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Question: Rate This Episode:
10 - 84 (46.2%)
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Author Topic: [103] The Southern Air Temple  (Read 16639 times)
Fionordequester
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« Reply #75 on: Aug 31, 2010 09:53 pm »

Hello guys, we're back again for more Avatar: The Last Airbender!

As it turns out, Aang and Co. take a little visit to Aang's home, the Southern Air Temple. Now, this episode was one of the few episodes that I've actually watched before doing this log, and I must say, I'm really surprised that they're showing it this early.  With the sheer content, feeling of loss and shock, not to mention Aang's "Avatar Spirit" (not "State" as I thought it was), this episode seems more like it would've been appropriate after Aang and Co. spend a few episodes on a long journey, hyping themselves up with each episode, and dropping subtle hints about the concept of the Avatar Spirit on the way.  Not much else I can see talking about, not until we cut back to Zuko and Iroh (yes, I get to call him Iroh now.  That's revealed in a moment).

It's here that we are introduced to Commander Zhao.  The soundtrack doesn't seem to like him very much, and he's older and more experienced, so I assumed that he was going to come onto this show to be the Yosemati Sam to Zuko's Elmer Fudd (Zuko even has the shaved head to go with it now that I think about it).  It's here that Iroh is in fact revealed to be a great hero by Commander Zhao.  Gee, wonder how Iroh got stuck with Zuko then.

But never mind.  Zuko doesn't want every fire bender out looking for him, so it's lame coverup time, for why his ship got maimed...

"Zhao: That's quite a bit of damage."
"Zuko: Yes...you wouldn't believe what happened....UNCLE!  Tell Commander Zhao what happened!"
"Iroh: Yes!  I will do that! It was incredible...(obvious whisper) what, did we crash or something?"
"Zuko: Yes! Right into...an Earth Kingdom ship!"


Yeah...not really helping that Elmer Fudd image Zuko.  Seems like he should've at least had a lie planned.  Zhao plans to point and laugh at Zuko's humiliation for Zuko...uh, I mean, be regaled with all the "thrilling" details, so, they head on over to his tent.

In this tent, which seems to have some sort of orange filter on it for reasons I can't determine. I know that there seems to be two lamplights on the sides of Zhao's base, but the room seems too well lit for them being the sole reason for the filter.  Whatever though, I like it.

As for their actual conversation, other than Zhao revealing that Zuko was a banished prince, I find it odd that he's so suspicious of Zuko all of a sudden.  I don't know why Zhao is so certain that Zuko has found the Avatar, but isn't telling him.  Sure, he and Iroh made a royal mess out of covering up the damage to their ship, but I think if I were Zhao, I'dve just figured that Zuko just accidently trashed the ship in some really humiliating way, and didn't want anyone to know.  He was a failure after all, and his crew members seem to suck even worse, and it's established later in the episode that all four kingdoms have warning signals to let them know whether or not the Avatar has returned.  So, as far as I know, Zhao has no reason to be as suspicious as he is.

Cut back to Aang and his group, in which we get our first bit of foreshadowing that Aang may not be in for such a pleasant surprise after all.  That, and we have an enlightening little flashback, to Aang's master this time.  I can now say that whatever bad habits Aang has, I think I now know where he got them from...

Back to Zuko and Zhao, the events that I'm really interested in (mainly because I didn't remember any of their interactions from this episode, while I still remember most of what happened to Aang).  I find it interesting that one of Zhao's reasons for taking over the hunt for the Avatar was because "capturing the Avatar is too important to leave in a teenager's hands", especially since I believe that we all know a certain...other person in Zuko's life that's younger than him, yet could probably have beaten Aang at this point with one hand tied behind their back.

After some more exposition with Aang and co., and Aang showing that he can indeed use offensive Airbending techniques without his staff, we cut back to yet another Zuko and Zhao interaction.  There's always good stuff to talk about there.  Zuko actually ends up challenging Zhao to a fight here, and an immediate feeling of "Oh no..." went up inside me.  I was actually tense to see how Zuko would suffer, especially as it's revealed that he got his scar from a fight with a master.

We switch to Aang, and I'm surprised by Aang's discovery of Kyotso's corpse for three reasons.  One, for a show that was aimed at 6-11 year olds, it seemed like a rather graphic picture, with the close up of Kyotso's skull and everything.  I know that this show became more mature as it went on, but I wasn't expecting the change to come immediately after Episode 2.  And two, I remembered the exact details being a lot different.  I remember this episode being a lot more chilling than it was, with there being more build up to this discovery, like Sokka and Katara discovering more and more Fire Nation corpses/masks/weapons to hide from Aang.  Finally though, I remember there being A LOT more Fire Nation corpses surrounding Kyotso than what was there.  I thought it was some ridiculous number like 57 or something, when really it was less than 10 here.

Aang goes into Avatar Spirit mode, and we go back to Zuko and Zhao, who for whatever reason, are no more interesting than what's happening with Aang, but a whole lot more interesting to actually talk about.

Anyways, I found it really weird how...harmless the firebending looked.  Both Zuko and Zhao are constantly blocking blasts of fire with nothing but their bare arms, and both even get blasted into the air at one point, and yet, there's not one moment where either of them are even singed.  At first, I was willing to blame this on Nicktoon's censorship policies (I mean jeez, look at how heavily they censored Dragon Ball Z Kai...), but then I remembered hearing that even the DVD's of this show are virtually identical to the broadcast version, so, that theory was disproven.  So I thought, "well maybe they were just holding back a bit since it wasn't an actual fight".  That made sense, until I remembered that Zuko got his scar from one of those fights, so hurting each other badly clearly wasn't a problem.  So...maybe firebenders just have a natural resistance to fire?

Anyways, it's a thrilling fight.  Zuko's offense utterly fails, Zhao responds by pounding him until Zuko flies into the air, Zhao closes in, Zuko trips him up, sends him through the air...and wins...

Let me say that again.  ZUKO WINS!!  He's so pathetic that he's actually been exiled, and he STILL manages to beat someone who's supposed to be one of the Commanders.

It is then that it occurs to me that calling Zhao the "Yosetami Sam" of this cartoon is probably too generous, and that Zhao must be one of those Commanders.  You know, the ones who don't actually earn their place in the chain of command, but get there through politics, nobility, brown nosing, and all around jackassery.  

Then after a rather noticeable continuity error in which Zuko is seen approaching the fallen Zhao from the side, yet ends up in front of him for some reason (I'm just going to assume that Zuko is still at Zhao's side, since otherwise it doesn't make sense why Zhao didn't do what Zuko did when Zuko was on his back, in the same position), Zuko confirms something I've been suspecting ever since Episode 1.

Even though he's quick to yell, and threaten, and push people around, he doesn't seem to dig actually following through with his threats, even when there's no repercussions to worry about.  Or, at the very least, he doesn't seem to like hurting people any more than he thinks is necessary.  Actually, that was kind of shown when he was interrogating the Water village now that I think about it.  Even when he grabbed an old lady, he never once tried to use her as a hostage, and he never did anything to actually harm anyone but Sokka, and of course Aang.  And even then, Sokka did try to kill him, twice.  Both attempts were laughable at best, but still.

Just to top off what was already a great scene, Iroh flaunts his muscle, and manages to send Zhao flying with what didn't look like anything but a leg lock.  I don't know what kind of tea he's drinking, but I'd kill to have it.  Must be all the anti-oxidants.

Finally, we're done for good with Zuko and Zhao's rivalry, but that's ok.  It's here that, for the very first time, I find fault with the voice acting, most specifically Katara's speech.  I don't take issue with her pronunciation, or the emotion she's putting in her lines, that's all as good as ever.  What bothers me, is how she hardly even raises her voice!  Aang is currently surrounded in typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, gusts, all sorts of stuff that's making a lot of noise, and Katara still isn't speaking any higher than her regular speaking voice.  It just seems like she's not talking as loudly as she should be talking for Aang to hear her.

But, Aang hears her all the same, and calms down, but not before signal lights from all four Kingdoms flare up.  Remember why I said that Zhao shoudn't have had a reason to be suspicious of Zuko?  Well, this was one of the main reasons why in my mind.  They have signal lights that go off when Aang is reawakened, so, I don't really get why Zhao was so bent on the assumption that Zuko actually knew anything, when he knows that had he awakened, there would've been a very clear and distinct signal to alert him to it.  But, whatever, maybe I missed something.

To end this view of Episode 3, I like the music that starts playing as Aang and Co. leave the Air Temple.  It was soft and tender, was melancholy, airy, and just seemed like a good theme for Aang in general.  Besides that, the instruments reminded me of the soundtrack for "7th Saga", one of my favorite RPG's, with one of my favorite soundtracks from any RPG.

Besides that, I loved how consistently exciting this episode was.  You could feel tension all throughout out it, whether it was Zuko's heated rivalry with Zhao, or whether it was Aang exploring the Air Temple, when you just knew he was going to be getting a nasty surprise.  All in all, great episode, but kept from getting an A by a few things.  Some of them just those little feelings you can't quite give shape to, but, there were specific things as well.

1)  It still really doesn't make sense to me that Zhao was as suspicious of Zuko as he was.  And that was a pretty big part of the episode, so to have something like that without any real explanation was kind of weak to me.
2)  It seemed strange that there were so few corpses to hide from Aang, when pretty much the entire temple had been ravaged, I thought there was more that could've been done with that.
3)  This last one is really nitpicking, but, it seemed somewhat cheesy to have threatening, scary music the moment Zhao walked on screen, when we shouldn't otherwise be able to tell whether he's friend or foe.  

So, my final thoughts?  B
« Last Edit: Sep 02, 2010 12:27 am by Fionordequester » Logged
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« Reply #76 on: Sep 15, 2010 06:34 am »

not to mention Aang's "Avatar Spirit" (not "State" as I thought it was),
No, it's State.

Avatar Spirit = the spiritual entity that jumps from host to host, creating a new avatar after the last one died;

Avatar State = a defence mechanism in which the avatar can tap into the power of all the avatars before him, giving him an enormous power boost.


Quote
As for their actual conversation, other than Zhao revealing that Zuko was a banished prince, I find it odd that he's so suspicious of Zuko all of a sudden.  I don't know why Zhao is so certain that Zuko has found the Avatar, but isn't telling him.  Sure, he and Iroh made a royal mess out of covering up the damage to their ship, but I think if I were Zhao, I'dve just figured that Zuko just accidently trashed the ship in some really humiliating way, and didn't want anyone to know.  He was a failure after all, and his crew members seem to suck even worse, and it's established later in the episode that all four kingdoms have warning signals to let them know whether or not the Avatar has returned.  So, as far as I know, Zhao has no reason to be as suspicious as he is.
Seeing Zuko in a hurry would be enough of a reason. After all, Zhao knows that Zuko's only mission is to catch the avatar, so what else could get him so riled up?


Quote
Finally, we're done for good with Zuko and Zhao's rivalry, but that's ok.
'For good'?

Now what made you think that? Grin


Quote
But, Aang hears her all the same, and calms down, but not before signal lights from all four Kingdoms flare up.  Remember why I said that Zhao shoudn't have had a reason to be suspicious of Zuko?  Well, this was one of the main reasons why in my mind.  They have signal lights that go off when Aang is reawakened, so, I don't really get why Zhao was so bent on the assumption that Zuko actually knew anything, when he knows that had he awakened, there would've been a very clear and distinct signal to alert him to it.  But, whatever, maybe I missed something.
'Awakened'? No, he just got freaking mad. And how was Zhao to know that he would ever do this inside of an air temple? (We assume it only works when he's inside some kind of sanctuary, because the lights didn't go off when he went into the Avatar State last episode.)

Aang's master is called Gyatso, btw.
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« Reply #77 on: Oct 16, 2010 01:38 pm »

The Southren Air Temple showed alot what happened in the time Aang was in the iceburg
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« Reply #78 on: Nov 09, 2010 12:34 am »

It's never good when the primary villian and so called master loses so early in the show.
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« Reply #79 on: Nov 09, 2010 12:39 am »

And to Zuko no less, back when he was about as threatening as that chronically depressed poodle that mauled it's owner, the former President of France... Tongue

By the way, this forum really needs a more bitter eye roll emoticon.
« Last Edit: Nov 09, 2010 12:45 am by Fionordequester » Logged
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« Reply #80 on: Nov 09, 2010 01:03 am »

^ actually when you get to the next season you will actually get quality villians. But once zhao lost i didn't even consider him a threat at all.
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« Reply #81 on: Nov 09, 2010 01:24 am »

That's about the same reaction I had really.  Not sure if you've read my logs for all the Episodes, but back then, I was...less than impressed with the villains back then, lets just put it that way.

Honestly, part of the reason I loved Episode 9 so much was that it was pretty much the very first time in the entire show where you actually felt like the villains were a credible threat to the Gaang.  Then, even they were one upped by Jet.

I don't know, I just find it incredibly ironic that the very best villains of Season 1 were the ones that didn't even have any bending powers  Grin
« Last Edit: Nov 09, 2010 01:30 am by Fionordequester » Logged
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« Reply #82 on: Nov 09, 2010 01:51 am »

At least he had personality but the only threats to the gang in season on where those archers, the pirates, and zuko.
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« Reply #83 on: Nov 09, 2010 01:58 am »

Well, technically, Jet's gang could've been a threat to Aang had Jet been better prepared for a fight with Aang, i.e., had his whole gang instead of trying to take him on alone, and saving his blasting jelly, explosions, and all that to take on Aang instead of using them on the village.

As for the archers, besides how ridiculous and implausible their stunts were (I still haven't quite gotten over that...), the only reason they were a threat to Aang was because he and his sudden burst of A.D.D. tried to ignore them entirely, in favor of grabbing frozen frogs.  Otherwise, he probably would've owned their butts as easily as he usually does to most villains.
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« Reply #84 on: Nov 09, 2010 02:07 am »

Yeah jet and his crew do pose a threat to them. But the archers did too even if aang has a case of a.d.d. that episode. They were capable of pinning a fly to a tree without killing if from a hundred yards away, so assassinating aang wouldn't much of a problem. As for inplausible stunts wait till you see season two things get VERY inplausible and just plain nuts.
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« Reply #85 on: Nov 09, 2010 02:15 am »

Oh joy...well...I'll be the judge of that when I see it...
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« Reply #86 on: Nov 09, 2010 03:14 am »

Back on topic, please. This is the thread for episode 103 only.
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« Reply #87 on: Jan 06, 2011 01:37 pm »

I really loved this episode, it did a great job at introducing Aang's emotional situation in the series, and is great overall in just telling an emotionally good plot.

I have one question however that has been bothering me for some time.  In the episode, when Aang enters the Avatar State over Gyatso's body, we see all the statues of past Avatar's in all nations light up, signaling everyone that the Avatar has returned.

My question is why have they not noticed this before?  Assuming that the statues light up when the Avatar is in the Avatar State, wouldn't they have lit up when Aang knocked off Zuko and his soliders off the boat in "The Avatar Returns"?  Or even when he entered the Avatar State to encase himself and Appa in an iceberg, so that they at least know an Avatar WAS born into the Air Nomads?  Even though this wouldn't have helped in the war anyway lol.

Do the statues light up because of the WAY the Avatar State activates (emotionally)?  Or is this just a fluke in the show's production?  Or was this done just for the sake of introducing the proper story elements (Aang realizing he's the last airbender; people knowing of the Avatar's return) in the proper emotional context regardless of?  Sorry if this is too many questions, and I hope it's not a stupid one, like if there's something I missed.
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« Reply #88 on: Jan 06, 2011 01:46 pm »

^ The problem has been brought up before. General concensus says that it's either because he was in an avatar-connected spiritual place this time (temple with avatar statues), or a fluke.

I say it's a fluke. There were a lot of similar discontinuities in the first few episodes, because the creators hadn't completely worked eveything out yet. The avatar statue next to Roku not being Kyoshi is another example.
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« Reply #89 on: Apr 29, 2011 01:25 am »

Ep 101/102 review.

Ubern00b reviews Avatar: The Last Airbender

So before we continue, it should be noted that I'm going to be focusing my reviews mostly on the production side of things.  This isn't a deliberate decision, but I find it's the aspect of the show I'm most interested in discussing as everyone else and their mother has already elaborated to high heaven and back regarding the more standard story/character aspects of the show.

So the first ep after the pilot and the show hits the ground running.  It's also the first to be animated by DR Movie, the 2nd tier studio used to create the show and they start out good and strong here.  While the characters are drawn slightly off model, they are consistent and the animation is fluid, though small character moments aren't as frequent.  The battle between Zhao and Zuko is particularly impressive with dynamic camera movement and full animation dollies, however the special screen effect used in the first shot of Zuko's initial volley looked cheap and out of place:



The music continues the use of real instruments, creating real tangible weight to the emotional moments in this episode (and there be some intense moments!) as well as lending an incredible sense of atmosphere to the air temple.  While the aforementioned Zhao/Zuko battle breaks in one of the more iconic battle songs in the series, it's the wind instruments played during the exploration of the temple and the haunting theme played at the end of the episode that really strikes home the incredible talent behind the Track Team.

The character moments were fewer and far between this episode as the plot took front seat to get things moving on this epic.  Sokka had a few moments of impressive self-awareness, but I found his reaction to Aang's Avatar State to be unusually subdued.  It would strike me that being in such a both dangerous and alien situation for him would find him too scared to think straight let alone asking his sister to go over to the raging elemental and ask it to stop.  The relationship between Iroh and Zuko, however was excellently performed.  With very little in the way of dialogue, Iroh established himself as a respected and respectable authority figure well versed in the art of the facade.  Zuko's one line "I will never forget." and it's delivery conveyed real weight to his yet unknown but clearly unpleasant past.  He and Iroh's final scene together would establish with impressive subtlety the foundation between their relations ship for the pretty much the rest of the show.

This ep also began a trend that would follow the rest of the show as well: deconstructing stoicism.  Between Iroh's is-it-deliberate-or-not bumbling and the prankster Gyasto, the show would continue to make a point that just because your old doesn't mean you don't know how to have fun and being wise does not equal being a stick in the mud.

In summation, an impressive piece of work, conveying an impressive amount of information in a very short amount of time through deft writing, excellent direction and fine first outing of animation by DR Movie.  A pity that would not last...

Ep. 104 review.

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« Reply #90 on: May 02, 2011 07:02 am »

When I eventually re-watch the entire series it'll be interesting to see if I pick up on the supposedly poorer animation of DR Movie. I agree in that I thought this episode looked pretty nice - or from what I can remember anyway. Return to Omashu was one that stuck out to me in terms of its sloppier animation on my first watch through :/

the haunting theme played at the end of the episode

This is probably the piece of music, despite its simplicity, that really stuck with me and always hits me - particularly this scene here Sad
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« Reply #91 on: May 05, 2011 09:39 pm »

Aang finding Gyatso's remains (remains surrounded by the destroyed bodies of his attackers, no less) was a major "Well, this is NOT a typical kid's cartoon" moment at the series' beginning.

It wasn't done for shock value, which is even better: the drive is Aang's emotions and his heartbreak. In a media world that so often confuses violence or shock imagery for "maturity", moments like these teach the lesson that any use of such things MUST have a purpose. In this case, Gyatso's bones surrounded by dead Fire Nation soldiers serves a purpose, and isn't simply used as an "OMG EDGEY!" moment.

And since such handling is a big reason why I love the series, this episode gets a solid 9 from me.
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« Reply #92 on: May 09, 2011 01:41 pm »

^that part actually made me cry when I first saw the episode. during the movie however, I was like "He's dead. So what?"
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« Reply #93 on: May 09, 2011 01:48 pm »

^I was JUST thinking about that. Cheesy

In the TV show when Aang discovers the fate of Gyatso and the airbenders, I felt genuinely sad and emotional for him.

In the movie, all I thought was "This is so cheesy and I really don't care..."
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« Reply #94 on: May 09, 2011 01:49 pm »

^I was actually laughing out loud in the movie theatre and the idiots around me were telling me not to laugh during such an emotional scene, which only made me laugh more.
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« Reply #95 on: Sep 22, 2013 02:33 am »

Continuing my second go through with the series...

I've always loved the scenes with the avatar statues.  There's such a sense of weight and history in that room, and when all the lives light up, it's quite a sight.  There's a real sense of history and sadness throughout this episode, and it really makes for one of the heavier ones this early in the series.

I really like that they included the Agni Ki in this episode, because it really established who Zuko is.  He's impulsive, full of bitterness and anger, and always trying to prove himself, but underneath all that is a pretty honorable guy.  He beat Zhao fair and square, but did spare his life, which not many in the Fire Nation would have done.
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« Reply #96 on: Apr 02, 2016 08:21 pm »

I rewatched the first season recently. This episode really stuck out to me. Unfortunately I do not have much to add, considering the excellent points made by some of the above post already. So, I'll just focus on the world building which I thought was really strong. Both Aang and Zuko's plot offered some fascinating insight on their respective cultures. The fact that the production values complimented the content so nicely was a huge bonus.
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« Reply #97 on: Apr 24, 2016 01:31 am »

This episode was great! I really loved how it dealt with a lot of Aang's emotional state. When he saw the skeleton and entered the avatar state it was really cool looking but also really sad on the emotional part. Not saying it didn't have it's funny parts too, for example Aang and Sokka's chase for Momo, and the airball game was fun to watch too.

It was also really cool to see the inside of the temple, and just the world of the airbenders too. I really like how with every episode, and with every new step in their journey, the world is getting bigger and new discoveries are being made. It's a really well made show and I am so happy I decided to get the box set.
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