Monday, May 21, 2012

AVATAR AVATARDING: Asami IS Amon; A Hypothesis.

AVATAR: The Legend of Korra
I haven't nerd-blogged in a loooooong time, but I also haven't been as invested in anything as I have been in AVATAR: THE LEGEND OF KORRA in a long time either.

Frankly, the show is great.  Not just great animation, but great TELEVISION...great storytelling.  People are usually so ready to dismiss and animated show as trite fluff or as somehow creatively compromised by the format, but I dare them to watch an episode of KORRA and tell me that it's not among the best things ever to be put on TV.  It's almost DEADWOOD good (yeah, I went there...that's how serious I am).  With it's dense worldbuilding, well rounded characters, real stakes, intricit plots, and exploration of complex themes, KORRA demonstrates a depth rarely seen on TV lately, much less in the field of animation.

AVATAR: TLoK S01E04 - A Voice in the Night
And while we're on the subject of the animation...few shows can claim to look anywhere near as GOOD as KORRA.  Jaoquim Dos Santos (who has previously worked on other shows I loved, such as JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, GI JOE RESOLUTE, and the DCU movies) knows his shit, and the art direction, storyboarding, and animation of KORRA as a whole has risen to dizzying new heights as a good as AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER looked, KORRA looks BETTER.  It's not just the ambitious, exciting, and kinetic fights (A Jaoquim Dos Santos speciality) but the bold camera angles, the meaningful close-ups, the breathtaking wide shots, the fluid transitions, and, most impressively, the ACTING.  Even minor characters have, well, character in their movement, and Bo-Lin and Tenzin's animators seem to be constantly trying to one-up each other in acting of their characters (admittedly it's like apples and oranges though; Tenzin's wild takes need to be balanced against the more subtle stroking of his beard, while Bo-Lin has free license to act ridiculous all the time).

KORRA is a show I am heavily invested in; it makes me laugh, it makes me fret over whose hurting whose feelings with their highschool bullshit, it makes me lean forward in chair gripping anxiety during an intense fight, and, most of all, it constantly surprises me.  Episode 4:  A Voice in the Night in particular had some incredibly brave and bold storytelling, showing the depth that Korra has as a character; she's not just the stoic hero, but a teenage girl.  As the Avatar she has always been strong, and thus, has never felt threatened or frightened by anything...until Amon.  Korra feels threatened bythe potential to lose the thing she feels makes her special, and has no idea how to deal with it; she's always been taught that the Avatar has to be strong and without fear.  And when Amon and the Equalists subdue her at the end of the episode, the entire scene is frightening and dark and feels like a violation.  Korra is overwhelmed by this newfound feeling of helplessness and vulnerablity, and does a very human thing; she cries.  How many Saturday morning cartoons can you think of where the character has to deal with such volatile, complex, emotions, much less be allowed to EXPRESS them?  This is the real deal.

Which brings me to my newfound investment in AVATAR: TLoK.  So it's time to throw my hat into the ring of wild fanboy speculation and advance my baseless theory as to who I think the series resident mystery man might be...AMON.

Amon; Leader of the Equalists
Amon is the leader of the Equalists; a group of self-proclaimed revolutionaries made of dissident Non-Benders (people who do not have the potential for bending, though it's still a little unclear what makes someone a bender...something to do with naturally occuring chakra gates, I guess?  They explained it a little in the first series) who seek to overthrow the Bending elitists who supposedly oppress them.  Amon's identity is a mystery thus far, his signature white and red mask, armor and hood concealing his identity (he looks sort of like Doctor Doom, and that's good company for a supervillain to be in).

Asami Sato
Asami Sato is Mako's new girlfriend and daughter of Future Industries founder and CEO, Hiroshi Sato, an inventor and futurist who build a company around his greatest creation, the Sato-mobile, a sort of steam-power model-T.  She's beautiful and intelligent, and no prissy socialite, having proven that she has a taste for danger and fast vehicles, as well as self-defense training since a very early age.

I think that Amon and Asami may be one and the same.

This may be an controversial theory to put forth, but hear me out before you judge; thus far there is more evidence in favor of Asami being Amon than there is for Amon not being Asami.

Firstly, how do we know that Amon is in fact a man?  He is covered from head to toe in a heavy leather tunic and armor, which could potentially conceal Asami's figure.  Padding in the armor and lifts in the books could helf to change slight Asami into imposing Amon.  No one has seen Amon's face, which he claims was taken from him by a firebender in his youth, but how do we know this is true?  Close ups reveal enough of his eyes to see that he isn't scarred, at least in that area.

...Asami's Eyes
Amon's Eyes VS...
While on the subject of Amon's eyes; they do look somewhat similar in shape to Asami's sharp, fox-like, eyes.  This is only circumstantial evidence, though, as it's mostly a stylistic thing, and thus not really admissible...but it does drive speculation.

 As for Amon's deep, terrifying, voice VS Asami's sultry lilt, it's not out of the realm of possibility that her father, a genius inventor who has supplied advanced and miniturized weaponry to the Equalists (including some awesome steam-powered mecha suits!) could have built something to distort her voice; it's already been established that radios and other recording techonlogy is present in Republic City, so it is within the realm of possibility that Hiroshi Sato could have built such a device into Amon's ever-present mask to further conceal Asami's identity.

Asami is noticably absent every time Amon is on-screen or delivering a message on the radio (though those could potentially also be pre-recorded), including during the Fire-Ferret's championship match, in which her boyfriend was particpating, and which her father was sponsoring.  Also suspicious is the circumstances under which Mako came to meet Asami and then be introduced to Hiroshi Sato, who offered to sponser the Fire-Ferret's in the Pro-Bending Tournament, which was later revealed to be a large part of Amon's plot to embarrass the Avatar, perpetuate Anti-Bender propaganda (the Referee had been paid off to be biased against the Fire-Ferrets, but it was not revealed who paid him off...Asami has the means and opportunity to do so, and if my hypothesis proves right, also the motive), and spread terror.  The Avatar HAD to be present at the Tourney for the terror attack to have maximum psychological impact.  Asami also admitted to Mako during their first meeting that she had been to every match; this would provide her the opportunity to gather intelligence on the Arena, as well as the various teams, and predict and manipulate who would make it to the finales, which she did when she talked her father into sponsoring the Fire-Ferrets championship bid.

The Equalists are shown as being technological advanced and it has already been revealed that Hiroshi Sato has been supplying them with technology; but who has been training them to use it?  Amon's elite troops are shown riding motorcycles with great skill, and Asami has proved her driving abilitiy when she raced with Korra riding shotgun behind her.  She demonstrated not just skill, but practised expertise...which makes her awkward run-in (literally) with Mako suspect; how can she have such control on a racing vehicle, but not her scooter?

There is also reason for speculation in some of the comments Asami has made.  Asami has told Korra, Mako, and Bo-Lin that she has been trained in some form of self-defense since she was a child...we have thus far only seen one demonstration of her martial skills, which allowed her to overcome the Luitenant, who even Korra has thus far been unable to defeat, but it is too early to speculate if her abilities are on par with the expertise that Amon has demonstrated, which puts him on a level equal to any Bender he has encountered thus far.  It is entire possible that Asami has trained in Chi-Blocking, especially given Hiroshi Sato's proven hatred for Benders following the death of his wife at the hands of a Fire Bender.

Speaking of Fire Benders and personal tragedy...Asami and Amon's stories of having lost a loved one to a Fire Bender are very similar.  Amon says that he lost his family and his face to a Fire Bender who extorted money from his father...the wording here is murky.  He doesn't say that his father died, just that his family was taken.  Asami says that she lost her mother to a Fire Bender who robbed their mansion when she was a child.  This could be a coincidence or it could be a lie on Amon's part to help protect his identity.

As for the disruption of Hiroshi Sato's plan to trap the Avatar...Amon has made it clear that he has specific plans for the defeat of the Avatar, and has already proven that he could either kill or take away the Avatar's bending at any time; he has had opportunity to do this on three occassions, and has actively stopped his subordinates from engaging Korra.  Sato's trap was not part of Amon's plan, and his killing of the Avatar would have proven detremental to whatever Amon's endgame was.  Not only that, but Amon has proven ruthless in his actions, and Asami demonstrated NO hesitation in subduing her father...her facial expression was especially cold moments before tasering him.  If she was Amon, her motives here would be to get control of the situation, and to subdue an out of control asset.  Also, there is nothing that says that Sato knows who Amon is...even if Amon is using a voice distorter designed by Sato, he could have been recruited and commissioned to build it at Amon's behalf, until the impression that it would be used to hide Amon's identity (which it would...even from him).

What does Asami gain from that if she is Amon?  First off, she is now above suspicion in the eyes of the authorities and Korra.  Secondly, she defused the situation on both sides, allowing her to keep her identity hidden from not only Amon's followers, but Korra and her friends, while allowing the Equalists to escape with their assets intact, including Sato.  Assuming that Asami is Amon, she gains a lot from coldy electrocuting her own father.

Admittedly, this is a far off theory, and supported mostly by circumstantial evidence, but there is a LOT of it, and AVATAR has proven itself a show that isn't above the shocking reveal or the surprise twist.  Whoever Amon is, whether I am proven right or wrong, I assure you that I cannot wait to find out!


Anonymous said...

My thoughts EXACTLY.

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I've been argueing. Most people on the internet will be quick to dismiss this theory, simply stating that Amon is a man. But honestly, a lover of complex storylines like Avatar can't take everything at face value. My very first thought from episode one was that Amon could be a woman, to throw us off. And now Asami has a personal invite to Airbender Island, and is accepted completely. Having her father be the villain threw off the "Asami is a spy!" people. Most think the last episode proved her innocent, which is of course what you're meant to think...

Anonymous said...

I'm of the opinion Asami is Amon. She lost her mother to a firebender, she destroyed that lieutenant in the underground lab fight, and she and everyone else escaped too easily.

I think zapping her father was just good acting. The plan was for her to insert herself with the Avatar's group from the very beginning - keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.

I also noticed the same thing about her not being around when Amon is around. Even in the tournament, when Amon appears, there are no cut scenes of her reaction to the whole thing.

I think this is going to be a "Usual Suspects" kinda thing, where Kaiser Sose, this hyped up mega powerhouse crime lord is posing as a crippled, stuttering underling. In the same way, I see the opposites possible, we're told there is a scarred face behind the mask with a deep voice, but might be the complete opposite for the purpose of getting close to the avatar and her friends, including even cozying up to a bender.

Also makes the rivalry between Asami and Korra all the more exciting.

kunderemp said...

I had that suspicion since the first episode shows Asami and his father.

My first suspicion had been shown as correct in the last episode. Equalist technology came from Hiroshi Sato.

I suspect Asami because Amon never shown his face and seemed like hiding his own voice, using a long robe so people won't figure his real body. So it seemed (s)he tried to hide his identity, even his gender.

In episode 6, we were shown how Amon fight and it seemed like 'aikido'. In episode 7, the way Asami disarm his father's henchman was really like 'aikido'.

It could be other martial arts but I'm sure it was not Taijiquan.

Anonymous said...

That's what i've been thinking too! i keep saying there's gotta be a catch to it.

Anonymous said...

Asami being Amon was my theory too. I think she is Amon because in that one episode, Amon told Korra he wouldn't just take away her bending because he already had a plan. Later, Asami's father is caaught as an equalist so she is gonna stay at Tenzin and Korra's place. Maybe to go on with a plan?!?! I also heard this theory that Sokka and Suki's kid was Amon because sometimes they show clips of some guy when Amon shows up who looks an awful lot like Sokka.

Anonymous said...

While all your evidence and theories are arguably accurate, I would like to argue the Amon is a man theory. Look at his hand, when it is preparing to take away ones bending. Next, look at Asami's hands

I actually have not observed any similarity or difference in their palms, but I'm guessing that Asami's hands are more feminine than masculine like amon's are designed to be

Anonymous said...

ummm for the people using amon's big hands as an argument, he is wearing GLOVES.

Giovanni said...

I fully subscribe to the Asami hypothesis. Besides what has already been said,
- the current Avatar is female, so it is reasonable that the main duel involves two female opponents;
- Amon's garments conceal some sort of powered exoskeleton, developed by Sato industries: this explains Amon's ability to dodge benders' attacks and to not suffer from bloodbending (in the last episode Tarlook's sorcery seems to be blocking Amon's steps, but then some sort of external forces seems to come into play: most likely, the exoskeleton is controlled by some skull-attached device)
- family is family: if Sato father is trying to revenge Sato mother, so is doing Sato daugther, we don't buy this Asami rebellion against her father!