Anonymous said: Random question, but do you have any insightful analysis of the sibling dynamic between Sokka and Katara. I feel like we don't talk about these family dynamics enough in the fandom, which is a shame because they are actually pretty nuanced and developed.

you’re completely right, sokka and katara’s relationship is really nuanced and stoked full of great development over the 3 seasons. there’s just so much to say i’m not sure i can even attempt a meta post otherwise we’ll be here all night.

but if i was to pick out one aspect of their relationship which i really admired it has to be the mutual respect they have for each other. they fight, bicker and tease each other like most siblings do. but at the end of the day sokka respects and loves his sister so much for how she coped with their mother’s death and how she holds the family together. he’s in awe of her mental strength and compassion. while equally katara would just not have coped without sokka, he helped retain some of her childhood and would always stand by her side even if he didn’t completely agree. they were each other’s rocks. 

katara’s line in the legend of korra about being “thankful for the time you had with your siblings” is exemplary of how great their relationship was developed in atla. i doubt there was a single person that wasn’t emotionally compromised when she said that and it’s because the audience has internalized the great dynamic that was portrayed in the show. 

# meta # Anonymous

Anonymous said: Momo, Appa, or Naga, who would be your personal choice as an animal companion?

Well in the real world I’m not sure I would have long with any of them before animal services intervened.

But if we’re talking about the Avatar universe I would definitely go with Appa. Flight capabilities, great sense of humour and doubles up as your own massive fluffy pillow. 

# Anonymous

Anonymous said: I'm sorry this is so off topic but since you've finished college (I think?) could you give studying tips? I've been struggling so much because I've just transitioned and it's only the beginning of the school year... :-(

I’ve finished University, yeah (college in the UK means highschool, well sometimes). This might sound ironic coming from me, but it’s honestly true — I’ve never been a particularly good studier. I’ve always tended to get by on natural intelligence. But certainly going to Cambridge forces one to learn not to procrastinate, there just isn’t time. On that basis I can provide a few tips?

1. Organize your shit. 

Often I find I can’t start work because I don’t really know how long it’s going to take me, or even where to start. In that case I found it really helpful to just write down a list of things I had to achieve that day. Once you know exactly what to do it can either put your mind at rest and you can about your task calmly, or you realise how much shit has to be done and you start panic working. 

2. Drink water

This is a tip I learnt at uni from the girl that lived next door to me. It’s really obvious but it does actually work. I found that even after working for 40 minutes in my room I would get really tired. Having a bottle of water by my side just keeps you hydrated (okay, you do have to drink the water). I was able to concentrate for longer and it stops you from binge eating (which causes sugar lows and such).

3. Work/Reward scheme 

This has always been my big trick. I remember when I was writing my extended essay (4000 words of hell) that one of the things that got me through it was setting targets and then giving rewards. I said to myself if I read one chapter of a book, I would watch one episode of a short tv show (in this case it was The Office). This only works if you actually follow through on the targets. And it’s a much better method instead of saying, I’ll work for X amount of minutes then take a break as that often leads people to just waste time. Using the work/reward thing means you have something positive to look forward to and it gives your brain a bit of a rest. 

4. Listen to pumped up music

One of the things I found when I was doing work at university is that it was often either so dry or vaguely sad that I was get pretty downbeat quickly. Just having some really cheesy, upbeat or even club music to play once in a while during a mini-mini break was a great way to get my heart racing and pumped up to read more about democratization procedures. I don’t mean listen to it while working, that really doesn’t work for me (how do people concentrate?), just for like a 2 minute break. 

Hope maybe some of that can vaguely help. Highschool is all about time management and focusing on the stuff you’re good on. And above all the fact that the vast majority of people struggle with workloads, you just gotta find what works for you. 

# i do miss being able to completely skate through that part of education system # but on the other hand i was woefully underprepared for uni # so it was not a win/win by any means # Anonymous

Anonymous said: You're really smart and I love your blog! Anyways, in LOK during the championship episode we learn that headshots are clearly not allowed (due to Tahno and his cheating) but when Tahno and Korra go head to head for the tie breaker, Korra wins by waterbending up his chin? Which is also his head?? But Mako and Korra agreed to "win this fair and square" with no cheating??? I'm so confused.

Yer, that confuses me too actually. I think it’s because the water starts below the head and just continues upwards. It’s called an uppercut normally and maybe that just doesn’t count as a headshot. 

EDIT: As leilukin points out, Water is the only element that you’re allowed headshots for!

# either way im not too sure # good spot tho # Anonymous

Anonymous said: Do you think it's a coincidence that Aang immediately shot down the advice from Avatar Kyoshi in the series finale, considering that they are opposite elements?

Well it’s interesting you say that, because one of the best things about the entire sequence is that Aang actually follows through on all the advice the Avatar’s give him. While he gets disheartened and angry with the wisdom they offer him, in the end he actually follows through on everything they say. It’s because they were saying it in the context of killing Ozai that he doesn’t appreciate the knowledge they are giving. 

Seriously, I encourage peeps to go back and watch 3x19 again because everything each Avatar says, Aang does actually implement. Even Kyoshi: 

Aang thought justice meant taking Ozai’s life. The audience does too. But with hindsight one can clearly see that energybending fit Kyoshi’s wisdom perfectly as well. It’s just a matter of perspective. 

# Anonymous

Anonymous said: On your musings about the shows treatment of Queer characters. THIS IS NOT A SPOILER I PROMISE. But in the manga, Reiner and Ymir have a conversation where they both confirm they're queer.

Yer, loads of people have pointed out that it is not queerbaiting for which I’m eternally grateful. In which case the ~let’s get married~ line was epically forward. 

Definitely going to read the manga as well cause I’m also just getting spoiled left right and center. Cheers for the heads up. 

# i hope ymir gets a good plotline # also potato girl # we need some comic relief # i can only take so many endless brutal defeats # Anonymous

Anonymous said: Could you please explain this for me, I might be an idiot for asking but I've been wondering, if Sozin knew the next avatar would be born an air nomad and he wiped out the entire race of them, why did he he bother to search for "the last airbender"? How could he have known that he wasn't successful in killing the avatar as an infant? I might be thinking too much into this, I just always wondered why he didn't look for the next avatar in the earth kingdom.

Well in 3x06 during the final flashback he says, “But somehow, the new Avatar eluded me.” I don’t know how he knew this. But there must be ways of telling. The arrival of a new Avatar causes loads of spiritual hijinks to happen (statue eyes lighting up and such), so the death of one would too presumably. 

Either way, Sozin knew he had killed thousands of people without achieving his goal. 

# Anonymous

Anonymous said: did tla ever make enough to warrant a sequel?

A quick delve into wikipedia tells me that it pretty much broke even. But of course with the horrendously negative critical reception as well as the racist casting hole they had dug themselves into, a sequel was gonna be impossible. 

# it's the interesting thing actually # it did make a significant sum of money # it didnt bomb like so many other young adult movies # which means there was huge potential as a franchise # but of course everyone knows what went wrong # im not sure not having m.night direct is the root of the problem # i think paramount looms large in this as well # so it was pretty much doomed from the start # you can end a 100 year war # but you can't beat the film industry # Anonymous

Anonymous said: Why do people criticize Aang for not killing Ozai when there are so many heroes in Western and some Japanese media who also do not kill the villain? Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist, who is beloved by so many, also believed in the sanctity of life. Gandalf berated Frodo for saying that Gollum "deserved" death. Peter Parker learned the hard way that with great power comes great responsibility. Clark Kent, anyone? So why is Aang's stance on his pacifism and restraint so often belittled?

To be honest people that criticise Aang for killing Ozai have simply missed the point of the entire story. The fact that some Western and Japanese media also value restraint and pacifism ain’t really gonna sway them. 

The reason why Aang is often belittled? Pacifism is often associated with weakness, and letting someone live is arguably not distributing “justice”. But the show completely shoots down those two points of view, one with having Aang at his most powerful and vengeful clearly having the opportunity to smite Ozai. But he chooses not to. Aang had all the power in the world and he lets Ozai live because that’s not how the war should end. The justice argument is infinitely more complicated. I come from the line of thought that killing someone isn’t justice, it’s revenge. The show takes a slightly more nuanced view in that they hint at the ramifications of having Aang kill Ozai and how it would affect the peace process. Justice in ATLA is associated with balance, and allowing Ozai to live ultimately helps restore the balance to the world. 

All in all I think it’s totally ironic that people belittle Aang for his pacifism. Katara has that excellent quote in 3x16 where she’s talking about her decision to let Yon Rha live and she doesn’t know whether it’s because she was too weak to do it “or strong enough not too.” ATLA comes firmly down on the side that letting someone live is a mark of massive self-restraint, composure and above all strength. 

# Anonymous

Anonymous said: what is it that you don't like about the animation? I'm just curious

It’s not that I necessarily don’t like it, ATLA had some pretty tepid animation at times. It’s more that it’s really quite a stark difference from Season 1 of LOK. I thought one of the reasons LOK was having shorter seasons was so they could keep the quality of the animation so high, it really was outstanding in S1.

But to reiterate, it’s not bad animation. Just in comparison to S1, I’m still a bit thrown. 

# asami especially # she really has changed quite a bit # Anonymous

Anonymous said: Just want to start out by saying I love your blog! Quick question, I know you can't stand Mako, but is there anything you appreciate out of the character?

I appreciate that he has no fucking road awareness and therefore gets run over by a moped. I’m very appreciative that he introduced the audience to Asami. 

# Anonymous

Anonymous said: What do you think Aang's reaction would be if Katara did kill Yon Rha? do you think his perception of her would change?

Hrm, I would have to say yes. While I think he would ultimately come to accept the decision, I think that innate connection that they have on so many levels with each other would have been damaged.

Aang was never defending Yon Rha, he was defending his moral compass and values. After everything they had been through together, Aang was quite sure that Katara shared similar values. If she had killed Yon Rha, I think both Katara’s perception of herself and Aang’s view would have shifted. 

But she didn’t kill him. Because ultimately Katara is not that person, and Aang knew that. 

# Anonymous

Anonymous said: first off, I love your blog! It's both entertaining and thoughtful so thank you for that! I wanted to ask if you can recommend any other good animated shows? I grew up without cable and feel like I missed out on a tonne of good shows! I only ask because you clearly have good taste and I trust your opinions! thanks again!

I’m really not an expert on animated shows at all, and certainly not recent ones. I can give a few recommendations, but I’m sure some of my followers could also reblog this post and add some stellar recs!

Here are few animated shows I think are excellent:

#1 - Death Note

It’s about this teenager who finds a notebook that if written in condemns the named person to die. He vows to rid the world of criminals and in the process sets off an epic cat and mouse chase. It’s dark, beautifully animated and above all ridiculously clever. I have such respect for this show because of how well constructed the plot is. If you want a dark, intricate and slightly over the top animated show I would totally give this a shot. 

#2 - Archer

Quite easily the funniest animated show I’ve ever watched (sorry The Simpsons!). It follows the escapades of a group of spies that work for ISIS, an incompetent covert agency that always seems on the verge of bankruptcy. The humour is consistently hilarious and often really quite adult. It’s being going strong for four seasons now and if you’re looking for something to binge I would highly recommend it. 

#3 - Samurai Champloo 

Probably the show closest to Avatar on this list. I watched it so long ago that I can’t remember the fine details on the plot, but it certainly involves two samurai looking to go kill someone. Either way, I remember it’s beautifully animated, very funny and well constructed. 

Those would be some of my top recommendations, but I’ve also heard good stuff about Full Metal Alchemist and Cowboy Bebop. 

# this is not my area of expertise tho # as im sure some can tell # Anonymous

Anonymous said: What made you start watching Avatar?

sitting in front of the tv generally helped 

# sorry # couldn't pass this one up # and i know ive definitely answered this before # but understandably probs 200 pages back # Anonymous

Anonymous said: Wow, you're a political science and another major, right? How are you so good at analyzing and critiquing what is "good" and "bad" writing?

Erm, well I’ve always had a passion analyzing narratives. Did English at Higher Level in the International Baccalaureate and got the top mark. I’m just generally a massive fan of good tv as well. I have such admiration for writers that can construct a tightly plotted narrative that keeps the audience guessing. 

But also doing Politics at Cambridge is at it’s very heart about judging political argument. It’s the number one thing they teach you there — how to deconstruct and asses argument. You spend three years analyzing the quality of political theorists work, from classic texts like Hegel all the way to contemporary theories on economic modernization. At the end of the day my degree was more about learning how to assess arguments rather than why import substitution industrialisation failed Africa in the 1980s. Although I’m sure that will come in useful somewhere…

But yeah, I certainly feel in a parallel universe I would love to be a writer on a show. Maybe I’ll even do it in this life, but for now I’m sticking to careers that have more direct relevance to the three years I spent at uni. 

# and to be clear i did all three # politics psychology and sociology # but specialised in the first # but on my degree it appears like ive got three different fields of expertise # and im cool with that # Anonymous