What makes a realistic
villain? It is not a tragic backstory or a higher ideological motive. The most compelling villain (or hero depending on your point of view) conquerors of history were motivated by more tangible reasons. Fire Lord Ozai is a frequent target among fans for his lack of depth and apparently ‘cartoonish’ villainy. However, that is far from the case.
In the ancient world, there were three reasons for war: tax, land, and resources. Ozai and his men clearly have these motives. The Fire Nation was heavily industrialised so it needed a lot of coal and iron ore. Their home island is small but the Earth Kingdom is vast and bountiful. Leading an industrialised nation is expensive and who better to pay for it all than subjugated Earth Kingdom peasants instead of your own citizens? Book One episode “Imprisoned” shows just that: the Fire Nation extorts tax from the peasants and uses them as slave labour to extract coal. Finally, Earth Kingdom farmland would most certainly meet the Fire Nation’s food needs. In Book Two, we see the great and bountiful lands of the Earth Kingdom which undoubtedly would provide more than enough food for the home islands of the Fire Nation.
So if Ozai’s conquests had pragmatic motivations instead of emotional insecurities, why the genocide? Surely a realistic villain needs some deep trauma before they do that. Unfortunately no. Welcome to the world of ancient warfare where genocide is often the only option. When a city is vanquished, the residents can either surrender or resist. If they resist, the invading army will not be able to spare men for a garrison and the inhabitants will be put to the sword by necessity. If the value of the land and resources is greater than the value of the tax, the conquerors will do so without hesitation. Even after the fall of Ba Sing Se, Earthbenders resisted. Being a realistic villain, Ozai tried to put them to the flame. Not pure cartoonish villainy but cold hearted pragmatism.
Finally, Ozai does not appear to have much emotional depth because not much is revealed about him. He is the king, he is the emperor while we are but commoners watching it. He is beyond us. At least, that was the attitude of the people at the time and it carries across very well in Avatar. Besides, if he gave away his true motives, he would not be a very good politician, would he?
In conclusion, Ozai may not have been the most relatable or tragic villain but for his setting, he was the most realistic. Not all villains are motivated by a troubled past or pure evil. Many are just following the rules of cold hard pragmatism.
|| Obscure Likeness: Azula and Katara as Character Foils|
The way Katara and Azula mirror and contrast one another has always been fascinating to me. They’re brilliant foils of one another not just because they’re literally on opposite sides in war or because of the symmetry of fire and water, of drawing energy from the sun vs. the moon, but because of the way their stories seemingly echo each other’s but then diverge, highlighting Katara’s triumph and Azula’s tragedy.
They have shown immense potential in their ability to bend their respective elements, and they become so technically advanced they can lightningbend and bloodbend. Azula hones her skill with precision and ease from a young age, in an environment that allows her to cultivate her talents. Katara’s journey in mastering waterbending is experimental and without guidance until she leaves her tribe. Azula’s prowess is plain-to-see, whereas Katara’s potential is initially merely foreshadowed — like in the pilot when her emotions cause her to waterbend powerfully, but inadvertently. Azula revels in her ability to bend lightning and uses it incessantly, but when Katara bloodbends, it is by force and she continues to be horrified by the idea of controlling someone that way.
Katara’s compassion and warmth and Azula’s cruelty and cunning are talked about a lot. These are traits that typically define them, but I think they’re also a product of their communities and relationship with their mothers. Katara grew up in a tight-knit community, in a loving family until Kya was murdered. She embodies this and fills the role of a mother figure through her attentiveness for Sokka, then for the rest of the Gaang. Azula grew up with the pressure of perfection, arguably in an oppressive nation, and doubts Ursa’s love for her. She internalizes this, and then perpetuates it by using fear to control those around her.
But Kya and Ursa also form an emotional core to Katara and Azula’s characters. They are at their most vulnerable because of their mother’s and we see an almost jarring swap in the way they act. When Katara confronts Kya’s murderer, there’s a banked ferocity in her that rears its head. When Azula returns to the vacation house her family visited when Ursa was around, we see Azula as a regular 14 year-old girl — she gets jealous and lashes out at Ty Lee, apologizes and takes her advice. She reveals just enough sincerity and insecurity thinking about Ursa to give us a glimpse of her sensitive side.
Of course, any desire of Katara’s to act in vengeance is tempered and she doesn’t end up hurting her mother’s murderer, and Azula proceeds to make a flippant remark that firmly shuts the door on the softer side of her before we can get another glance.
They’re also victims in their own way — Katara of trauma and Azula of abuse. But where Azula’s story ends in tragedy, Katara triumphs. She receives external love and affection and it shapes her; she’s attentive and caring and nurturing and this forges a support system of friends that ground her, but they also lift her up and protect her. Azula doesn’t stay a victim either, perpetuating the damage that turned her into the monster she believes she is. Azula’s support system is non-existent at worst and tenuous at best, partially by her own doing, so when she’s on the brink, she plummets. In the end there’s no one to protect her — Mai and Ty Lee have stood their ground, Ursa’s long gone, and she’s just something to be jettisoned to Ozai.
This is also why Azula’s character is so heartbreaking to me. You can see the faintest shadows of a version of her skirting around the edges of Katara’s story. But then you remember how their stories diverged — how she’s responsible for her actions despite the sympathy you have for her pain, and a bright light is cast on the Azula that ends up shackled to a grate, because this is the only Azula that matters to the people that she’s hurt.
| Tales of The Ba Sing Se Times: Staff Training|
Minnichi, the newly retired
Editor of The Ba Sing Se Times,
scrutinizes her two deputies as they watch her intently. Her face seems to have contorted into a permanent frown ever since April 1st
, scowling constantly and muttering hateful things beneath her breath every few seconds. Who those words are directed at, no one is sure exactly nor does one really want to know.
“I was supposed to be on my merry way already, but I realized that you buffoons need some guidance on the delicate art of Editorship before I book my flight to eternal isolation on Mount Everest.” Minnichi stomps over to a projector and flips the switch on. Her arms remain crossed as one of her rock gloves flies over to the wall and begins gesturing towards a bulleted list titled “Newsletter Dictatorship 101.”
Meanwhile, Bomochu and AvatarRokusGhost are trying not to look excited about becoming Interim Editors. Their heads are filled with dreams of elaborate laboratories and candy mines and frankly, both of them are tired of seeing Minnichi’s glowing lanterns around every dark corner. They simply nod along with “Uh-huh,” as she reads off bullet after bullet.
“And of course, you will continue to uphold the Dashed Line code. I consider myself fair and allowed Omashu Rocks to hang onto his precious solid lines in the blue Fanon section of this newsletter after overthrowing him, but whoever dares interfere with the dashed article borders of the yellow Mainspace section will be stripped of ALL authority and banished from the newsletter immediately. OR’s absence is not an accident. Don’t think I won’t know.”
“Co-editorship is completely doable, but it won’t be easy. ARG, I expect you NOT to repeat history and be mature about things like headquarters decorations and holidays.” (Minnichi tries to ignore the fact that she had to stop the Ghost of Roku from murdering a bunch of children trying to steal his Candy Crush candy on Halloween).
“Bomochu, we’ve accommodated for your research needs extensively and I suggest you don’t strain the budget further for laboratory expansion.”
“Huh?” Bomo looks up from a magazine titled The Avatar Scientist and quickly throws it behind his back as Minnichi dully gazes in his direction. “Oh, yeah. I was just…you know how it is, just browsing and not really intending to buy anything and - anyway, yeah. I’ll keep that in mind.”
Minnichi’s rock glove flips off the switch of the projector as she shakes her head and collects the glowing lanterns around the room. The two new Interim Editors watch awkwardly as she opens up a large suitcase on the table and tosses the lanterns inside. “Well, I’m sure you’ll do just fine in my stead. Consult the Dashed Code handbook for fancy templating and other bells and whistles that attract readers.”
“Um, Minn?” AvatarRokusGhost suddenly speaks up. “Don’t we need deputy editors?” Now that he and Bomo have taken up the mantle, they suddenly find themselves short of both an assigned mainspace deputy and fanonspace deputy, respectively.
“Oh. That.” Minnichi scratches her chin for a moment. “Eh, you’ll find someone. Managing deputy editors isn’t a big deal.”
“What if we reached out to newsletter veterans? Typhoonmaster was a pretty savvy WLS deputy back in the day -“
“OH, don’t you start with Ty  or The White Lotus Sentinel!” Minnichi suddenly screeches. “This is all his fault to begin with!” She glares daggers at the two Interim Editors as they blink in the silence, her fists shaking enough for a few cracks to start forming in the ground.
Bomochu decides to attempt a reply first. “I, uh…don’t see how he has anything to do with this? He asked some hard questions, sure, but -“
“Don’t you know that he causes TYPHOONS of every kind? He’s shadier than the Day of Black Sun!” Minnichi shoots back, yanking another lantern off the wall. “I told you it was a bad idea to interview him!” The Interim Editors watch silently as she throws the last of her lanterns into the suitcase. She finally slams it shut with such force that one of the lanterns inside breaks, but everyone pretends not to hear the sound of shattering glass.
“Well…let me just say it’s been an honor to work under you,” AvatarRokusGhost eventually begins. “You’ve taught us so much, Minn, and we won’t let you down.”
Bomochu nods in agreement. “Thank you so much, Minn. You’re the best editor-in-chief that a newsletter team could ever be brainwashed by.”
Minnichi sniffles for a moment, gazing one last time around the halls of The Ba Sing Se Times headquarters. “You’re darn right.” With that, she turns on her heel, marches out with her suitcase of lanterns, and slams the door shut behind her.
The two new Interim Editors gaze at each other out of the corner of their eyes as the slam echoes down the eerie halls.
Bomochu picks up his magazine from the ground, ever so slowly.
AvatarRokusGhost takes out a piece of striped candy and thoughtfully begins chewing on it.
The two of them suddenly face each other, one presenting The Avatar Scientist magazine and the other a jar of colorful Candy Crush candy.
"This headquarters shall become an advanced scientific research domain under the name of Zaofu -"
"- with candy mines spanning the underground throughout the entire world -"
AvatarRokusGhost and Bomochu are shouting their ideas of mad science and Candy Crush all at once, their voices growing increasingly loud and manic as they overlap.
“LISTEN HERE, ARG. Because I said so, it shall be called THE ZAOFU -“
There’s a sudden pause.
“Actually, that doesn’t sound bad at all. The Zaofu Crush.”
“Shall we begin writing the new laws?”
TO BE CONTINUED…
| Urban Dictionary of |
Inspired by our lovely community and written by Yours Truly:
The Avatar Revival
- The rebirth and great expansion of the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom all over the world following Netflix's re-release. But Avatar Wiki was here before it was cool.
- "Zomg, Avatar the Last Airbender is SO awesome." "I know. I've been telling you that for YEARS." "But seriously, it's so great." "Tis the Revival. You have finally seen the light."
The Clash of Series
- The rebirth of the comparison wars between Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. The war has yet to reach its peak before Netflix's re-release of the latter.
- "Oh no, there's gonna be Korra haters as soon as Netflix releases the sequel." "Well, duh. The sequel is subpar." "Wait, what? No! I didn't expect The Clash to come between us." "BRING IT, fool!"
Welcome, everyone, to the fifth edition of the Avatar Wiki User Awards!
It is my great honour and pleasure to host the awards this year, and I hope to continue the excellent precedent set by previous hosts in making this a wonderful and exciting experience for everyone. Since the last User Awards were more than five years ago, for many of you this will be your first experience, so welcome. We have snacks. And to those users thinking "wow, has it really been five years since the last awards, damn I'm getting old", welcome back and congratulations on making it this far.
While every year is special, this one is particularly so as we celebrate the 15th anniversary of the creation of the Avatar Wiki. This milestone was marked by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to talk to Korra herself, Janet Varney, and I know many of you were tuned in live to watch and ask questions; the number of viewers on the live stream absolutely blew me away. I want to thank the amazing Lady Lostris for all the hard work she put in to make that a reality, and to Janet herself for giving her time for such a wonderful interview.
From that first click 15 years (and two days) ago, we have grown to become one of the largest and most respected wiki's on Fandom, but that doesn't happen without having an amazing community behind it. The success of the wiki is a tribute to every user that has at one time or another contributed to our articles, whether as an editor, a fanon writer, or a commenter. The collaboration of so many amazing people connected by their love of Avatar is what takes it from something good to something great. The User Awards, therefore, are a way to say thank you to everyone for the hard work, dedication, and effort they have given to the wiki. And, of course, a way to have some fun, which given how 2020 has shaped up, is something we can all do with more of. These awards are not about bragging rights or proving you are better than others. As in every aspect of the wiki, it is about positivity, about recognising people for their hard work and giving them a small thank you for it.
Let me end by saying thank you once again to everyone for making this the most amazing community and the most amazing wiki to be a part of. The past 15 years have created something special, and may it continue for many more.
Click here to vote in the User Awards!
Hi there! This is Typhoonmaster coming to you LIVE.
I gotta say, I've missed Avatar Wiki shenanigans the past several years since I left. I am pissed though because I tried to log back in a few weeks ago and lurk around but I don’t have access to my original email and can’t remember my password. I’ve done all I can to get back into the system but to no avail.
I hope everybody is doing splendidly :)
These days I’m pretty fired up for Avatar. I was sad years ago when I thought it was all over. SIKE WE BACK BABY. From a pop culture standpoint, it's amazing to see so much buzz around ATLA in general. My irresponsibly mainstream sister recently approached me and finally looked me in the eye and gave Avatar the respect it downright deserves.
"Ohhhh so now that it's on Netflix you're saying it's good!"
(-__-) ~Nyeh~ SMH
Anyways, Wikians, I really wanted to send some much-needed love and life updates your way. I'm sure there are many new users who have never heard of "Typhoonmaster" or "Ty," so I'll take this moment to tell you a bit about myself.
First off, if for some odd reason you think you're a bigger fan of Avatar than me, I will accept your trivia challenge at any time; I may be rusty, but I am a TRUE purist of the series. Obviously there are some folks who are harder-core than me (there are and I respect it), but there aren't many - I'll say that much. Come at me at your own risk. The complete series collection on DVD is one of my prized possessions and one of the only things I own that I actually care about. It is sitting on my living room shelf, watching over me as I write this.
Let's get some other Avatar housekeeping out of the way so we can get on the same page:
- If I were a bender, I would be a firebender.
- Fire is my personality, and I also look like Mako in real life (not accepting cosplay challenges at this time).
- Zuko is my favorite character.
- Best villain was Zaheer.
- I liked the Wan backstory for the aesthetics and lore but didn't like how they translated harmonic convergence to Korra.
- If I HAD to choose, my favorite non-finale episode is the Avatar and the Firelord (but I love it all).
- I would choose a dragon for a spirit animal.
Back when I was on the Wiki consistently, I loved, absolutely LOVED writing. I credit much of my personal development as an adolescent to the time I spent writing on the Wiki. I built up so much confidence and really found my authentic voice as a creative. In terms of contributions, I take full credit for starting the anonymous Valentine event and the "Who can Write the Best One-shot Competition" or whatever it was called. I was kindaaa a big deal for a little run there.
I also wrote a collection of One-shots called Elements of Life. However, something happened to my second fanon, Nirvana, in the last 100 years, and I'll tell you exactly what that was.
I quit writing it :(
It pains me to say, but I really just couldn't find it in myself to finish the story at the time I left. The plot was so large, and I personally wasn't ready to tackle the monster. I left the Avatar Wiki during a time in my life when I needed to focus and look outward to meet new people and just flat out figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Put simply, I went to college and wanted to take a break from the Wiki.
My decision built up gradually until one day I felt it in my gut that I just had to take a break, but I didn't really know the best way. Deep down, I always knew I would come back one day (in some capacity) but at a different time. So, I left unceremoniously. I was sad but I handled it by compartmentalizing emotions and just focusing on other things.
Isn't it strange when there are so many emotions wrapped up in "leaving" a place like the Wiki that doesn't physically exist, as well as friends you've never actually met in person? We live in a really interesting time, huh?
My heart never really left the Wiki, though. In fact, I actually believe I brought the spirit of the Wiki to all the friends I've made outside of it XD. I force the absurdity upon them every chance I get. In fact, whenever I reflect on my time being a contributor at the Wiki, I always think about how those experiences connecting with people really gave me a global perspective and made me realize how important tight-knit communities are - regardless of whether they exist in the physical or spirit world :)
Destiny really is a funny thing, and I'm not just saying that. My fanon, Nirvana, was always about exploring exhilarating ideas and finding one’s dream. When I left the Wiki, I was whisked away into a whirlwind. I studied biomedical engineering (painfully). I learned about startups and business strategy. I did a bridge construction project in Rwanda. I repaired medical equipment in Nicaragua. I studied abroad in France and visited many places in Europe. I partied a lot and got that out of my system. When I graduated, I went to Thailand and Vietnam.
Now, after having gone through so much and conquering challenges, I feel ready to write again. I know it in my bones.
So, I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide (needed to sneak it in there!).
As I mentioned before, when I was a consistent Wikian, I started various writing collaborations. And, now, I'm proud to say that starting random wacky things has remained in this DNA. So get used to it. I recently left my job as a management consultant and am now pursuing a career as a full-time blogger and entrepreneur. This is a major dream come true for me, and it wouldn't have been possible without so much help and advice from friends over the years.
A lot of my time has been dedicated to my startup, Kahana. We have a small scrappy team, and we love spending time working together to innovate. I couldn't be more thrilled. Where I used to be confused about what I wanted to do with my life, I am now confident in my direction and able to merge my passions of writing and technology while also helping others save time with their projects.
If you’re curious, this is what Kahana looks like:
How’s that for déjà vu? I actually wrote this in Kahana. A bit of context ~ Kahana lets you manage multiple files and imported web pages, take notes, and work on content creation projects all in one place. Everybody uses it differently, but it’s honestly a pretty neat tool, and it’s only going to get better. Just ask Minnichi how much Kahana has saved her life in OT school :P
And, if you were wondering, I did actually steal “Zen Mode” from Fruit Ninja.
Anywho~ I hope everybody stays safe and healthy out there! I wish you nothing but love and support wherever you are. If you're relentlessly restless like me and can't stop exploring and starting things - HMU (just DM me and say you’re from the Wiki so I know you’re not a random Twitter bot). If you have a dream or want feedback on a project, definitely reach out. I am passionate about interesting ideas, wherever they come from and I genuinely want to help you reach your goals and potential. I don't bite: I love to meet new people and reconnect with old friends, especially Avatar fans (this is the ultimate way to filter who you can really trust in life. Sadly I’m not even joking).
Peace out ya’ll! I truly wish you all the best. And I look forward to seeing you on Discord, but only during a full moon ;)
P.S. If you’re also an EDM junkie and need some litness check out my playlist on YouTube: "Ty's Soul"
|| Survey: How Canon Are the Avatar Comics?|
Avatar Wiki Community
Here's our latest question for you lovely folks! A big thank-you from the BSST staff to those who participated. We typically reach out on the Avatar Wiki Discord channel to conduct surveys. Missed your chance but want to catch us next time? See you in the chatroom ;)
"Do you respect the continuity of the Avatar comics as an official part of the series? And if you haven't read the comics, do you plan to?"
- "For the most part, yes. And yes, I have read all of the comics."
- -- 99N
- "I have not read the comics. But as soon as this lockdown is over I definitely plan on buying them."
- -- Andre
- "Best answer here is: I guess? But that doesn't always mean I have to like it. The show is pretty much entirely self-contained, so it's very easy to separate it from the comics. They frequently get tangled up in fanservice which then ends up being a drag on the story, which makes it feel messy and the world feel small, but on the other hand, there are interesting ideas at play that really do help the worldbuilding."
- -- AvatarAang7
- -- Dcasawang1
- -- Heinkelboy05
- "The ones that are considered canon? Sure. It helps fill in plot holes plus Avatar content is a always great."
- -- King Bumis Heir
- "Yes i definitely think the comics are considered canon! (More canon than LoK at least haha)"
- -- krazykarma
- "Honestly, it can be hard to feel as "canon" as the animated series when reading the comics. Some of the post-war characterizations clash badly with that of the show and so I cringe a bit reminding myself that they're canon. I respect the creators' decision to deem all of it official, though."
- -- Minnichi
- "The comics are obviously canonical and I think that's great."
- -- PhoenixWright12321
- "Which comics are you referring to? The ones which are already considered canon? If yes, yes I do, why not."
- -- Quamboq
- "If it's canon it's canon, that's up to Bryke, not us. Personally, I try my best to make it feel like they were the season 4 we never got, but being in a different medium (animation to comics) it's difficult. I really hope they adapt these stories in the Netflix Adaptation."
- -- TheParkerSpiderDude