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A guide to the world of The Last Airbender

02 Sep

The folks at Coventry Telegraph just published an lengthy guide to M.Night Shyamlan’s THE LAST AIRBENDER – adapted from the Nickelodeon animated series – four nations represent the elements of air, water, earth and fire.

The Fire Nation launches a brutal war against the others and a century passes with no end in sight to the destruction.

Then a boy called Aang (Noah Ringer) discovers he is the lone Avatar with the power to manipulate all four elements. He joins forces with a waterbender called Katara (Nicola Peltz) and her brother Sokka (Jackson Rathbone) to restore balance to their wartorn world.

We have been sent a rather handy guide to the world presented in the film and, whether you’ve seen the movie or not, it’s interesting and informative enough to share with you here… read more about the world of The Last Airbender

FIRE NATION

Power sources
Firebenders draw their energy from a variety of sources and the size of the source determines how much fire can be manipulated by the art of bending. For instance, bending fire from a candle will not be as strong or powerful as bending from a forest fire. Experts benders such as Zuko and Uncle Iroh possess unique abilities to increase and even create fire. These powerful benders derive their energy from their inner chi – as well as the cosmos including the sun and comets.

The Fire Nation Navy
Commander Zhao is the leader of the powerful Fire Nation Navy. The armada of the Fire Nation is armed, equipped and vast – and can cover large distances quickly. The Navy is a good example of the Fire Nation’s industrial might and their approach is sometimes signalled by black ash falling from the sky.

Fire Nation Ships
The massive ships in armada of the Fire Nation have been crafted purposely from solid iron to both resist attacks and to prevent earthbender, waterbender and airbender prisoners from escaping by using their bending abilities. Metal is impermeable to these elements. The ships are fuelled by firebending heat from coal to make steam – these vessels have the ability to break through the frozen seas of the Polar regions.

Komodo rhino
Komodo Rhinos are large beasts with long and powerful tails that the Fire Nation often uses in large scale battles. These relentless beasts wear armor and are often employed by the military for overcoming steep walls and vertical surfaces – a fast and ferocious transport vehicle exclusive to Firebenders.

Strengths
Firebenders’ greatest strength is the fact that their element can continue doing damage after the bending has stopped: fire can cause destruction even on its own. Combining this quality with the techniques of a masterful bender who draws energy from one’s inner chi can result in a spectacular and lethal combination.

Weaknesses
Darkness and eclipses of the sun can weaken a Firebender’s abilities as they draw upon the power of the cosmos. Firebenders are also vulnerable to the waterbenders’ ability to extinguish flames with their element. Because of their strong and aggressive nature, firebenders are traditionally lacking in defensive moves, which can also leave them vulnerable in one-on-one battles.

Characters:
Zuko – Despite his youth, Prince Zuko is highly skilled in Firebending and is capable of holding his own against benders more experienced than himself due to his adaptability and undying resolve. Having been shamed and outcast by his nation, Zuko has a lot at stake and it is his mission to regain his honour in his father’s eyes. His fiery inner drive and determination brings him closer every day to capturing the Avatar.

Iroh – Prince Zuko’s uncle Iroh is a benevolent and spiritual Firebending master as well as a retired General of the Fire Nation (and older brother of Fire Lord Ozai). Iroh is like a father to Zuko and accompanies his exiled nephew on his quest to capture the Avatar. Uncle Iroh also wants to help restore the young prince’s honor, but finds it more important to guide him whenever he can along the way morally and spiritually – and teach him the real meaning of honour.

Zhao – Commander Zhao is the egotistical, self-gratifying leader of the powerful Fire Nation Navy and believes in the unequivocal dominion of the Fire Nation over the other weaker nations. He is also a smouldering thorn in Zuko’s side and wishes to take Zuko’s place next to the Fire Lord. Zhao furthermore stands in the way of Zuko capturing Aang and sometimes exhibits a dangerous lack of self-control with his fiery temper.

AIR NOMAD

Airbending Techniques
Airbending is a highly versatile form of martial arts, mainly used for defensive manoeuvres and to aid in travel and motion. An airbender can move faster and jump higher and farther by creating circular wind gusts to enhance his motion, kicking up dirt and dust in the process. The Last Airbender can do much more, including running up vertical surfaces by generating a wind current behind him and gliding across the sky (with the aid of a staff).

The Avatar State
When his emotions are in turmoil – Aang’s eyes turn white-hot and his tattoos glow and he enters the Avatar state. This high-energy state can cause untold destruction and is exhausting for Aang to endure as it creates a bridge to the Spirit World and his hard to control. The Avatar state is triggered by extreme physical or emotional stress and unlocks the enormous powers of all the previous Avatars at once in Aang.

Staff
Although it does not possess any magical properties, an airbender’s staff can transform mechanically into a small glider. To propel the glider, Aang controls air currents to sustain flights over limited distances. If necessary, airbenders can also use their staffs to enhance the power of their defensive air blasts in a fight with the Fire Nation.

Monks
The Air Nomads are a peaceful order of Monks that meditate upon the harmony and wonder of nature and have learned how to harness the power of air currents. Unlike children of the other nations, all air nomads are born with airbending abilities.

Sky Bison
Six-legged flying bison were benevolent but intelligent creatures from which the air benders originally learned how to bend air. The arrow tattoos used by Air Nomads were adapted from the markings on this once plentiful creature. Flying bison are paired for life with monks as they come of age and they can travel long distances using their wide tails to navigate air currents.

Winged Lemurs
Winged lemurs were the air nomad children’s favorite pets a long time ago. Fun, playful, and highly social, these flying lemurs were trained by airbenders to perform many helpful tasks, including alerting others to Fire Nation danger nearby.

Characters:
Aang – Aang is a simple 12 year old monk that is also the current incarnation of the Avatar. Born an airbender, Aang was unable to accept his destiny at such a young age and ran away. 100 years later he is found and must accept his role to bring balance back to the warring world. Sokka and Katara are like family to Aang, and help him along the way.

Appa – Appa is Aang’s sky bison, a sacred animal of the Air Nomads. Aang chose him from the Eastern Air Temple when Appa was just a pup. Once chosen a sky bison is a beloved companion for life. In a fight, Appa can be ferocious.

Momo – Momo is a winged lemur Aang found at the abandoned Southern Air Temple when he went looking for his old teacher. Momo has an incredible sense of hearing and smell and can alert people of danger from miles away. He also has quite an appetite.

WATER TRIBE

Water Kingdom insignia
The symbol of the Water Tribes is a circle created by a crescent moon and ocean waves. The insignia represents the Moon Spirit and the Ocean Spirit, who together provide life and power to the Water Nation and guide their beliefs. They coexist in harmony, the moon’s force exerting a pushing and pulling motion on the ocean in the form of tides. This motion is the foundation for the art of waterbending. The Water Tribes’ belief in peaceful cooperation among all nations stems from the relationship between these two powerful and balanced spirits.

Location
The Southern Water Tribe is located at the South Pole and the Northern Water Tribe is found at the North Pole. The Southern Water Tribe has been ravaged from the war and mostly lives in primitive conditions – whereas the Northern Water Tribe is surrounded by a fortress and has built larger structures to protect themselves from the Fire Nation. In both locations the terrain is snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, giant glaciers and endless ice. The weather is cold and harsh in both regions, with snow falling year round – though in the summer, the North experiences milder days than the South.

Strengths
A Waterbender’s power comes from a limitless internal life energy which is known as chi. Because of this, the Bender’s power and ability is often tied to his or her emotional state. For instance, when a less experienced waterbender gets angry, his or her waterbending force may increase in intensity, but control will be lost. Waterbenders also possess the unique ability to increase circulation and ‘heal’ the body through bending because the body is 75 per cent water. Waterbenders are the most powerful when the moon is full (as only the moon and the Avatar has the power to push and pull the tides of the ocean.)

The Water Scroll
The legends of the Water Tribes states that long ago, thieves stole a very valuable scroll from a Waterbender of the Northern Tribe. The parchment contained several ancient waterbending techniques, including the single water whip, which some believed was lost forever.

Waterbending
A waterbender can control water in any of its forms, as a liquid, solid (ice or snow), or gas (steam) – including from moisture in the air and ground. This gives the waterbender a variety of defensive as well as offensive moves to draw from. Waterbending is rooted in the ancient martial art of Tai Chi – with long graceful moves and limitless internal power.

Weakness
One potential weakness waterbenders face is the possibility that they are in a place where no water is found. Just In case there is not enough moisture around, smart waterbenders like Katara carry skins filled with water to defend themselves from the Fire Nation at all times.

Characters:
Katara – grew up as the mature, motherly figure of her family and tribe. When Katara was very young her mother was killed in a Fire Nation raid, and her father went off to fight against the Fire Nation. They currently live with Grandma and though her interests lie in developing her waterbending skills to become a warrior, her brother Sokka thinks that brains are more important than bending. Katara keeps her mother’s necklace (passed down from generations) around her neck at all times, and carries a silk pouch of water just in case.

Sokka – His most prized possession is his boomerang, a traditional Water Tribe weapon given to him by his father. Unlike his younger sister Katara, he does not posses any bending abilities – and thinks that waterbending sometimes brings more trouble than solutions. Sokka believes that planning strategies and thinking things through is the smart way to fight against the Fire Nation. He’ll do anything to protect his family and friends and has no problem taking on soldiers with his bare hands and warrior tactics if necessary.

Princess Yue – was born to Northern Water Tribe royalty with an unknown sickness and her condition was critical. When the Tribe’s healers failed to cure her, the King prayed to the Moon Spirit in desperation, and placed her in an oasis at the spiritual centre of the North Pole. The Moon Spirit gifted her with part of its own life force, saving her and turning her hair white. Grateful, her parents named her Yue, after the moon.

EARTH KINGDOM

Location
The Earth Kingdom is by far the largest of all the four nations and stretches across a vast expanse of varied landscapes, cultures and peoples.

Cultures
Though the Earth Kingdom is ruled by a monarchy, the distinct cultures of the Earth Nation are several and varied with a range of classes. One region is distinctly different than the next in terms of mythology, physical likeness and cultural traditions. Earthbenders however share in common a deep connection to the earth and a firm commitment to resist the Fire Nation and protect their cities and villages by any means necessary.

Earthbending techniques
Earthbenders root their powerful bending abilities deeply within the earth itself. They can strike the ground with their hands or feet, manipulating the dirt and stone beneath them. For instance, stomping the ground hard can cause an earthen wall or a boulder to shoot up, which can then be kicked at the Fire Nation.

Weakness
Earthbender’s most significant weakness is their inability to manipulate metal, which has been exploited by the Fire Nation through metal armouries, ships and metal-fortified prisons which keep the earthbenders from being able to fight back.

Earth Kingdom insignia
The symbol of the Earth Kingdom is a square inside a circle, representing the depths of the earth and rocks which earthbenders draw from to defend themselves, as well as the depth of their commitment to a civilised, peaceful and productive way of life.

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