Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Warriors of Kyoshi
March 2, 2015 6:40 AM - Season 1, Episode 4 - Subscribe

The elephant koi call Aang's name as the Avatar, Sokka and Katara, arrive at Kyoshi island as part of Aang's to do list. Almost immediately the gang is captured by fierce green clad, fan wielding women, the Kyoshi Warriors, who teach Sokka that dressing like a girl also means dressing like a warrior. While Aang is celebrated as the Avatar, Zuko is alerted to his presence on Kyoshi island and sets out to capture the air bending Avatar. Also, foaming at the mouth guy.

Noteworthy Events!
  • We visit the home of the Avatar Kyoshi, whose statute was visible in the background in the inner sanctuary of the Southern Air Temple.
  • Unagi, the name of the giant sea monster in the bay, is also Japanese for eel.
  • This is the first time we meet Suki, the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, who will return later in the show.
  • And yes, this is the first time we meet the infamous foaming at the mouth guy!
The Warriors of Kyoshi are available on Amazon Prime Instant Video and on Netflix in the UK.
posted by Atreides (23 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just feel the need to say: SOKKA SOKKA SOKKA SOKKA SOKKA.

This episode turned me into a Sokka fan.

Also, I adore the fact that everyone is so impressed by the fact that Kyoshi had the largest feet of any Avatar. (Wan: First Avatar: Korra: Giant Blue Avatar. Kyoshi: LARGEST FEET YOU LOSERS.)
posted by instead of three wishes at 7:10 AM on March 2, 2015

Four episodes in, and they make a great episode that addresses notions of gender roles (women sew and men fight) and the importance of strength (not that important, when it can be used against you), and not in an after school special sort of way. Plus, Sokka can be humble and learn (he isn't always an idiot), Aang is susceptible to the charms of adoration and hero worship, and Zuko is trying to find peace within himself.

Yet, there are some awesomely cartoony moments: Aang's silly face when he spins marbles, foaming at the mouth guy, and Aang running away from the unagi come to mind. So good!
posted by filthy light thief at 7:34 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Glad to see that Suki will be back. I hope it's to continue to keep Sokka in line.

The gender roles bit is interesting - Sokka's obviously the most vocal, but Aang often treats Katara like his mom ("Katara, you've gotta watch me!" before he goes surfing on the elephant koi) and she seems OK with it so far. (Resigned, maybe?)

It didn't take Kyoshi guy too long to be convinced that Aang is the Avatar - one moment suspended in the air, and there you go. I guess it would be a very different show if Aang had to convince everyone.

Best animals were the Fire Nation's battle rhinos, because those things are awesome. Appa being groomed and the unagi were a close second.
posted by minsies at 9:09 AM on March 2, 2015

I liked the use of a common theme between Aang's and Sokka's storylines in this episode — both had to overcome their pride and learn some humility, albeit in different ways.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 10:14 AM on March 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

According to this interview, Foaming Mouth Guy came about because Konietzko and DiMartino let the Korean animation studio have a lot of leeway and improvise. It's kind of fun to dig in and see what exactly made Avatar different, and a lot of it does seem to come down to treating their animators like people.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:41 AM on March 2, 2015 [6 favorites]

That's frickin' aweseome, dinty_moore. The parabolic curve in "treating animators like people" seemed to have peaked when classic Disney animators were recognized, and has now bottomed out with "let's ship the grunt-work jobs overseas and call it a day."
posted by filthy light thief at 11:08 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I tossed a longer recap/thoughts on the episode here, but here are some quick/shorter thoughts?

While Katara definitely seems ready to start wearing mom jeans as the show progresses (it's actually an element of an episode way down the line from now), Aang's desperate attempts to get her attention are based on his crush on her. It's played out against this adoring fans, where they want the cheap thrills, but Katara doesn't care or approve until Aang selflessly acts to save the village from fire at the end.

The little humor in the episode is always injected at great times, be it Zuko's decision to keep the fish for later, the portrait of the Avatar scene or the foaming mouth guy.

Sokka definitely shined through with his character, contrasted wonderfully by his bigoted opinion at the opening and his humble request to be taught by Suki later in the episode. What happens when he full embraces the Kyoshi ideal? He gets a smooch from their leader. Yes, guys, be feminist and girls will like you!

The episode strongly introduced the idea that women can be strong and powerful warriors. We have Avatar Kyoshi to start with, reasserting that women can be avatars, as well as men. Then we have the warriors who go head to head against the attacking Fire Nation troops, and of course, Sokka's own initiation to this idea. It's an ongoing theme in the Last Airbender and carried on in the Legend of Korra. If I have a daughter in the future, I hope to sit and watch this show with her (same goes for any future son, for the same reason).

Shout out to the background animation guys for the work in this episode. It was awesome to see the painting of the Kyoshi statue in the background while Katara and Aang ate with the window behind them.
posted by Atreides at 11:51 AM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Foaming mouth guy! Looking forward to seeing Mr. Cabbage again.

An excellent quote which really differentiates this series from a lot of toxic "I'm not like the other girls" stuff:

Sokka: I treated you like a girl when I should've treated you like a warrior.
Suki: I am a warrior. But I'm a girl, too.

I like that there are kickass girls and women in this world who strongly identify as both. And I love Sokka's role here, showing that the characters will be given so much space to grow.

On the other hand, Katara mothering a majorly-crushing Aang is my very least favorite plot bit in the whole series and I grumble through every single one. It's one of the few sour notes for me. (I'll try not to complain about it every single time, but a lot of the business in this episode revolves around it.)
posted by tchemgrrl at 1:04 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I like that Suki made Sokka wear the woman's outfit, a move with sound pedagogical underpinnings that nonetheless can still be interpreted via either of two wildly incompatible frames. Is she:

(a) hoping to teach the sexist blowhard a lesson by humiliating him, full stop, or
(b) hoping to teach the sexist blowhard enough humility to recognize the outfit for what it is: a warrior's uniform?

The fact that the second verson turns out to be closer to the truth makes Suki a much more interesting character, and the fact that Sokka is able to absorb the lesson makes him a much more likeable character. Although, given how Suki trounces Sokka during their first impromptu sparring match, it's maybe most likely that she started out feeling (a) and had it turn into (b) over time.

And wearing the outfit aslo plays interestingly alongside the scene in the second episode where Sokka is preparing his Southern tribe warpaint while getting ready for his first battle.

Basically, at any given moment in an episode of Avatar I'm probably all wrapped up in the narrative of one of the supporting characters. Aang's a charming kid, but it's his effect of his presence on the people around him that makes him interesting, so it matters a lot to have the people around him be compelling characters.
posted by Ipsifendus at 1:13 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

Ah! Ah! This was the episode that really had me falling head over heels with the series. The characters showed depth. They learned from their mistakes! Kiyoshi was introduced, and she is awesome.

I really love how this show shows awesome, tough lady characters who are also women, into feminine things. Especially when it's treated as something that is what it is.
posted by PearlRose at 1:45 PM on March 2, 2015

I love Kyoshi Island, I adore Suki, I want to hang out with elephant koi, and Aang's little marble trick is awesome.

This is such a great episode because it really lets you know where the show is going, how they want it to be. As tchemgrrl quoted: "I am a warrior. But I'm a girl too."

And secretly? There isn't enough Sokka/Suki involving the Kyoshi warrior outfits. Not that I'm obsessively checking, nope.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:57 PM on March 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I love that Suki isn't an untouchable badass, but is human enough to get miffed/defensive when Sokka manages to throw her. It's the little details like that that make even the relatively minor recurring cast members feel like real people who have their own stuff going on.

I also love Zuko saving the fish for later -- I'd forgotten that exchange! -- and the candle meditation (that proves to be next to useless).
posted by bettafish at 5:30 PM on March 2, 2015

As a tangent on elephant koi, they are mentioned in Book 3 of Legend of Korra in Zaofu, when the Beifongs serve Korra and everyone elephant koi steaks.

At the time, people thought that Suyin might be evil. When they said "Mm, delicious elephant koi steaks," I went "EVIL SHE'S EVIL OH MY GOD HOW COULD SHE"

I like fish.
posted by Katemonkey at 1:10 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

I love that Aang never changed. (Spoilers, I guess, for Korra? Really minor, though. Atreides mentions this in their great tumblr post, but I just really like the video!)
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:53 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

Hey, after seeing serious dour Aang and his little ridiculous beard and how he wasn't the greatest parent ever, it was really really nice to see that, yeah, he was still that big stupid dork who loved to do that trick.

You just know that was one of the first things he taught Tenzin.
posted by Katemonkey at 3:33 AM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Is anyone else having trouble sticking to the schedule, by the way? Must not... watch more until Thursday...
posted by bettafish at 3:34 AM on March 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

You're not alone, bettafish!
posted by minsies at 3:39 AM on March 3, 2015

It's definitely a show made for binge watching....you just want to watch and watch and watch. On the bright side, Katemonkey drew up a nice schedule for her and me to follow, where she made sure the two parters are paired together!

Older Aang: Tenzin, my boy, come over here!

Young Tenzin: What is it, dad?

Older Aang: I've noticed the way you and Toph's daughter, Lin get along...

::Aang grins and nudges a blushing Tenzin in the side with an elbow:::

Young Tenzin: Aw....Dad, we're just friends!

Older Aang: ...well, if you ever want to be more than friends, let me show you this simple little trick...
posted by Atreides at 7:10 AM on March 3, 2015 [4 favorites]

Oh, yes, I'm a first-time viewer, and I'm currently two episodes ahead of the rewatch here and struggling not to go even further ahead (lest the most recent posted episode fade too much from my memory). I'm having to remind myself that there are other shows I'm watching as well, and I can watch some of those instead of more A:TLA.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:03 AM on March 3, 2015

Pro Tip: Watch ahead, then come back and re-watch again in advance of Fanfare posting!
posted by Atreides at 11:18 AM on March 3, 2015

The first time I watched this show* I was on spring break visiting my brother in New York City and he pulled out his season 1 & 2 DVD cases and suggested I give it a try. Um... I didn't get that much touristing done that week.

*Aside from one ep I randomly caught on TV, but we'll get to that.
posted by bettafish at 2:09 PM on March 3, 2015

Heh, the first time I watched the show, I was on winter break and was idly checking it out because I heard it was good from some people I trusted. I had honestly expected to bounce off of it, because after a childhood of watching a lot of anime and other cartoons, I felt like I had grown out of them and that they couldn't sustain my interest any more. Not so much. I watched the whole damn series in the course of a few days.

And thanks to A:tLA, I was willing to give other animated shows a fair shake, and have really enjoyed the likes of Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Over the Garden Wall, Gravity Falls, and others.
posted by yasaman at 5:43 PM on March 3, 2015 [2 favorites]

Pro Tip: Watch ahead, then come back and re-watch again in advance of Fanfare posting!

I'm totally doing that. We were in the middle of Book 3 on our most recent Avatar re-watch timed to match these brilliant Avatar Newbie Recaps on The Mary Sue, and then this re-watch was announced, and well. Another rewatch? Of course, if FanFare insists... (Thank goodness the series is on Amazon Prime or I'd totally have to buy a new box set by now. )
posted by PearlRose at 11:48 AM on March 4, 2015 [1 favorite]

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