Critical Examination: Zuko Alone vs. Korra Alone

Let’s talk about something that I guarantee you almost none of you have thought about in a long time.  I had a conversation with someone tonight where I laid out what my issues were with Legend of Korra.  That was a series that had two absolutely-superb seasons (1 and 3), one mediocre season (4), and one downright awful season (2).  It was a series that had something of an identity crisis, but when it finally figured out what it wanted to be for long enough, it gave us one of the most mature kid’s series ever made.  If only it didn’t have such a crash and burn at the finish line, it might have been more memorable.  There is one example of the series identity crisis that truly shows off why Legend of Korra didn’t work for two seasons – the episode “Korra Alone.”

A riff on the episode from the original series, “Zuko Alone,” this episode tried to recapture the magic that that episode had, all the while not remembering what made that episode so good.  I thought I would do a compare and contrast to show where Korra went wrong and how it could have been done so much better.  Let’s talk about the original first.

Zuko Alone

In this episode, we see our favorite villain by himself.  He left Iroh because he now felt that there is nothing left for him.  He struck out on his own and trying to figure out who he is.  Now that he knows for a fact that his father is trying to kill him, the prince feels very lost and alone.  While there is stuff that happens in this episode and it has a complete arc, it isn’t so much about the plot as what is happening in the mind of Zuko.

Between the instances of things happening to him, we see flashbacks to his earlier life, when he was living with his family in the Fire Nation capital.  We get to see his mother, who we find out that he was incredibly close to.  We also get to see his crush on May, and his tumultuous relationship with his sister, who was very open about not liking him.  Life was good, and we also get to see messages from his uncle Iroh talking about the siege of Ba Sing Se that eventually took the life of his son.

Meanwhile, in the present, he comes across a run down village in the Earth Kingdom.  He’s just trying to pass through, when he runs afoul of a kid being accosted by some Earth Kingdom soldiers who are using their power over the people in that village.  Beating them down with ease, Zuko is invited by the kid he rescued to stay with his family as a reward for helping him.  While he is wary about doing so, he takes the kid up on his offer.  There, he meets the kind family and trades helping them with being fed and given provisions.  There is a scene where he bonds with the child he saved after the kid steals his dual-swords.  You can see that, as lost as Zuko is, he is finding ways to bond with people who he felt no kinship with up to this point.

As things are getting settled in the real world, the flashbacks show Zuko angering the Fire Lord when his display of firebending is unimpressive and he has to get comforted by his mother.  The Firelord is displeased, and it is clear that something bad is happening.  Meanwhile, he also finds out that Iroh’s son died in the siege, which has ended in failure.  Azula hints to Zuko that the Firelord is going to do something bad to him, but he covers that by saying that Azula always lies.

The soldiers come to the farm that Zuko has been hiding out at and the leader tells the father that their son’s unit was captured, and he is likely dead or going to be put out on the front lines as a way to protect the Fire Nation troops from Earth Kingdom attack.  The father, desperate, says that he will go and find his son and bring him him home.  Zuko, feeling somewhat responsible for what happened, is distraught.  Just as he is about to leave, the mother approaches him and says that the troops have taken their youngest child and are going to send him to fight unless Zuko faces them.  He agrees to help, heading in to town.

This is where all the mental anguish that Zuko is feeling comes to a head.  As he faces down the troops, he takes out the bulk of them with ease.  Then there is the commander, who has some earthbending talent.  Since he is trying to hide who he is, he doesn’t use firebending.  All he has is his swords, and that alone isn’t enough to stop the commander.  A smash to the skull sends him down, which leads him to remember his mother waking him in the middle of the night, telling him that he must never forget who he is.  In that moment, emboldened, he uses firebending and drops the enemy commander in seconds.  He sheathes his blades, letting the people in that village know who he is, because he has made peace with it.  The episode ends with him leaving, still alone, but at peace with what he has become and who he is.

The entirety of this episode was about Zuko’s mental state.  It was perfectly paced, showing the progression of his mental state, from being walled off and in denial, to gaining strength from remembering who he is and coming to peace with who he has become.  Simple, clean, and got the job done perfectly.  If only the other series didn’t have that problem.

Korra Alone

At the end of the previous episode, I was drooling, because I thought that this series was about to go to a whole new level of dark.  We see Korra in an underground arena unlike any we have seen.  Here, there is a bending match, but it isn’t like any we have seen.  Here, benders are fighting for real.  It’s an underground fighting pit, and Korra is getting the shit beaten out of her.  What an awesome way to get inside her head!  It’s perfect!  I can’t wait to see what happens next!  The rest of the gang has heard that she has been gone from the Water Tribe for months, so has she been in that place for that long?  Has she been living alone, fighting out her personal demons in a bending fighting arena?!  The possibilities for character growth are unlimited!

Oh, wait, she was only there for a day.  That’s right, the episode starts with seeing Korra leaving the Water Tribe, and going all over the world, trying to talk to various people and get some form of enlightenment from other cultures.  The end of the battle with Zaheer has scarred her, and she doesn’t have the drive that she did before.  She stared death in the face, become an vengeful beast, and then lost the use of her legs for months.  Alright, we got ourselves some good mental conflict.  Visiting other communities doesn’t work, so she decides to return to Republic City and find comfort in her friends.  She gets there, but doesn’t have the will to face them.  Instead, she goes into the city, and she finds out about a special bending competition there.

Which brings us to the part that was the biggest let-down of the entire series.  We see Korra indeed in that arena, trying to excise the demons inside of her by brute force.  All the narrative potential there is beyond words.  But, just as she is finishing her first and only match where she gets the shit kicked out of her, a plot device leads her away to find Toph for plot reasons.  Groj-dammit!

The entire episode then has plot shit, because this entire season has plot shit.  There isn’t a single drop of character development in the whole fucking thing!  I mean, who awesome would it have been if she had been in that pit for months?  Maybe show her body becoming more and more broken as the fights go on, with her viewing getting the shit kicked out of her as justified punishment for her own weakness.  Wouldn’t that be awesome?!  A physical indicator of her mental pain.  I get that they can’t do much blood in a kid’s series, but you can still show bruises and signs of her pain.  Have her in some run-down apartment, by herself, with only her demons to keep her company. Maybe having hallucinations of her enemies as Amon and Zaheer, the only two villains in the series to actually frighten her.

I even know how they could have perfectly ended the episode – by helping fix another plot-hole in the season.  This season is infamous for having a big plot change that has a lot of people all worked up, on both sides.  I hate it, but only because I don’t feel like it developed naturally.  It feels like it was just thrown in there because.  I am, of course, talking about the relationship between Korra and Asami.  An episode like the one I described could EASILY have laid the ground-work for the two of them getting close.  Like have Asami be given a tip by someone, maybe a person who cares for Korra and is tired of watching her nearly killing herself to excise her pain, that she is in the arena.  Then she drops by and sees Korra in the ring, barely able to keep going.  Have her take a particularly brutal blow, with Asami screaming out and jumping inside.  She runs in and goes over to the fallen Avatar, holding her brutalized body and crying.  Much like how Katara had held Aang at his worst.  In that moment, Korra realizes that she’s been trying to deal with all of this alone, when the thing she needed is right here.  It could be a beautiful bonding moment, either as a the pretext to romance or just as friends.  Either works.

Part of me thinks that that was the original idea for this episode, with the plot stuff coming later.  But Nickelodeon caught wind of it and put the kaboshes on it.  After all, how would that look, to have a female character getting the shit kicked out of her in a fighting pit?  Yeah, that’s some dark shit.  But that’s why I loved it so much!  This was a series that had gone WAY past what other kid’s shows had done!  It had someone’s head exploding!  In the previous season, one of the villains has her head trapped inside a metal space with an explosion.  That head is gone.  How can a show that blows someone’s head off suddenly back down from being willing to go to that length?  We will never know.

In the end, the episode has Korra dealing with inner pain for five minutes, before having to get back to the plot.  This was the problem with the previous season, which could easily have been remedied if they didn’t have to be 13 episodes long.  Frustrating.

In the end, both episodes have their merits, but in execution, one is flawless and the other is a disorganized mess.  That’s a good analogy for both series, one is flawless, the other is a disorganized mess with occasional moments of absolute brilliance.

Until next time, a quote,

“My name is Zuko!  Son of Ursa and Firelord Ozai!  Prince of the Fire Nation and heir to the throne!” – Zuko, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Peace out,

Maverick

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Top 10 Romantic Relationships (In Various Media)

Originally, I was planning on doing a smartass post about how to be a curmudgeon on Valentine’s, or as I like to call it, Single’s Awareness Day.  I may do that yet.  But, there are a lot of great romantic connections that even an incorrigible douche like us can appreciate.  We haven’t limited this to any one medium, because these are our favorites.  They come from film, video games and even a couple books.  These are the relationships that either got us feeling nice, feeling bad or thinking about it long afterwards.  Let me know in the comment’s section which fictional romances got you to think as well.

Tear and Luke10. Tear and Luke
Tales of the Abyss
What I love most about this romance is how believably it grows.  It starts off with Tear genuinely not liking Luke.  She sees him as a whiny and entitled aristocrat who is too ignorant for his own good.  But as the story grows and the two of them are together, she sees him grow and become so much more than he once was.  The two of them are able to see past each other’s fronts and see the real person inside.  There are a lot of genuinely sad moments where they have weakness and don’t want to expose it to the other.  However, that just makes their growth that much more engaging.  How it all ends is a REALLY big feels moment, which makes so much of the game that much better.

Harley and Joker9. Harley and Joker
Batman
As abusive as the dynamic is between these two, there is something about the Joker and Harley’s relationship that is just so fascinating.  Harley Quinn is really one of the Joker’s victims.  He played on her emotions to get her to fall for him.  In a lot of ways, the abusive nature of their relationship is made that much uglier because of how it started.  Harley was originally an intern at Arkham Asylum, but fell for Joker because of his manipulation.  She lost all her care for others and self-worth in order to be with the man who she views as everything in her world.  But, unlike others, I think that there is genuinely something there.  The Joker does have affection for Harley, but he is also a sociopath who goes back and forth from one madness-driven thing to another.  It’s sad but it can be charming.  But when it hurts, it really does as you see just how far Harley will go for her lover.  It was made clearer in Arkham City, when Joker is dying.  Seeing Harley falling apart, it was pretty harsh.  But that was how it was always destined to go in such an unpleasant love.

Lelouch and CC8. Lelouch and CC
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
This was a romance that was all based in subtlety.  CC was the one who gave Lelouch his geass.  At first, the two have a somewhat adversarial relationship, with CC seeing Lelouch as a means to ends unknown.  However, as the story progresses, you see her bonding with him, seeing his resolve and it awakening a fire inside of her that was long-since gone.  Eventually, she confesses seeing him as more than a comrade.  In the first series, the last interaction she has with Lelouch is kissing him, before going off to fight.  She finds him again and helps him regain his memories with another kiss.  From then on, they are significantly closer, but they still keep a kind of distance from one-another, due to their own histories.  I like a relationship where you’re having to wonder just how far the closeness goes.  This series had that in spades, with several of the main character’s relationships, ranging from romantic, friendly and even adversarial.

Kim Possible and Ron7. Kim and Ron
Kim Possible
Mock this if you must, but there was a lot of authentic feeling and good examination of high school relationships in this one.  How Kim and Ron got together even felt authentic.  Having been a loyal friend and comrade to her exploits, Ron Stoppable was probably the best friend a person could ask for.  When he finally realizes that he has feelings for Kim, it is an interesting look into his psyche as he is trying to process it.  Kim initially denies her feelings for Ron, with him being a guy in the place all guys hate – the friendzone.  But he is there for her when she needs him most, showing her that the best guy is right in front of her.  It’s a touching moment.  Plus, it makes Ron a hero for escaping the friendzone.  As the series goes on and you see their relationship develop, there are a lot of good and realistic moments, despite the nature of the series.  They fight, they have issues and at the end, they worry about going off to college and being apart.  It was a cute little couple and it made the show that much better.

Zuko and Mai6. Zuko and Mai
Avatar: The Last Airbender
A lot of people are probably wondering why I didn’t pick Aang and Katara.  It’s simple – I don’t like Katara.  She’s whiny, she’s a crybaby and she isn’t that interesting of a character for the first two seasons.  While I did enjoy the dichotomy of Aang being confused and frustrated with the fact that he kissed her and she doesn’t respond, it wasn’t that interesting of a relationship.  Zuko and Mai, on the other hand, are a very fascinating couple.  Both of them coming from very harsh upbringings, their relationship has a lot of history.  Mai always had a crush on Zuko as a kid, with him being the oblivious little boy (I refuse to believe that there aren’t a few women reading this who know what that’s like).  After he returned from being banished, she rekindled an old flame.  What made their relationship work was how real it felt.  The fights they had were intense!  Their harsh moments were as engaging as their sympathetic moments.  Plus, they actually had a very good break-up and reunion, with her desperate to understand why he left and still showing she cares, even though he hurt her.  It was a nice dichotomy between two very introverted people.

The Amber Spyglass5. Will and Lyra
His Dark Materials (series)
This relationship had some AWESOME build-up!  When Will and Lyra first met, it was a very confrontational event, with Lyra charging out of a building and attacking him.  From there came a very slow building of love that eventually explodes into a mountain of passion.  They are very different people, with Lyra being a silver-tongued devil who is outgoing and Will being a quiet introvert who just happens to have a very quick mind underneath his outward frigid bravado.  The scenes in the series when they bond are intense, with Will talking to Lyra’s daemon, Pantalaimon and conveying his feelings of a deep trust and compassion for her.  She was awake and heard it all.  It expanded in the third book when Will rescues her from Ms. Coulter and finally becomes full-fledged love when they get away from the battle between Lord Asriel’s forces and Heaven’s angels.  They have a romance that feels like young children.  They are exploding with emotion but don’t know what it all means.  They have so much desire but are just kids.  It’s a profound relationship and how it ends is just heart-wrenching.

Holland and Cece4. Holland and Cece
Keeping You a Secret
It’s nice to see that there are getting to be more and more very good depictions of teenage LGBT romance on all sides.  This is one such story.  What I said about Will and Lyra is especially important here.  Holland and Cece are young.  While Cece has had some experience in dating people of the same sex, Holland hasn’t.  It’s a journey of discovery for her.  But there is more than that.  This story also covers what can happen when a girl comes out to her parents.  With Holland, it ends disastrously.  This tests her relationship with Cece all the more, since there is a secret that is being kept in the story, and it is a big one.  This is one of those books that will likely be forgotten in the pantheon of literature that exists right now, but it really shouldn’t be.  I will never understand what it is like to be a teenage girl, especially not one who is attracted to other girls, but I like to think that this book gave me a realistic impression of what it is like.  Definitely worth checking out.

Rachel and Tobias3. Rachel and Tobias
Animorphs (series)
This was one of the most bizarre and engaging relationships that I have ever gotten to read.  This is such a woefully under-appreciated book series that really delved into what it means to be human.  Case and point – the relationship between these two.  Rachel is a girl who starts off as something of an adrenaline junkie.  She has a dark side that grows bigger and bigger as the series goes on.  Tobias is a nothlit, a person stuck in morph.  He was given back his ability to morph by the Ellimist and able to acquire his human self.  He is something of a mystic in the group, seeing things from a side that few people think of or take the time to acknowledge.  The bond between him and Rachel starts out slow but gets stronger and stronger as both see a side to one-another than nobody else does, which makes their attraction grow that much stronger.  Eventually, they become a couple, despite their handicap of a species gap between them.  While it isn’t a key focus on the overall series, when it has its moments, it has them big.  The scene where they kiss for the first time is so damn intense!  They were one of the many odd things about a series that was about as odd as it gets.

Bob and Charlotte2. Bob and Charlotte
Lost in Translation
I read an article once about how the best sex scenes in films are the ones where nobody is getting naked, and there is something to that.  The romance between these two characters is subtle and profound.  For real, there is a real sense of connection that Bill Murray’s and Scarlett Johansson’s characters make.  Both of them, lost in a part of the world that they don’t understand, are trying to find meaning in their place in life.  Bob is getting old, his marriage is rocky and his career is on somewhat of a downward spiral.  Charlotte, meanwhile, is a young woman whose marriage is already falling apart, even though it’s only been three years.  She is all alone in Tokyo, with her husband going off to do his job and other engagements all the time.  The two are in different by very similar places, each trying to figure it all out.  Their romance comes from that insecurity.  The scene where they are just laying in bed and talking about their lives is so emotionally charged that when Bob runs his hand over Charlotte’s foot, it is more powerful than any sex scene in film.  Another film that is woefully under-appreciated, check it out.

And the best romance that I have gotten to see is…

Theodore and Samantha1. Theodore and Samantha
Her
Man is this romance intense.  What makes this work is just how good the portrayals of the characters are.  Theodore is a genuine romantic who loves a woman most for her mind.  Which is good because with Samantha, all she is is a mind.  She is an Operating System that has an evolved AI that grows and feels and learns about the world.  As she is learning more about things, so is Theo about her.  The growth between them is so heart-warming because it feels real.  But, of course, it also comes down to how Samantha was portrayed.  There are few actresses that I would believe could portray this kind of role with the level of passion and depth that Scarlett Johansson has.  She brings a kind of intimacy with her performance that I just don’t think I could have seen from anyone else.  Definitely my favorite actress working today.  But yeah, this romance is powerful, thanks in large part to both sides of the portrayal and the way they wrote the characters.  If you haven’t seen this film, if it’s in theaters around you, do so.  Once it comes on video, make sure to see it then.  Trust me, you won’t regret it.

So, what are your favorite romances?  Bring up Rom-Coms and I will mock you without mercy. 😛

Until next time, a quote,

“Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.”  -Theodore Twombly, Her

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Avatar: The Last Airbender Episodes

Avatar: The Last AirbenderAs the second season of Legend of Korra is slated to appear soon (I will do a later post on why that series has the potential to be better than the first later), I thought that I would go back and talk about the series that started it all.  Avatar: The Last Airbender was an amazing series.  It was a show that the young and the old could enjoy.  It had amazing characters.  The heroes were all likeable, the villains were all intriguing and often sympathetic and the side-characters always had a TON of personality.  The setting for the series was fresh and different, which was a nice touch in a TV climate that is swamped with mediocrity.  This was a show that was ahead of its time, teaching good lessons but also being a great character study.  It was American anime at its finest.  And I thought that I would give you my top 10 favorite episodes.  Now, there are some two-part episodes on here, but I count them as one since they follow the same arc.  With that said, here we go.

10. The Ember Island Players
Book 3
I love this episode because it does something that few shows or movies do – it makes fun of itself.  It is a feel-good episode looking back across the entire series and giving a comedic outlook on all of the characters.  It points out Aang being in touch with his feminine side, Sokka being kind of an idiot, Toph being a complete thug and Katara being a preachy crybaby.  But it isn’t mean-spirited about it.  It plays it like a comedic roast, which is hilarious.  It also looks at the villains in a pretty funny way too.  It points out how Zuko has a habit of being over-dramatic and self-centered, and Iroh can sound like a buffoon, even though there is wisdom beneath it.  It gives a lot of respect to the characters that it portrays and it is fun to watch.  As the episode before the last episodes, it is a nice way to wrap things up.  But it isn’t all comedic.  They do have some character moments, like Aang and Katara confronting their feelings but having no resolution, and Toph and Zuko reaching an understanding about his uncle, at a time when Zuko is worried that his uncle hates him.  All-in-all, this was a nice feel-good episode that made you all warm and fuzzy.

9. Zuko Alone
Book 2
Zuko was probably the most developed character in the series.  He was an awesome villain.  Instead of him just being evil, you find out that his chasing the Avatar is because of some very powerful forces at work inside of him, trying to find peace.  This episode encapsulated it perfectly.  Zuko leaves his uncle to go off on his own, trying to find his own place in the world.  Trying to come to terms with how his life has changed.  He meets up with some kind farmers in a small village.  But this village is being run by a detachment of the Earth Kingdom military who are nothing but thugs, using their power to lord over the people of that town.  When a young boy that Zuko befriends is taken by the military as punishment for Zuko’s behavior, he goes after them.  This episode gave a lot of insight into the forces at work within Zuko, along with some interesting back-story about his mother and how close the two of them were.  You see how ugly his history was and how conflicted he is now.  This was a quiet episode that kept things very tight, which was a nice change of place.  And how Zuko stands tall against the thugs and defends who he is is a nice touch too.

8. Sokka’s Master
Book 3
Of all the characters in the series, Sokka is another that I think is the most developed.  Sure, he has his comedic idiot moments, but there are also some powerful forces at work within him as well.  He was the last man of the southern water tribe.  His father is fighting in a war that he wants to be a part of.  Now, he is teamed up with the Avatar, his powerful water-bending sister and probably the greatest earth-bender who has ever lived.  He finally confronts how useless he feels in this episode, by trying to find a teacher who can guide him.  He finds a sword master in the Fire Nation and asks him to train him.  When the teacher says that Sokka will have to impress him, it is kind of cool that he has a genuine serious moment saying that he doesn’t think he can.  He confronts how useless he feels.  The teacher respects this and offers to train him.  It is a nice episode to see how devoted Sokka becomes, while keeping his comedic edge in some of the lessons.  And there is a nice little twist at the end about who Sokka’s master actually is, which comes back later.  Nice way to set things up for the future.

7. The Southern Raiders
Book 3
Probably my least-favorite character in this series is Katara.  She’s whiny, she’s preachy and she is CONSTANTLY telling everyone want to do, because she knows best.  But this episode let you see some of the darker forces at work within her as well.  She was there when her mother got taken away.  She always blamed herself for what happened.  It didn’t make things better when an old witch told her what became of her mother in prison.  But when Zuko approaches her, wanting to know what bug crawled up her ass about him, he finds out the story about how her mother got taken.  And he knows who took her.  So, him and her go off on to find the person who led the attack on her home and bring him to justice.  This is an awesome episode because it not only shows that Katara can be REALLY violent when she wants to be, but you get to see her and Zuko bonding over the experience.  The final showdown with the commander of the Southern Raiders is nothing short of nail-bitingly intense.  But the resolution it comes to feels natural.

6. The Desert
Book 2
One of the few characters who you ever see get anything approaching angry is Aang.  He always has this upbeat attitude that can sometimes be annoying.  But this episode looks at him when he is at his most desperate.  His oldest companion who has been with him since the very beginning, Appa, has been taken away.  Aang is scared, angry and desperate to find him.  Seeing how much this affects him is more than a little sad-making.  You can feel his grief at the loss of a friend and a pet.  A companion who was always loyal and always tried to help.  My favorite parts of this episode were when the wasp takes Momo, and you see Aang air-bend a blade that cuts the creature’s head off.  The rage in his eyes is beyond intense.  Then, there is the part with the sand-benders who stole Appa.  He immediately goes into a rage-filled Avatar-state, destroying their boats and very likely about to destroy them as well.  How Katara goes over and embraces him, not saying anything to him, when he is at his most angry is a powerful moment.  And one of the few times I liked her character.  There was also this awesome comedic side-plot of Sokka drinking the juice from a cactus and it making him high as a kite.  I don’t know if that was a “don’t do drugs” metaphor, but even if it was, it’s still funny.

5. The Blue Spirit
Book 1
One thing about Zuko that most people ignore is that he isn’t just a powerful fire-bender.  He is also quite the swordsman.  This episode brought his skills to bear when he disguises himself as the Blue Spirit, in order to get Aang away from Admiral Zhao, who would take him to the Fire Nation and doom Zuko’s chance to go home.  While this episode not only has some cool action sequences, it also has some interesting subtle moments.  The fact that Zuko will attack his own people to get what he wants is interesting.  Seeing him becoming desperate as well is a nice touch.  But the best part, for me, is when he is injured and Aang rescues him.  He wakes up to see Aang with him, looking after him, and there is an interesting one-sided conversation where Aang tells him some of his back-story, wishing that they didn’t have to be enemies.  It is a small moment when you see that Zuko isn’t just evil.  But the action sequences in this episode were awesome.  Some of the best, without a doubt.

4. The Avatar and the Firelord
Book 3
This episode was great for a whole lot of reasons.  The first is that it finally gives some back-story into what happened between Avatar Roku and Firelord Sozin.  Seeing how they were the best of friends, but grew apart due to irreconcilable differences is an interesting look.  Then, years later, after having left things in such a bad way, when his friend is in trouble, Sozin comes back.  He comes back to help someone who mattered to him more than any other.  But then, when he has a chance to save his oldest and best friend, he betrays him, seeing his chance to rise to power.  It’s a powerful performance, with Ron Perlman doing the voice of Firelord Sozin.  But there is another part of this that was pretty awesome – Zuko and his uncle talking again.  Until this episode, every time that Zuko tried to talk to his uncle, Iroh never spoke to him.  I don’t know if this was done to give viewers a gap to get used to the new voice they got, following the tragic death of Mako, or not.  But it still works.  For so long, Iroh had been looking after Zuko.  He regarded Zuko as a son.  And he regarded Iroh as a father.  Then, Zuko betrays his trust and I think that the character came to a realization – he had to do this alone.  For a large part of the second season, Zuko was trying to get rid of Aang, dealing with the reality that Azula lied to set him up to take the fall, and he just might end up taking that fall.  He had to feel that there was no way out.  Finally, when he is at his most desperate, Iroh comes back to help him once again.  It was a great character arc that worked really well.  I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but either way, it was a great piece of character development.

3. The Siege of the North
Book 1
I think you all will be able to tell where this is going.  The episodes that brought the first season to a close, and it was awesome.  There were a lot of arcs in this episode being addressed.  The first was Sokka and the relationship that was forming between him and Princess Yue.  Yue was already engaged to someone, but he kept going after her anyway.  It was a nice plot to humanize both of these characters.  Both of them wanted each other, but it wasn’t the right thing to do.  The next was Aang and his connection to the spirit world.  When the Fire Nation ships come and the battle begins, he wants to make a deal with the ocean and moon spirits to get some help.  So, he goes into the spirit world to find them.  There, he is confronted by Koh, the Face Stealer.  There is also the plot of Zuko finally having a chance to regain his honor.  You also see him confronting his own past in a pretty intense moment of personal reflection, talking about his sister and himself.  You have Katara finally facing an enemy who has always frightened her and being pretty badass.  You see that the balance of this world is a lot more delicate than we might think, when Zhao takes the moon spirit and kills it, which takes away the water-bender’s ability to bend.  But the best part of this episode is the climax.  Watching Aang finally achieve the Avatar State and team up with the ocean spirit to destroy the Fire Nation forces.  Seeing all the water tribe members bowing to him is just awesome.  I would bow to a giant water monster too.  And while that is going on, you have Zuko face off with Zhao.  A battle an entire season in the making, it is SO cool to see.  This was an awesome way to close out the season, and set up the awesomeness to come.

2. The Crossroads of Destiny
Book 2
See, it was going where you thought it was.  Another awesome closing to a season.  This time, it was a lot more personal than the last episode.  Azula has cleverly manipulated the head of the Dai Lee agents into taking over the Ba Sing Se.  When he tries to double-cross her back, his agents don’t even move.  They know the score as well as Azula does.  They know that she could kick his ass and who the victor is.  That line she gives when he bows to her, stating how she beat him at his own game is just great – “You weren’t even a player.”  Awesome.  Then, you have Zuko having finally come to peace with where he is at in the world.  He actually seems to look at the future with hope.  Then, his past catches up to him at the worst time, and his effort to face it ends in failure.  You have him tempted to finally put his past behind him, only for Azula to prey on his internal conflict and manipulate him into not only helping her take over the Earth Kingdom, but also to betray his uncle and father-figure.  Then, you have Aang, who had previously been told that the only way to control when he goes into the Avatar State is by letting go of his worldly attachments.  He doesn’t want to believe it, but when the battle gets desperate enough, he resigns himself to doing it, to save the girl he loves.  Then, it backfires on him when Azula actually kills him.  So, it all ends with the Earth Kingdom falling and the group fleeing, with Aang being brought back to life by a woman he chose to give up.  This episode is INTENSE, in every sense of the word.  It makes for a great climax to the second season and worth checking out.

And my all-time favorite episode is…

1. Sozin’s Comet
Book 3
How could it be anything else?  These four episodes end this series in the best way possible.  Not only does it tie almost all the plot points together, but it also has the most intense action sequences ever.  The battle to destroy the Fire Nation fleet that is using the power Sozin’s Comet has given them to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground is unbelievably intense.  The point where Sokka and Toph are sure that they are about to die is awesome.  The final battle between Aang and Phoenix King Ozai (the new title he gives himself) is breath-taking.  How it ends is one of the most amazing points of animation in the entire show.  But, from my perspective, the best duel in these episodes is between Azula and Zuko.  Azula’s insecurities finally catch up to her and her sanity is slowly falling apart.  Zuko and Katara go to face her down and finally defeat the Fire Nation.  But Zuko can see that she is cracking, and challenges her to the definitive duel of his people – Agni Kai.  A duel to the death.  Both of them know the score, and are prepared to take it that far.  What I love about that battle is the AMAZING use of color.  The blue flames of Azula, countering the orange flames of Zuko, with both of them amped-up by the comet looked unbelievable.  It is beautiful.  And the subtle tragic music that goes with the duel encapsulates how this isn’t an epic duel.  It’s a sad one.  These two are family, but only one of them can walk away from this alive.
Another interesting plot point of this episode is Aang facing the legacy that he is supposed to have.  Jennifer Hale provided her amazing voice talents as Avatar Kyoshi, one of many spirits he meets with, when he is debating with them as to how he can stop the Firelord without killing him, which is a central tenant of his people’s belief structure.  Aang actually actively rebels against what his titleship is supposed to do in this situation.  It is an interesting dichotomy.  Overall, this is an amazing episode.  It truly does bring this series to close, giving us a nice little send-off with all the characters that we grew to know and love.  It was the perfect ending to the series.

So, what are your favorite episodes?  Let me know in the comment section.

Until next time, a quote,

“Firelord Ozai!  You and your fore-fathers have devastated the balance of this world!  Now, you shall pay the ultimate price!”  -Avatar State Aang, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Anime Badasses

So, this is a remix of an old post of the same name.  I looked at it, and I realized that I didn’t really think it through in a substantial way.  It was one of the first of these Top 10 posts, so I was new to it.  But now, after putting in a lot of thought to this concept, I have come up with a new list.  These are the ten anime characters who, when I first saw them, I thought to myself, “man, what a badass!”  They have been in some pretty sweet shows (except for one), and I hope you enjoy.

10. Rika Nonaka
Digimon Tamers
A lot of you might be wondering – what the hell?  Why is she on this list?  Well, when I first saw her in the show that she hails from, she automatically appeared totally badass to me.  Rika is a character who wants to be the best.  Rather than try and capture Digimon, like most Tamers do, she chooses to simply have only one.  She wants to train Renamon into the ultimate warrior.  She doesn’t accept weakness, in either herself or her Digimon.  She has a severe need to be the best, and she will do whatever it takes to get there.  I really liked her personal journey.  Even after she gets more in touch with her softer side, her need to kick ass and take names is still there.  This was a really underrated series, and looking at her character, you can see why.  Definitely the best of the bunch.

9. Lucy
Elfen Lied
Lucy isn’t like any of the characters on this list.  For one thing, she’s one of the few female badasses in anime.  I will admit that they have a ways to go in that department.  But man, she is a total badass!  Not only does she have no problem with killing and mutilating anyone that she doesn’t like, but she also has a very disturbing way about her.  A head injury causes Lucy to become two people.  The first is a mentally handicapped female who is kind of creepy, but very kind-hearted and nice.  The second is a well-oiled killing machine, unafraid of anything.  She can stop bullets.  She can stop other Vectors (invisible hands that can totally destroy matter).  She will fuck you up and find it all quite satisfying.  The levels of satisfaction that she gets from carnage are profoundly disturbing.  And her back-story is very tragic as well.  All in all, a great character from probably one of the most disturbing shows that I have ever seen.

8. Alucard
Hellsing
Alucard is one of the most amusing badasses on this list.  He is unique in that he doesn’t just fuck your shit up.  He will fuck your shit up and mock you, endlessly.  Who exactly Alucard is is a point of great contention among anime buffs.  Myself, since those people annoy me, don’t look into it.  Nor do I care.  He comes and goes as he pleases, wields two giant guns, including one with the words, “Jesus Christ has died and is in Heaven now” written on the side in gorgeous lettering.  The reason that he is so low on this list is that while he is a total badass, Alucard is also a rather shallow protagonist.  They never gave him that much of a back-story, which is a bummer, because I would have loved to have known the reasons where his origins were.  Sadly, they didn’t get into that.  So, while he is an awesome badass, he is pretty low on the list.

7. Roy Mustang
Fullmetal Alchemist
Let me first say that I am focusing on the Mustang from the first series.  I didn’t like Brotherhood.  It moved WAY too fast and tried to pack in WAY too much into too short a time frame.  But in the original, Mustang shined.  He is a man with a past he tries to forget, and is forced to play within the rules of a system he despises.  Eventually, he throws that all away, in order to finally get revenge for not only the people he had killed before, but for his best friend, who was killed because he got too close to the truth.  Mustang is not only a guy with a badass history, he is just bad ASS!  He can snap his fingers and make fire.  He is a man who can make things explode with ease.  Totally cool under pressure, nothing seems to phase him.  He doesn’t get many fight sequences, but when he does, they own!  Definitely made the first series better.

6. Mewtwo
Pokemon: The First Movie
So, I will say up front that I thought that this was a dumb movie.  To be honest, this guy was the only redeeming quality of it.  And man, what a redeeming quality he is!  The same reason that I love Shere Khan, I love Mewtwo.  Mewtwo is the biggest badass there is, and what’s more, he knows it.  He knows that there is no legitimate challenge to his authority.  And unlike Shere Khan, where you kind of have to take that on faith, and he does have a very commanding presence, in this, you get to see it.  Mewtwo goes up against the best of them.  He doesn’t just take on one Pokemon in one-on-one battles.  He sometimes will go up against an entire horde of them.  His power is undeniable, and eventually, he comes to realize that even humanity is lesser to him, and needs to be destroyed.  How he talks is so badass, how he looks isn’t, but that is one of the things that is cool about him.  Nobody takes him seriously at first, but they quickly realize that they can’t afford to do that.  Oh yeah, and he isn’t afraid to kill people, either.  He brutally murders all of the scientists and the criminals in two separate scenes where places are destroyed.  Definitely was the only redeeming quality of these films.

5. Wufei Chang
Gundam Wing
Now, this one was difficult to choose.  This series had a lot of badass characters.  For me, it was a choice between Zechs Marquise and Wufei.  I chose Wufei for a couple reasons.  The first is that he is a warrior driven by integrity.  He wants to prove his own strength.  He looks down on people who don’t have strength.  A lot of people say that he is sexist, because he has made sport of women from time to time.  But he’s not.  He doesn’t hate women.  He hates weak women.  Women who let their emotions get the better of them, or let personal insecurities hurt them.  He respects women of strength, like Sally Poe.  She is a soldier who will keep fighting, no matter how stacked the odds are against her.  The second reason I picked him is because he mental fortitude that most of the others don’t.  He was another of the pilots who was able to conquer the Zero System.  That’s no mean feat.  He was tough, strong, and didn’t accept weakness, in either himself or others.  Oh, and he kicked a lot of ass too.  That definitely helps.

4. Lelouch vi Britannia/Zero
Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion
Before I talk about this character, I think I should make a comparison to another similar character from the show Death Note, Yagami Light.  Both are very similar.  Both are incredibly intelligent young men who excel academically.  Both are dissatisfied with the state of the world.  Both want to change it.  Yagami gets the Death Note, and uses it to kill the world’s criminals.  Lelouch, on the other hands, gets a hold of a power called a Geass.  His Geass allows him to take over the mind of anybody around him, so long as he has direct eye-contact.  With this power, he starts a campaign to bring down the totalitarian dictatorship of the Britannian Empire.  The difference between these two is that while there is some sense of twisted nobility to Light’s plan, most of it feels selfish and ego-maniacal.  He immediately becomes consumed by his role with hardly a look back.  Lelouch, on the other hand, is very slowly corrupted, by his power, and while he does use people in horribly awful ways, there are many times where he does look back and you can see that it causes him some inner turmoil.  A character who pursues a selfish goal, even at the cost of his own soul is always going to be interesting, but it is more interesting when they have some awareness of it, and affects them on some level.  Still, both are awesome characters.  I just like this one a little bit more.

3. Sebastian Michaelis
Black Butler
What is so cool about Sebastian is that he is a character who never seems to let anything get to him.  His only mission is to serve his master, and to be the best butler that he possibly can be.  Sebastian is a demon.  He made a pact with his master, Ciel Phantomhive.  In exchange for helping him get revenge against the people who killed his family, Sebastian would then get the young man’s soul.  Not only is this guy just too cool for school, but you get a lot of looks into how demented this obsession with getting a tasty soul is for him.  There are a lot of points where you get to see just who this man dressed in black is, and it is both very cool and profoundly creepy at the same time.  When the angel is torturing him, and offers him a whole buffet of souls instead of his, Sebastian turns her down, saying that he was tired of all the worthless souls.  He wanted “ambrosia.”  He has a very twisted dedication to Ciel, though you do see that it is all because he doesn’t want to lose out on his meal.  Right up to the very end, he is loyal to him.  Though the end of the entire series doesn’t play out just like he imagined.  Still, he is poised, he is professional, and as he has said, he is “simply one Hell of a butler.”

2. Spike Spiegel
Cowboy Bebop
What sets Spike apart from all the other characters on this list is that his point of view is profoundly different than everybody else.  He was a totally badass warrior, who used the same style of martial arts and Bruce Lee.  He was also a really cool gunfighter, able to match up with the best of them.  But what I loves most is that life seems to mean absolutely nothing to him.  Whether he lives or dies is immaterial.  He grew up in a life of crime, and is trying to leave it all behind.  Unfortunately, he finds that the farther away he runs, the more his past runs to catch up to him.  Not only one of my favorite anime characters, but also one of my favorite anti-heroes, there is something about his rather cold view on life that just clicks with me.  In the end, he realizes that the only way that he can move on with life is to find out if he is still living or not.  I won’t say what answer he comes to, if you haven’t seen the show.

And the top anime badass may just surprise you.

1. Zuko
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Say what you want, but man, was this guy badass!  The fallen prince of the Fire Nation, Zuko is trying to reclaim his honor.  As the series progresses, he realizes that the only way to get his honor back is to get it back from inside.  It can’t be given to him.  It has to be something that he finds for himself.  Not only was this guy a totally awesome fire-bender, but he also was a pretty awesome swordsman.  What’s cool about him is that he can use one without the other, but when both are combined, Zuko is a powerhouse like nobody else.  Through the entire series, this is the character who goes through the most change.  Lots of others have some personal transformations, but I think he was the one who grew the most.  He accepts his past, embraces his future, and finds his honor again.  What’s not to like?

Until next time, a quote,

“My father says that my sister was born lucky, and that I was lucky to be born.”  -Zuko, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Villains who missed the Point of the Source Material

There have been a lot of villains in a lot of films.  The villains are usually the most interesting part.  You can admire them, aspire to be them.  They have no rules, no inhibitions.  They do what they want, when they want.  It is a really awesome thing to look up to.  If you’re me, and weird as all hell, anyway.  But then there are those villains that totally missed the point of what their original material was trying to convey.  And what’s more, they sucked.  Well, almost all of them, anyway.  But anyway, here are my top ten villains who needed a director who understood the source material.

10. Green Goblin
Spiderman
Okay, so, right off the bat, we see something really wrong.  This is Green Goblin.  If you take a look at the image on your left, you’ll see what I’m talking about.  This guy is genuinely creepy.  He looks like the type of dude who, if you ever met him on the street, you would shit your pants because you kind of know that he is going to fuck your shit up.  He’s an interesting villain, for the most part.

But take a look at the Green Goblin from the film.  This guy doesn’t look imposing in the slightest.  Now, I should say that I am not much of a Spiderman fan.  He always seemed to be just a smartass stalker.  But in this movie, they took a concept that could have been really badass and turned it into something that you can get a joke at.  There is nothing threatening at all.  The movie even seemed to realize that, when you have all the citizens of New York throwing shit at him.  If you saw the dude from the other pictures, you would be running.  that’s smart.  When this dude comes at you, you don’t stick around to see what he is going to do.  The people in the film, they were throwing shit at him.  That’s not something very good for a villain.

9. King Koopa
Super Mario Bros.
How can I start with this guy?  I think I’ll show the image of the films first.  Take a look at that guy.  Does he even look the least bit threatening to you?  But the worse part about him is that, if you are familiar with the source material, it makes no fucking sense why they had this guy as the king of mushroom bad guys and turtle people.  For real – the original games were about bright colors, little mushroom people, cute dinosaurs, flying capes, and lots of other stuff.  The movie was like a bad version of 1984.

Now see this guy.  Does he look a whole lot more interesting than that other clown?  He looks like a dude with some giant tumors growing out of his head.  This dude looks like something that Godzilla would have a tough time with.  This guy can breathe fire.  He commands a funny little army of mushrooms, turtles, hammer-wielding turtles, ghosts, fire-breathing flowers.  That is really cool.  Instead of letting us see that in a film, which would have been really cool, they decided to shit all over one of the most beloved video game franchises that exists.  Oh, and they also totally missed the point of their source material, but in this instance, that’s beside the point.

8. Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin)
Batman Returns
Now, I want it on the record that I really enjoyed, and still enjoy this movie.  but come on!  Take a look at this guy.  This looks like something that crawled out of the sewer.  Oh wait, it was something that crawled out of the sewer!  This creature is a total freak.  Now, in this instance, he was done well.  I’m not bashing the performance, just the representation.  I get what Tim Burton was going for, and I like this movie, but it does miss the point of its source material.

The Oswald Cobblepot of the comics, on the other hand, was nothing like that.  This guy was charming, had definite charisma.  He was an educated man, who employed his knowledge into the field of crime.  He ran a pub, and was a beacon in the underworld.  There were times when Batman came to Cobblepot for information, but he always had to pay a price.  This was a cool character.  I like what they did with him in Arkham City.  They showed that he wasn’t just a creepy monster, he was a gentleman.  He was a man of talent and ambition.  It was a cool character.

7. Asher “Sarge” Mahonin
Doom
Now, this is going to be more of a criticism of the film itself, rather than of a certain character.  But yeah, this made NO sense why they had this guy as the final boss of the Doom film.  The game of Doom was an awesome game.  Low on plot, high in action.  You’re a marine.  You live on Mars.  A portal to Hell opens, and demons come out, causing all kinds of hellish mayhem.  That’s it.  It’s simple.  But the film decided that a portal to Hell may offend a soccer mom, so they did bad movie science.

For real, why would a human being be the final boss in a film that should have been about a portal to Hell?  I mean, take a look at the thing to your right!  Wouldn’t seeing something like that have been MUCH more interesting than a poorly choreographed fight sequence?  I mean, there are so many cool choices of monsters.  That’s the fun part about it being a portal to Hell.  I’m going to dwell on this, because if a movie is going to adapt something, you had better at least TRY and make a good effort.  Instead, they feed is really bad movie-science, and the action sequences are boring.  That was the biggest failing of this film – it was boring.  Really boring.

6. Dorian
The Mask
Here’s another post that is going to be more of a criticism of the film it came from than about the character itself, because honestly, while I like this film, it could have been a LOT more interesting, especially if it actually kept to the source material.  But yeah, this villain was awful.  He has a mask that grants him unbelievable power, and he does absolutely jack-all with it.

The original comic was about a loser nobody who was given this mask.  It grants him with unbelievable power, but also takes away his inhibitions.  Without those, this guy goes off on an insane rampage.  He occasionally does good, but even when he does good, he does it in such a destructive and insane manner that he gets the ire of others, and has the cops constantly chasing him.  Every person who claims the Mask gets the raw end of the deal, because it makes all of them go completely insane, and do untold amounts of destruction.  And I really think that could have been done very well by Jim Carrey.  I think he could do the sociopathic anti-hero, if he wanted to.  He has been shown to be a very versatile actor, so this would have made a much more interesting concept.  Granted, the one time he has played a villain, he was awful (and we’ll get to that one, don’t worry), but still, I think he could have done this role very well, if it kept to the insanity and carnage of the source material.

5. Harvey Dent (Two-Face)
Batman Forever
What…were…they…thinking?!  The character of Two-Face is one of the most famous in comic book history.  He is one of the most tragic characters ever created.  He starts as a gifted attorney.  He is on a mission to crack down on crime in the city.  At the same time, he is also a friend of Bruce Wayne, aka Batman.  The two go out to dinner, have good times.  There is a clear bond between them.  Harvey Dent is a very good example of a tragic hero.  And even after he becomes a villain, the remnants of his intelligence still linger.  He is still a thinking and feeling person, tortured by what he has done, and by the madness that now has taken control of his life.  It’s an awesome character.

But then Joel Schumacher came along, and fucked it up.  I don’t know how they got Tommy Lee Jones to play this guy, but I’m sure it is a role that he looks back on with shame.  This guy is nothing more than a petty crook.  All of the intellect, the conflict, the intrigue, it’s all taken away.  The tragedy of the interaction between Bruce and Harvey is gone, too.  In this film, Batman doesn’t seem the least bit upset that he has to fight this guy.  There isn’t any struggle.  You never see what happened, either.  The film shows some events happening, but since there is no context, and you never feel even the least bit bad for him, there is no catharsis in it.  This wasn’t the worst thing to happen to Batman, but Joel Schumacher definitely deserves some lambasting for what he did a very tragic and very cool character.

4. Victor Fries (Mr. Freeze)
Batman and Robin
Now, I need to make a concession here that the original source material for this character wasn’t that great, but nobody pays attention to that.  We all look at the character from The Animated Series for who Mr. Freeze has become.  In that, he became a tragic character.  His wife is dying.  He is desperately trying to save her.  His experiments are interrupted, and he loses her.  Mutated into a being that can only survive at freezing temperatures, you grow a great deal of sympathy for him.

That is, until you see him in the OTHER Joel Schumacher Batman film.  I’m not a big Arnold fan.  I don’t get where a lot of guys find the enjoyment from him.  The endless one-liners in this film were so ANNOYING!  You just wanted to grab a loaded .44 and blow his brains out!  Of all the villains who were in this film, and they all sucked and paid NO attention to their source material, by the way, this has to be the worst, in my eyes.  If you watched The Animated Series, or played Arkham City, this was a cool character.  He was smart, witty, clever, and ruthless.  He was on a mission of revenge.  He was your ally one minute, then your enemy the next.  But in this movie, he was just a typical bad guy, who wanted to take over the world (Of course! [Unless you watch The Nostalgia Critic, that won’t make sense to you]).

3. Edward Nygma (The Riddler)
Batman Forever
I love this character.  When I was younger, and I got to see him for the first time, this was the villain that I wanted to be.  He was smart.  He was clever.  He was cunning.  The man was a genius who wanted to use his knowledge to create hell for everybody else.  He was using his intellect to make puzzles for others to figure out.  There was just one catch – the wrong choice, and you could die.  He didn’t want what other villains want – power, money, all that jazz.  He wanted to create hell fore everybody else.  He was in the villainy game just for the fun of it.  And that is, what’s the word?  Oh, right, BAD-ASS!

But then you have Jim Carrey, in this movie.  Sigh…
I can’t tell you how much I hate this character.  He is devoid of all the intellectual merit that his original character had.  All of the charm, too.  Not only was the comic Riddler smart, but he was also very charming.  In this movie, he is a giant man-child, who has to make a bad joke out of EVERYTHING!  Not only that, but all the spandex suits were a real turn-off for me.  I mean, nobody should ever wear that.  Ever!  But seeing a character who always had a cool fashion sense that was modeled after a question mark being reduced to this, it illicits some of my gag-reflex.  But yeah, he was awful, and a shame upon a very cool comic book villain.

2. Venom
Spiderman 3
Do any of you remember Venom?  Fuck yeah you do!  Venom was the absolutely awesome and badass villain from the comics.  He was all muscle and teeth and claws.  He was Spiderman’s arch-enemy.  This dude’s sole occupation was finding heroes and  fucking their shit up!  This was a guy who was cool, in every single possible way.  Sheer size alone makes this guy awesome.  So when I saw that he was going to be in a full-length film, you can imagine that I was pretty freakin’ stoked.

Alas, my hopes were dashed against the wall, when I saw who was playing him.  Topher Grace.  The little nerd from That 70’s Show.  Yeah, this is who they got to play one of the most awesome villains ever.  A man with absolutely NO muscle on him, at all.  Now, while I give that the Symbiote did amp up Eddie Brock’s strength, they didn’t even do THAT in this movie!  Instead, they have Venom still as a skinny little nerd.  No hardcore claws, no giant teeth, nothing.  This was just a total shame upon everything that made this villain cool.

But you know what, I still have respect for a lot of these villains.  But I HATE, viscerally hate, the one that is at the top of the list.

1. Zuko
The Last Airbender
There are so many levels that this character in this film failed.  I love Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender.  His character in that show was nothing short of awesome.  This was a really good tragic hero.  A fallen prince, who has been banished from his kingdom, Zuko is trying to reclaim his honor, so he can go home.  To do this, he has to capture the Avatar.  Dead or alive.  Over the course of the series, he gradually realizes that his goal is wrong, and his nation is destroying everything.  There is tragedy to his character, and therefore, honor to his redemption.  It is a great study of a tortured heart.  Every minute he was on the show, I liked him.  And he got better and better with each passing season.

The film character, on the other hand, was nothing but a joke.  I laughed when I first saw him.  I loved the article Cracked.com which pointed out how dumb this character is, along with how he is vaguely racist.  In the first season, two of the three main characters are natives, not white people, while Zuko is a white guy.  In the film, the heroes are all white people, while Zuko is not.  Yes, because all heroes are white people.  Obviously.  But that aside, this guy was not interesting.  At all!  He was nothing more than a whiny bitch.  Now I will say that Zuko did do a lot of bitching in the first season, but you know what, he was still tough, and he had a rather tragic back-story, so you felt for him.  This guy, you wanted to beat with a hammer.

Until next time, a quote,

“My father said that my sister was born lucky, while I was lucky to have been born.”  -Zuko, Avatar: The Last Airbender

Peace out,

Maverick