May. 27th, 2012

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I was rewatching episode 1 of Legend of Korra. While there's a lot of great emotional bits in this series, there's this one bit that just... it gets to me.

So Aang married Katara and they had three kids. One of them is Tenzin, Korra's airbending teacher. For Korra to be the new avatar, that means that Aang had to die. Which means that Tenzin lost his father. While Tenzin is a rather interesting personality when it comes to family, and clearly he and his father had an intriguing relationship, it's very plain that he misses Aang, at the end of it all. So Korra masters water, earth, and fire, but still needs air. Tenzin gets called in for that (and some spirit training). When he shows up, he does the normal "hi Mom" routine.

And then he sees Korra, and his expression... it just kills me.

I don't mean that on a sadistic note.

Aang isn't entirely dead. He's just been reincarnated. He's still buried in Korra's consciousness, somewhere, along with all the other Avatars before her (and him).

But Aang is still mostly dead, and not just because Korra's spiritual capabilities suck. And each Avatar has their own personality. Kyoshi, Roku, Aang, and the other two Avatars introduced in the original Avatar series all had different personalities. Our memories are a great part of what make us who we are, and each Avatar has a different memory set. Or look at it this way: each new Avatar had more memories than the last one, so even if they had everything the previous Avatar had, they were more of an evolved personality. Think of it like this: someone at age 22 is not the same person they were at age 12.

The point is, Korra is her own person. She isn't Aang. She isn't Tenzin's father. But she also is, because she has all of his memories (deep down). She also has his soul, because their souls are the same.

So when Tenzin looks at Korra for the first time, he sees the person who is and isn't his father. He remembers that his father is dead. He remembers that before him is not a seasoned veteran who helped save the world, lived 66 years of life (plus 100 in hibernation), had a wife and three kids, met with countless benders, dealt with countless spiritual problems, and, was a father, but a young woman in need of guidance, and who is very much alone in a world she knows relatively little about. Someone who has no memory of all the things Aang did because she hasn't unlocked his memories. I think, for a second, he sees his father in her. And then he remembers that Aang is gone.

But she still is Aang. She's still family, at least spiritually. Her youth also connects to Tenzin as a man who is a relatively recent new father, and someone who has yet another child on the way. Then there's her value as the Avatar. She is incredibly important to the balance of the world. A balance that is greatly threatened by problems in Republic City, and perhaps other problems in the world (after all, we don't know much about what's going on in the world beyond the base where Korra learns to be the Avatar and Republic City). Korra's naivete and youth also makes her something of a civilian versus Tenzin's importance as a political leader of Republic City, airbending leader (which sounds like an almost national leader, since he's the oldest airbender of a people numbering solely in the double digits). He is also the only person that can teach her air bending.

So Tenzin's protective instinct for family, children, innocents, and the greater good of the planet kick in when he looks at Korra, along with his mixed feelings about her previous incarnation. In that few seconds, all of this gets communicated.

And all of that just... it hits me. And it's beautiful and sad and just... AGH!

I wish I could write stories like that. For all of that to happen, for all of that complicated story and world dynamics and different characters and people thrown together at specific times and so on... And then knowing how to perfectly show it and communicate so much in so little. Less is more in overdrive! That's a lot of, well.... yeah.

It's just so beautiful. So perfect.

On a sidenote, the actor who plays Batman in Batman: The Brave and the Bold sounds like he has a constant stuffy nose.

Since I don't have enough to read, I started reading Embers, which is an (shocker) Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfiction centered around (at least presently) Zuko and Iroh after the end of season 1. It's 65 chapters long. I didn't feel like reading Brust's Firefly story and I figured that I might not like Embers if I just read the first few chapters and could gauge its value... so I could mark it off my list.

Unfortunately, despite its flaws (which do exist, there just aren't many I can't forgive), the story is rather good. And rather interesting. I find this interesting because it does make some of the same screw-ups that Heart of Gold, Heart of Tin made. Cannon is... well, it's not comPLETEly thrown aside and ripped apart, but it is tweaked at least a tad. The writing style isn't perfect, but some experimentation is very present, not all of it something I find entirely acceptable, from an English major's perspective. Then there's this issue where knowing precisely where the narrators are when is rather vague. And there's the problem of the speaker changes being a little too... confusing.

But Embers has the benefit of, well, only tweaking cannon. Not just throwing it aside entirely. There's a lot of story missing from Avatar that Embers fills in. Some interesting questions I never really thought about, but which make more sense after Embers (I know Embers isn't cannon, but it brings up some interesting points). And some questions I did have that are answered. And honestly, the writing is weird, but it's not terrible, and it's actually an interesting kind of experimentation, and kind of pleasant. The way the author has written in the narration and exploration of those characters is just... awe-inspiring. There's such love and consideration for the original story that, well... there's a lot of love to be had for this story. The explanation for the chapters also helps explain where a lot of the inspiration came from, and it's quite astonishing to see how much research went into this (which is true for any decent story, unlike certain examples that are best forgotten).

Aight, gonna read some more and then go to bed. Night.

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