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The ideal solution would've been the Air Acolytes, or people who have a strong spiritual connection, or people who have spent time with Sky Bison, may be empowered. But I'm not actually opposed to what we got.
...yeah, most spirits are a bit prickly. To be fair, they were on the receiving end of 100 years of "war" against their territory just as much as the humans were, only for most times in the year, they couldn't actively do anything about it. And especially not without an Avatar to broker peace. Also, Hei Bai is a pretty cool dude/ette/thing, for the most part. And the Moon Spirit is of course full of Lunar Goodness.
So my mind wandered as I went for a long walk this morning. And I realized... Aang never gave Katara a betrothal necklace, did he? I know it's a Water Tribe thing, but he is the Avatar. But we know they're important. So I'd like to believe that Sokka gave one to (you already know who I'm talking about), after getting encouragement from all of his friends and his father, and maybe even the blessing of the Moon Spirit on one full moon. I kind of imagine he'd design it as a choker/pendant, using reforged metal from one of her old war fans, cloth from the warrior's outfit she made him wear when they first met, and space for four small pebbles to be set, vertically. One from Kyoshi Island, where they first met. One from the Boiling Rock, where he saved her. One from the Wulong Forest, where she saved him. And an empty space for the fourth, to symbolize the endless possibility of their future. I think he'd think it important that he use all earthen materials (and all Earth Kingdom, with the exception of the Boiling Rock one), to bridge his culture with hers. It seems like the kind of humble, but effort and creativity-rich, thing he'd do. And by the time of the comics, he was definitely at the age to start thinking about it. It was a long walk. I was locked out of my apartment.
You know, upon my second watch, Sokka's my favorite member of Team Avatar. I don't think I had a favorite the first time around, but it might have been him then, too.
Edited by wanderlustwarrior on Jun 29th 2020 at 7:55:25 AM
My personal headcanon is that Kya is wearing the betrothal necklace that Aang gave to Katara.
Ooh, that makes sense. I just assumed no more named characters were seen wearing betrothal necklaces in Korra who weren't mentioned on the wiki's page for the necklaces.
As for Aang and Korra having PTSD...yeah, being an Avatar means a lot of hardship and misery and often one is left wondering if they did enough.
Heck, the first Avatar Wan ended up an old man dying on a battlefield lamenting his failure to bring peace to the world. The whole Avatar Cycle was Raava's way of reassuring him that they would have more chances to accomplish this.
Avatar Kuruk tried to take it easy. Too much so. And that didn't end well for him or anyone else.
Avatar Kiyoshi? Her own books show that her early days as an Avatar were also rife with hardship and betrayal. It's small wonder she became such a hardass Avatar.
Avatar Roku? Forced to fight his best friend, with his last regret being that he didn't kill him when he had the chance.
Edited by M84 on Jun 29th 2020 at 9:37:39 PM
There are plenty of ways, if you want to have new characters become empowered to be Airbenders, that you could go about it. The most logical would be for the Avatar to be able to use spiritbending to bestow bending on people who want it, the same way the Avatar can spiritbend their bending away. This would also function as a better explanation for why the Equalist movement ended, as opposed to "They got to elect a President, so the entire concept of bender oppression or the perception thereof doesn't exist anymore."
Of course, that would lead to a very different setup than "Random-ass people all spontaneously gain Airbending at once because reasons, it's not really important why". YMMV on whether that'd be better or worse for the story. But the point is, the way it was done through Harmonic Convergence isn't the only possible way that airbending could have been restored to the world - and, indeed, what actually happened is so ill-defined that it barely even functions as an explanation anyway.
Edited by TobiasDrake on Jun 29th 2020 at 7:40:09 AM
A world-wide mystical event that only happens every ten thousand years works just fine as an explanation for me. Certainly better then a civil war that had nothing to do with anything.
Also, it wasn't just the Airbenders and spirits coming back — the villains of book three have a direct tie to Unalaq, and the influx of spirits led to the creation of spirit energy, a major plot thread in book four. The next two seasons are basically the people adapting to the new status quo set up in book two.
Well, the Equalist movement was pretty specific to Republic City so I guess some sense that the solution would happen in Republic City. At least, that's what I would like to say but unfortunately I live in the real world where that really makes no sense because the oppression of marginalized groups is pretty universal.
But then again, the Avatarverse...isn't the real world. This is not really a universe that has ever shown the targeting of non-benders as a specific group (except for "When Extremes Meet" but Korra puts a stop to that really quick). If anything, the benders were more concerned about killing each other and, somehow through the sheer goodness of the world I guess, the ideology/systematic targeting that poses that non-benders are inferior to benders is never brought up. Not even once. Waterbenders were the ones that cruelly tortured and captured from their homes. Airbenders were the ones that victims of genocide. In fact, a few of the world leaders in both the OG series and the were non-benders— the Earth King, Hakoda, the Northern Tribe chief, etc. I'm not saying Amon didn't have a point because he definitely did, but in the context of the story he's kind of playing off of (admittedly understandable) fears more than historical context. Also the Avatar, who is a divine all-powerful being who can actually take bending away, does exist.
As far as the whole Avatar bestowing bending, however, I feel like that does bring up an ethical question. Does the Avatar actually have the right to bless someone with bending or take it away when they see fit? Ozai and Yakone were dangerous, but wouldn't stripping someone of their bending be equivalent to stripping them of their limbs? Also wouldn't that mean the Avatar is messing with balance itself? Harmonic Convergence randomly selecting people to be airbenders just feels...fair? Like, it's a natural way to give someone bending in the same way that people are just naturally born with it.
But I agree. This is all YMMV.
Edited by deuteragonist on Jun 30th 2020 at 8:58:20 AM
My biggest problem with granting bending is we never establish that's possible — the Avatar is seen taking bending and restoring bending, not giving bending to someone that never had it. The lion turtles could grant an element, not all of them, and you'd think Aang would have already tried that decades ago.
Edited by drac0blade on Jun 29th 2020 at 9:58:02 AM
Personally I like the explanation that Aang didn't know how to grant bending since the Lion Turtle only showed Aang how to debend people.
And neither Aang or Korra were inclined to experiment with Energy Bending in the Avatar State because of the ethical and moral issues it would raise if either had worked out how to do it.
Yeah and even then it was pretty much divine intervention as a last resort. An ancient all-powerful spirit stepped in to make sure that Aang would succeed. It was almost as if the Lion Turtle was giving him permission. Still Aang didnít need to take Ozaiís bending away and judging from the Red Lotus prisons, he didnít need to kill him either.
On the other hand, Korra never took anyoneís bending away. Granted, partly because she didnít need to, but also because she saw firsthand the moral and ethical repercussions of it. She even experienced it for a short period of time.
BTW is there an active Korra series thread? Or are we using this for both? I'd be down to use this for both, but I know spoilers are a worry.
The voice actors for Korra and Asami did an in-character readthrough of the first chapter of Turf Wars, which was uploaded to the Avatar Youtube channel, and I thought about posting it here, but it's technically off topic from TLA.
I feel like we should just merge the threads now that Korra's been over for years and Avatar's gotten back into prominence again.
Only problem would be spoilers; Korra's over, but renewed interest in TLA means some people might be encountering Korra for the first time (or looking forward to finishing it with some level of surprise, in my case).
The Harmonic Convergence is probably the primary reason why even Book 3 of Korra doesn't surpass Book 1 for me.
It's a Deus ex Machina cop-out to bring back more Airbenders and ensure their status as not being extinct.
Genocides are not recovered from via magic, spiritual events turning different people from different nations into the same kinds of people from an endangered culture. Genocides are recovered from through survival on the part of the remaining population of said culture at risk, and compassion and kindness on the part of the rest of the world.
Also, at the risk of triggering more debates, the Harmonic Convergence unintentionally strikes against Katara and Aang's love.
One of the primary appeals about their love is the fact that both children survived genocide attempts on their people, and the fact that they went on to live a happy, married life with children should be a great triumph and a smack in the face to those who tried to kill them and wipe out their kind.
Bringing the Airbenders back from the brink of extinction should also have been one of Aang and Katara's greatest achievements, but thanks to the Harmonic Convergence, such a triumph is taken away from their legacy.
What good is making an effort to survive being the last of your kind and doing your best to repopulate, when magical spiritual energies are going to do all the hard work for you and your children anyway?
Except it didn't happen like that at all? The show went to very clear lengths to show that people becoming Airbenders didn't suddenly bring back the old culture and ways, you still need people actually working and putting in the effort to do that. How exactly did you miss this?
Also, like, Aang and Katara wouldn't get credit for bring Airbenders back from the brink because they literally couldn't do that.
Edited by LSBK on Jun 30th 2020 at 9:27:42 AM
Aang and Katara are human beings. They aren't bunny rabbits or gerbils. There was no way in hell they were going to brink back the Airbenders by themselves.
There is a hilarious irony that only 1 out of 3 of his kids was born an Airbender yet that kids 4 kids are all born Airbenders while the other 2 kids are childless.
Me thinks Tenzin stole all the Airbender juice.
Edited by slimcoder on Jun 30th 2020 at 8:36:21 AM
Maybe the exact culture could never be brought back, but the actual race of people could.
And frankly, I think that bringing back the Airbenders should've been a more gradual and less out-of-nowhere process.
Each airbender following Aang should've been a descendant of him (and Katara), Tenzin, and Tenzin's children.
And Bumi and Kya too, if they ever chose to have offspring (which is one thing I would change about them if given the chance).
And yes, that means that an entire race should not have recovered from being critically endangered in the span of two shows and 70+ in-universe years.
Edited by BrightLight on Jul 1st 2020 at 5:39:02 AM
Not immediately, no. Left to nature, it would take hundreds or even a thousand years for the Airbenders to ever be even close to what they once were.
That's. Y'know. What happens after a genocide. You don't get to wave a magic wand and un-Holocaust an exterminated people in real life. And it's kinda disrespectful to do so in fiction.
ATLA made a choice. The writers decided that they wanted to have a conversation about genocide.
LOK also made a choice. The writers decided that they didn't want to have that conversation anymore, 'cause they wanted to give more people cool airbending powers.
Edited by TobiasDrake on Jun 30th 2020 at 9:42:34 AM
My point was that it literally wouldn't happen, given the gene pool and number of people left to work with.
I'm not really sure how what Legend of Korra did somehow invalidates genocide; it still happened, and the original Air Nomads are still gone. The point is made that although they can try and make something new, what used to exist can never really be again.
I big part of the whole situation was Tenzin coming to peace with that fact.
Edited by LSBK on Jun 30th 2020 at 11:00:02 AM
Even the new Air Nation isn't exactly like the Air Nomads of old. They're more proactive and involved with the rest of the world and modernized. They've eschewed the traditional gliders in favor of wingsuits for one thing.
It's a different world. It happens.
Still, since bending isn't strictly genetic, (...except for airbenders both breaking and following series rules?), traditional concerns of a population bottleneck and minimal viable population don't necessarily fit.
But also, how the hell does "every Air Nomad is an Airbender" even work? Their babies are born innately spiritual? And the Air Temples were segregated by sex, so... did the Eastern and Western Air Temples just have a higher population due to babies being there for the first year(s)? And no family attachments?
And how long does it take living with Sky Bison until one learns the beginnings of bending from them, if they don't have a genetic connection? Toph learned Earthbending from Badgermoles part-time in shorter time than some of the Air Acolytes were around learning the culture and being with Sky Bisons full-time.
I thought it was pretty clear by now that the whole "learned bending from animals" thing was entirely metaphorical. I also recall people being upset about that, but it never bothered me.
Toph didn't literally learn Earthbending from the badger moles, she copied them to form her own particular style with her innate Earthbending abilities.
Edited by LSBK on Jun 30th 2020 at 11:20:09 AM
Their babies are born inherently spiritual. It's not quite a matter of genetics or anything. The showrunners intentionally wanted it to be somewhat mysterious.
Here's an interview excerpt:
MDD: Aang is the last Airbender, so I don't think it's possible for Airbending to spontaneously develop in the general population.
RM: It seems like all the Air Nomads were benders. Did they exile everyone who didn't manifest the trait, or did they really have such a high percentage of born benders?
BK: We always have liked the idea of who will be a bender and who won't be to be kind of an ambiguous mystery, even to the people in the Avatar world. From early on we thought the Air Nomads would be all benders. Again it's like Mike was saying, it's more of a spiritual connection. But they have...they had...the smallest population. Earth Kingdom has the biggest population but the smallest percentage of benders. So yeah, there were these notions we kicked around that is wasn't going to be regimented or ruled through specific lineages. We liked the idea that each of the cultures have a different spiritual vantage point...coming at it from a different angle.
MDD: Then the Air Nomads would have been the most spiritual...the most connected to the spiritual energy of the Earth.
BK: But the most detached from society. More monastic.
RM: Did the Avatar pre-date other bending, or did bending predate the Avatar?
Not entirely metaphorical. Toph mastered Earthbending by following the Badgermoles. Zuko and Aang gained insight in Firebending from the Dragons. And the Sky Bisons' weightless flight is presumably what inspired Guru Laghima to figure out a way to do the same.
Edited by M84 on Jul 1st 2020 at 12:22:56 AM
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