My absolutely worst take is that Buffy and Tara should have ended up together
i was wondering if y'all had any good fic recs for an azula redemption arc? it's okay if you don't, i just cannot be arsed to wade through ao3 tags right now and i trust your opinions
chell tried to make me read “measure each step to infinity” (which is the quintissential azula redemption arc) but I stopped immediately the second the narrative started disrespecting aang. that’s an immediate red flag for me. and since neither of us reads fanfic otherwise, the only thing I can recommend is my massive outline for a non-linear azula redemption spinoff, which I love any excuse to plug lmao
I think the difference between zutara and Azutara/Zukka is the latter’s works haven’t bordered on racism from what I’ve seen around (hopefully not ever). People often just draw/write them just being soft gays etc. Also, the power dynamics are just different for wlw and mlm couples, and it’s also representation as long as it’s healthy and Azula/Zuko aren’t characterized with a colonizer mindset.
Meawhile, ever since 2005 for zutara, it’s often a self-insert for Katara/lots of projecting :/
ETA: the way mesti by paxbanana subtly addressed this for azutara and never failed in giving Katara her agency is why that fic is god-tier
it’s such a pervasive and harmful trope in children’s fiction where there’s a male chosen one, and there’s his female friend/sister who is more talented/powerful than him yet has to take a step and ignore her abilities because HE’S the protagonist… like from aang and katara, to jake long and his more talented sister, to harry and hermione, azula and zuko… what makes it worse is that it’s reflected in real life where girls outscore boys at every stage of school but they still earn less because of institutional misogyny and these children’s shows just explain it away by making boys the magical chosen ones and the girls the talented sidekicks. lol.
Oh my gosh guys!! Guys!!! I never realized this before and I haven’t been here long so I have n o id e a if other people have thought of it but!!! Regarding Zuko!! And him throwing away the Blue Spirit mask! It disappointed me, just a little. Mostly because I wanted more vigilante!Zuko shenanigans. BUT anyway! As always with avatar I think this has a deeper meaning. Which duh, but I mean more in the way of this!!!
So Zuko had that dream about the red dragon and the blue dragon warring within him, basically Azula and Iroh telling him to pick sides! These two dragons being representations of Sozin’s and Roku’s dragons. (Now I’m not saying the blue dragon represents evil, and the red dragon represents good, though in one way it means that, but another deeper sense it doesn’t, the same way dark isn’t necessarily evil and light doesn’t necessarily mean good.)
(One thing I love is symbolism with a bunch of different meanings, like layers) Anyway, we know that Zuko flip flops. He picks Iroh but then like a few days after the dream he ends up choosing the blue dragon, he chooses Azula and Sozin, aaaand then ultimately ends up the other way again. Now!!! Fam!!! When Aang and Zuko go to face Ran and Shaw!!! Zuko obviously faces the blue dragon (Azula, Sozin, the half of himself he’s struggled with all his life)
And Aang faces the red dragon! (Symbolically, at least for Zuko, Roku’s side, ie the avatar, the destiny Aang has never desired)
I would just like to point out that Zuko dances with the red dragon. Which just fulfills me. He’s a good guy, he’s picked the side of the avatar :’))))
Now back to the blue spirit real quick and the actual reason I typed all this up. Doesn’t that mask look familiar? It does to me!!
IT LOOKS LIKE A DRAGON GUYS JAKAKSAKS
The blue dragon and the blue spirit even have the same color scheme and teeth and just!!! AHHHH!!! And!! When did Zuko let go of the Blue Spirit and all it represented???? Why it was right after he freed Appa! Just before he collapsed from doing the right thing and then hallucinated about freaking dragons. So maybe it’s just a coincidence that the blue dragon just happens to resemble the blue spirit, maybe dragons in atla only come red and blue and all of this is just wild speculating!!! But on the other hand this is avatar and if there’s one thing I know it’s that the writers drowned the show in so much symbolism it makes me want to puke and also flail about happily in it like a kid in a ball pit.
THE COLOR ASSOCIATION YALL ITS KILLING MEEEE ITS SO POWERFUL
If Azula doesn’t end up having a blue dragon of her own… I will be deeply disappointed because um hello? Roku had the red dragon, Sozin had the blue dragon, Zuko dreamt of Azula as the blue dragon, Ran and Shaw were red and blue and Zuko eventually had a red dragon. Need I go on?
One episode I think we don’t talk about nearly enough is “The Earth King.” Especially the part where Zuko is having his fever dreams and nightmares. One reason for why I think we all collectively dont talk about this part is because I dont think we really understand it fully. I also don’t think many people try to analyze it because the message there is unclear and jumbled, as well as hard to find. We all know that the overarching theme of the dream is Zuko’s whole metamorphosis, but no one ever really goes into it.
However, I am going to try to the best of my ability to analyze it.
First is where Zuko has an overwhelming need for water. Yeah there’s nothing about this scene that has to do with the rest or the real analyzation, I just wanted to put this here because, he needs hydration and I’m mentally preparing myself for the rest. (No explanation for why he dumps it all over himself like a crazed fish but whatever makes fever him happy I guess).
First we’re going to look at this scene, and analyze the four parts that I think are most important. 1. Fire Lord Zuko, 2. The blue and red dragons, 3. Ursa, 4. The soldiers.
1. Zuko has been afraid of the firelord his whole life, and simultaneously he has wanted to be loved and accepted by him. We have to remember that by this point, Zuko hasn’t realized the abuse his father has put him through (keep in mind he doesn’t realize that until midway through book three). So him seeing himself in the place of the firelord with all the power at his fingertips must be part of his subconscious comparing him to his father, perhaps to the son he would have been should his father have not scarred him. He may be telling himself how closely related in blood and mind he is to his father, and this is where the blue and red dragons come in.
2. It’s pretty obvious who the blue and red dragons symbolize in his life. The blue (Azula) is promating Zuko’s fire nation loyalty (we’re going to say particularly in the war here but it could mean anything). When she speaks, she calls him Fire Lord Zuko, bringing us back to his inner conflict with that title, that position he has looked at his whole life, understanding that that will one day be him, as well as the fear he gets when he remembers his father with that position, the fear and power his father holds with it. Azula tells him to rest, even though he says he’s not tired. She pulls him into following her decisions (real foreshadowing for the first half of season three). And it isn’t until the red dragon (uncle iroh) pulls him back out of her trance, calling him Fire Lord Zuko as well, that he even begins to think about the blue dragon’s words. I could write a whole essay about that but we’ll just stick with Zuko not being able to see through Azula’s lies until he think’s of his uncle’s voice of reason.
The red dragon refers to Zuko as Fire Lord Zuko because in the back of his mind, Zuko knows his uncle’s advice will make him a better fire lord. Zuko’s has power, perhaps he knows the better fire lord he could be with the right advice, that advice being his uncle’s, as well as the advice he could have gotten from Ursa.
3. We see Ursa for a short shot in Zuko’s dream, and when we do see her, the first thing I think about is Aang’s dream back in “the storm” where everyone he loves is telling him how much they need him. Here Ursa asks Zuko to help her. Unlike Azula, Zuko doesn’t see Ursa leaving as abandonment, but rather a work to save him from his father’s wrath. Ursa would do anything to save Zuko and perhaps this is Zuko’s unconscious telling him that now it’s his turn to go and help her, or go and help the good side, (the avatar) (or it’s foreshadowing for the comics). This could be unveiled more but we still have a lot to go through so let’s keep pushing.
4. We haven’t seen these soldiers since season 1, Zuko’s darkest days. From what we’ve seen, these are only for the fire nation navy, and they fell apart easily. They’re just ghosts, representations of Zuko’s past days when he had a singular goal, his only obstacles being his own nation and not his own conscious. These soldiers armor fell apart the second the blue dragon struck, just like season one, where we saw them no more after we met azula. They represent a turning of perspectives and conflicts with Zuko, mainly the transition between his season one and two conflicts.
Next up, since we’ve finnished with Fire Lord Zuko, is Aang Zuko time. Zuko and Aang are both yin and yang, they complement each other. (Zuko is really yin and yang with everyone in the group but we can go over that another time because Aang is his main mirror especially the one that is seen most). Here, at this point in season two, he sees no similarities between himself and the Avatar (not one that he wants to think about anyway), in fact, I think here he still believes what he told Aang back at the north pole in the season one finale about Aang’s parallel with Azula (“you’re like my sister”). But way deep in Zuko’s mind he sees the parallel, maybe he actually knows the parallel is there and he just refuses to acknowledge it because the Avatar is just so good, and so different in morality from him that there could be no way they could relate to each other at all. But there is one, and we see it, and he sees it, though he’s scared of the thought.
This entire dream sequence is so much to look at, so much to really understand too, and it may well be impossible to really get the meaning behind everything that is so clearly there. So if anyone has thoughts about anything I’ve said or anything I’ve left out then please tell me because this is a lit for just one person to look at.
Anyway, thank yall for reading my Zuko fever dream rant, I hope you enjoyed this as much as I.
Update: I was rewatching “The AvatR and the Firelord” and I found that Sozin had a blue dragon and Roku had a red dragon, so the dreams he was having about the two dragons was almost most definately the war between Zuko’s greatgrandparents legacies.
“Tell me about it.”
Katara’s hands were cool, gentle. They felt good against the searing heat of her skin. The burns throbbed, ugly and pink, but her touch did not aggravate the pain further. Azula would have preferred if it had. Healing was supposed to hurt. The burns were a punishment in the first place. Better to let an infection take root, let it rot her from the inside out. The pain would remind her not to fail again.
“It is what it looks like,” she said. Level. Even. Matter-of-fact.
Katara hummed to herself, neither accepting nor contradicting Azula’s words. The water that flowed at her command from the flask at her waist was almost unpleasantly cold. But it felt good against the burns. Soothing. Azula closed her eyes.
This was intimate, and she disliked that. The water that formed a gentle cocoon about her upper arm could just as easily become spears of ice piercing her flesh. It could slip between her lips and down into her lungs and drown her. The exposure was weakness. Every centimeter of her brain screamed that at her. The voice that was as much Ozai’s as her own flung every insult it could. How weak she was, to accept help from an enemy. How pathetic, to need help in the first place.
A failure to the end.
“Aang burned me once,” Katara said. She sounded conversational. “It was his first time firebending, and he was too excited—it got out of control. That was the first time I ever healed, too. Did you know Jeong-Jeong?”
“A traitor,” Azula said automatically. “A defector.”
“A good man,” Katara corrected. She lifted her hands from Azula’s arm, and the water moved away with them. Azula opened her eyes to study her skin. It was smooth and even once more, unmarred by the pink patches where her fingers had dug in hard and hot—
“He said that burns are really common when firebenders learn. It’s more destructive, harder to control, than the other elements.” Katara paused. Her blue eyes met Azula’s golden ones. “Did you have trouble with that?”
Azula’s mouth twisted into an inadvertent sneer.
“Zuko—he’d catch everything on fire. Mother’s paintings. Tapestries in our rooms. Plants out in the garden. Not on purpose, either. He’d always cry and she’d always comfort him. So fragile.”
She remembered nights spent sneaking out onto the training grounds. She had spent so long trying to force sparks from her fingertips, and when they’d finally appeared she’d been overjoyed. How many hours had she spent struggling, repeating forms she had seen the soldiers use? In the daylight her tutors had called her talented, prodigious, without peer. Nobody knew about the soot and sweat and blisters that had stained her hands.
Nobody else had to know.
“I never burned anybody else by mistake,” she said finally, and it was true. She wondered if Katara knew what went unsaid. It would be bad if she did; predictability was weakness. But somehow it felt good to have someone who knew. Someone who understood.
Katara nodded. Her hands wrapped around one of Azula’s. She wove their fingers together.
“Did Ozai burn you?”
Azula closed her eyes again. Somehow it was too difficult to look at Katara’s face. She had disliked this so much at first, the questions that challenged things she knew and understood to be true. She did not like dwelling in the past. Her history was a canyon best left unexplored.
“Not as punishment. When we sparred, if I got hit, it was my own fault. Then I’d learn to be quicker, smarter, so I didn’t get hit twice.”
So many scars. Her body was a wasteland. She was barren; there was nothing worth scavenging. But still Katara was sitting with her. Still she was trying to salvage something.
Give up, Azula used to think. Let me go. She had been ready to meet her end in the asylum, but Katara had prevented that. She forced her not only to breathe, to live, but to look backward and inward. It should have been nothing but pain.
And yet there was nothing painful about the hand holding hers.
“He didn’t have to punish me, really.”
Katara nodded, and when her fingers dug in a little Azula knew she understood.
He didn’t have to do it because I did it to myself.
i gotta talk about smth real quick
i’m always down for a good atla post-war fic, since the comics don’t exist in this house; so when i found one that also focused on redemption for azula, i thought it was too good to be true
in short… this fanfic, “measure each step to infinity” is incredible and i wish everyone would read it because it’s just too well written to be lost
the main pairing is azula/katara (interesting.. very interesting) with all the other canon couples (minus aang/katara of course)
what i really love is how the author writes the characters, especially azula.. like, none of it feels ooc at all, azula doesn’t lose her characteristic snark and the events just feel very realistic
i really like that the author expanded the world too, they explore some of the ideas and themes presented in the show itself (the concept of the agni kai, water tribe practices).. it really adds something to the work as a whole and makes it that much more interesting.. nothing feels like “filler” at all
i really, really, really recommend it to anyone who has the time to read it!! the writing is just amazing, i could sit around and reread it for hours. it really presents a refreshing take on redemption for azula without losing any of the characters’ charms and, like i mentioned before, giving the world some depth
thanks for your time please read the works, they’re honestly fantastic and i wish i could better articulate how fantastic they are but for now this will have to do
Well for one thing she said “a powerful bender” not “THE MOST POWERFUL bender” and you could argue that almost every bender shown in the show is insanely powerful.
But if you wanna go down “THE MOST powerful bender road” then alright. But I’d make a case that the most powerful bender in the show isn’t Aang. It’s not even Zuko. Besides Katara, I’d argue that the most powerful bender in the show is Azula.
From the age of eight, she was shown to be a fire bending prodigy, compared to Azulon himself. AT THE AGE OF EIGHT SHE WAS COMPARED TO THE FIRE LORD IN TERMS OF STRENGTH AND POWER. She was able to conjure blue flames, and summon lightning at will by the age of fourteen, maybe even younger. Can you imagine what she would’ve been like had she had a stable frame of mind and never had the breakdown she experienced???? Fire Lord Azula would have been the most terrifying and destructive Fire Lord in Avatar history, even over Sozin or Ozai.
We only see her lose three battles during the show.
The first, in ‘The Chase’ , could be argued that it isn’t even a loss; it’s a retreat after being cornered by FOUR benders, one being the Avatar. And even before her retreat, she still held her own for a long time before then.
The second, during ‘The Drill’ was a loss, absolutely, but not because she was bested in a battle of bending. Aang got the upper hand by destroying the drill, but she still kicked his ass when it came to a one on one bending battle between the two.
The final one, and the only one where she actually lost in comparison to another’s bending, was of course during the Agni Kai in 'Sozin’s Comit Part ¾’. Beforehand, Iroh KNEW that none of them could take her alone. Zuko only fought her one on one because he believed she was unstable and unfit to properly fight, not because he thought he was stronger than her. And even then, it took both him AND Katara (Who above everyone else, I’d argue is THE MOST POWERFUL BENDER in the show. But you can’t marry yourself) to take her down.
So really… Aunt Wu’s prediction doesn’t prove shit. It’s a great support/defense for a crap ton of ships, sure. But it’s absolutely not an 'end all be all’ argument ending point for Kataang, or even Zutara for that matter.
Unless you’re arguing for Azutara, I don’t think Aunt Wu is as strong as an argument as you’d like to think.
I am also 100% for azutara
I love the concept of modern au enemies to lovers azutara where instead of having a literal war dividing them they’re able to just start out as semi normal middle schoolers and bicker about super dumb things just like
Azula: actually i think cats should be illegal because they are too sharp
Katara: is that a joke or
Azula: no I’m currently writing a letter to out local representatives in congress
Katara: that’s not funny- oh my God you’re not kidding you are actually…
Azula: They’re. Too. Sharp.
Katara: you think that- why…?
Azula: stop judging me I’m right
Katara: you can’t make cats illegal
Azula: shut up or I’ll make dogs illegal next
Katara: you’d better stop right now
Azula: or what
Katara: or I’ll sneak into your house in the middle of the night and glue all of your shoelaces to the ceiling
Azula: i’d love to see you try
Katara: i’ll do it
Azula: i look forward to it
I don’t know if I’m just weird but something about the thought of them being idiots together heals my soul
this reminds of that couch argument of Measures Each Step Into Infinity sidestories by paxbanana huhu god i miss them
Japanese legend: you have the face of who you loved most in a past life
THE NEXT AVATAR ABOUT TO LOOK FINE AFFFFFF
Oh, so YOU guys can just see a face and be like “I like that face, I’m gonna make it my face” and everyone’s just COOL with that. But when I, Koh the Face Stealer,
U know when avatar does that thing where it flashes back to a childhood memory of a character and then focuses on their face and fades back in on them at the same angle but older and changed……. gets me every time