The Lovable Last Airbender: Sokka.
Avatar the Last Airbender (ATLA) is the best television series I’ve ever watched,whilst I haven’t seen every high quality soap operaor dramas such as The Wire and The Sopranos, I can recognise quality when I see quality. I’ve never seen character development quite as in depth as ATLA, every chacter has flaws and distinct traits with different personalities, in fact I can say I care a little too much for these cartoon fictional characters just because how well they were crafted. I’m going to be focusing upon my favourite ATLA character within this blog so it’s definitely going to contain spoilers. For those who have randomly stumbled upon this WordPress and need some motivation to go watch the series, all I can say is ATLA is universally praised for being one of the best television series of all time. The characters is particular are so lovable and realistic and they grow and mature a long with the audiences, always being challenged, always growing to overcome the difficulties.
Basically the main protagonist; Aang, the last remainant of a once great culture; the air nomads, is the next reincarnation of the Avatar line. The Avatar is a chosen individual who is reborn into the cycles through out the four nations; fire, air, water and earth (Always in that order) and only the Avatar can wield all four elements, their job is to use this power to maintain balance and peace amongst the four nations. However unable to cope with the responsibility Aang runs away during a stormy night, and nearly drowns until he freezes himself in a sphere of ice, until he was discovered by Katara and Sokka 100 years later. This sets up the domination of the fire nation who wages a war of conquest without the Avatar to maintain prosperity. My final statement before diving into the funniest character of ATLA is… Just do yourself a favour and watch the first two episodes of ATLA, the characters only need one occasion to hook you in and they do just that, the material arts is amazing, the creativity is amazing, the story always has the audience engaged and the characters… The characters are so realistic, they are so engaging and just completely lovable.
“It’s pretty much my whole identity, Sokka, the meat and sarcasm guy.”
Oh Sokka, how you under estimate yourself, the ATLA would of been completely different without you and 100% for the worst, though we could of said this for every main character in the series. From Katara’s motherly and warm love, to Aang’s innocence and transformation into a man who accepts his responsibility, to Toph’s toughness and strength to the tortured backstory of Zuko, a boy banished by his father and constantly reminded of his fall from grace. Why did I instantly feel attached towards Sokka? A brave water tribe boy who constantly seeks to protect his loved ones and fill in the hole left by his father. It’s because he’s the underdog of the story, the boy whose not very powerful, can not bend nor has much influence, he’s only filled with the love of his family and friends and seeking out justice.
The best thing about Sokka and Katara’s characters is how their strength and morality shines despite being put through such a tough and unstable childhood. Katara’s mother sacrifices herself to protect the identity of the tribe’s last waterbender; her daughter. Thus Katara became the emotional leader of the family, trying to fulfill the role of her mother through her gentle and compassionate warmth. Sokka’s father who left to fight in the war, gave him the burden of being the oldest male in the tribe, thus his feelings of inadequacy that seems to plague him with moments of self doubt. He’s a young confused teenager who attempts to protect his tribe and be the “man of the village” without any role models to lean upon, he’s in a position of strength yet he fears he will never live up to the leadership of his father.
Despite the trials and tribulations in both their lives, the two character’s gain their strength from their past, they accept the fact it meant they had a challenging and puzzling childhood, but they appreciate that their maturity gave them the ability to help Aang on his quest. Katara’s role of the motherly, loving character gets transferred into team avatar, she’s the emotional core of the group and clearly the most mature. She comforts Aang during times of stress, in fact she’s probably the only person on earth that can calm Aang from violently entering the avatar state. Sokka on the other hand developed his warrior mentality, his “never say die” attitude, it gave him the ability to persevere and survive despite being stacked against great odds. From being the only person to stand in front of Zuko’s ship when the fire nation attacks his tribe, to being the planner of the “Black Day invasion” Sokka’s mixture of heart, passion and comedic relief makes him totally human.
Sokka also struggles with his lack of power, he can’t bend, he can’t “glow it up” like Aang, he doesn’t inspire morale amongst men like his father and he wasn’t even deemed a man untilhe passes a water tribe ritual at the end of book 1. Apart from Zuko, the fallen prince, Sokka probably goes through the most character development, from being a sexist, immature teenager to a well established warrior who leads his group through intelligence. I just love how Sokka is willingly to charge into battle against fire benders, willing to support Aang’s mission to defeat the fire lord, but feels uneasy meeting his father and his water tribe soldiers because of his feelings of inferiorty to a father whom he completely worshipped and idolised. It’s perfect, he feels like an actual human being.
Loyal and quick to protect those whom he loves, Sokka’s brotherly attitude is shown when he tackles Aang for accidentally burning Katara. Whilst quickly joined Katara on her quest to save Aang after he sacrificed himself to preserve the sibling’s home from Zuko. In fact one can easily seen the similarities between Zuko and Sokka, whilst Zuko’s life definitely shares the most parallels with Aang’s, it is clearly the role their fathers has on both boys. Both try to live their life in an attempt to please their father and both have been neglected by their idols, Sokka’s because of his father’s duty to the war and in Zuko’s case because of his father’s cruel banishment. Sokka aims to become a warrior and a leader of men like his father whilst Zuko tries to regain his honour through the completion of an almost impossible task;capturing the Avatar. This touches upon a major theme within ATLA, how humans are complex individuals who can never be categorised as black or white. Would Sokka develop into a strong, funny character if his father hated him and his sister was killed a long with his mother? Abolutely not. Would Zuko be a tortured anti-hero if he was born into another culture which didn’t stress military strength and honour? No, the past and history of the characters influences the outcome of their personalities and that’s very important for character development. It gives signifiance to their struggles, it means every plot or story line has the ability to influence a character either positively or negatively in ATLA and that’s what so strongly engages the audience.
Despite all these positives attributes, Sokka isn’t without his flaws. he’s quick to judge and hard headed. His past experiences meant a core element of his character was based upon his hatred of the fire nation, whilst previously it was a necessary attitude in driving the team to defeat the fire lord. The team’s experiences as a whole lead them to see fire citizens from all walks of life, in fact Sokka’s teacher who taught him the art of swordsmanship was from the fire nation. Slowly but surely fire nation citizens turn from “jerk benders” to human beings. More character growth? I love it!
There’s so much more to say about Sokka and the gang from ATLA, I know I’m repeating myself but I’ve never seen characters so developed and it’s so detailed especially for a children’s show. Sokka stands to represent the every day underdog, funny, charming and loving. Sokka stands as my favourite character in the entire ATLA, he’s the comedic relief and the recipient of slapstick humour. Kudos to you Sokka of the water tribe, kudos to you Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko for creating such a rich rich universe and kudos to you Jack DeSena for bringing the man, the myth, the legend to life.
If this hasn’t made you fall in love with the funniest character in ATLA, then have no fear…