Once upon a time (weird way to begin this I know, this isn’t even the fanon section), creative genius Michael Dante DiMartino and fellow creative genius Bryan Konietzko, affectionately known as Bryke, collaborated to give us the masterpiece known as Avatar: The Last Airbender. From The Boy in the Iceberg, the show enchanted its audiences across the globe not just with the realistic depth of the characters and their journey but the sheer wonder of the world the show took place in, as Bryke imagined it. However, it followed a natural story arc, which meant it had to end at some point. Fans were disappointed, but understanding for the most part.
A while later, Bryke reversed their earlier decision to end the franchise’s life on the screen, and they made another show. This one took place in the same world, but had a lot that was different about it. Changes were met with mixed reactions. Korra kept part of the fandom, chased away others and even attracted new fans who had never been watchers of A:TLA before. Even those who were devoted followers of both shows came to view them differently. Understandably, the newer, older characters related to audiences the original did not as much.
A while more went by and when the new show came to a close, Bryke announced their retirement once again. And they mean it this time! Well...Bryan’s doing a new comic in a different franchise, and Mike’s writing some fantasy novels. Comic continue, but under different direction. That is, until Bryke got back on board with collaborating on the Korra comics. After only a matter of time, now they’re doing another series! There was never going to be a third. There was never even going to be a second. Back when Book 3: Fire wrapped up, Bryke announced the close of A:TLA as a whole, and presumably, the franchise.
But now we have this new show, a reimagining with Netflix. Migrating over to Netflix was an idea suggested by fans for a time when tensions arose around how Nick was handling the second series. The third series will have a new look, as it is a live-action continuity reboot. Our lone screenshot so far is of Aang and Appa in the middle of a snowy field, possibly the Southern Water Tribe. Needless to say, there are a wide gaggle of fans ready to experience Avatar like they did before, and have it be almost like it was for the first time again, immersing themselves in a new, realistic-looking version of the world. Hopes are high, but some of this sounds familiar. When in the past history of the fandom have conditions like this existed before?
That’s all we need to say on that.
Whatever happens and however this new series turns out, some things are for certain. Just like all the other parts of the franchise - good and bad - the new series will be documented, covered and updated here on Avatar Wiki. Since it is a reboot, that means that the continuity will start again. How does this fit into the setup we already have? Well, right now we have the main canon with the two animated shows plus the canon comics, then there are a couple non-canon A:TLA comics that exist outside this continuity, as does Love Potion #8, the video games of which some are canon and some fit only within their own game world, then there is Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender movie and Zuko’s Story, which created a little-known and rarely-discussed branch of the Avatarverse known as “film comics”. There are video games based on that adaptation, too.
Then there is the fanon portal, which has become a defining feature of the Avatar Wiki community ever since the canon and fanon merger in 2009. New canon does not directly impact fan fiction, but there are strong, understandable correlations of activity. Having a new series means the possibility of new fanon stories based on the new series, meaning the wiki will include animated continuity canon encyclopedia, animated series fan fiction, Netflix continuity canon encyclopedia and maybe even Netflix series fan fiction. Will new namespaces or genre categories be created? Possibly. That’s a debate for later. As much as Avatar Wiki has gone through already, it’s still too early to make such concrete decisions.
We actually would have had a split fanon portal already if things played out differently with the last live action ambitions. Presently there are between 1,379 (according to the story pages plus discontinued method) and 1,539 (according to the story categories plus one-shots method) fanons on the portal, written by nearly nine hundred authors, or possibly more if each anonymous fanon has a different writer. Of all these stories, written over more than a decade, not one single one is based off of The Last Airbender movie. Gee, I wonder why. Therefore, “Film Fanons” do not exist, but “Netflix Fanons” someday might.
What will be different this time? Who knows, but based on quotes like the following: "thrilled [...] to realize Aang's world as cinematically as [they] always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast", it sounds like Bryke have been trying to learn from past lessons when making future material. Keep in mind, including the time that they spent developing the show before The Boy in the Iceberg was released, they have spent over seventeen years of their lives alongside Avatar. Occasionally they branch out, but even after one permanent retirement and another permanent retirement, they keep coming back. When Korra came out, those who were drawn to its uniqueness were more satisfied than those who just wanted essentially more seasons of A:TLA. With the release date being over a year away, there is all the time in the world to determine what our expectations are before we cross our fingers together and find out, whether or not they were met.
|| Demographics, the Economy and the War Effort|
The Chance of Success
Did the Fire Nation have any realistic chance of achieving victory?
This question must seem strange, after all, the Fire Nation did fare well enough to be able to claim at least partial victory up until the Day of the Black Sun. This, however, was mostly due to a vast technological superiority to the Earth Kingdom and Azula’s cunning, rather than good ol’ boring conventional warfare.
So, at the beginning of what would later be known as the Hundred Year War, did the Fire Nation have a chance of victory?
Yes, one might say, they have tanks and steamers and- that's it, until the end of Book 1, and even the tanks they had only thanks to that guy at the Northern Air Temple. The only advanced military machinery we know they had at the beginning were their steamships. And, just to clarify, we’re going to rely, and quite a lot, on assumptions based on our own world.
Steamships first appeared in the mid 19th century, right around the time industrialisation was really kicking off in Western Europe, now take firearms out of the equation, and it can be applied to the Fire Nation, giving it (save for naval supremacy) no edge over the Earth Kingdom - and then there's the Demographic Transition Model.
According to the DTM, birth and death rates are high prior to industrialisation, before changes in agriculture and medicine, leading to an improved food supply and public health, lower the death rate whilst leaving the birth rate unaffected; following this, the birth and death rates fall as medicine keeps improving and the state and/or companies take over more and more functions that children traditionally used to fulfill, until women are fully integrated into the workplace and birth and death rates stabilise at a low level, leaving a sizeable, more or less stable population. It can thus be assumed that the Fire Nation, given how it has steamships, factories, trains etc. has a respectable population growth, whereas the Earth Kingdom, even a hundred years later, seems to have next to no industrialisation whatsoever, therefore probably having yet to begin the demographic transition. Of course, the Earth Kingdom still covers the better part of the world's landmass, giving it a population of what I would estimate somewhere between 500,000,000 and 1,000,000,000, given the world of Avatar is, in size, similar to our own. All this means that the Fire Nation could replace losses more easily, and perhaps even replace displaced populations in conquered territory, as industrialisation frees up a lot of people who else would just be craftsmen or subsistence farmers, whereas the Earth Kingdom, in order to accomplish the same, would need to take the people required from elsewhere in their kingdom, quite possibly weakening its most likely agriculture-based economy.
Which brings us to the last point - the economy.
As hinted before, and based on (earlier) assumptions, the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom would have quite different economies. What exactly would be produced where etc. is unimportant (except for the disruption of trade routes), what matters is that, while the Earth Kingdom relies on muscle, wind and water to do the work, a lot of people are freed up for e.g. war, colonisation, or simply more factories, more agriculture, more population. Furthermore can the Fire Nation more quickly replace losses of materiel - though longer supply lines and potential lack of natural resources could very easily limit that advantage. In short, the Fire Nation would simply have to crank up the assembly line a little, whereas the Earth Kingdom's blacksmiths would have to work a night, or two.
Of course, army organisation, morale (both civilian and military), and competence of the commanders as well as the troops etc. play gigantic roles as well, but my guess would be that the Earth Kingdom, also since it is heavily influenced by the Qing dynasty of China, would, or at least could be facing corruption on a high level, making its administration inefficient, not to speak of its enormous size, which makes effective centralised coordination nigh impossible, but would also allow them, much like Russia, to trade territory for time, combining their retreat with scorched earth. As for the Fire Nation, I would believe that the promise of land and alike would be more than enough for most soldiers, who would likely typically be of the lower class, to keep on fighting, coupled with propaganda.
My final verdict: the Fire Nation can win the war, given that they encourage migration to and collaboration in the conquered territories, keep their propaganda machine running, disrupt the Earth Kingdom in its daily affairs, it's industrialisation, its centralisation, and don't overextended their supply lines. Which, as far as I can tell, was usually sort of the case. Had they gone for a short war, and actually succeeded, they would likely have outrun their own supply lines and overextended their forces, making themselves a prime target for resistance movements, whilst had they gone for a lengthy, reluctant campaign, the Earth Kingdom would likely have caught up in tactical and strategic terms, and, to a degree, perhaps also economically, a somewhat centralised command structure giving them the coordination, and the industry the materiel and manpower to quite simply overwhelm the Fire Nation.
Now, to a more fundamental and, in my opinion, interesting question: why would Sozin choose the path of war in the first place? While we do know that Sozin is quite the imperialist, probably also at least somewhat of a nationalist, and whilst these are usually fully sufficient for war, I doubt that imperialism alone would make anyone in their right mind declare war on, what, three quarters of the world population, I believe there's more to it than that.
The world of Avatar is, at least when compared to ours, quite simple. Whilst even at the height of imperialism, there were still some fifty-ish independent nations, or states, the world of Avatar has… four, or up to a staggering eight, or even nine or ten, if counting each Water Tribe, Air Temple, as well as the one place of which we know that it has some semblance of sovereignty in the Earth Kingdom, Omashu. Taking that, as well as the Avatar, into consideration, you get... a situation not too different from the Cold War and the modern world, and perhaps, to a lesser extent, the Concert of Europe. It is against this background that all considerations of starting a world war must be viewed.
Considering the moral implications of such massacres, it must seem ironic that the genocidal campaigns against the Air Nomads and, to the extent that they took place, the Southern Water Tribe are the easiest to explain (please don't quote this). In a world in which there is a single person fulfilling the deterring role of nuclear weapons, international sanctions and intervention, any quest for world domination would sooner or later have to eliminate that person in order to prevent utter defeat and preventable loss of life and materiel. Striking first against a per se pacifist nation - which might also hold valuable natural resources - is only reasonable, as well as, presuming the Avatar has reincarnated, eliminating the new incarnation, though a genocidal conquest of the Northern Water Tribe would, accordingly, also be in order.
However, these campaigns are mere sidenotes in the overall war. The main focus lies on the face-off of giants - the Earth Kingdom theatre.
It is known that imperialism, conquering land for the sake of having conquered land is at least part of the motivation to go to war. The Fire Nation, however, seems to exhibit a further trait of imperialism - a sense of supremacy, nationalism. In our world, the British and Japanese Empires in particular have exhibited an almost complete disregard for the millennia of cultural and political history of their colonies, most evident in the British Raj and Korea, respectively, with, at least in the former case, a “mission to civilise” being established.
I propose, however, that it usually takes more than a sense of supremacy to go to war. And in the case of the Fire Nation, I suggest that the problem leading to it, or at least to it breaking out when it did, lies in the industrialisation. As mentioned before, according to the Demographic Transition Model (DTM), industrialisation leads to population, and, naturally, economic growth. The Chinese Empire under the Qing dynasty and the British Empire went to war because, simply put, the UK had a budget deficit due to tea trade with China (something about all Western trade having to go through Canton) and, after raising taxes proved rather detrimental to the state of their Empire, decided to make up for it by addicting the Chinese population to opium, which they were growing en masse in India, greatly angering China, all of which resulted in the British soundly defeating the already declining China, forcing it to open to Western trade. A similar situation may have developed between the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom - the former might not be fully self-sufficient in terms of agriculture and raw materials, perhaps because their volcanic archipelago with all the (rare) metals and agricultural production they need to sustain their population and economy, or perhaps because they just love one particular type of tea a little too much - whatever it is, the Earth Kingdom could restrict the Fire Nation’s merchants’ access to it, perhaps out of caution, perhaps out of a sense of supremacy, perhaps to keep prices up, perhaps because there is a shortage of that/these good/s and they would prefer the majority of the supply going to their own people, the possibilities are vast as to what the Earth Kingdom could do economically to trigger a war. What also could be the case is a fear of the Earth Kingdom industrialising, giving it unparalleled economic influence.
Now, to what I consider the most interesting potential casus belli - the population. Whether war is waged to unite the people, as was at least partially the case with the failed Japanese invasions of Korea in the 1590s after about decades of internal conflicts (the Sengoku jidai), or the nationalist notion of giving your people the land that they require for survival, as with Unternehmen Barbarossa, the Nazi German attack on the Soviet Union, driven in part by the ”dream” of giving the Germans, the “people without land” (an idea born out of severe food shortages faced during WWI), the “living space in the east that they deserve. Now, it could well be that the Fire Nation is, similarly to the early industrial Europe, somewhat overpopulated, on the verge of a Malthusian catastrophe (i.e. the population growing beyond its food supply), and its society divided - while there may not be the internationalist movements as there were/are in our world, I doubt that there aren't any somewhat displaced aristocrats, newly wealthy and powerful bourgeois, craftsmen newly unemployed thanks to factories, and the displeased, exploited peasants and proletarians, etc. etc. Propaganda and a war, an enemy, real or imagined, work very well when it comes to uniting a people, or different peoples, actually, considering the immediate effect of the declaration of war on Serbia by Austria-Hungary on the latter’s dozen-ish ethnicities.
To sum up, while, no doubt, imperialism and nationalism play a major role in the Fire Nation going to war with the Earth Kingdom, assuming the situation, in socio-economic and demographic and geological terms, is even remotely similar to our world, it can be assumed that economic factors such as a dependency on imports from the Earth Kingdom, and/or demographic and social factors such as overpopulation (to be solved by colonisation) and tension between social classes might also play into it.
Well, that was a fun little essay. What do you think? Realistically, did the Fire Nation have a chance against the other three (two) nations? And do you think my analysis as to why the Fire Nation went to war checks out? (Also, please do note that it might be more or less influenced by my own political views. If you want to debate them, let’s do that somewhere else.)
It's been a while since the BSST Staff nominated the first User of the Issue. Community activity often runs dry and it doesn't help that the Editor is a sporadic activity ghost herself.
The rare and consistent contributors to our community stand out even more during the activity droughts, and we're here today in recognition of...
The January 2019 User of the Issue:
And let's not forget his snazzy userbox:
AvatarAang7 is one of the best team players (fanon pun intended) in Avatar Wiki and operates throughout the realms of the mainspace, fanon portal, chatroom, and community discussion boards. Within the BSST, he contributes high-quality reviews of comics and is very savvy with fanon portal articles as an author himself.
So! We couldn't be happier to present this new profile bling to AA7 for his long-standing devotion to everything Avatar Wiki. Be jealous, or become the next User of the Issue if you desire such glory.
Thank you, AvatarAang7! Everyone give him a round of applause!
1) Pursue new experiences
- Aang may have been on a mission when he traveled throughout the world of Avatar, but he made the most of it, taking detours every opportunity to explore new places, experience unique attractions, and meet new people. Aang thrives off new experiences and they help him develop into better person, with a broader understanding for all walks of life. This doesn’t mean you have to travel to a new country (though if that’s an option, take it!); it’s as simple as exploring new areas of your city, finding hikes or trails, taking up new hobbies, and making interesting friends.
2) Develop strong bonds with your friends
- Aang is a good friend, who is sensitive to his friends’ needs and moods. He reaches out to them when they need him and reminds them how to have fun. Would that we all had a friend like Aang! Would that we were friends like Aang. Friends -like schools and jobs- will come and go in our lives. When we find the ones we want to hold onto, we have to put effort and energy into that relationship to make it last. Talk to them, about trivial things and important ones; be there for them when they need you; protect them; cherish them; send them a letter or a gift, just because. Be for them the kind of friend you want.
3) Maintain (or find) a good sense of humor
- This is a matter of joy. With a good sense of humor, joy is much easier to find, even in darker times. Aang’s sense of humor helps him to find joy in small moments -like using Appa’s shed fur to make a fake mustache or falling hard in love with a trick to make marbles fly in a circle. It’s the small things that make day-to-day life enjoyable, and a good sense of humor will help harden your skin against unkind words, so put on your Aang-size smile every morning before work or school and savor the joy and humor in every situation.
4) Promote harmony
- The world is becoming increasingly divided, be it over politics, religion, worldview, or opinion. We don’t need to add to the division; instead, take the way of Avatar Aang and try to promote harmony. Remind people of the good that exists in the world, of simple joys, of the absolute magnitude of human kindness. We may not be able to bring about world peace, but we can still bring peace to the world, instead of adding to its distress.
5) Solve your problems non-violently
- With very few exceptions, Aang always sought to solve his problems without harming his enemies, even the most violent among them, be they egomaniacal Fire Lords or raging shirshus. But remember that violence is not always physical; antagonistic words can do damage, too, which is why Aang often shows so much politeness and courtesy to those same said enemies (except maybe Zhao the shirshus). When faced with problems this next year, don’t resort to your fists or arguments or rants on social media; let’s find constructive ways to solve our problems.
6) Show respect for all living creatures
- ...even if they’re acquaintances of opposing political views, know-it-alls, or teenagers (WB = showing her age). Aang shows the utmost respect to animals, spirits, and people, thanks to his Air Nomad upbringing, but even when he does not agree with the decisions of others, he can still show them his respect -when Katara wanted to pursue her mother’s murderer, Aang never showed her anything but respect and understanding, despite seeing her mission for closure as nothing more than revenge. Remember that showing someone respect is not the same as agreeing with them and does not mean you are a push-over. Respecting others, especially when you’re in disagreement, is a sign of wisdom and maturity. It also makes you a class act. It is to treat them with common courtesy; to beat down their arguments with kind words and provable statistics, instead of name calling; and not following too close behind the slow driver. It is harder to show respect than to antagonize someone, but in the end it is better for everyone.
7) Learn to exert more self-control
- Okay. This one sounds a little harsh. But let’s be completely honest with ourselves -we need it. I’ve never met a person who couldn’t exert a little more self-control in their lives. I know I certainly need it. Even Aang, who has excellent mastery of self-control over his movements and his temper, still struggled with control over his emotions, especially anger and enthusiasm. Whether it’s uttering some choice words at the driver following too close behind or eating the entire bar of chocolate in one sitting (WB = guilty on both counts), we need to remember to breathe, to think, and to understand that our actions will have lasting consequences, perhaps for others, but definitely for ourselves; while that chocolate bar will definitely show up on our hips or posterior (not to mention in our cravings), those choice words are going to put a little black mark in our hearts and make it that much easier to yell at the next driver who starts following too close.
8) Live in the moment
- Aang shows a deep appreciation for the things around him, often recognizing beauty that his companions take for granted in nature, in people, in relationships, and in opportunity. This next year, take a break from your phone and social media. Don’t take pictures of the food, eat it. Savor it. Wait to text people until you’re alone, rather than ignoring those in your presence. Admire the beauty around you during your daily commute, be it human or nature. Ride the Unagi. Try the high dive. Go on the hike. Laugh at the joke as hard as you want, even if it does make you snort.
9) Let hope lift your spirits
- Meditate on the positives in your life. Don’t ignore the negatives; accept them, but don’t wallow in them. When we focus on the negatives (“Emotions are too painful”/“I’m not good enough”/“The world won’t get any better”), all we tend to see are negatives. Instead, shift your focus to the positives in your life, just like when Aang let the baby Hope lift his spirits again.
10) Maintain (or re-discover) your child-like wonder
- There is no wonder quite like that of a child and Aang never lost this. All powerful Avatar, but still a twelve-year-old, especially at heart. This next year, marvel. The world is filled with fascinating things that deserve but don’t always receive our awe. Find them. Enjoy them. And share them with others.
Inspired by our lovely community and written by Yours Truly:
- Canon exclusively within the comic adaptation of an animated series. The more extreme the content, the harder it gets to remember that it's official - but readers will swear by it.
- "Sooo apparently both Kya and Kyoshi are LGBT." "What?! That's so random -" "Oh, it's in Turf Wars and it's official." "Isn't that just in the comics -" "IT'S OFFICIAL."
- "I don't really like how they wrote the story of Zuko's mom." "Well, it's comicanon. Deal with it."
- The mass adoration of characters who exist only as a gag or otherwise ridiculous presence that plays no role in the actual plot. They are so random that they're loved almost as much as the main characters.
- "Oh my god the Foaming Mouth guy ROFL I love him!" "You mean the one who literally shows up twice in the entire Avatar: Last Airbender series to foam and faint like a crazy fanboy at the sight of The Gaang?" "Heck yah!"
- "'MY CABBAGES!' is all he ever had to say to win the heart of the fandom." "Yeah, and his crack popularity even evolved into Cabbage Corp in the second Avatar series." "What can I say? It never gets old."
- An entity attempting to regain its honor in live-action adaptations of popular series
- "A live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender without M. Night Shyamalan?! Sweet!" "Uh, it's by Netflix, you know. Ever seen their Death Note attempt?" "...Crap."
- "If Netflix gives me one good reason to think they might hurt Aang's image, I will end their destiny right then and there. Permanently."