Avatar: The Last Airbender – Book 1 “Water,” Episode 5 – “The King of Omashu” – A Matter of Perspective and Thinking Outside the Box

ATLA season 1 ep 5

     “The King of Omashu” is another great episode that is largely an Aang focused episode as it begins with a flashback and we meet his crazy friend Bumi who is an important member of the city. We don’t know how important until we get to current day where the episode begins. This is an episode that really explores the philosophy of martial arts too as so much of is the quest for balance and thinking in different ways to tackle situations within yourself and when sparring.

    The episode was directed by Anthony Lioi and written by John O’Bryan and Aaron Ehasz.

     The story begins with them arriving at Omashu as Aang is on the search for his friend Bumi, but mostly just wants to ride the mail system that is a system of slides that have the carts moved by gravity and Earth bending. It is after riding the slides that they are captured by the King who holds Sokka and Katara hostage while he puts Aang up to three challenges in order to rescue them.

The Pros: The Music – The music is amazing in this episode and uses a lot of drums to create tension and give it an Earth Kingdom feel.

Omashu – This is another fully fleshed out Earth Kingdom nation. They have an ecclectic King, are a bit dodgy around outsiders because of the Fire Nation aggression and are interconnected through bending and the use of the slides. It’s a really cool city too with Pyramids where the palace is located.

Aang – Aang is the one who grows a lot in this as the King is forcing him to think outside the box and opening up his mind to new possibilities. It is by not facing things head on but thinking that he is able to solve each challenge. In the end he finds his friend Bumi again, who it turns out was the King all along seeking to prepare him for his role as Avatar.

The Challenges – A key in a waterfall. Aang tries to climb the ladder inside the waterfall first and next dive through and finally defeats it by using Airbending to split the water and breaking off rock to use as a spear in order to capture the key. The second challenge involves getting Flopsie for the King and realizes that the big scary animal is actually nice and Flopsie, not the meal for Flopsie which he thought it was initially. The third challenge involves facing the King and using his Airbending to attack rather than to avoid as avoidance is allowing the King to walk all over him. The battle ends in a draw and his friends were never in danger and Aang learns the important lesson of thinking outside the box again and to not judge by appearances.

Bumi – Bumi is the King who is a bit mad but has a good heart. You get why he wanted to train Aang as Aang had responsibility and he owed it to his people to make the Avatar responsible and to train him. He is a great minor character and a badass. He fights using Tiger Stance and is one of the best Earthbenders in the series and the universe as a whole. He also enjoys puns, which as an appreciator of puns I very much enjoyed. “Let us go.” -Katara. Bumi eats some lettuce he has on the plate. So much gold with this character.

The Messages – Don’t judge by appearances (Bumi appears weak at first but is actually an Earthbending Master, and the large threatening animal Flopsie being sweet) and think outside the box on challenges, don’t face things head on that can be solved through an easier path, don’t fall into a cycle…adapt, change.

Okay: Katara and Sokka – They get captured and are mostly just doing commentary. They were not used at all this episode which hurt it as they are Aang’s new friends where Bumi was his old friend. There is more that could have been done with that.

  The episode is still great, and one I’d recommend. It goes into the philosophy of martial arts on adapting to situations and in it finding balance as well as the importance of not judging by appearances. It’s handled very well and  is well worth checking out.

Final Score: 9 / 10.

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