This is the fifteenth post in Digiboy’s Character Database of Love. Avatar isn’t an anime, but I enjoy it the way I do anime, including the way I love the characters. Some things will be a little different for this post because I can’t use MAL nor ANN as resources.
29. Toph Bei Fong – Avatar: the Last Airbender
Voice Actress: Jessie Flower (Performance: 4.5/5)
Character Design: It’s probably surprising to no one that my favorite character in the show was the loli, but there’s more to what makes Toph great than my love of cute young geniuses. Toph is blind, which not only means she has cool-looking eyes, but that she can freely wear her hair in front of her face and it isn’t annoying. (Note that Avatar smartly keeps hair out of almost all eyes! That makes it even better when she’s allowed to have it!) Toph is often looking off into nowhere while talking since she wouldn’t know where a face was to look at it, which I thought was a very nice attention to detail (consistent, too). In combination of her blindness and her personality, she creates all kinds of excellent faces, including some great slasher smiles.
Someone in the production team must love feat, because they took every opportunity to show her’s off, what with them being important to her character—I’m certainly not complaining. In one episode we get to see her in lighter clothes and realize that her arms and legs are diesel as hell, making her as rock hard as her powers. Also in that episode we find out that she has crazy unmanageable hair, though it’s almost always kept in that ambiguous giant bun thing. I would’ve liked to see more of her with her hair out.
Personal Bias/Moe Traits: Again, I adore child geniuses, especially ones with an intense passion for what they do. Toph takes a lot of pride in her monstrous earth-bending skills, and has every right to, having proven herself the strongest earth-bender alive. A lot of her personality traits reminded me of myself: selfish, greedy, manipulative, bossy, a bit hard to get along with, cocky, extremely self-confident, hates to lose, rude, loving of the friends she makes, able to learn, respects her teachers, and never gives up.
I could relate to her home situation very well. She came from a super-rich family that had plans for her life, but she just wanted to do her own thing and didn’t have an ounce of desire to go along with her parents’ orders—but also didn’t want to disappoint them and still loved them. Because she’s smart and strong, she’s highly capable by herself, but has to learn that there are a lot of things she still needs help with and that she needs to rely on others. When she gets to be in the environment that her skills can grow, she surpasses all expectations and does what she wants to do better than anyone’s ever done.
Distortions of My Imagination: Following that train of thought into the realm of over-thinking, I think Toph sort of wants to exist both as a child and as an adult at once (and this could very well be projecting myself onto her). She likes the freedom to do what she wants, hates taking orders, and wants to be independent, but she refuses to assume responsibility in all the ways that she needs to. She finds herself relying on Katara’s motherly nature because as much as she doesn’t want to admit it, she needs someone to burden themselves with her so long as she fails to take up more responsibility. I find it very interesting to try and imagine how Toph’s adolescence would play out and whether it would be like my own.
Crowning Moment of Love: While Toph’s introductory battle is probably my favorite scene in the whole damn show, her crowning moment of love is without a doubt when she learned metal-bending. Toph was trapped inside a metal cage and her captors teased that even with her incredible power, no one can bend metal. Toph’s like “we’ll see about that, bitch” and breaks that fucker open. Her immediate reaction to her success is “I’m the strongest earth-bender in the world!” I adore that level of confidence, esteem, and overall, passion.
Title: Heavy Metal-Bender
30. “Prince” Zuko – Avatar: the Last Airbender
Voice Actor: Dante Basco (Performance: 4.5/5)
Character Design: I’m a huge fan of characters whose designs evolve over the course of a series, especially if it reflects their character development. Eureka Seven and FMA: Brotherhood were excellent for this, and Avatar is as well, most especially with Zuko. He begins a stuffy military guy, bald except for his top-knot, always sort of moving robotically. After deserting the Fire Nation, he loses the top-knot and his hair quickly grows (seriously, hair in this show grows insanely fast) along with his personality. When he enters his indecisive period during the first half of the third season, he changes hairstyles frequently, until settling with a messy long-haired look when he finally settles on his place in the world.
Zuko’s most notable feature is his scar that constantly ties him to the past, whose meaning changes throughout the series. My favorite of his different looks from a story standpoint was in the later episodes of the first season after he was victimized to the boat equivalent of a car bombing. After that, he became completely desperate, and his beaten-down look reflected it.
Personal Bias/Moe Traits: I seem to have a natural love of rival characters. I always love to see them go from antagonist to friend and evolve along the way. (With the exception of Pokemon rivals who are usually douchebags.) Zuko’s constant struggle was interesting and handled very well, never being straightforward. At the start of the third season, I’d been confused about how Zuko seemed to instantly regress to the way he was at the start of the series, but it became apparent that he was bouncing in and out of two extremes: the perfect son of the fire lord that he finally had the opportunity to be, and the forger of his own destiny that his uncle had begun to help him understand. In the end, his evolution payed off majorly with his part in the last ten episodes.
Distortions of My Imagination: Up until his relationship with Mai, I was really convinced that Zuko was gay. Maybe Dante Basco is gay, because his voice certainly sounded like it, and Zuko’s utter disinterest in women made it seem more likely than it probably was coming from a Nickelodeon show. In the end, though, I was happy with his and Mai’s relationship, as it seemed like the perfect smart-but-seriously-unbalanced teen couple, and I’m more than sure that he was actually fucking her.
Crowning Moment of Love: Had to be when he finally confronted his father. I loved the way Zuko calmly recognized that being by his father’s side wasn’t really what he wanted, and the way that he presented this and his intent to join the Avatar to his father with zen-like precise words was brilliant. His fight wasn’t bad either, as he got to use his uncle’s lightning-redirect trick finally. (I loved the way he explained the feeling of doing so to Aang later as well.) On the opposite end of the badass spectrum, his failing attempts to join the Avatar crew were adorable.