The Air Cloud: Free Floating Form
I still hold this is to be the lost, specialized form of Airbending.▲351 | reblog
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Wan bending in the Spirit World raised my hackles a bit…
Incongruity, I thought! RIGHT THERE! No one can bend in the Spirit World!
But alas, I believe Wan’s actions predicate this future, universal condition.
When Wan sealed away Vaatu he sealed away an ancient era, one of (seemingly) unbreakable, ceaseless cycles. In a sense, Wan granted Vaatu’s wish for the end of Raava’s Era. Wan bent the once immutable spirits of Light and Dark and disrupted the natural ebb and flow of yin and yang in growth and destruction changing hands every eon of 10,000 years. How coincidental, then, can the resurgence of Dark Spirit activity be when on the eve of Harmonic Convergence?
This of course makes me itch with plot questions. How will the Dark and Light Spirits Converge for battle if Raava remains bound in Korra, especially if Korra intends to subvert fate by sealing the portal? This is not at all similar to Wan’s plan of action: to enter the Spirit World physically and willfully engage Vaatu. Then, too, Raava was still around in her external Spirit form. Must Raava emerge from her binding in Korra as Vaatu emerges from his? Or, on the contrary, will Vaatu, unable to reassume his past form, possess a host to carry him into battle against Raava in her Avatar form?
Nonetheless, I’d like to discuss the ramifications of Unalaq’s physical journey to the Spirit World, witnessed only at its close in “The Sting.” This is unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed in ATLA. All previous Spirit World journeys, such as this:
the bluey, astroprojection of “The Winter Solstice”
the spirit travels through memories of Avatars past (not unlike what Korra experienced in “Beginnings”)
and even this:
which is what we thought to be actual entrance into the Spirit World. They all seem to be pale imitation of physical entry into the alternate plane of existence, which was enacted by Wan when he entered into the Spirit World and battled Vaatu. Physical entrance was accomplished once and will be, or has been really, accomplished again.
This is, again, thanks to Wan and his manipulation of the Avatar World’s ontological state. In one way, Wan’s forcible split of the two, Raava and Vaatu, triggered it first…
Then he fused with Raava:
Vanquished Vaatu and sealed him away:
And Wan proclaims he has locked Vaatu away and will similarly seal the Spirit Portals so that no human can physically enter the Spirit World to free him…
So this explains the difference in Spirit World entry, and also why Unalaq wanted Korra to unlock the Southern Portal…and why this happened…
Either way, I cannot help anticipate something World ALTERING on the horizon. Book Two: Spirits seems to possess a catalytic blend for cataclysm, and each component is equally unprecedented: a reactionary political leader with Spiritual Powers outflanking those of the Avatar, an Avatar now privy to the creation of her essence, mounting darkness in a form never before seen by humans of the Avatar Era, and the end of that Era teetering on the brink of The Harmonic Convergence.
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While I cannot sympathize with Chief Unalaq’s political extremism, I can certainly recognize the considerable cultural disparity between the North of then (or of course the North of now) and the South of now.
Once revered as singularly invaluable and a tribal artifact, hallowed by performers, masters, warriors alike, and protected by rigid, structural mores, Waterbending is now but a cheap trick for Southerners.
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A:TLA Opening - Characters from Concept to Final Design
I revere the opening of Avatar: The Last Airbender as, incontrovertibly, the most visually dynamic and narratively concise exposition there is. I cannot imagine the productive finesse that went into it, and there isn’t a bit of work from Team Bryke more seminal or integral. By series end, these seeds have ruptured into roots of canon and style, yet not without structural incongruity…
Identities of these shadowed benders, arbiters of the martial forms they present, tickled us viewers since Pakku took the stage by Book One’s end. With Azula hot in pursuit, fans took to presaging the debut of benders Earth and Air, those who never appeared quite as they first and always did in the opening.
In short, here’s a visual study of these characters as far as I’ve observed them in their most correlative instantiations.
Master Pakku and Princess Azula find direct translation from opening concept to final design. However…
I’m deeply interested in Mr. Shadowed Rockstomper, or Toph’s well-known concept design, and the form he took in Sud, Roku’s Earthbending Sifu. I see a well-maintained transference of conceived style and narrative function; who once was Aang’s formidable Master of Earth easily became Roku’s instead, making his cameo in the past Avatar’s feature episode.
Though Bryke named no clear connection between Gyatso and Mr. Shadowed Windspinner, I entertain the notion this similarly-mustachioed Nomad embodies a younger Gyatso.
Frequent visitor to the now flowered tree of Avatar's provenance, I admire each organic, flowing, componential growth, even those gnarled knots at the tree's base, which I'd of course compare to the discarded, repurposed concepts of the introductory Earth and Airbenders from the show's opening. And curious enough, we see fully formed designs for Pakku and Azula, wielders of opposite elements, and malformations of once-Toph's-concept-now-Sud and the nameless, connectionless Airbender, drawing parallels for the opposed elements, and it's just quite cute.