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The Last Airbender Shouldn’t Have Cut These Anime Scenes

In the days leading up to the release of Netflix’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” much was made of a key change to Sokka. In pre-release interviews, members of the cast and crew stated that they played down the sexism he shows at the beginning of the original show, which manifests primarily in his visit to Kyoshi Island. Sokka indeed comes off as less problematic in the live-action version, but that doesn’t necessarily make it better.

His animated arc with Suki is brief but pivotal. He comes to fully acknowledge his arrogance and misogyny and asks her to teach him, even putting on the full dress to train. A version of this happens in the new show, but it’s more focused on the sexual tension than an actual lesson in humility. Suki, for her part, is played fantastically by Maria Zhang, but the character is written much stiffer than her animated counterpart.

It’s unsurprising, then, that the live-action series skips the big climax of Sokka and Suki’s first episode. In the cartoon, as Zuko attacks the village, Sokka pulls Zuko to the side and apologizes for his crudeness. “I treated you like a girl when I should have treated you like a warrior,” he says. “I am a warrior,” Suki says, and kisses him. “But I’m a girl, too.” It’s a nuanced moment that Zhang could have nailed, but unfortunately, she doesn’t get the chance.


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