
Well hello there my Avatar Korratic friends! Well, this is my first article ever in the Ba Sing Se Times, so first I guess I have to introduce myself. I'm the user MetalbenderParker here in the wiki, Parker for the friends, and AirMasterParker on my DeviantArt, Instagram, and Tumblr. I'm an eighteen-year-old Spanish guy that, somehow, discovered in 2015, for unknown reasons, an amazing great cartoon called Avatar, and instantly got hooked up to the series. But I'm not going to talk about me, because that's not the topic, I'm going to talk about my own fanon: Hikar's Spiritual Chronicles, since I'm currently rewriting the first book's finale, and THAT's a BIG milestone.
It all started in June of 2016, I had just finished my exams, and later watched the series in a six-episode marathon per day, and so in four days I finished LoK. What happened next? Well, you know that feeling in which you've been following a really good series for a long time, and when you finish it you don't know what to do with your life? Well I entered in some kind of depression. The ending of Book 4: Balance wasn't really THAT good in my opinion, and of course I DON'T mean the Korrasami part. I mean, from my perspective, the ending didn't feel much like a conclusion, it didn't feel really like the story was over. But then, one day in the wiki, I clicked the Random Page button just to pass time, and I saw a page which had the prefix Fanon: I decided to investigate and saw what that was about: people creating stories and stuff. I read a couple amazing ones and saw most of them had been abandoned for YEARS, and the ones completed weren't good enough, or they couldn't be canon in any possible way.
Only two fanons caught my attention: the Slashverse by Agent Slash, and Avatar Brek from Omashu Rocks. I was looking for things that could have happened between the ATLA comics and LOK, or after the whole series, and these were more that perfect, except Brek who only counted the events of Book 1: Air.
I especially liked Brek, so as a naïve fifteen-year-old I thought, "Hey, maybe I could tell MY story". I thought of continuing Brek in an arc I invented, so I started developing a fanart about how I imagined Brek (which would later become the scratch design of Hikar) and made a page for the character Brek. However, the story of Avatar Brek already belonged to another author, and I wasn't able to use this character or the story for my own without their permission, so I abandoned the story for a while.
Later in July 2015, I was in a summer camp with some friends that liked Avatar as well and I started to make drawings about the characters: Hikar, Bultina, Kensi and Shaila. They were all based in the original character structure of Avatar Brek: Male Earth Avatar, female non-bending archer (who I later changed to knife thrower), waterbending best friend, and a firebending Fire Princess (who I later changed to be the daughter of a Fire Nation representative). Later, from that structure of characters I started developing the story I had thought, with a new start; later on, I created more and more characters. And from that, ladies and gentlemen, Hikar's Spiritual Chronicles was born; even though in the beginning was called Hikar Spiritual Force.
Now about the fanon itself, and without throwing out spoilers, Hikar’s Spiritual Chronicles follows the Avatar storyline in detail, I'm making it as canon as possible, so when people read it, they can think it really happened; in other words, consider it the next Avatar series.
HSC's first book: Book 1: Metal, is set 83 years exactly after Book 4: Balance; to be precise, Book 1: Metal takes place in summer of 257 AG. It starts with the first two chapters in the year 244 AG, when Asami is looking for the new Avatar in the western Earth Confederation (the separated Earth Republics that Wu divided in the end of Book 4: Balance), with the help of the Order of The White Lotus, finding the five year old earthbender Hikar Firestone (I added a surname later in the story's progress) to be the new reincarnation of Korra. Ten years later, at age 15, Hikar, in a silly emotional breakdown, accidentally firebended a blast, and discovered with his friends that he was the new Avatar. After three years of training, Hikar mastered waterbending with his waterbending best friend Kensi, and water master Iruka Sato, adoptive son of Korra and Asami.
When I started developing the books, I thought that the first one should be about Hikar finally finishing the Avatar training, like in his graduation year, and in time since he already is eighteen. I wanted to make a different kind of beginning for a whole lot of adventures so that's why I came up with a new element, though it's not a totally separate element: metal. Back in book four, we saw metal could behave like a totally different element than earth from Kuvira, so I had the idea that, in allusion to the other book ones, I wanted the Avatar to struggle in mastering one final element, and that came the name of "Metal".
Upcoming now, Book Two: Lightning will be out once I finish writing all chapters. Please look forwards to it as I release the Book One: Metal Finale around the 16th of February.
If you want to know anything about how I came up with the characters, specific plot lines or plot twists, anything, you can hit me up in my Tumblr or my wikia page, and soon I’ll create a Q&A Page.
Just a small disclaimer before I start; I'm an amateur at writing romance. In fact, that's why I thought it would be great to write an article about how to incorporate romance into fanon, given the theme of this Ba Sing Se Times issue.
Romance tends to be one of the most used and abused themes in fanfiction, whether it be the 'self-insert' OC's who 'miraculously' fall in love with the main character without any build-up, or the incompatible shipping stories putting two characters together not because it works, but because the author wishes it so badly. Now don't get me wrong, there are some brilliant romantice stories out there, especially those that repair the mistakes of the original show and dive into relationships that really needed the attention in the canon. It just seems that there is a lot of stigma against romantic fanfiction, and in some cases, for good reason.
The thing is that romance can really make a story, even if your fanon isn't in the genre of romance. And it's versatile. It doesn't have to simply be a 'main character falling in love with someone and they live happily ever after' in a cringe-worthy manner. It could even be the opposite; perhaps your main character once loved someone but was hurt by them, and now refuses to fall in love ever again. Or maybe they hate each other at first but are forced to work together for whatever reason and slowly, begin to like each other.
And love also has the power to shape characters, and cause them to act in certain ways. Think about why Aang stopped his training with Guru Pathik; it was the visions he saw of Katara, and his other friends of course, and the fear of losing them. And letting Katara go was one of the biggest obstacles stopping him from using the Avatar State to its fullest potential. So even though these examples come from a show that isn't really a romance series, romantic relationships between the main characters played a huge part in directing the story.
So maybe at this point those of you reading are saying, "Yeah I get it, romance is cool and I'd love to include it somehow in my fanon... but how?" And believe me, I understand your struggle. For me, it's finding a balance for the sort of language I use that doesn't fit into the "Vomit-worthy lovey-dovey metaphors," category, or the "These characters may as well be robots with no souls," group, that I find most difficult.
One of the key things to remember is to respect the canon characters. And that's not necessarily unique to writing romance, but even writing fanfiction in general. Though it's often when it comes to romance where this can be done poorly. Canon characters, and OC's as well, have certain interests and qualities that make them who they are. It's when these characteristics bend to fit a romantic relationship where things can get frustrating as a reader. Especially if the love interest is an OC that somehow manages to make the main character fall in love at first sight, and 'miraculously' they fall in love after an hour. In general, the canon characters should stick to how they should be in fanon, so Aang shouldn't necessarily be falling in love with a street-fighter Fire Nation girl at first sight.
The one exception to this I can think of is with non-canon pairings, for example, pairing Zuko with Sokka, or Aang with Toph, or basically any relationship that isn't blatantly mentioned in the show. And this is very common to see on Fanfiction.net and our Wiki here too. So how can an author pair two unlikely characters together in a fanon? I think the answer comes from thoughtful and realistic character development. See, our personalities are largely influenced by our experiences growing up and challenges we face in life, and tweaking certain life events characters have gone through can perhaps change what they look for, or avoid, when looking for romantic relationships.
Enough of the character should remain the same so they are recognizable besides appearance of course, but with a change in environment, or maybe new things that happen to the character that shape their preferences, those characters may seek different kinds of partners that they wouldn't normally go for. And there have been some great stories I've seen that do feature unusual pairings, but their relationships are justified really well. I suppose the key then, whether it be a canon relationship, OC with a canon character, or an 'unusual' canon character pairing, is to be realistic and explore each character well enough to make it seem believable.
Another thing I've seen online about romance in fanfiction is to avoid cliches. Things like, "falling in love at first sight," or "teenage pregnancy," seem to be everywhere in fanfiction. My counter-argument would be that nearly everything these days is a cliche, and so if you are worried about your particular love story feeling over-used in the world of fanfiction then think of ways to put your own stamp or originality on it. Maybe the main characters do fall in love at first sight, but it turns to custard after a couple dates? Maybe characters do fall in love but are far more reserved physically (and don't get pregnant)? Whatever story it may be, tweaking it with originality will make it a far more enjoyable read.
The last thing I'll mention, which could either be useful or really unhelpful depending on the person, is to put yourself in your character's shoes. Now of course, the danger of this is that you don't want your preferences to taint your character's preferences, which could be very different from your own. But sometimes outside perspective can be really helpful for getting the right feeling across. If the "I love you," from your main character would feel very hollow to you if it were said to you, perhaps change the mood of the scene, or language used.
So like I said, I'm no expert on writing romance, but hopefully something in this article can help if you struggle with writing romantic scenes or stories like myself. And with practice and reading of other authors' stories, hopefully it will seem less daunting, and you'll be able to write romance to your heart's content.
Avatar Jigsaw BSST Staff
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