Friday, 14 September 2012

The Move from Magic to the Mundane in the Avatarverse

Between Airbender and across season one of Legend of Korra, we've seen the transition from bending being a spiritual or martial pursuit, which reflects how a lot of martial arts began in reality, to being a more mundane utility used for sport or just flat out mugging someone.

With the advance of technology and society in general within the new Avatarverse, could the spiritual side of Bending possibly be starting to be lost as time advances? Only the likes of Tenzin, who is from a monastic society, appears to practice bending the way that it was intended, for example.

Even Korra, who is meant to be spirit-made-flesh and as such is meant to act as a bridge between the spirit world and the world of humanity, doesn't have that much of a grasp of it as Aang, so her efforts are more directed towards the physical plain. This may possibly be addressed further in Season Two however.

This change from Bending being something that had religious significance could also be seen when we comparre how bloodbending was handled between the two shows. When Hama used it, it was akin to black magic with the stereotypical witch imagery played up to the hilt to demonstrate this. But in Korra, we have Tarrlok refering to his brother's bloodbending as a psychic ability rather than a magic one, implying that rather than seeing something as mystical the world was looking for ways to describe Bending that are more grounded in reality. To a degree.

Will this attitude be transfered to spirits themselves, when they appear in Season Two? Rather than seeing them as magical beings, will the people of the Avatarverse be more willing to describe them as "alien" or from "another dimension"? Mirroring how people have gone from complaining about fairies, angels and demons to complaining about UFOs and extraterrestrials?

Society moves on in the Avatarverse, which is one of the things that makes it so fascinating from fantasy/science fiction fan point of view. Seeing a show evolve slowly from being a fantasy show to being more akin to a science fiction one is very interesting, we'll just have to see if the trend of bringing down the mystical to the mundane continues when the show returns.

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