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Avatar: The Last Airbender

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on 10 April 2014

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Transcript of Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Hero's Journey: (In accordance to Joseph Campbell's Hero Archetype)
Avatar: The Last Airbender and Aang's Hero's Journey
Separation
Return
Threshold Crossing:
Belly of the Whale:
Is a continual process throughout the series, but comes to conclusion when Aang seeks Guru Patik to help open his Chakras.
Initiation:
"...he here discovers for the first time that there is a benign power everywhere supporting him in his superhuman passage ."
Campbell, Joseph. Monomyth p.81 8-11
The composite hero of the Monomyth is a personage of exceptional gifts. Frequently he is honored by his society, frequently unrecognized or disdained. He and the world which he finds himself suffers from a symbolical deficiency" Joseph Campbell Monomyth C.R. p 29-30.39-5.
"The hero and his ultimate god, the seeker and the found are thus understood as the outside and inside of a single, self-mirrored mystery, which is identical with the mystery of the manifest wold."
Campbell, Joseph. Monomyth. pg. 31, 22-25.
Religious and Cultural Themes and Motifs
The concept of the sun temple and sun worship is based on the sun temples found in India. The sun warriors are based on The Gurjars, who worship the God and solar deity Surya.
The Fire Nation is the most industrialized nation in the Avatar world.
Refusal of the Call:
Upon learning that he is the Avatar, Aang runs away to avoid the responsibility of being the Avatar.
When Aang is awakened by Katara, and her brother Sokka, he enters a whole new, war ravaged world.
Road of Trials:
Hunted down by Zuko and then Azula
They seek to kill Aang because he is the only thing standing between the Fire Nation's goal of taking over the world
Meeting with the Goddess & Woman as Temptress:
Katara can be seen as both the Goddess and also a kind of Temptress.
Aang is in love with Katara, and she is able to calm him and get him out of the Avatar state
Aang must rid himslef of earthly attachments to gain his full Avatar state
This means getting rid of his love for Katara
Doesn't fully learn the Avatar state because he sees a vision of Katara in danger and goes to help her
Later he does go and finish training for the Avatar state
Apotheosis:
Aang finds an island that turns out to be a lion turtle
Lion turtle teaches Aang how to bend energy, allowing him to defeat Ozai without killing him, to stick with his monk teachings
Ultimate Boon:
Ozai is defeated, and his bending is taken away. The world is free from the Fire Nation’s tyranny, and the war is brought to an end.
Refusal of the return:
The world is freed from all the chaos caused by the hundred year war, and there is no reason why Aang, or the other members of Team Avatar would want things to go back to the way things were.
Crossing of the Return Threshold:
During Zuko’s coronation ceremony, Aang and Zuko speak of how they will rebuild the world together, and usher in an era of peace and kindness.
Master of Two Worlds:
Aang is the link between the spiritual and physical world, particularly when he enters the Avatar state, and communes with the spirits of his past lives.
Call to Adventure:
Aang is told that he is the Avatar .
Supernatural Aid:
There are several; himself through his past lives, his companions, and those that teach him the bending arts.
With Guru Pathik’s help, Aang attempted to open his seven chakras, so he would be able to enter and control his Avatar State.
Freedom to live:
With Fire Lord Zuko’s help, Aang maintained peace after the end of the war. Together, they created the United Republic of Nations, a place where both benders and non-benders from all the four nations could live together in harmony. He died at sixty-six and the new Avatar, Korra, was born
Atonement with the Father:
Layed aside grief of the death of the Air Nomads, particularly his father figure, Monk Gyatso
Setting:
The world of Avatar: the Last Airbender is divided into four nations: the
Air Nomads
, the
Water Tribe
, the
Earth Kingdom
, and the
Fire Nation
. Each has a unique climate and terrain, which conforms to the element associated with that nation. Each nation also has their own ethnic and cultural identity, which resemble or borrow from general Asian culture, history and society, but are not a complete representation of any one particular Asian culture.

What is Avatar: The Last Airbender??

The Avatar:
The Avatar is the link or melding between the physical world and the spirit world. The Avatar is the only person able to bend all four elements, and has the ability to achieve the "Avatar State"; a state of being directly connecting the Avatar to the world's spirit energy, allowing for greater strength and mastery of the elements. As the embodiment of the spiritual and physical realms, the Avatar has a prophetic responsibility to maintain the balance in the physical and spiritual realms. Like the Dali Lama, the Avatar is reincarnated every life cycle, following the cycle of the elements.
Origins of The Avatar:
The first Avatar, a man named Wan.
An evil spirit named Vaatu broke the barriers between the mortal and spiritual worlds.
Humans, who once all lived together, separated to protect themselves.
The Lion Turtles let mortals
borrow
their power to bend.
Wan stole the art of fire bending, but was caught, and banished to the Spirit Wilds.
Wan befriended some spirits, and managed to perfect his firebending with the help of a dragon.
Wan comes upon the two great spirits, Raava and Vaatu fighting.
Vaatu tricked Wan into separating them, and Vaatu spread chaos wherever he went, weakening Raava.
Wan, realizing his mistake, began to study under Raava in order to defeat Vaatu.
Wan and Raava visited the air, water and earth lion turtles, and mastered each element.
Vaatu overpowered them, so Wan called for Raava to merge with his spirit.
During the Harmonic Convergence, Raava and Wan were permanently sealed together, creating the Avatar Spirit.
Wan imprisoned Vaatu , and directed all the spirits back into their own world, and closed the portals between the two worlds.
The era of Raava ended, and the era of the Avatar began. The lion turtles chose to stop granting humans the power to bend, so they learned from nature instead.
Wan tried to maintain the balance in the world, but failed to in his lifetime.
Wan died, and his spirit left his body and was reincarnated, thus beginning the Avatar Cycle.
What is Bending anyway?
Bending is the manipulation of the elements of fire, water, air, and earth.

There is a fifth element, energy.

In our world, bending may be considered magic, but in theirs, it is considered more of a science.

The four physical bending arts are dependent on chi, or energy within one’s body.

Each Bending style is based off of a different Martial Art. With each style representing the culture, values and philosophies of each element and nation.
Okay, so how are Avatar and
Bending Science-Fiction??
Bending is not Magic:
Bending is the inherent ability to tap into the cosmic elemental forces of their chi. Much like Psychic abilities

The people within the A:TLA world view Bending with a mixture of science and spirituality.

Bending can be seen as a form of Mysticism, as when a person bends they connect with their chi, or spirit.

A:TLA as Steampunk:
Industrialization of the Fire Nation is influenced by Steampunk, a genre of Science-Fiction.

Through the use of engineering, science and bending, the Fire Nation is creating machines and modernizations far beyond those of the other nations.

Industrialization would not be possible without the use of bending, and are, for the most part, powered by bending.
So, who is the Avatar?

This is the Avatar, Aang. He's an Air Nomad and, you wouldn't think it by his looks, but he's 112 years old. He is a kid at heart, and loyal to his friends. Aang has a sky bison named Appa, and a pet flying lemur called Momo.
Initiation
Return
Threshold Crossing:
After being awakened, and seeing evidence of the Hundred Years War.
Separation:
Magic Flight:
When looking for a way to defeat Fire Lord Ozai, Aang sleepwalks onto a Lion Turtle, the creatures that first gave bending to Man. There he seeks guidance from the past Avatars on what he should do, they provide conflicting advice. Eventually, Aang asks the Lion Turtle, who shows him how to block a persons bending abilities. With this information in hand, Aang rushes off to confront Ozai.
Rescue from without:
After Aang is incapacitated by Azula in the Crystal Catacombs under Ba Sing Se at the end of season 2, Katara uses water from the Spirit Oasis to heal him. It is only through her efforts that Aang is able to be revived and lives.
Aang vs. Airbending
Religious and Cultural Themes and Motifs
“A common element throughout these different philosophies is the idea of an intangible Fifth element—Aether, the Void, Space, etc. represented in the Avatar: The Last Airbender series through the Spirit World, the Avatar State, and energy bending.”
Like Dalai Lama, Aang is the reincarnated spiritual leader of his people
Aang's mentor is Gyatso, Aang's son is Tenzin
The Dalai Lama's real name is Tenzin Gyatso
Air temple monks lifestyle and practice based on Buddhist monks
Tarma cakes
Set of toys used to find new Avatar
Like Buddhist and Hindu teaching, the Air Nomads practice vegetarianism
Air Nomad's bald heads, clothing, and meditation follow Buddhist practice
In season 1 and 2 Aang's clothing resembled Shaolin monks
In season 3 his clothing resembled the Dalai Lama
Air temple architecture similar to real world brick pagodas
Aang vs. Waterbending
Airbending based on Ba Gua, or Baguazhang
Stance and movement based on continuous change to overcome situation with skill over force
Airbending is noted for being defensive, but most dynamic bending
Can overwhelm opponent with large attacks
Rarely done due to Air Nomad's pacifist beliefs
Religious and Cultural Themes and Motifs
The "go with the flow" attitudes of
waterbenders.

Concept of Yin and Yang. The prime example would be the spirit of the moon and sea fish which are black and white, where one cannot function without the other.
The slow, flowing movements of Tai Chi are the basis of waterbending. In the real world, Tai Chi, and the martial practice of Tai Chi Chuan, is classified as an "internal style", which means that it emphasizes refinement and relaxation before aggression It emphasizes alignment, body structure, breath, and visualization.
Waterbenders
have the ability to heal by using water as a catalyst for manipulating Chi paths in the body. Tai Chi is said to have many health benefits, particularly in the non-martial realm of Tai Chi Chih. This form focuses on developing and balancing one's chi.
The architecture of the Northern Water Tribe appears to have been influenced by Venice's gondolas and canal systems. It also resembles the layout of the ancient capital of the Aztecs, Tenochtitlan
Live in igloos and yurts, rely on fishing and wear war paint and animal furs into battle. Their culture also draws references to moon myths from Native American, Chinese, and Japanese cultures.
Sokka, a Southern Water Tribe Warrior, uses a boomerang, a curved weapon used by Australian Aborigines and other tribal people around the world, including Native Americans and South Asians.
Earth Kingdom and Earthbending
Religious and Cultural Themes and Motifs
In Dress:
Wearing of top-knots.
Kyoshi Warriors use face make-up resembles that of a Geisha.
With the exception of Ba Sing Se (cultural center), Earth Kingdom clothing is almost entirely based off pre-Manchu China.
The Beifong family clothing is largely inspired by Tang Dynasty clothing.
In Philosophy:
Bumi practices the Taoist ideal of 'wuwei' (doing nothing).
Bumi's name is based on the Sanskrit word for earth, "Bhumi". Bhumidevi is also the name of the Hindu Earth Goddess, or Mother Earth
In Politics:
The government of Ba Sing Se under the Dai Li is similar to Chinese government under Jinyiwei of the Ming Dynasty and Legalist doctrine of the Qin Dynasty.
Large Bureaucracy similar to Provincial Administration System of dynastic China.
Just as the Great Wall is visible from outer space, the Great Walls of Ba Sing Se are always drawn onto maps of the Earth Kingdom.
Aang vs. Firebending
The fast, hard, aggressive strikes of Northern Shaolin style are used for firebending. The style sacrifices defense for fierce attacks.
In one scene, Zuko and Iroh are shown cutting off their top-knots to symbolize their separation from their family and their Nation, a practice that occurred in ancient, feudal Japan, and China.
The Sun Warriors themselves are very similar to the Mayans and the Aztecs of North America.
The Agni Kai is a form of "honor duel" commonly seen in warrior societies in South Asia. It literally translates to 'Duel of Fire' or 'Fire Quarrel'. In Avatar, it is used to prove one's worth.
The Sun Warriors' compound includes architecture inspired by Hindu and Buddhist architecture.
The Warriors' dress is also reminiscent of traditional Southeast Asian warrior dress.
What Bending Element are you?
Please look for the Quiz in your handout.
Answer the questions honestly.
Tally how many of each letter you got.
If you got mostly
A's
, you are an...
Airbender
Airbending; The Element of Freedom –Carefree
Very easy going and almost carefree, you have a positive outlook on life and care for everyone in it. You are as unpredictable and mysterious as the wind itself. Experienced and strong minded, but you like to dream about things that don't normally exist. You don't like hard work and any of that stuff - just light, simple life easy for yourself.
If you got mostly
B's
, you are a...
Waterbender

Waterbending; The Element of Change – Adaptable
You take life as it comes, and you play with the cards it has dealt you. You have a calm and balanced soul. You can act calm and kind, but there are times you can also be raging . Your empathy allows you to help people in need. Hard work is the thing you can live with, but you like to play when there is extra time. If anyone throws you a challenge you always find a way. Everything is possible for you, that makes you predictable
If you got mostly
C's
, you are an...
Earthbender
Earthbending; The Element of Substance – Steadfast

You're loud and outgoing, you're aggressive and love having a good time. Your proud soul keeps you balanced. You push anything you don't like away with great force, and anything that stands in your way crumbles to pieces with just a touch of your hands. You keep your feet firmly on the ground and nothing can change who you are.
If you got mostly
D's
, you are a...
Firebender
Firebending; The Element of Power – Wrath
You're an angry or confused soul. You wield a style of power and destruction, you eliminate that which you dislike without thought and your soul burns with the intensity of the destructive flame. Our motto is: act first, think later! You are unpredictable and you usually gain upper hand because of it. You like danger and love the feeling of adrenaline rushing through you.
Discussion Questions:
1) Avatar: The Last Airbender heavily borrows from Eastern Religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, etc...) to set up its world, can you think of any other shows, movies, books, etc.. that heavily borrow from Religion? Are the shows, movies, books, etc.. faithful to the Religions, or like Avatar, do they pick and choose what aspects they want to use?
Discussion Questions:
2) Is the ability to bend an extra sensory ability (like telekinesis), or is it a form of mysticism, wherein when a person bends their element they are communing with nature and the spirits, the main 'religion' in Avatar: The Last Airbender?
The first question doesn't count, we're simply curious what element people think they are in comparison to the quiz results. Perception vs. Actuality.
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