Headscratchers: Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Avatar
- Word of God has it that Aang was born the exact moment Roku died. So then what sort of reincarnation are we talking about? Are all the avatars in fact different people while it is the Avatar spirit that actually keeps reincarnating?
- Actually the whole relationship between the avatars and the Avatar spirit itself is a tad puzzling to me...
- I saw it as the Avatar spirit being the spirit of the world which binds to a new human each time the old Avatar dies. Also, in Budhism IIRC, you aren't the same person in this life as you would be in a past one. The life force moves on, but the personality doesn't.
- To clarify, think of flame being passed from one candle to another. The candles are the people, the fire is the Avatar spirit.
- Why haven't they ever lost track of the Avatar before? Their medical technology doesn't seem to be very advanced, and considering that even with modern technology we still have things like Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, how is it possible that the baby Avatar didn't die before he could be discovered? This should have left "gaps" in the Avatar line and made it appear that the Avatar skipped a stage in the cycle.
- Maybe things like that have happened, but they weren't important enough to mention.
- For some reason, they seemed to know right off the bat when an Avatar is born. Also, Kyoshi lived for nearly three centuries. Clearly Avatars are made of stronger stuff.
- No one else had such a long life stated. Clearly, Kyoshi was just that badass. Look at Roku, who was as aged and withered as Sozin, and appears to have aged at the same speed as a normal person. Likely, though, there could also be a bender-relevant explanation which Kyoshi simply never got around to explaining during her time.
- Or they just fucked up the chronology.
- Extended lifespans happen in Avatar, and the Avatar isn't necessarily one of those individuals who'll have an extended lifespan. Aang might or might not have lived longer had fate been more kind, while Roku seemed well on his way to an average lifespan before he was betrayed. Kyoshi has the longest known lifespan, but the Guru and Bumi are both pushing 100 as well.
- If the spirit of the moon can revive a newborn on the verge of death from a birth defect by placing a portion of its own essence into the baby, then the human incarnation of the planet itself can probably prevent the child from dying due to any kind of birth problems or disease. Finding an unusually healthy baby could even be part of how they screen out the Avatar. Not to mention the possibility of a baby going into the Avatar State...
- A fair bit of care seems to be put by the forces that be into picking the next person to be the Avatar, it's likely that the Avatar doesn't die prematurely for the same reason no Avatar has seriously abused it's power which would otherwise seem likely to happen
- The Air Nomads didn't know that Aang was the Avatar right off the bat—in the flashback where Aang learned he was the Avatar, they said that Aang had chosen the artifacts of past Avatars as his toys when he was a baby. I can't imagine how Avatars in the Earth Kingdom are "found"— do they just leave Kyoshi's boots hanging around and wait for a baby to start nomming on them?
- The way I see it, they just send the toys to a temple in the next nation in the cycle once they know who the Avatar is. When word gets out that the previous Avatar (say, Waterbender) has died, any Earth Kingdom babies born in the first few days or weeks after the death is taken to a nearby Earth Temple. The toys pass around between the Earth Temples- probably with some duplicates and some way to mark the real ones- and the baby who finds them all is the Avatar. Also, both Aang and Roku were buddies with Gyatso. I highly doubt that this was the first time such a thing has occurred. Maybe a friend/lover/confidant of the Avatar feeling an odd kinship with someone is also a step in the right direction.
- There have been a lot of Avatars, as first shown in the third episode. They probably all left something behind, quite likely more than one thing each. And holy relics can last for a long time if stored and handled with care. It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume that there are enough for each nation to have its own set of dozens. Hiding four of them among about a hundred other objects every fourth century or so probably doesn't cause that much wear and tear.
- Maybe it's a tradition in the avatar world to have every baby select items as soon as they can walk? It's not an invention of Bryke.
- Some eastern traditions try to determine a child's aptitude from the items it chooses from a set of objects.
- It seems to me that, before Sozin's war, there used to be a fairly large network of Avatar confederates. The Fire Sages answered ultimately to the Avatar; if Aang hadn't fozen himself for a hundred years, he could have easily turned them against Sozin. There would be similar networks in the Water Tribes and the Earth Kingdom. After a 100 years without the Avatar, those confederates were either absorbed into their member nations or disbanded. These groups were likely responsible for doing whatever it was they needed to do to find who the Avatar was. And without them, it will be more difficult to recognize Avatars in the future.
- There is a pattern: Air, Water, Earth, Fire. The next nation in line is where the Avatar will be from, as well as what the Avatar must learn. When the Fire Avatar dies, it goes to Air. They are taught their element sufficiently (generally to the age of 12), are revealed as the Avatar, and go on to learn the other elements. Most often the avatar wouldn't know about the connections until he's learned the element, but we are given plenty of indications that spiritual intervention and uncontrolled avatar-state are possible defenses.
- Point of fact: The Avatar is traditionally revealed when they reach the age of 16. Aang was the sole exception to that.
- Now it looks like Korra started her training when she was barely a 4 year old.
- Korra was the exception. The Avatar starts training at age sixteen because that is when they are told they are the Avatar. Korra started to earth and fire bend all by herself so she already knew she was the Avatar. Presumably, the OOTWL just decided to start anyway, given she'd be practicing her bending anyway.
- So we know that Aang is the last Airbender. Who's going to teach the next Avatar airbending after Aang passes on? In fact, what does this mean for the entire Avatar cycle?
- Aang has kids, and a few of them are airbenders. This might mean polygamy for the sake of his nation, but Katara would understand.note Alternatively, Aang writes a manuscript/manual of all the airbending forms he knows, so if he dies before his airbending kid is born, the kid has some sort of backup for learning. Alternatively alternatively, the spirits pull a Deus ex Machina to get more airbenders born.
- Hey, if Aang can take bending away, maybe he can give it? It hasn't been stated either way (that I know of), so that is maybe plausible. For all we know, he's decided to "give" it to the people who were living at the Northern (IIRC) temple, like Teo.
- The first airbenders learned by watching the sky-bison. Given time, I'm sure that people can learn again.
- I'm fairly sure that Appa was the last sky-bison. That doesn't stop Aang from teaching his children or leaving scrolls behind, but unless there's some hidden flying bison herd we haven't heard about once Appa's gone that's over.
- Why would Aang even need to have children? Couldn't he just teach some people Airbending? Bending isn't genetic, or else none of the original benders (the 3 animals + the Moon) could have taught others. So why couldn't Aang just start a new Air Nomad society, perhaps at the Northern Air Temple?
- One word: Tenzin.
- My experience is to never take anything from a TV show at face value. Yes it makes for nice drama when then put "the last airbender" in the title, but it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't really mean that. As devastating as the fire nations initial attack was, I doubt they could have gotten every single air bender all at once (after all, Aang got away, right?). It seems prefectly reasonable that others may have escaped as well, and as per the airbending philosophy rather than try to fight back, they avoid, evade, and otherwise run away. A few airbenders might be able to hide out relatively easily, especially in mountainous places no one else can easily reach. In addition, bending isnt strictly genetic; the series shows that benders are likely to have bender-offspring, but its neither a requirement nor a guarantee. Also, look at Katara- the fire nation attacks on her tribe pretty much stopped as soon as they thought they had every last waterbender. Did they? Nooooooo. And then the Gaang find a previously UNKNOWN tribe of water benders in a swamp.
- All air-benders at the time lived in the Air Temples, the general idea seeming to be that they were shipped off if they were found out. However the combination of genetics, spirituality, philosophy, and training could lead to later air-benders...just not in the 100 years that Aang's been gone.
- For a group titled the Air Nomads, having all airbenders at the temples makes no sense. Aang mentioned that he did a good deal of traveling, and he was only twelve at the time, though he did have his teacher/guardian to go with him. Unless something really important to the Air Nomad community was happening, and I doubt Sozin's Comet would qualify, being helpful for firebenders and no one else, there should be plenty of airbenders traveling the world. Complete and total destruction of such a people should be impossible with the vast majority of the world at the time (the entirety of the Water Tribes and any parts of the Earth Kingdom that are not coastline) being out of their attackers' reach.
- Remember that Sozin's Comet only became Sozin's Comet after the genocide of the Air Nomads. Just because it only helps Firebenders doesn't mean that a comet streaking that close to the planet is going to be ignored by everyone else. Maybe the Airbenders were avid stargazers and gathered in their temples to watch what must've been one hell of a sight.
- What creature would be the guardian animal of an Avatar from the Water Tribe? Maybe I just missed that point in the show. It seems obvious for the other elements (Sky bison, badgermoles and dragons) because they learned the bending arts from them, but what does a waterbender get? The moon is a bit unlikely...
- Nobody said that Avatars require an animal guide. So far, only Roku and Aang have been shown to have one. In any case, it seems that the avatar just travels with whatever animal he/she has at his disposal, or is provided with one by the sages from his/her country. As for the water tribe, those moose/elk/whatever things up in the north pole seemed pretty capable. We also hear of polar dogs, which in my minds eye is some sort of Wolf/Polar Bear of awesomeness.
- Very astute. At San Diego Comi Con this week a picture of Korra astride her guide was shown; it looks like a lop-eared polar bear with dogish features.
- The Avatar Extras in season 3 confirm that the moon is the source of waterbending, and that the badgermoles/dragons/bison are the source of the rest.
- True, but not really the point in this case. The moon can't be an Avatar's animal guide. The moose/polar wolf idea sounds plausible. For all we know, the next airbender Avatar won't be able to get a bison, so he might use another animal.
- The dragons that taught firebending were supposed to be extinct, and then the source of firebending power became things like the sun and comets. I suppose each element would have both an animal guide and a planetary correspondent. Narwhal-seahorses or Jellyfish-seal? Or maybe just holy carp.
- It really depends on what you mean by "source". Firebending is powered by the sun; the sun is why firebending exists at all. The original firebenders were the dragons; they then taught it to the Sun Warriors. Firebending can exist without the dragons, but firebending cannot exist without the sun. The moon is both the power source of waterbending and the original waterbender; the Moon Spirit directly taught the first waterbenders. Airbending and earthbending may not have an actual powersource outside of their elements; if they do, it was never mentioned in the show.
- True, Aang likens Roku's dragon to Appa as a 'guide'. The flashback in Appa's Lost Days show that Air Nomads gain bison companions early on in life. Aang could have been comparing Roku and Fang as an Air Nomad tradition (it would fit with the similarities between Nations) rather than an Avatar one. Although this troper can somehow see a person like Kyoshi with a badgermole at some point. Tough, no-nonsense, fundamentally 'earthbender'.
- Y'all are forgetting about something: in the first Kyoshi Island episode, the Unagi can shoot water from its mouth, similar to the way dragons spit fire. While it is unlikely that that would be practical as a spirit guide, it's not unthinkable that there would be similar/smaller versions.
- If Aang could access the individual Avatar spirits for a sort of mini-Avatar State before he communed with them (Kyoshi, Roku, Yangchen, Kuruk) despite his blocked Cosmic chakra (Book 3 version), why could he not access all of them at once? Was it because the cosmic chakra was required to have enough harmony to have more than one of them in/controlling the body at once at all, rather than just the the thing that lets them be One instead of one big lump of not-oneness? Because all the imagery said that he couldn't access them at all, and the text practically (and possibly literally, in Book 2) said so as well.
- It's not so much accessing a mini-Avatar State since it doesn't bring the power of the past Avatars out, but rather takes him within himself to it. Also, he's on the back of a giant Lion-Turtle who may or may not be part of the Spirit World.
- Chapter three. Aang finds out that firebenders killed everyone in the Southern Temple, freaks out, and enters the Avatar State. This causes things in the temples around the four nations to light up. One of the Fire Sages says to "send word to the Fire Lord," because the Avatar has returned. But if the temples light up when Aang's in the Avatar State, wouldn't they have lit up in the previous chapter, when he buries Zuko's ship in ice? Or in the chapter before that, when he busts out of the iceberg he and Appa were frozen in?
- I believe that the circumstances may have affected it. In the instances with the iceberg and the attack on the ship, the Avatar state activated defensively, while in the Southern Temple, Aang entered the Avatar state while enraged. With those differences in mind, the temples likely don't light up if the Avatar only activates for brief defensive purposes, but when the Avatar is getting ready to royally kick someone's ass, the temples flash a warning.
- Or, maybe it's because he wasn't within one-hundred feet of a temple the last two times he went into the Avatar State.
- Have any Avatars actually took advantage of their powers and turned evil? Would they be kept in check by their previous incarnations when they entered the Avatar state?
- First that's more of Wild Mass Guessing than Just Bugs Me, second given the reverence the majority of the world gives the Avatar I'm going to guess that's a negative. Of course it's equally possible that some of them did this and the historians recorded it as a good thing. After all a bit of luck in battle could have resulted in Julius being remembered as a bloody minded military dictator and Pompey a hero of democracy.
- The balance probably works this way: a nation tries to take conquer another: the attacker loses because the Avatar helps the offended (unless you attack when there is no adult Avatar). The Avatar tries to seize control of the world: all nations unite against him. Well, of course things would have been worse if Roku had agreed to help Sozin, rather than just staying almost neutral.
- Or maybe the Avatar spirit chooses a human being with some particular inborn tendencies? Or having the avatar spirit incarnate in a human makes that person develop a nature to protect the world?
- The Avatar Spirit is a spirit of the world that has chosen to endlessly reincarnate in order to protect the balance of the world; callous destruction/conquest would be anathema to it, so while there might be Avatars who are willing to be more "proactive" in keeping balance (Avatar Kyoshi comes to mind), an honest-to-god evil Avatar would be extremely unlikely, if not impossible.
- A friend of mine speculated that the Avatar is required to be morally stable to open their chakras and enter the State, so a corrupt Avatar would be deprived of his main weapon.
- The Legend of Korra reveals that the Avatar spirit is the fusion of a human soul and the spirit that represents peace and light. So maybe she keeps them good.
- Given that bending incorporates a lot of philosophy and forms, the elements themselves coming after the fact, why couldn't Roku at least get Aang started on learning firebending? (And waterbending and earthbending, for that matter?)
- That could be justified by the fact that since Roku doesn't have a living body, it wouldn't be possible for Aang to get nearly as good a grasp on bending than if he had an actual living teacher. Though, this does bring up a good question: it's shown that past Avatars can share their memories with the current Avatar. If so, why can't the past Avatars simply implant the knowledge of bending directly into Aang's mind? There doesn't seem to be anything stopping them.
- My guess is that it's for the same reason that the Avatar has to be a mortal human.
- Roku had no body to teach with, and subsequently the spiritual lessons wouldn't be physical lessons. Additionally time would be limited for contact with them; talking may be a free action, but training is not. And then there's the lack of control created from power-overload and ignorance of methodology. Aang, not understanding the philosophy of Firebending, ended up burning Katara. And this is even more-so in that knowledge does't imply mastery: Toph mentions that when Aang is learning Earthbending he could have easily crushed Sokka. Aang would need to gradually refine his own abilities before thinking to even handle what he wouldn't even know. It's the same with every avatar, which is why they must learn the elements in order.
- Spirits can't bend.
- Unless they manifest themselves through a human, as in Roku destroying the Fire Sage Temple with firebending through Aang.
- In Avatar Day, it's accepted that Avatar Kyoshi killed the warlord that the townspeople idolize. Except no she totally did not. She broke her peninsula away from the mainland to escape him, he stood too close to the crumbling edge, and he fell off. It's not like she opened the chasm under his feet. If he'd taken even a single step back at any point, even after she'd begun pulling the peninsula away, he would have lived. Maybe she feels responsible for his death, but she certainly didn't kill him.
- That may be true, but remember- it's people's perceptions that matter. If people thought she had killed him (especially if it was a long time ago, and no one is left alive who remembers the "truth"), then it no longer matters what she did/didn't do. People may have believed that that she killed him, and years of it being accepted as "truth" permeate their everyday knowledge.
- Fair enough, but this is a situation where Kyoshi possessing Aang's body to tell her side of the story is a plot point - and she actually says "yes, I killed him", even given the flashback from her perspective showing that she didn't...
- Her island-splitting shenanigans were a major factor in his death. So in a sense, she indirectly caused his death. And how was he supposed to know the rock was going to fall?
- To be fair any sane person, or non earthbender would have stepped back. Kiyoshi says she may as well have killed him because as an Earthbender herself she knew EXACTLY how stubborn that warlord was and that he would not budge. The crumbling rock thing was a foreseeable consequence from her island splitting.
- Weren't her exact words "I may as well have"?
- Even if we figure she didn't really kill him and only shares partial blame, Kyoshi had literally just explained exactly how she killed Chin the Conqueror, namely by complete and total accident and despite that only due to his own incredible stupidity. And then the villagers declare Aang, who himself has no connection other than being the reincarnation of Kyoshi and aside from that is the mother freaking Messiah and the only one who can save the world for some reason, guilty and sentence him to death.
- This was specifically discussed in the finale when Aang is talking to his past incarnations. Apparently, Aang agrees with the original poster's assessment of responsibility ("You didn't really kill Chin... he fell to his own demise because he was too stubborn to get out of the way.") But Kyoshi said that personally she doesn't see the difference. As to why he didn't get out of the way, it's heavily implied if not stated outright that Earthbenders tend to be stubborn and unyielding.
- Maybe I'm reading into this too much, but it was shown very clearly that he was shorter than his followers, and much shorter than Avatar Kyoshi. Usually charismatic leaders have tall, intimidating stature that he didn't possess, so he overcompensated with his big attitude. Being an Earthbending leader, the quality that would have appealed to his followers would have been unyielding stubbornness, and so taking a step back, even to escape danger, might have been seen as relenting, and thus shattered his charisma.
- Also - while the Kyoshi did cause death it was clearly in combat situation. If solder kills during war other solder he is not charged for killing by any side (as long as he adheres to rules of war). Hence capturing Avatar could be considered at most POW (except the war ended few hundereds years ago).
- Yes, and all of this would be important if that trial wasn't a blatantly obvious Kangaroo Court run by a bunch of moronic assholes who were sore losers on top of it. The whole point of that episode was that those villagers were pigheaded idiots who only relented when they needed Aang to save their worthless hides.
- But she could have used her aribending to push him backwards away from the falling rocks, or her earthbending to hold them in place, or any number of other things. She feels responsible because she could have done something to stop it but didn't.
- Kyoshi and the Dai Li. The 'Escape from the Spirit World' short claims she began the Dai Li as a way of maintaining Ba Sing Se's cultural heritage, but she describes them as skilled, stealthy, elite earthbenders. The kind of traits you'd find in soldiers, or spies, or...secret police. What did she think they'd end up doing? I get she was trying to 'compromise' with the Earth King, but it looked as though she initially weighed it far too much in favour of his desire to suppress the rebellion.
- For some one who values stability above all else, such as the entire earth-kingdom with a earthbender-based Avatar, something as chaotic as a revolution which overthrows the established monarchy is probably one of the worst things you can imagine. Have you ever actually studied revolutions? Yeah the pictures of Che Guevaras face on those GAP shirts look cool, but historically, revolutions are bloody, violent, gets lots of people on both sides killed, and frequently lead to the rise of other, even more radical factions. The fallback historical example is France, but for something more modern look at whats happening in the middle east right now. In Kyoshi's mind, one bad king wouldn't invalidate the entire system, but destroying that system might prove irreversible. One evil monarch is something that an avatar could deal with (as she did with the warlord, and as Aang spent the entire series building up to) but internal political upheaval might not hold the same importance for a different Avatar, and even if it did, they probably wouldnt feel the same way as Kyoshi did. Think about the Water-bender avatar Aang talked to in the last episode, the "go-with-the-flow" guy. Do you think Kyoshi would have wanted some one like that handling an earth-kingdom revolution? At worst what we're seeing here is a bad case of Lawful Stupid, where Kyoshi didn't consider the possibility that without constant guidance the elite troops she helped train might end up following orders not in the best interest of the people.
- The Avatar State is shown to be super powerful. Aang melds with the friggin' ocean and mops up an entire Fire Nation Armada. Then, he goes Avatar State and gets one-shotted by Azula... Really?! It seemed like such a huge inconsistency to me that it ruined any further appearances by Azula. She seemed like the writer's pet villain, and all the heroes had to carry an Idiot Ball (and Chain) whenever she came around.
- The Avatar State is powerful, yes, that doesn't make it unstoppable. It's still housed in a human shell, and humans can still be killed no matter how much fire they can shoot from their hands. And if you look at the scene, he turned his back to the enemy in the middle of a fight. Azula saw an opportunity and took it.
- That's my point exactly. Aang doesn't do that in the Avatar State any other time. It's only when fighting Azula that he does something so phenomenally stupid. Against every other opponent, Aang is clever and even a bit wise. Against Azula he (and to a somewhat lesser extent EVERYONE ELSE) is a complete moron. Iroh was able to beat her effortlessly during her first appearance, then all of a sudden she was able to evade/defeat Iroh, Aang, Zuko, Katara AND Sokka together!
- Iroh "beat" her by taking her by surprise. Plus, this is Iroh. You can't really say that getting beat by him makes you a weakling made of fail. And she evaded Everyone in the chase by realizing that she couldn't take all of them, waiting for a proper distraction, and abusing that distraction to cause a bigger one, and then she escaped. And Aang going into a meditative state in the middle of the fight had noting to do with Azula in and of itself. Because he ran out on Guru Pathik, he was unable to enter the Avatar State at all. So Azula, crafty being that she is, sees her enemy turn his back to her, and he starts to glow. Did you just expect her to stand there and get her ass beat?
- Point of order. Aang didn't "turn his back" on the enemy. For one, he was surrounded, so his back was going to be toward some of his enemy no matter what he did, and for another, he was facing Azula and Zuko when he started meditating. Azula moved around behind him while he was doing so, presumably specifically to shoot him in the back.
- So, if Aang really is the last airbender, what's going to happen after the next firebending avatar dies? If Aang has no airbending descendents, and/or no one else can figure out how to learn airbending, and/or he doesn't transfer airbending power to anyone else, (if he can take power away, surely he can give some?) will the whole cycle end? Will it skip over to the next nation/element, Water? Or will an airbending child just automatically be born?
- So where will they put Aang's statue after he's gone? The room of statues seems pretty full.
- Move another statue over. They are stone statues.
- Why did Sozin think that massacring the Air Nomads would solve anything? If Aang had died as a baby, wouldn't a new Avatar just have been born in the Water Tribe? Unless he systematically slaughtered every race but the Fire Nation the Avatar still would have been born.
- It was predominately a ploy to further his control. If he killed the Avatar too early, it wouldn't have made any difference. Instead, he waited until the Avatar was about 12 to give him time to plan. Also he probably thought "kill them until they Fire-bend and then mind-control them".
- It's easier to kill than to capture, especially when the thing or person you're after specializes in escape and evasion. It was probably easier to wait until the comet came and launch a sneak attack to be sure, and then shift through the Waterbenders for the new Avatar.
- Do note, however, that the Fire Nation did proceed to capture/kill all the Waterbenders from the Southern Tribe (even if this apparently took them a few decades...), and they at least tried to attack the Northern Tribe. Now, this doesn't rule out an Avatar being born to that tribe in the swamp, but it's unclear how many people actually know about them. Also, they did colonize a lot of the Earth Kingdom, so it wouldn't theoretically be too hard for them to find an Earthbending Avatar either.
- The problem with that idea though is several fold. First the Air Nomads as far as we're shown are the least militaristic of the groups. Sozin wiped them out entirely but a hundred (or so) years later the Water and Earth Kingdoms are still standing. If he'd killed Aang the next Avatar would have been some place better defended. Also we know that Avatars aren't always identified as young as Aang. What reason did they have (aside from him not showing up in aforementioned Water and Earth kingdoms to believe they had magically missed a single Air Bender instead of the more likely idea that he was currently training at the North Pole or something. Honestly the Air Nomads with their strict no killing policies was probably the best place for the Avatar aside from on his side.
- The problem I saw is that even if they didnt know how to officially end the Avatar cycle, they would've had a hard time sieging the northern Water Tribe for their Avatar. Dunno about the southern tribe though.
- Well, I'm trying to write a screenplay/script for fun, and to see how hard it is. I'm explaining it this way: Sozin didn't give the order to exterminate the Air Nomads. He sent his forces to the temples to look for the Avatar, and the Air Nomads refused to give him up. The soldiers orders if they wouldn't cooperate was to kill them all and begin rounding up the benders from the next nation in the cycle. Thus, Hama's captivity. It makes sense to me because Sozin originally wanted to help the world. He let his friend die because he thought it was necessary for him to help the world by spreading Fire Nation culture. Not because he's an amoral sadist. He genuinely wanted to help the world, but was misguided. So giving the Air Nomads a chance to surrender the Avatar and the order to kill being secondary seems to fit in with his character to me.
- So the cycle of the Avatar being born into each nation always goes Air, Water, Earth, Fire, and because of the perceived difficulty in learning different styles they learn them in the same order. Usually makes sense: the purely reactive/defensive Airbenders would probably find the purely aggressive Firebending difficult, Firebenders focus entirely on their inner energies would have difficulty controlling the ultimately external and solid earth, Earthbenders would probably have serious issues with the "ebb and flow" of waterbending. But Waterbenders, as far as I can tell, should be pretty handy in picking up Airbending while having as many problems - or more - with Earthbending as anyone else. Can someone else figure this out?
- Waterbending is about redirecting your opponent's energy for use against them, while Airbending is more about avoiding it entirely when possible. And, when you really think about it, you could theoretically be able to learn the cycle backward without much difficulty. Airbenders can gel with the acrobatics of Firebending, Firebenders will like Earthbending's natural offensive capability, Earthbending has synergy with Waterbending's use of defense. The thing is, It's just better a bit safer to go the cycle the right way. Aang treated fire like it was air in the Deserter, and you see what happened there.
- Maybe on first glance, but think deeper. Waterbending and Airbending philosophy are extremely different. Waterbending is all about redirection of energy. To redirect an attack you need to be able to face it head-on, with a clear mind. Airbending is about being agile and defensive, earthbending is very balanced, firebending lacks defense, and water can be offense or defense. Waterbending has more in common with earthbending than the other two. Firebending and Airbending are linked through breathing. Waterbending and earthbending seem to be linked through focusing on shifting the world around you, rather than you shifting to the world.
- Also, it seems to be enforced by a number of things from the show, including certain characters (like Aang's first Firebending teacher- Jeong Jeong), that the Avatar must as a law of how being the Avatar works, learn the elements in accordance to the Avatar Cycle. This actually helps considering that each art in a way helps progress to the next one in cyclical fashion. In the case of Aang specifically, it seems to work like this:
Air is freedom- he knows by default how to evade and defend through finding openings he can exploit
Water is change - he can take his evasion and defense and mold it into an offensive and vice versa, redirecting the flow of combat as necessary
Earth is substance - now knowing how to evade and redirect are one thing but with this he learns to handle the unavoidable and unchangeable by rooting oneself, which finally leads to...
Fire is power - now knowing how to evade, redirect, and root, he now uses all of this to mount a full offensive
- Why isn't the Avatar's identity ever kept a secret? I mean, it seems like it would be easier to have people know the Avatar is around but not really know who he/she is, so as to avoid things like assination attempts and allow the Avatar to go undercover or something if need.
- A fully-realized Avatar would pretty much laugh at any assassin that comes after him or her. That said, it would be easy for the Avatar to go undercover. Most people really wouldn't know what the Avatar looks like; this isn't a setting where everyone has internet and iPhones. They have, at best, sketches and portraits, which aren't perfectly reliable, especially if the Avatar goes around publicly in flamboyant dress and then shifts to a more subtle disguise.
- It's also unavoidable for some people to know who the Avatar is. Each generation of bending masters will have to teach them, and other benders will learn with them. They'll also have to learn how to master the Avatar state from some of the sages of the day. Presumably they'd formally meet the world leaders who'd be answerable to them, and those leaders would need to have some way of contacting the Avatar in times of emergency. Your average cabbage merchant might not recognise the Avatar, but there's quite a few people who would.
- Indeed. Aang is kind of at a disadvantage because he's, well, the last airbender, and the tattoos are a dead giveaway. If he hailed from, say, any other nation, or if the airbenders weren't completely wiped out, he could actually blend easily with the crowd. Heck, even in the actual show he successfully goes undercover by hiding his arrow.
- The scene where Roku fought two massive volcanoes. He stopped the first one with a single use of the avatar state to bend all the lava to flow towards the sea on the far side of the island, breaking that side of the volcano to create a large enough outlet. So when the second one exploded, why did he not try that again?
- Because the Avatar State tires you out.
- Aang used it twice in a row without a problem. Getting tired only seems to happen when the Avatars haven't properly mastered it.
- Aang never had to redirect all the lava of a volcano, though.
- Remember, Roku was old by that time; you can't expect him to have as much energy as the 12-year old, hyperactive Aang. Repeatedly taking in lungfuls of toxic gas sure wasn't helping, either.
- According to the Visual Novel (the same one where Kyoshi explains that she created the Dai Li) Roku explains to Aang that he never had the patience to completely master the avatar state. So he probably couldn't summon it.
- How did Aang's 7th chakra get blocked by lightning? The wound was in his back, not the top of his head. And how come Katara couldn't do what was done by a pointy rock? Did re-opening the wound also open up the energy path in the process?
- Likely. Remember that the world of avatar doesn't just have locations for chi (like the chakras), but also has pressure points that can interfere with it. We're specifically shown Katara is unable to cure affected pressure points, so it might be that Azula hit a pressure point by accident (or maybe she learned some from Ty Lee).
- They never actually state which chakra gets blocked by the lightning; the 7th was just the one that Aang was in the process was releasing when he got shot. My theory is that it was his first chakra, the Earth chakra, that got blocked, since the Guru stated that it was located at the base of the spine. Plus, when Katara starts feeling his chi there, he gets visions of when he got killed. The Earth chakra is blocked by fear, and what causes more fear than death?
- Public speaking.
- I'm not satisfied with that answer. It's a good one, but it doesn't explain things for me. He was in the process of releasing it, but that required him to let go of Katara. Maybe it didn't mean "let go of your love for her forever" so much as "let go of your desire for her; if she is with you then that is good, if she is not with you then that is acceptable as well." Regardless, his words to Katara in The Ember Island Players pretty strongly indicates he hadn't let go by that point. He was still emotionally attached, his seventh chakra was not opened, and the Avatar Spirit was damaged—the latter two are because of Azula's lightning bolt, but the former was just there. The idea that the lightning had specifically blocked him from reaching the Avatar State was really something not particularly made clear until it was 'un'blocked, and there were other reasons at hand that as far as I'm concerned were never resolved.
- So the Avatar cycle. When an Avatar dies, another is born into the next group. But what happens if the Avatar is born outside of the home of its Benders? I suppose they could still contact someone to say "my child is the Avatar," but what if they're born into a group that's cut off from society, like the Foggy Swamp Tribe? In fact, they wouldn't know when that Avatar DIES either, so they'd end up possibly going through GENERATIONS of Avatars without knowing until someone sees them bending an element they shouldn't be.
- My guess is it's one of those fate things where something makes sure that the Avatar is identified and found. If it was in the Foggy Swamp Tribe, probably the kid would come of age right when someone from outside is passing through who could ID him.
- This troper always assumed that if the next Avatar was born in the Foggy Swamp tribe, it would not take long for the Sage's to realise that none of the babies born in that time period at the North/South Pole was the Avatar, so they would go look for him/her elsewhere.
- So, it was established that if the Avatar was killed in the Avatar State, the Avatar Cycle would stop. When Azula temporarily kills Aang, she blocks his Chakra, preventing him from entering the Avatar State. He somehow unblocks the Chakra during his battle with Ozai, thus letting him use it again. So... what would have happened if the Chakras WEREN'T unblocked? (Or if Aang were killed, for that matter( Would the Avatar Cycle just have stopped? I'm surprised this was never brought up, actually, unless I've missed something.
- It's pretty clear that you have to be killed in the Avatar State to break the cycle. If Aang wasn't in the Avatar State when he died, that wouldn't break the cycle. Simple as that.
- He saved the Avatar Cycle from ending in Escape from the Spirit World.
- So the Avatar cycle will end if an Avatar is killed while in the Avatar state. Okay. But how does anybody know this for sure? I mean, it's not like they had another Avatar to test this out on, did they?
- Spirits are mortal when they are present in the physical world. So it makes sense that the Avatar is no exception. But then there have been at least a thousand avatars before Aang each with their own backstories and issues to sort out keeping the world in balance. So IMHO, I think there is a very good chance that at least some part of this lesson was learnt the hard way — Aang wasn't the only avatar to have been critically injured in the Avatar state.
- This is perhaps something the Avatar Spirit knows innately, and passes along to its current incarnation when the time is right, in the form of the previous incarnation, as Roku did for Aang. The first Avatar simply knew it, or was told by the Lion Turtle or something.
- The Moon Spirit didn't have to die for people to realize that it could be killed. I always assumed that the Avatar State was similar to the Moon and Ocean spirits becoming koi fish; Aang's tapping into his past lives, by extension, taps into the Avatar Spirit itself, which means that it temporarily exists fully in the physical world and can thus die.
- How many avatars have appeared before Aang? Roku seems to put the number at around a thousand. Human society would be even older than that? But wait, it's said that the Moon and ocean spirits have been around almost since the beginning of the world and created the spirit oasis to help mankind. So just how old is human civilization in the Avatar-verse?
- Well, humans didn't necessarily develop bending skills right at the beginning of human civilization. I don't think they ever gave a specific timeline for when bending was developed, and it's possible that some elements took longer to develop than others. A thousand Avatars seems like a small number, but also remember that people in Avatar seem to be able to live a long time, Avatar or not (Kyoshi was over two hundred, but even Bumi has to be over 100), so it's quite likely that the Avatar system has been around for longer than it looks like.
- ^This. I'd say Firebending is the oldest, followed by Airbending, then maybe Waterbending and Earthbending? It'd make sense: the sun has been around longer than humans most likely, and the firebenders are very advanced for their time. Airbendingg I'd place second because air is such a natural thing and because the air nomads are so spiritual and seem so ancient because of it. Waterbending and earthbending are a guess. It also makes sense because what's the Avatar cycle? All together now... Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Perhaps the first Avatar was a firebender, then around the time they died, Airbending was discovered and so the next Avatar could firebend and airbend. When the second Avatar was dying, waterbending was being discovered and the third Avatar could bend water, fire, and air. Finally earthbending developed, the Avatar could bend all four, and the cycle started over again. This explanation is helped by the fact that the Avatar is empowered by its past lives.
- Or it is just possible that when Roku said that the Avatar had been around 1,000 times, he was just saying a large generic number. It's entirely possibly that the Avatar spirit has been around for less/more time.
- The Legend of Korra reveals that Wan, the first Avatar, lived 10,000 years ago. Assuming the average lifespan of an Avatar to be about 70 years (though considering Kyoshi, it may well be bigger than that), we're looking at roughly 140-150 Avatars between Wan and Aang or Korra. And human civilization predates the Avatar Cycle; by Wan's time there already existed human cities with roughly antiquity-era technology. Oh, and Wan was born a nonbender, learning firebending first, which counted as his native element.
- How did Sozin know the Avatar wasn't killed in his attacks on the air temples? He states he knew that the Avatar survived, but he didn't say how. Even if he was Crazy-Prepared and ordered everyone to account for somebody bending more than one element, that probably wouldn't account for much since a young Avatar at one of the air temples probably didn't know how to do anything besides airbender. Was he just paranoid and didn't want to assume they Avatar was dead unless it was proven without a shadow a doubt?
- "Was he just paranoid and didn't want to assume they Avatar was dead unless it was proven without a shadow a doubt?" Yes, I think that's it. Sozin would have no way of knowing which, if any, of the slain airbender children was the Avatar. However, Crazy-Prepared and Dangerously Genre Savvy runs in the family; in the flashbacks in The Search, Ozai similarly refuses to accept No One Could Survive That as definite proof that Ikem is dead.