Leaves from the Vine Feb10

Leaves from the Vine

When I think of all-encompassing love, three things that come to mind are Pai Sho, sage advice, and copious amounts of tea. Uncle Iroh isn’t an obvious character, one that stands out at first. He’s not the protagonist of Avatar: The Last Airbender and neither is he the main antagonist; those perspective titles belong to Aang and Zuko. Rather, Iroh is a supporting character, and for the first season of the show, he seems to be relegated to the position of comedic relief. He is more often the cause of Zuko’s anger than not. As viewers, we’re too busy laughing at him ogling over gaudy statues in a pirate’s ship to see that there’s perhaps more to him than his rotund physique. His story unfolds slowly, but Uncle Iroh is nothing if not patient. We don’t learn much about him in the first season because the show is laying the groundwork for Zuko’s story; he’s the one pursuing Aang, and he’s the one we need to worry about. Iroh tags along and gets in Zuko’s way. It’s not until Season Two that we learn that Iroh lost his son, Lu Ten; that as the eldest, Iroh should have been the next Fire Lord but his brother overruled him; that he has suffered just as much pain and loss as Zuko. Without Iroh’s steady, unwavering, constant support, Zuko would have been consumed by his anger. What I find endearing about Iroh is that he endeavours to be what Zuko needs, no matter how often his nephew pushes him away. Iroh is Zuko’s unwavering support. We see this in small ways at first: he defends Zuko to the crew when they think he’s being reckless and selfish. When Zuko attempts to kidnap Aang in the North...

Meek, Weak, or Chic Dec07

Meek, Weak, or Chic

Meekness may be the most misunderstood virtue of the 21st century. Maybe that’s because it rhymes with “weakness,” or because the phrase “meek and mild” has become synonymous with timidity. Perhaps it’s because, in an age of self-gratification, meekness is no longer seen as a necessity. Whatever the case, nothing could be farther from the truth, in my opinion. Take Vash the Stampede, tragic Western hero of the anime Trigun, for instance. He carries the name of a wanted criminal worth 60 billion double-dollars, but characters and viewers alike have a hard time believing it. Lovable, friendly Vash—a criminal? Maybe a criminal for stuffing too many doughnuts in his face, but certainly not a criminal of the law. On the contrary, Vash refuses to pull the trigger if it means ending a life, and whenever his bullets do accidentally find their mark, he ensures that those wounds are bandaged. Until episode five, Meryl—an insurance agent sent to evaluate claims against Vash’s notoriety—refuses to believe that the flirtatious goofball in the red trench is the Vash. It’s not until the town is threatened by an unstoppable foe that Vash’s dorky grin disappears and he whips his gun out, firing five non-lethal rounds in a breath-taking, slow-mo, mid-air dive. By the scene’s end, Meryl has no doubt about his true identity. It’s not the mockery of the enemy that drives Vash into full-throttle, or even the concern that his skilled reputation will be tarnished if he doesn’t retaliate. Rather, Vash has yoked himself to the plow of an ideal—that he is a saviour of human life. Only when those lives are threatened does the playful doughnut-hog vanish beneath the persona of an avenging angel. Meekness makes Vash a visionary—one so focused on the greater ideal he serves that others’...