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Offline Seluna

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Re: Amon
« Reply #20 on: January 05, 2013, 09:51:36 AM »
Oh, Amon/Noatak. Let me just preface this by saying – yes, I am a fan. But honestly I am a fan because his character intrigues me so damn much. And it honestly has more so than any character in Avatar save Aang himself. I respect all the opinions presented here, so I’m just going to share mine, too.

I hear people say a lot of the time that they wished Amon had just been Amon – as in the identity Amon fabricated for himself on stage: a poor (presumably) Earth Kingdom boy from a far who’s family was brutally murdered, left horrifically scarred, and full of hatred for benders. While I agree that this plot would have been interesting also, I find Noatak’s storyline more intriguing because of the themes it dares to touch on – which to me, weighed far deeper than previous abuse and bad parenting seen in Avatar. This was abuse and psychological manipulation in ways that are pretty messed up: not only was pain, punishment, and mental anguish forced on these children, they were forced to hurt eachother. They were told they were tools. They were told they had no other purpose in life other than to enact revenge for their father. They looked forward to no other perks like Azula and Zuko could have foreseen in the thrown: these children were being forced into a life of crime, spilled blood, and darkness. There was nothing to even look forward to if they did succeed, other than more pain and coercion from Yakone - who would obviously use them as figureheads in a new Red Monsoon dynasty. They were pawns, nothing more: certainly no longer his sons.

To me, Amon is the most believable and frightening villain of the Avatar universe for several reasons. His age, stature, abilities, and overall presence command power. He’s a believable leader of a radical political regime who goes to extreme measures for his cause. Pretty much the ultimate badass. While I loved Azula’s character, she never inspired the same feelings of fear Amon brought out in me as a viewer.

He was portrayed as tough and infallible, someone capable of haunting not only your dreams but your entire psyche. He was definitely intriguing and not only for the sake of his mask. The fact that Amon was so skilled in bending, martial arts involving chi blocking, and had studied every bending movement and pressure point down to an exact science was impressive. Let alone how he figured out how to use bloodbending to block the physical links to the chakras that inhibit bending. He was intellectually smart, but really failed on the consequential results of some his actions: which I'll touch on more.

Personally, this is where Noatak gets intriguing to me: how inconsistent he is despite how smart he’s proven himself to be. Where some might view this as a flaw, I see it as strength in the show’s realism: a realistic and poignant interpretation of someone suffering the side effects from serious mental issues from his abuse – and not in a glamorous way. We all can clearly identify him as a classic manipulator and liar, and see all of Yakones traits bubbling to the surface no matter how far he tries to distance himself from the cruelty of his father - ironically in the name of equality and fair treatment.

In the beginning, I think Noatak felt incredibly strongly about non-bender oppression, feeling a connection in the poor souls who were taken advantage of by bending triads and gang warfare – a problem prevalent in other parts of the world and not just Republic City: a problem that nearly exterminated a fourth of the entire world’s population. Noatak identified with all these lost souls and viewed them as his new Tarrlok – something he needed to protect from bullies and people who abuse their power. Running away from his brother and leaving him with Yakone in the face of fight or flight obviously induced great guilt in Noatak and added to his long list of mental anguish and collapse. I think calling his followers ‘brothers and sisters’ was far more important than we might realize on the surface because of all this.

But as time goes on, Noatak’s issues and mental collapse send him spiraling down further and further. He tries his best to keep cool and reserved, but he is so contradictory, which I attribute to all his lingering emotional turmoil. He’s almost impossible to understand, just like a real person experiencing this kind of mental illness would be – because every aspect of his character contradicts another part of his personality. He’s composed of many layers: the sweet, caring brother from the north who loves his brother and wants to protect him, the bloodbending Prodigy his father bred him to be and forced upon him from a young age, the rebellious teenager who opposed his father’s wishes and ran away forfeiting all he loved in the name of regaining control of his own destiny, and finally the masked madman who ultimately resorts to using his fathers talents to further a cause. Justifying a bad act because the end result will be ‘good’.

The mask is not just indicative of his desire to remain hidden to the outside world and portect his identity – it’s a symbol of his whole persona. We as an audience never knew Noatak. We only knew the various ‘masks’ people forced upon him. He never got to tell us his own story – we were only told by other people throughout the course of ALOK. And to me, that’s what made his end so tragic. Even after running away from Yakone and becoming the leader of the revolution, the expectations and demands of others still weighed down heavily upon him. I think that with his emotional trauma he never was one to take the ‘pressure to perform’ well and would always resort to extreme measures to gain approval: good or bad.

I suppose we’ll never truly know whether or not the Equalist movement’s cause was completely pure, but I do believe in my heart of hearts that it started out that way. It may have been tainted with a little daddy-rage, I’m sure, but I think he wanted to turn his curse into a blessing somehow. Perhaps he reasoned that he would only use the psychic bloodbending technique when necessary and very subtly, which is why he studied chi-blocking and martially arts so thoroughly. I have a theory that the combination of these skills ultimately allowed him to create his signature de-bending move, and later on he implemented that as part of the ‘solution’.

I was slightly surprised when Noatak seemed (on a bse level) to just be power-hungry and reckless like every other stereotypical villain in the finale episode: but my gut told me that assumption wasn't quite right. The second time around I began to see a lot more complexity in his actions and reactions. It’s unclear whether or not losing the Equalist movement really even meant that much to him … which I found odd on the surface, but really made a lot of sense as far as his mental issues are concerned.

We know so little about Noatak, but we do know he has a habit to zigzag all over the place and not think things through. He looks for short term solutions and instant fixes despite however much he’s an expert tactician. Look at the evidence: running away and calling his brother weak after bloodbending his father to protect Tarrlok and allow him safe passage out of their abuse cycle, not taking into account that debending benders wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of more benders from being produced (as two nonbenders are capable of producing bending children,) that bombing the city didn’t exactly bode well for an era of peace and prosperity, etc. He’s rash and reckless – he hits hard and causes scenes, getting his points across through force and charisma. But longterm – he didn’t think his revolution through.

My guess is that he would have been too paranoid to pass on his knowledge to a successor and create an anti-avatar cycle. And I say this because I think he would have conflicting emotions about it – first being the memories of abuse and forced handling through Yakone, and secondly his own worry about being overthrown.

When Amon is unmasked and rises out of that water … we see the layers I was talking about from earlier come back into play. The scared little Water Tribe boy from the North – that’s what we see written all over his face. He’s ashamed and helpless and scared when he rises above to see the mess he’s created; the hate and rage on everyone’s faces. He knows he messed up – and what’s worse is I think he finally realizes here how much he didn’t think things through. Once again he resorts to running. And instead of leaving his brother again (like easily could have) he risks everything, returning to Air Temple Island to retrieve him. In the end – we always return to family.

I also want to talk a little bit about the ending scene with Noatak and Tarrlok in the boat, too. In these few moments, we see Noatak as Noatak. We finally hear him – the real him – and not through anyone else. He seems genuinely excited about a second chance and just enthralled to be with his brother. I think he is just so overcome with the fact that he IS Noatak again. Hearing his name makes him smile for probably the first time in ages – he feels free. He feels like he’s reliving that intitial runaway, this time with his beloved brother, genuinely beliving they can regroup and start over and finally have control over their own lives…

And perhaps they could have. I believe the question of whether redemption is possible for these brothers should be another topic, but my belief is yes. With gentleness, care, and the help of the Avatar herself.

Amon was an incredibly interesting character for me and I believe his character as so much more potential to be explored – whether it’s in spirit form in season two or just by way of fan analysis and fiction. He is fascinating and there’s no doubt about that in my mind.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2013, 10:59:21 AM by Seluna »

Offline Blu

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Re: Amon
« Reply #21 on: January 05, 2013, 10:45:36 AM »
weighed far deeper than previous ‘bad parenting’ seen in Avatar.

Seluna I'm just going to have to stop you there for a second.

Burning half your child's face off = 'bad parenting'? =p

Offline Seluna

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Re: Amon
« Reply #22 on: January 05, 2013, 10:54:46 AM »
weighed far deeper than previous ‘bad parenting’ seen in Avatar.

Seluna I'm just going to have to stop you there for a second.

Burning half your child's face off = 'bad parenting'? =p
it says abuse right after. meh. I messed up on my formatting.

Offline Blu

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Re: Amon
« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2013, 11:40:55 AM »
I agree that his ambiguity was his strength as a character.

BUT

I also think that they revealed a little too much for me to still buy into him as an ambiguous figure. It seemed like his back story was meant to answer questions for us, but ended up creating more.

Do you think were meant to take Tarrlok's word for the fact that he believes in his cause? Because I think we are. But then we see him resorting to bending in order to carry it out.

Maybe he planned to de-bend himself after he was done with everyone else?

Offline Fourtune

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Re: Amon
« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2013, 01:02:59 PM »
I agree that his ambiguity was his strength as a character.

BUT

I also think that they revealed a little too much for me to still buy into him as an ambiguous figure. It seemed like his back story was meant to answer questions for us, but ended up creating more.

Do you think were meant to take Tarrlok's word for the fact that he believes in his cause? Because I think we are. But then we see him resorting to bending in order to carry it out.

Maybe he planned to de-bend himself after he was done with everyone else?

But then, would he have? That's the question that Av, A6, and especially Seluna's essays all justifiably raise when I think about that. Would he have actually gone through with de-bending himself or would he have reasoned out the fact that new benders can be born every day so a reverse bender (namely: HIM) needs to always be there? If the former, is even he qualified or skilled enough to actually pull that off? If the latter, how much would that have been a legit concern versus just a subconscious excuse to hold onto his power?
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Offline Nukilik

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Re: Amon
« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2013, 02:40:42 PM »
^ And that's the problem I had with his backstory. It doesn't touch any of that. This quote sums it up:

Quote (selected)
It seemed like his back story was meant to answer questions for us, but ended up creating more.

All we have is a single comment by Tarrlok that we are supposed  to take as a correct assessment on Amon's motifs, and even that doesn't answer a few of the logical questions the backstory itself created about him, such as:

- How DID Amon remove bending through bloodbending? And how did he even come up with that?
- Getting rid of bending that way is inviable for a single person. Does Amon even realize that?
- What does Amon plan to do even if he somehow managed to singlehandedly get rid of all bending (which again is not even possible as far as the established rules of bending go)? Debend himself?
- Is it all just an irrational way of masking the true basis for his actions: lust for power?

And that weakens the character. The show doesn't bother giving us a clear stance on any of that and it creates a bit of a disconnect.

As a result it feels like the backstory didn't help us understand his character ANY better than we did before (in fact it became weirder and more confusing IMO). So it feels disappointing
« Last Edit: January 05, 2013, 03:19:41 PM by Nukilik »

Offline A6

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Re: Amon
« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2013, 03:02:10 PM »
Seluna's essay is the most insightful introspective I've read anywhere on Amon and it gets at the heart of why I shook every time he came on the screen.  Great insights into the scarred psyche of Amon and what it drove him to do and how, and into Tarrlok, the second victim of Yakone's atrocities who internalized and tried to climb out of the abyss in a different, but only a little less manipulative way with his threats first against the Council.

Applause seluna for taking this discussion up a notch!

The most interesting thing for me is the period - a twenty year interregnun when you examine it - after Noatak ditches Tarrlok to escape daddy and leave his brother to his own fate (some brotherly instinct there...) and how he takes the aim of why he was created to be a tool to destroy the Avatar to a movement of equality between the benders and non benders and how he reasoned why the Equalist movement would destroy the Avatar. In its simplest form I guess if 'everyone was equal who needs the Avatar' is the only logic I could come up with, because it neuters bending superiority and worship. But what did he do, how did he do it, and who did he gather and when in that 20 years to get it to the strength and influence it was in Korra's time?  And the other question - how did this movement go unnnoticed in the waning years of Aang, and under Lin's and others' noses in the 17 years of Republic City without Avatar Aang?

While the 'poor little me' false background was a clever ploy to recruit gulible people into the movement then manipulate their minds further (just like daddy!) and get people to voluntarily give up their bending (guaranteeing more power over his followers), I found him actually being a bender as chillingly more villianous than previous ATLAverse foes.  I always "knew" Aang would figure out a way to defeat his foes (with the exception of the lightning strike in the back, but I digress...).

In Korra, I always felt Amon outmatched Korra:
--She walked in green, steeped in traditional ways of fighting in a world that had gone beyond most traditions. I fault the White Lotus for not keeping up.  And she often went headlong into things with brute force on brute force before really knowing and understanding or taking advice, one of her faults.  (the whole series is about her learning, but that is another essay...)
--Because Amon was nearly unflappably unemotional and except for fighting, moved with a quiet confidence that was always disconcerting, indicating superior knowledge and control
--Because Amon lied without compunction to everyone, even his trusted Lieutenant, just as easily as daddy lied or kept secrets from mommy - yet another trait he acquired.
--Because his intelligence and calculating nature was so much like Dr Moriarity of Sherlock Holmes. Another great villian.  Compare them. Moriarity wore no mask but was dark, mysterious, and was emotionlessly cruel to anyone who failed or got in his way. And a brilliant intellect with technology on his side and lined up all the powers to serve his purposes.
--Because he took that blood bending as seluna so well explained to a degree never before seen in history, with no known defense. I think Aang would have had a real problem with Amon too
--Because Amon helped take chi blocking well beyond what we ever saw Ty Lee do - no doubt with techniques derived from the blood bending as seluna notes - that easily defeated bending time and again. It always seemed the chi blockers were "a step ahead" of most benders.  The battle for the Air Temple for example, the chi blockers were defeated only because they had no idea how to beat air benders at the time. Obviously in their chase of the air family on Oogie, they found that way.
--Because for about 11 out of 12 episodes he seemed invincible and everything went his way, but for some clever escapes
--Because of the superiority of their technologies to achieve their goals. In a world of 1920's and 1930's level technology, the Equalists had technology closer to the now at times.
--Because of the vulnerability of the air family. Once again the world was faced with annihilation of air bending, breaking the Avatar cycle.  Take away the bending of four people and it was gone forever, and debending chillingly could do that without killing. That threat hung over the whole series. It was an echo of "the last airbender".  Only this time "the last four airbenders".  The campaign to defeat Amon was slowed and distracted by the need to protect the air family.  It hamstrung Tenzin from more decisive acts against Amon, knowing his family was in danger.
--Because I am a child of the sixties and grew up in the shadow of the Communist war machine - the Cold War.  The Amon posters are SO very reminiscent of the Stalinist/Marxist era of communism that it chills me to the core. I and a lot of Baby Boomers were all conditioned to this.  And if you can't relate to that era, look at the Nazi threats of the 30's and 40's.  The Equalist movement has some historical roots there too.

While some of our other ATLAverse villians always betrayed themselves by emotions and expressions, you NEVER knew with Amon,  but he always caused fear in others (including me) as a result of that unchanging exterior.  Korra constantly. Tenzin too.  When Tenzin got worried I ALWAYS got worried.  It was his expressionless nature and the then-unexplainable debending that caused me think he was in league with Koh.

I think another factor we have to take into account is Hiroshi Sato a more tradtional 'use power for revenge' villian. To form an alliance Amon had to strike some compromises to the Equalist movement get all that corporate might behind him, so that probably changed his goals and mindset a bit from what might have, as seluna notes, a more innocent desire for equality.

In the end the Equalists were about 'non bending is bettert than bending' which caused the power struggles (which Tarrlok was hell bent on leading).  Which leads me to an interesting concept - it was in the end brother on brother, with different but equally drastic means to the end, raised by a horrible father, each bent on domination of a world caught in the middle. I am amazed they reconciled at all, but as seluna aptly says, when a family is in trouble, family falls back on family in defense.

I'd give you a dozen yuans for this treatise, but would have to blood bend the council page to do it! ;)

The next stage of seluna's excellent essay is the most intriguing - in an AU, would there have been reconciliation possible, and that my friends is what Amorra is tantalizingly all about! :D

Bravo, seluna, bravo. It got us all thinking!!!
« Last Edit: January 05, 2013, 04:09:05 PM by A6 »
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Offline Spruce

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Re: Amon
« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2013, 03:55:36 PM »
I'm going to have to read everyone's in-depth commentaries in more detail later before I can really contribute anything new (as if it's even needed, this is great stuff), but I will say that I'm of the opinion that Amon is pound-for-pound the best executed villain in Avatar-verse and a big reason why I think LOK was fantastic in spite of some flaws in the plot.
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Offline Guyw1tn0nam3

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Re: Amon
« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2013, 04:58:06 AM »
I'm bored. So here's some food for thought.

Amon: A Villain Without Competition

Just from an entertainment perspective, I rooted for Amon the entire time. I wanted to see him bring Republic City to its knees, take away Lin's, Korra's, and even Tenzin's bending, and I wanted him to do what was done back in Book Two of the original franchise: end a season of Avatar with the villain toppling the confident hero.

In some ways, Amon did do that. He brought the entire city to a standstill, rallied thousands of people under a ludicrous and hypocritical cause, and managed to almost completely reverse the work of a previous Avatar by once again committing genocide on Airbenders.

So, the question is: why wasn't I satisfied in the slightest? Amon had the potential formula for being one of the best villains in the franchise. At the very least he's better than Ozai and Zhao, and on paper he might be on par with Azula. So why do I think that Amon failed to deliver as a villain, and by the end of the finale, was almost completely ruined by revelations that only led to more confusing questions?

My conclusion: for the most part, it's hard to blame Amon. There are certainly parts in the finale that were counter intuitive thematically as well as just kind of ruined Amon's main selling points: his mysterious and intrigue, and we'll get to that.

However, as a whole, Amon's inability to be a better villain is the inadequacy for his opponents to show any iota of competency in facing the threat that he presents. Many problems in Korra are easily solvable, but we have to suspend our disbelief and believe that the majority of the "good" cast in Korra is filled with complacent, good for nothing, and inefficient characters that can't form together a targeted response on Amon's campaign. What's even worse is while we're led to believe that Amon is a brilliant mastermind, the tactics that he employs aren't necessarily ones that would require the likes of an Eisenhower or Napoleon, which further undercuts his portrayal of a stellar strategic genius. Allow me to clarify.

#1: Incompetent Social Policy

I'm a fan of world building, and I consider it one of the most important facets in building any tale set outside realism. This explains why I loved Book Two of Avatar more than any other season in the Avatar franchise. I thought it was great in bringing to life an entire people, filled with history, personality, and attributed to them traits of nationalism and cultural identity that was difficult to find so well portrayed in Books One or Three.

Therefore, I'd like to turn to Ba Sing Se, the great cultural center of the East, a city of long standing kings, with legendary tales and battles etched into its walls and golden palaces. It's a dystopian society that rules its denizens and even its own government through the watchful eye of Long Feng, the Grand Secretariat and head of the ruthless Dai Li. The reason why I bring this up is because I'd like to draw a comparison between the government of Ba Sing Se and that of Republic City.

Both of them have dysfunctional governments, I'm sure everyone is aware of this. Ba Sing Se is undermined by poor management by the monarchy, which has allowed some of his more power hungry subjects to go wild and pull the strings of the city for their own purposes. The Dai Li is a terrible and counter intuitive security force, one that is easily manipulated and controlled by whoever can put themselves into a position of control. On the other hand, Republic City's government is a failure in representation, one that favors political expediency over solid worthwhile proposals and at every turn seems to be unable to assist anyone against Amon and leaves it all to a completely inexperienced and undeveloped Avatar.

The reason I bring this up is because Ba Sing Se's social problems are justifiable and well within reason. King Kuei is an inexperienced leader so he has to rely on an adviser like Long Feng for any kind of policy decisions. He doesn't have any military experience, so what's the point of talking with the generals (not to mention he's under the impression that the war doesn't exist anyway). And even though he's heavily manipulated by Long Feng, there are still points where he shows some kind of backbone and leadership capability. He takes action, arrests Long Feng, takes step to meet with his generals, and the only issue with his plan is the Dai Li's inherent loyalty to Long Feng and anyone who makes a deal with him.

On the flip side, Republic City's government is a complete mess (almost like a teenager made it...oh wait) that has no excuses for how horribly they handled the Amon crisis. On one hand, we can't assume that they're completely inexperienced politicians who rally behind Tarrlok's stupid and obviously disastrous ideas. All of them look old, and aside from the other Water Tribe member on the council, they come from completely different backgrounds and experiences. Do we assume that they were just elected into office at sixty years old? If not, then why does everyone on the council have brains that were half eaten by zombies throughout the entire crisis?

Let me put it in a different way. The crisis in Republic City was a factor of run amok triad activities that marginalized nonbenders who couldn't fight back against organizations that were composed of mostly benders. Since this was emphasized as a primary reason for people to join the Equalist cause, why didn't the council decide to enact better social policy?

How about increasing police forces around triad hot spots (and we'll get to the police force)? It's clear that they were breaking private property and essentially stealing from others, so why didn't anyone think of that idea? That's a very simple idea. We could even hit the economics of the issue and increase social safety networks so people who live out on the streets are less likely to turn to crime. What about bending control? Wouldn't that have settled a lot of people who were just scared that they might get caught at a disadvantage against a nonbender? Instead, they agree on a task force to capture Equalists, a move that only shows a group of people with supposedly "legitimate" grievances are being oppressed by benders.

How smart.

You can argue these policies as potentially dangerous and feasibly impossible, but the fact remains that the government, through the entirety of Korra, did absolutely nothing to resolve any issues. They were incompetent at the very least and stupid at the worst. At least in Ba Sing Se, the government had legitimate problems that explained why they were so ineffective. Korra has absolutely no excuses. It's just a room filled with dumb people doing dumb things that listens to a dumb person and his dumb ideas. I mean, it's not even like they were suggested to have been bought or bribed by Tarrlok. Tenzin mentions this, but that's more out of the fact that he's bitter and frustrated at how dumb the council is as opposed to there being any actual accusations of corruption.

In conclusion, Amon's base of support heavily relied on the fact that there was some kind of inequality between benders and nonbenders that made it a legitimate threat for the thousands of sympathizers in the Amon cause. If that was really such a problem, the government in Republic City could have played an integral part in settling the masses and assuring them that they're trying to work on something to fix the problem. Instead, the majority of the council refuses to do anything productive, and as a result, it's hard to take the size and scope of Amon's achievements seriously when he literally didn't even need to work for the support of a group that was never going to be supporting the RC government to begin with.

#2: A Terrible and Complacent Police Force

I don't mean to insult Lin, but her metalbending police force is awful at handling anything that takes benders out of their comfort zones. And when I mean awful, I mean downright incompetent to the point where I'm more disappointed at the response to Amon's actions than the "genius" that he had behind putting his plans into action.

This is what I mean:

I have no experience with being police officer, so take what I say with a grain of assault. However, I can say, with almost 99% certainty, that when people become police officers, they don't just learn how to fire a gun and that's the only skill they can rely on, especially if their job description is "ELITE TASK FORCE". It's clear that the guard in the Fire Nation capital as well as Ba Sing Se is compromised of nonbenders and benders, not to mention their benders knew some hand to hand combat as well.

At least the Rough Rhinos had both these skills and they weren't even that strong a group of fighters.

Not only that, but a police force is more than just a band of people who can knock down a door and arrest people with a flurry of metal cables. It should probably have a logistics team backing them up, detectives maybe to handle the occasional mystery, and, if it has the reputation that Republic City lauded its police force with, it should probably have a force large enough to cover multiple problems in Republic City at a time.

Lin's police force (and we barely see any other reputable force in the city) is awful at almost every turn in these categories. They're completely unprepared for anything, not to mention they're terrible at adapting to new things. I can grant that in episode six, Amon did catch a lot of people off guard (though I question how they got the electric gloves into the building), but the police force in Republic City doesn't even think about why they're time and time against losing to the Equalists.

Maybe it's because they're metal armor puts them at a disadvantage to people with electric weapons, so maybe they should find some way to either insulate the metal away from their bodies or abandon them for hand to hand combat. They should be trained in manual disarming, right? I mean, it's not like chi-blockers are anything new in the Avatar universe. After all, Toph Beifong, the person that started all of this, was completely powerless when she got her chi blocked, so why doesn't anyone in the police force, or at least anyone in the world ever figure out any counter measure?

Why not martial arts practice to memorize where you can get your chi blocked so you can practice blocking those attacks? Getting better at disarming opponents with weapons without bending? Getting better at being mobile instead of just standing as everyone else swarms around you before you can even blink? Why is everyone in the task force so mobile when they have their metalbending and are sailing on top of metal cables but for some reason have almost no mobility in any other way? It might be because there are mechas (and oh boy, we're going to have a little talk about those babies), but I don't think the majority of the conflicts throughout Republic City are going to be made up of Robots vs. Metalbenders (unless Hiroshi Sato is richer than I thought he was).

And even if we're not talking about anything in a military sense, there are logistical decisions to consider. Like I said before, if there was so much crime, why did it take so long for metalbenders to spot it? Why is coverage of Republic City so poor, especially when there are obvious places that either A) don't need inspection B) have adequate inspection from people who are not in an elite task force like the metalbenders and C) are incredibly dangerous places that need surveillance to keep people safe. Lin and her team could have made a tremendous impact on the impression that people had towards benders, but instead she comes across as slow to react to a lot of things.

Furthermore, in episode three, there's "word on the street" that there's going to be a turf war, and for some reason the metalbenders don't even get a wind of this? Where are their ears on the street? Is there no means of intelligence gathering? If not, then what the hell are all their radio and communication devices for? Just check ups on policeman at a donut shop? There are so many resources at the disposal for Lin and her force to use, and yet they use these resources in such awful ways that it's hard to imagine why they haven't bankrupted the state with their poorly used state of the art technology.

This is the same reason why it was so hard imagining that the war with the Fire Nation lasted so long (at  least in Book One) when all their opponents were just so weak and easily felled by their opponents. At least in the case of Avatar, it was mostly Aang doing all the work, and he was the Avatar, so this was kind of expected. But when you have a force of Equalists who are, at best, learning their martial arts from either second rate instructors not associated with the police or have received professional instruction elsewhere (that's a lot of people having incredible Ty-Lee~esque skills) going up against the best police force in the world (as it's always praised at), there's just a difficult time believing that the police force in Republic City could just be so incapable of adapting to new problems and so unprepared for things that have been the status quo in Republic City for so long.

And that leads me to the last point:

#3: Why Hiroshi Sato is Completely Overpowered

This is the final reason, and the most important reason, why Amon simply doesn't qualify in my books as the best villain the franchise and at most was a villain with great potential that fell completely flat.

Let me take you on a quick explanation that is semi-relatable. To those who don't watch too much anime, please bear with me for a moment. We're going to be talking about one of the "smartest" animes in existence: Code Geass.

Code Geass deals with this dude called Lelouche who wants to defeat the evil empire Brittanica (or whatever) for personal reasons. He has with him a special power called "Geass" that lets him control someone and have him do whatever he wants. There's a limit (once), but it's the main power used in the story to power his "genius" tactical abilities.

And here is where we come back to Korra, because both of these shows suffer from the same problems: it attempts to shade certain characters as geniuses, when in reality, they have completely overpowered abilities that masks their otherwise poor strategy with overwhelming advantages to the point where it's practically impossible for them to lose.

This is why Hiroshi Sato is the reason for Amon's lack of presence as a villain. It's because Mr. Sato gives Amon all the tools necessary to beat everyone. All we know of Mr. Sato is that he's a rich man with a beautiful daughter. He heads a car company and often does a bit of extra research in how to make his cars better and more competitive in the market.

But for some reason, we are to assume that just because these things are true, Mr. Sato has the capability of creating perfect unbendable platinum (pretty sure we didn't even perfect these technologies until the end of world war II), and has the storage facilities, money, resources, and intelligence to hide hundreds of bombs, Equalist gloves, and over thirty blimps from the police of Republic City (oh right they're incompetent too). Where's all the scientific research that went into this? Is Sato really that smart that he did this by himself? What about the (what must have been) millions of gold/dollars/whatever that went missing as a result of a massive investment in research? What was he supposed to tell his stockholders on how he was using his return on equity? Was he supposed to say that he dumped all that money into research and investment and lost it all on failed projects? If so, how is he still so rich?

Even if we're not talking about his questionable market practices that would've aroused suspicions at anyone who looked closely at Mr. Sato's finances (AKA his personal accountant if he had one), the very fact that he managed to hide so many technologies and then was able to teach all the Equalists how to use said equipment is without doubt the most astounding part of the entire series. It's even more questionable how he got the material, but the ultimate problem is that for some unknown reason, Hiroshi Sato basically became a god of war without any prior or afterward explanation.

Maybe it's because the police were unprepared and inadequate, but come on, the amount of weapons this one man had in his arsenal was enough to start a second hundred year war. Mines in the harbor of Republic City (when did that even HAPPEN?), airplanes with torpedoes, all of which completely destroyed an entire fleet of ships led by the supposedly well decorated General Iroh (he has a few nice badges on his suit I think).

The list of reasons why Hiroshi Sato is completely overpowered for no good reason goes on and on, but I think I've made this point painfully clear by now, so I'm going to explain now why it's so important: It's because all of Amon's accomplishments can only been seen through the perspective as a supposed "brilliant villain" who utilizes overpowered material that doesn't require any brilliance at all to utilize.

The cops in Korra were never ready for any of this. Not the gloves. Not the blimps (HOW DID THEY OUTMANEUVER THE COPS?), not the bombs that dropped from them, the platinum robots, the bombs in the harbor, the airplanes (HOW DID NO ONE SEE THE AIRFIELD? WAS IT UNDERGROUND AND THEN LIFTED TO THE SURFACE BY AN ELEVATOR THAT MR. SATO BUILT WITH HIS BARE HANDS?), and countless other unnamed pet projects. No one was ready for any of this. Amon didn't even need to be sneaky about what he was doing. All he needed was to have fifty people sit in those robots and walk from one side of the city to another and he would have won regardless  of any of his guile.

This is what makes Azula different from Amon. Azula didn't have airships at her command all the time. She lost when trying to get into Ba Sing Se with brute force. She compensated her lack of resources with wit and guile. She found the Kyoshi warriors (I'm pretty sure she wasn't looking for them specifically to get back into Ba Sing Se) and them invented another method of getting through the walls of Ba Sing Se. She manipulated an entire force of people without without magic powers or hundreds of torpedoes pointed at their faces and politically outmaneuvered Long Feng by properly understanding the motivations of his own subjects better than Long Feng ever could. She is a good villain because she overcame the odds and defeated a hero with far greater resources.

These are the characteristics of a good villain, one that doesn't rely on overpowered abilities and incompetent enemies to win the day. When one thinks about Amon from a broader perspective and realizes that a lot of his achievements are a function of all of his opponents being completely unprepared for him, that diminishes his accomplishments by reducing them to a common denominator: Amon didn't even need to try so hard against such simple opponents.

I don't think Amon is a bad villain, and by no means do I think he's stupid. He has presence, a great voice actor, and had his own share of shining moments. I think he had the potential to be a lot more, but overall, given how problems that he presented were relatively easy to solve in infrastructure and how a lot of his "successes" were a function of completely out of the air inventions, it's just hard denoting credibility to someone who frankly doesn't deserve it. 

I would go on and ramble a bit longer about how the backstory of Amon ruined even more of his character, but I think this is a perspective that's less talked about, and I think it's a perspective that's important to understand because I think looking at villains from a broader perspective and evaluating their opponent's level of adequacy is important before fully giving the villain a good grade on their performance.

tl;dr: Don't blame Amon for not being a good villain. Blame all his opponents who were just lousy and incompetent.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2013, 05:08:44 AM by Guyw1tn0nam3 »

Offline Arcanger

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Re: Amon
« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2013, 07:13:55 AM »
I agree.



Offline Blu

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Re: Amon
« Reply #30 on: January 06, 2013, 07:47:35 AM »
I somewhat agree, but like most aspects of the show I tend to view Amon separately between the first 6 and last 6 episodes. I understand that the external forces around him diminished his presence for you guy, but we had no idea about that in episode 3 or 4 and as far as I'm concerned his was great for the first half (and still pretty good in the second).

I guess we differ in that I can isolate the episodes and moments that work from the greater context - which got progressively shakier as the season wore on.

I totally agree about Hiroshi though. Once again however, until the end of episode 6 it wasn't an issue, and Hiroshi's role is just one example of how the Equalists suffered after the end of pro-bending.

I always say this, but I would have preferred to have seen pro-bending go for the entire season and have the finale take place on the night of the final. Basically, extend the first half of the series out, flesh out the details, the grievances of non-benders/situation in Republic City, and give the show more room to breath.

Offline Guyw1tn0nam3

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Re: Amon
« Reply #31 on: January 06, 2013, 03:51:29 PM »
I somewhat agree, but like most aspects of the show I tend to view Amon separately between the first 6 and last 6 episodes. I understand that the external forces around him diminished his presence for you guy, but we had no idea about that in episode 3 or 4 and as far as I'm concerned his was great for the first half (and still pretty good in the second).

I guess we differ in that I can isolate the episodes and moments that work from the greater context - which got progressively shakier as the season wore on.

I totally agree about Hiroshi though. Once again however, until the end of episode 6 it wasn't an issue, and Hiroshi's role is just one example of how the Equalists suffered after the end of pro-bending.

I always say this, but I would have preferred to have seen pro-bending go for the entire season and have the finale take place on the night of the final. Basically, extend the first half of the series out, flesh out the details, the grievances of non-benders/situation in Republic City, and give the show more room to breath.

I'm in agreement. I don't think I clarified it enough in my post, but my view of Amon in the first six episodes was that he was the villain that was at the top of charts in my books. What happened afterwards was just "okay, I get  Amon is great, but what are you guys doing after Amon has proved himself an obvious and formidable threat?!"

Offline Spruce

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Re: Amon
« Reply #32 on: January 06, 2013, 04:20:37 PM »
Two bvits on why Amon worked for me:

1) There's a constant demand for villains who are more nuanced than just "he's the bad guy". People seem to want (or claim they want) villains that make you "think", or at least make you hesitate before rooting for their pummeling. It creates intrigue, all that.

Very few of these villains are ever really executed, and if they are they often go too far into being sympathetic that the narrative becomes confused. Even if his movement turned out to be not as pure as first believed, Amon and his Equalist movement did a good job in making me evaluate the whole Avatar universe. Ultimately I found it impossible to truly recognize them as the justifiable in how they chose to do it, but at face value the idea that non-benders were in a lower station and were beginning to suffer for it did and still does have some merit to me. I'd been thinking about the very same problem since before I finished watching ATLA, before Korra was announced. I couldn't root for Amon, but the "Grey area" effect he created was pretty compelling for me.

2) I'm always a fan of villains who can be successful at psychological warfare. Amon got under everyone's, especially Korra's skin to the point he was starting to get under the viewer's skin. Not by excessive shows of brutal force or chemical hallucinations, but mainly by always being one step ahead, consistently. He played his theatrics and oratory like a fiddle, which to me created the effect of "I am definitively smarter than your heroes", which in turn creates the feeling that any hope of defeating him is a pipe dream. An edge intelligence is perhaps the ultimate edge, traditionally reserved for the heroes to beat the odds against overtly wrong villains. Amon flipped that script. Now, whether you think the heroes were exceedingly stupid (per Guy's evaluation) is another matter, the effect still remains in a relative sense.
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