Sunday, July 15, 2012

111 Girls Who Kick Ass, Number 13: Katara

(Note: I had wanted to make this "Numbers 13-19" and cover all the girls from Avatar in one go, but I just haven't felt up to it. Which is not necessarily an entirely a bad thing, since the part of my brain that cares about writing anything has been mostly absorbed with taking notes on an original story - which, to the shock and awe of absolutely no one, features my own girl who kicks ass - for the past few weeks.)

First things first, she kicks ass as a character. Avatar: The Last Airbender is Aang's story (he's both the Avatar and the last Airbender) (well, the last Airbender until he grows up and has a son, who goes on to have four children . . .), but I would argue that, other than him, Katara is more crucial to it than anyone else.

Or, to say that another way, the show is kinda-sorta the story of Aang as told through Katara. Which I guess doesn't necessarily prove that she kicks ass, but it's a rather nifty storytelling device, and I think that's pretty cool, and who's writing this list again? Oh, right. It's me.


Katara and her brother Sokka (who are probably my favorite set of fictional siblings ever) appear in the very first scene of the very first episode, and remain major characters for the rest of the series. In all that time, does Katara get a single scene where she doesn't kick ass in one way or another?

To start with, let's reflect on that very first scene of the very first episode. If it wasn't for Katara, Aang would've stayed in the iceberg for who knows how long (probably forever) and the war would've gone on indefinitely and the Fire Nation would've subjugated the entire planet. (Or . . . everybody would've learned how to stick up for themselves and do what's right without relying on the Avatar to do all the heavy lifting.*)

Of course, she frees him from the iceberg accidentally, which introduces a somewhat problematic (vaguely Mary Sue-ish) theme for her Waterbending that's played out for the majority of Book One: She's either a hopeless novice who can barely fight her way out of a scrape with more than two non-Benders, or she's A WATERBENDING PRODIGY THE LIKES OF WHICH THIS WORLD HAS NEVER KNOWN omg. Also, she can use her Bending to heal, because hey, why not?

By the end of Book One, the Gaang make it to the North Pole, where they meet a headstrong Waterbending Master. He's honored to teach the Avatar, but he refuses to teach Katara because she's a girl. Apparently, boy Waterbenders are supposed to fight and girl Waterbenders are supposed to heal.


Katara, being Katara, challenges him to a duel, right then and there. (This is one of the best fight scenes in the entire series, by the way. And that's saying something.) She loses, but he does agree to teach her. She then blazes through training and becomes a Master in her own right, and spends Books Two and Three teaching Aang.

Just to recap, she's fourteen years old and teaching the Avatar, the most powerful being on the planet.

That's pretty badass right there.

Look, I could go on and on about how much ass she kicks for quite a while, but I'll limit myself to two more examples (partly because, as much as I love her and love this show, I'm already starting to get bored):

  • In the ENTIRE series, she is the ONLY person to EVER make Azula step back and look nervous during battle.
  • Between this series and The Legend of Korra, there are exactly five Waterbenders who learn the art of Bloodbending (which, by the way, fans had been predicting since day one). Katara is one of them. The other four are evil, or at least morally ambiguous. (This is never spelled out, but I think it's heavily implied that Bloodbending slowly corrupts you - Katara, unlike the other four, only uses it three times.)
So, that's Katara. She kicks ass.

Seriously, if you haven't watched this show already, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?

P.S. Oh, also! Katara is the only character from the original series to appear on Korra in real life (so far) and, not only was she Korra's Waterbending Master (how many Benders can say they've trained two Avatars? I'm guessing not very many), but she is STILL regarded as the best healer in the world.


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