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An analysis of the hero’s journey:Avatar Wan from legend of Korra

Well hello everyone! I hope you are all good…

I would be focusing on the narrative aspect of the hero’s journey by Jospeh Campball and how does it get into Avatar Wan in “Beginnings Part 1 and 2”

Why should I discuss about this theory and Avatar Wan? I remember I was watching these,and I cannot help but to apply the molds of Wan’s story into the “the hero’s journey” from my “The western goes east” class from Simon Weaving. Yes it borrow from many mythologies,like Prometheus and the eastern philosophy of Yin and Yang but the story remains the same.

So what is the hero’s journey? It was created by this American mythologist and lecturer Joseph Campball (Thanks man!)

That is our man!

Well, he gather the structure of the journey of the  hero through his paper “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” after analyzing a whole lot of myths (I mean everyone from Chinese myths of The Monkey King to the Greek’s Prometheus). Of course they are so many variations of that,well like thus

It was famously used in Star Wars

As George Lucas used this module as inspiration for it!

Here is the one I learnt from my class…

It was divided into 3 sections,we have the world (i.e the character’s world),the threshold and the underworld

  • Call to action
  • Reculant
  • Helper
  • Test/Trials
  • Potions/Help
  • Main goal
  • Chase
  • Showdown
  • Give gift to the world
  • Hero’s change (either to go somewhere or perhaps death)

However it may not be filled all of the criteria but it still remains the same.

Now let’s move towards my analysis of Avatar Wan’s journey,feel free to debate with me about that topic.

Hero’s normal World

Looks like Disney leaks in Wan

Looks like Disney leaks in Wan

Wan is a poor peasant,who steals food from the Chus but however we see that he does have a compassionate heart for the animals and his fellow people like Yao and Jayin

Call into action

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Hating to be passive,he decided to “steal” bending from the lion Turtle to benefit his company,by chickening out into the mission. Of course it leads to the revolt with the Chus,however it was unravel when Wan gave mercy to one of them

Recluantcy

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Of course he is unsure how to use his fire while surviving in the forest.

I do also add Wan did not kill the Chu brother

Threshold level

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His banishment is perhaps the entrance to his test/trials

Trials/Tests

Well I think majority of what Wan experienced is mostly trials,there are many but I would bold those that are needed for his character growth

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Survival in the forest

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Saving Mula (It helped him to gain the trust of Aye-Aye)

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entering the spirit oasis

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Wan accidentally releasing Vaatu out of Raava (This is where he realized his true goal of saving the world)

Helper

There is the lion turtle (Because I loved them),who is willing to keep Wan’s power

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We have Aye-Aye and the spirits,there he learnt how to understand their nature

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I would also add the magical spring water as a helper too!

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His companion Mula (he gained a longtime friend)

His training of his fire-bending do save him (and protect his peers)

The Main Goal

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We have the air-village invasion,it urges him to learn the elements within the year (Visit more lion turtles people!)

Now Wan released chaos (i.e Vaatu),now he does need some help again after that Spirit attack in an Air Village. How does Wan,the hero prepare himself to his goal

Potions and Help

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We have Raava,who we can say it was the helper despite her reluctance to Wan in the beginning

We seen more lion turtles! And yes they helped in giving Wan the elements (YES!)

The Chase

Of course to me what really set the chase is perhaps the conflict between his old friend in the past and his spirit friends. It really show how urgent the situation is,and Wan realize it’s a do or die.

Raava is growing smaller!

Wan is unable to handle Raava’s spirit!

The Showdown

It’s pretty obvious it was the Harmonic Coverange

IT’S NOW OR NEVERRRRRRR

O.K we worry if Wan would be able to connect with Raava’s spirit and if Vaatu would destroy the world.

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Wan managed to convince Raava to fuse with him,and of course they kicked butt!

Gift to the world

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Of course he managed to contain chaos,and in result bringing balance in the world. He sealed Vaatu in the tree of Time.

As said in this line (with animation porn) ‘This is my mission: to use Raava’s light spirit to guide the world towards peace.,I would be the bridge between the humans and spirits”

He wanted to maintain diplomatic understanding with spirits and humans

Hero’s change

*cues ugly sobbing*

Now let me dissect why we suddenly feel very sad when Wan is dying alone in the field. He gave this world,a new era through the media,to establish peace and propersity. They do not need to shield with the lion turtles. However he feel that he is unable to contain the “darkness” i.e people’s greed and vices.

As Raava promised Wan in his dying breath “I would be there with you all of your lifetimes

He is given an another shot in maintaining balance with all of the Avatar reincarnations (until much later I would not tell you as I am still recovering on it)

(Screencaps courtesy of AvatarSpirt and gif courtesy of Tumblr)

The hero’s journey would start again,with many….

I know it’s a little cliche,but it really works as Beginnings Pt 1 & 2 are two of my favorite episodes ever. It allows us the viewers to join the character’s journey. We do support him emotionally to see Wan grow as a character.

I hope you guys enjoyed it,by the way feel free to debate on the events of the hero’s journey of Wan. I am more than happy to interpret it.

Kaneda without a Cause

After watching Akira (1988) by Katsuhiro Otomo,I did some reading in IMDB and they say they are connected by Rebel Without A Cause (1955). I thought “hmmm” and I thought of that brillant idea to compare the quintessential 1950’s teenage classic to the anime film Akira. They may be made in different countries and different directors but I feel that both are interlinked in similar ways. So this will be my review/comparison topic for today.

Now I will brief you on the stories of these films

I find this a challenge to summarise Akira because it was pretty complex,so here I go-Set in 2019 Neo-Tokyo. That country suffered the effects of a nuclear bombing from WW3. Anyway we met our two protagonists-Tetsuo and Kaneda,so Tetsuo was sent to a secret venue where he was implanted with supernatural powers that could be equated to God. However he went berserk and his only friend Kaneda have to rescue the world from destruction. This film was a cult-classic and perhaps  catalyzed the love and obsession of anime in the West. This film made Katsuhiro Otomo a name to remembered in the anime world and so many people are influenced by his works.

Now to Rebel Without a Cause,the arch-typical teenage film in the 1950’s. It was a simple story about Jimmy (Played by the amazing James Dean) who have some problems in relating to society and his parents wanted to do anything in order to fit in. It gained it cult status because of James’s sudden death before the première. He was perhaps the model of the teenage-hood during the 50’s:Wayward and perhaps insecure as executed by James Dean’s sheer acting.

O.K if I just mention James Dean,everyone would totally think of that image of James Dean wearing that red wind-breaker with the simplest t-shirt and jeans. It was rebellious and it was so classic that I wanted to emulate in my dressing for myself. Actually Ray wanted to make this film in Black and White,however when Ray tried colour film-they have to think quickly for Jim’s outfit. Rumours said that he bought it from a Red Cross outfit and that is how it was born.

While James Dean have that famous jacket,Kaneda have his own red motorcycle suit.Well expect he have the capsule pill on his back which will be the recurring motif for the film on the psychic kids have to be dependent on medicine. It was interesting that it could be linked to imperialism as the japanese flag have the red sun as their motif. Even his motorcycle was also red too,if you are not wowed by that famous scene when Kaneda drove his motorcycle. Then I don’t know who would it be. I think Otomo subconsciously used that jacket image we get from James Dean to bring his idea about the alienated youth.

Secondly it was the complexity of the relationship between Plato and Jimbo can be similar to Tetsuo and Kaneda. We know that both came from dsyfunctional families.In Rebel Without a Cause for Jim-he have the difficulty to relate to his father who was passive. According to Senses of Cinema article “Finding the Father: A Psychoanalytic Study of Rebel Without a Cause”-Chris Wood added that ” his father lacks the courage to act upon it. For Jim, even the word “chicken” sends him into violent bursts, as it conjures up negative images of his father, who is “hen-pecked” by Jim’s mother. “She eats him alive,” Jim tells Juvenile Officer Ray, “and he takes it. He always wants to be my pal…If he had the guts to knock Mom cold once, then maybe she’d be happy…I’d never want to be like him.” He added his case with an analysis from Vicky Lebeau on Dean’s character that there is a “‘palpable desire’ for parental authority, and the alternative family set up by the adolescent rebel.” On the otherhand Plato’s father could be either absent or deceased,he craved that attention from the parents that Chris added that the acting of murdering the puppies could be seen as “Plato’s scrutiny of, and contempt for, any paternal gesture of kindness.” So they co-related each other as they wanted to have a secure family and a paternal feeling. It could be almost sexual as many theorised Rebel Without a Cause in regards to teh relationship between Plato and Jim. That energy was also felt in the set itself as recounted by Sal Mieno (Plato) on working his co-actor James Dean “I was in incredible awe of him. I was fascinated by him. I think it was sexual to an extent, but I had no idea or any understanding of affection between men. I really gave him hero worship, and I recognized later what it was, but the feeling then was that I couldn’t wait to just get near him… It was only years later that I understood I was incredibly in love with him.”

On the other-hand Akira is very different from Rebel Without a Cause if Plato really depended on Jim to be the fatherly figure that he could not have, Testsuo wanted to rebel from Kaneda-the father figure. In one scene when Tetsuo kept on punching one the Clowns bike gang member as a form of revenge,Kanada try to intervene the meaningless killing-“Do you wanted to get him killed,that is enough” and there he attacked him back “Do you know I was let-down,I don’t want you to protect me.” It seems that Testsuo desired the parental power that Kaneda have,he keep on swearing that he would acquaint with that power. Of he did through the “experiement” in the lab and he did gain that power. However it proved to be detrimental for Tetsuo as he suffered hallucinatory nightmares of his powers (thanks to the growth-regressed espers) and he formed to a mutated creature. Just like Plato in the end when he got accidentally shot by the police,Tetsuo disappeared or “died” from the existence of Neo-Tokyo. It is interesting that their relationship does not have an erotic energy as it was perhaps played down to show how humanity used its power.

Both Jim and Kaneda have almost similar character growth process,while Jim’s sensitive personality formed the new image of the masculine image during the 50’s by his ambiguous personality and a softer approach. Kanada is perhaps your typical brash Shoenen (Boys’ manga) male character-very brash and yet super loyal to his “nakama” which was pretty much the opposite to Dean’s image. However they have to reach a point of maturity when they navigate what the world is. For Jim,it is the realization that he must take up his role as ‘a man’ and learn how to take full responsibility to his actions. Chris Woods cite the ending of Rebel with this quote of the growth of Jim-“Jim’s covering Plato’s corpse with his jacket is a last display of paternal love for his fallen friend, and in a symbolic display of adult initiation, Jim’s father wraps his own jacket around his son’s shoulders. “Whatever comes we’ll face it together,” he assures Jim. “I’ll try to be as strong as you want me to be.” Jim’s father is now willing to help guide Jim into the symbolic world, although the boy seems to have made it there already.”  It showed about Jim’s maturity to take in responsibility in the world unlike Plato who wanted to retreat to his childhood. On the other-hand Kaneda have his growth as a character as he questioned on the power of that so-called “Akira” and the power of humanity when it encounters science. There is one scene when he recalled Kei saying the same line as one of the espers on humanity and how they used that power. He questioned what is that power on how it was used. We can see it in the end when Kei rescued Kaneba and he witnessed the shirking of his world and of course the inevitable disappearance of Tetsuro. As one of his motorcycle gang memebers asked “Where is Tetsuro” and just like Jim in Rebel,he gave a response to him “He disappeared.” and there was a happier ending as Neo-Tokyo have a brighter outlook unlike the somber ending of Rebel Without A Cause. In the end Kaneda and his companions can ride to the world safely thanks to Tetsuro and the espers’ sacrifice to save humanity.

In conclusion,it seems why there is a connection of Rebel Without a Cause and Akira despite being separate in genres and countries. I think Otomo wanted to use Ray’s teen angst to highlight the theme of Akira, externalism of humanity and its power. Whenever it was that familiar homage to that red windbreaker that James Dean wore during his rebellion with Kaneda’s motorcycle suit. Or the dymanics between Tetsuro and Kaneda that could be viewed as the father-son relationship without the homosexual edge. Even the way Kaneda developed as a character could echoed Jim’s growth to maturity. So I will end this comparison with the quote from one of the esepers Kiyoko that could summarise the aspect of Akira and rebel without a cause “The future is not a straight line. It is filled with many crossroads. There must be a future that we can choose for ourselves. ” Basically it just simply boiled down to personal choice and the journey the characters have to take. Is it why we enjoyed watching films,because we could relate to the main characters emotionally and mentally.

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