Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Avatar Kyoshi’s New YA Novel Duology Might…Be Good?

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A few days ago, EW announced that Nickelodeon was teaming up with Abrams Children’s Books for two, yes two, young adult novels about none other than Avatar Kyoshi herself. That, and Michael Dante DiMartino is serving as a story consultant for the books. If you had told me this was happening a couple years ago, I would be overwhelmed with excitement and anticipation. But, thanks to Mike’s most recent foray into mediums that involve neither Bryan Konietzko nor animation, I honestly can’t say I feel anything more than concern.

The two hundred and thirty years that Kyoshi served as the Avatar has such insane potential for expanding the Avatar-verse in quite literally every capacity. The key is that it has potential, which will, in all likelihood, not be fulfilled due to that pesky info-dump Mike slathered all over Book One of Turf Wars and then promptly forgot about: the academically and categorically impossible assertion that the world of Avatar suffers from rampant heterosexism on a global level.

Now, that being said, because Mike almost immediately it out of his own story suggests that he may be doing that on the whole. For everything. It’s possible that he realized that it doesn’t actually make any sense, or maybe he doesn’t feel like bringing it up because it makes his stories harder to tell. Thankfully, this lack of consistency does open up quite a bit of narrative that we would otherwise not have seen.

The biggest example is that Kyoshi, who was revealed to be bisexual in the aforementioned comic, having as long a life as she did, most likely outlived several of her lovers, if not more. That could potentially mean we could see multiple relationships evolving over literal centuries with men, women, or even gender nonconforming individuals. I think that’d be pretty interesting to see, as we’d see their perspectives change depending on the era they’re in, which is in direct relation to Kyoshi’s actions. A paramour near the beginning of her journey would have a drastically different outlook on Kyoshi and the Earth Kingdom than one who had never lived in an non-unified Earth Kingdom.

Additionally, we could also see the circumstances in which Kyoshi decided to create what would eventually become the totally-not-the-thought-police-or-gestapo Dai Li. Perhaps there was a huge amount of violent counter-culture that needed to be crushed, or large groups of people buying into a value system that rewarded immorality and burning the old ways. Honestly, it could be anything, and that’s what is, in theory, so exciting about it.

But, until the book comes out next July, I’ll hold my breath. There’s a chance that the book will just be a depressing slog of Kyoshi, the effectively invincible demigod with the power to literally remake the world in her image, being shat on for having feelings for more than one gender. And how she failed to find peace or happiness. In two hundred and thirty years.

Thankfully, the more I say that the less sense it makes. Bring on the Dai Li.


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