Thoughts of transformative or redemptive character arcs ft. FMA and ATLA


Actually, thinking about Scar and how he showed pretty consistent values throughout his entire arc despite how radically he changed makes me hit on part of what makes a character having a heel face turn believable. 

Scar is shown, in flashback, to have always been someone who is wholly and deeply devoted to his community, deeply disciplined and devoutly religious- serious, passionate and a little unable to chill, to the point his brother makes fun of him for it. His understanding of his religion means he’s against violence and distrustful of alchemy.

Then boom, he loses his community. What he’s devoted his whole life to is gone. So, as a passionate, devoted person his thought process is that he has nothing left to live for, except wholly throwing himself into avenging his community. He decides he will set aside his religion to do this, by turning to violence and alchemy, but thinks he’s damning himself by doing this and decides he’s a worthless being not even worthy of a name. He wants to die, and he wants to suffer, so he does what’s most likely to cause the most pain for him.

 Thus, we see that Scar’s relationship with his religion is tied deeply to his community- once the community is gone, he can’t bring himself to worship. He still believes, and can’t help invoking God a lot, but ultimately he becomes disconnected and hates himself for it.

It’s only when he sees there’s hope for rebuilding his community, that there are other Ishvalans out there trying to enact change in different ways, that his direction changes once again. It’s also because the definition of his community expands a bit- he starts to care about and empathize with a couple of people who aren’t Ishvalan too, most prominently May, He also comes to feel he owes a debt to other people outside his Ishvalan community, namely the Rockbells. 

Ishval is part of the country, so he needs to protect the country, so he needs to ally with people he doesn’t necessarily like, and hey, a couple of non-Ishvalans he cares about exist and (like May) may be struggling in ways he can relate to, so. He has a community, or hope for one, again, so he does what he sees as the most effective way to protect it. Suffering and dying actually wont do that. So now his connection to his religion strengthens again, and he reconciles alchemy with his religion because alchemy is pretty essential to rebuilding that community…

Basically, with Scar, it’s not someone who flips a switch from “evil” to “good” (he was never wholly either of those, like most people), but someone who always had sympathetic desires and values and his perspective shifted on how best to act on those values as various things impacted him. 

It’s similar with Zuko- at the core of his actions is always his desire to be loved by his family and to help the Fire Nation- but his definition of his family, and his view on how best to help his people, shifted and expanded as experience changed him.

I think that’s really important for a transformative/redemption arc- that the antagonist HAS sympathetic values and desires from the start, but maybe expresses them in a harmful way, only for that to change as their perspective changes. It feels a lot more consistent and natural than a complete personality overhaul. You need that hook.

And then there’s Akua Sahelian, whose core values are


– a philosophy that delivers resuls deserves to be propagated

– fuck my mom personally

Literally just… defeating her and cutting her off from any ability to rely on her old philosophy for any benefit naturally leads to her concluding ‘shit, if heroes always win, there’s something to being heroic’.

She’s not a good person, but what matters more when doing good: intent, or act?

I really love Akua Sahelian as a character.

She is, frankly, a terrible person. Oh, she has very good cultural&upbringing excuses, but there’s a point where you just… detach, and accept responsibility for your own actions

(That point is not, in fact, at 13)

(Not to bring up some other discourse or anything)

Akua Sahelian ran past that point without looking back while giggling in delight.

She is an unrepentant mass murderer, literally and deliberately, and she still doesn’t feel remorse or any kind of regret for that. She does not think twice of torture, murder, slavery, literally any kind of atrocity out there is all straight her wheelhouse.

And yet.

She’s still a person.

She still has emotions, attachments, opinions. Like, yeah, some of her opinions are Extremely Objectively Terrible, but she’s well-educated and clever and capable of actually correctly evaluating situations. She’s a terrible person, but she’s still a person.

And when prevented from ever harming anyone ever again, she’s allowed to exist.


just a reminder:

a black girl character growing her hair out long breaks more stereotypes than a black girl character having short hair

a black girl character getting to be soft and fragile breaks more stereotypes than a black girl character being strong all the time

a black girl character being protected and comforted by others breaks more stereotypes than a black girl character having no one to look out for her but herself

a black girl character being considered pretty or cute by other characters breaks more stereotypes than a black girl character being considered unattractive

not everything that is empowering for white girls is empowering for black girls

the sexism we face overlaps, but it is not the same

and then there’s Masego’s relationship with asexuality, which is also absolutely fucking brilliant if you ask me. In no way is it linked by anyone to his autistic traits; the contexts in which it comes up are

– “ugh my agents can’t seduce him he just doesn’t seem interested in anyone why is infiltration so difficult” (not an accurate quote)

– ”undressing in front of Masego was like baring my ass to a potted plant: there was no real interest on either side” (a very accurate quote)

– “Catherine. Is this a sex thing I don’t know about. Explain to me if this is a sex thing I don’t know about so that I will know if you are making fun of me right now” (she was, in fact, making fun of him)

– the very awkward and incredibly sweet discussion of Indrani’s crush on him and what can or can not come out of it :3

(in his POV segments it does not come up in any way at all, which I find deeply relatable and true to life, but he does miss Indrani when she’s not there :3 )

man, I think Guide is the only story I know where the allistic protagonist /easily reads/ their autistic friend, can predict their reactions most of the time, and tailors their own communication style to theirs. There is no ‘oh man this person is weird’, instead it’s just ‘oh my god why do ALL of my friends love to make fun of me so much’ and ‘Masego when someone is blatantly lying in front of you sometimes you should not call out this lie  p l e a s e  f o r  m e’

the part that seriously got me was when Catherine got interrupted from an argument with Masego to argue with another two people instead, reached a conclusion to that argument, then turned back to Masego who’d been standing there and waiting and went ‘anyway, back to this, he probably didn’t listen to anything we said and was just mustering his own arguments this whole time. Well, let’s hear it’

It’s just… the way things are, the way that Masego thinks, and it’s recognized and not even accepted – it’s not seen as something to accept or reject, just something to know about him. Catherine gets distracted in the middle of the argument to try to explain to him that saying out loud “I will not budge from this position but I will indulge you with the pretense of hearing out your arguments to make you feel better” doesn’t actually make people feel better, then goes ‘you know what another time’ and goes back to the argument itself.

(He wins the argument, because sometimes “no matter what you say I will not reconsider” is a legitimate position to take)

Masego is lovely and adorable and a sweetheart, and he’s not so much accomodated as just… made space for at the campfire. He’s as important to the group dynamic as others are, and he is sharply missed when absent. And Catherine /really/ doesn’t want to ruin his thing with Indrani, however confusing a non-sexual non-romantic but nonetheless clearly THINGY thing is to her. (No, Cat, it’s okay, sleeping with Indrani in his absence won’t do anything to that) (m y s h i p s a r e c a n o n)

Just… blaaah. Masego.




An autistic friend of mine just said this to me “The harder I work at communication the more people expect from me and the less they are willing to compromise.” and it is the most fucking heartbreaking thing I’ve heard.

I have yet to meet a single autistic who does not feel this way.





You know what fantasy writing needs? Working class wizards.

  • A crew of enchanters maintaining the perpetual flames that run the turbines that generate electricity, covered in ash and grime and stinking of hot chilies and rare mushrooms used for the enchantments
  • A wizard specializing in construction, casting feather fall on every worker, and enchanting every hammer to drive nails in straight, animating the living clay that makes up the core of the crane
  • An elderly wizard and her apprentice who transmute fragile broken objects. From furniture, to rotten wood beams, to delicate jewelry
  • A battle magician, trained with only a few rudimentary spells to solve a shortage of trained wizards on the front who uses his healing spells to help folks around town
  • Wizarding shops where cheery little mages enchant wooden blocks to be hammered into the sides of homes. Hammer this into the attic and it will scare off termites, toss this in the fire and clean your chimney, throw this in the air and all dust in the room gets sucked up
  • Wizard loggers who transmute cut trees into solid, square beams, reducing waste, and casting spells to speed up regrowth. The forest, they know, will not be too harsh on them if the lost tree’s children may grow in its place
  • Wizard farmers who grow their crops in arcane sigils to increase yield, or produce healthier fruit
  • Factory wizards who control a dozen little constructs that keep machines cleaned and operational, who cast armor to protect the hands of workers, and who, when the factory strikes for better wages, freeze the machines in place to ensure their bosses can’t bring anyone new in.

Anyway, think about it.

  • Construction wizards to turn back time to root out wood worm and strengthen old buildings.
  • A wizard tailors who transmutes cloth into fully made clothes without seems and leaving behind no scraps
  • A wizard who works in public transit, timing out teleports with detailed schedules, time magic, and enchanted communications, sending dozens of people to far away cities for a day or work or leisure
  • A team of wizard gardeners tend to trees grown far outside their native range, and ideal climate, encircled with runes and fed potions to grow none the less
  • A wizard sits in their office in the aqueduct, re-casting the spells that allow its precious water to flow to the city uphill
  • A wizard fisher casts water repelling spells on the sailors and the stairs, keeps the hoist on the anchor from rusting, casts balls of heat that keep everyone warm below decks. Their real job is to herd fish together so they can be caught in single huge nets, and keep them cold as the boat returns to land.

There are so many possibilities outside of “stodgy academic who wears ugly robes” and “Very good holy man who helps everyone and the fact they’ve never had a job is never brought up” and “evil wizard toiling away on great evils in his evil tower in the evil country.”

  • Wizards who come out and ward your home for you, like the magical equivalent of a home security system.

I adore this.

  • Necromancers that work as forensic agents to help find justice for loved ones.
  • Enchanters that specialize in music boxes that lull children to sleep.
  • Wizards that divine their way through the stock market or become business analysts.


yes even Dominic Deegan no matter how far to shit it went

“A battle magician, trained with only a few rudimentary spells to solve a shortage of trained wizards on the front who uses his healing spells to help folks around town“



so there were two whole new chapters, cool! plot! I am really super fucking glad to see Catherine seriously turn cloak on the Below! And to go back to her traditional diplomatic way of ‘bluntly straightforward’!

but all of that pales in the face of

At my father, for being so much less than he could be.

Not only because Catherine says this so casually now and I am dead.

But also, because there’s no fucking way this isn’t foreshadowing for SOMETHING that’s comng.

Atonement with the father?

I mean, it also fits rather well beyond the literal meaning.

I think that was in Keter with King Edward VII 😀

What I think is that it’s foreshadowing for Black coming back to the plot, with his own character arc being, in fact, learning to be all he can be in the exact way Catherine means here 😀

my most absurd, embarrassing and unconfident pgte prediction



that im basing on almost exclusively ‘that would be so fucking hilarious if it happened’

Keep reading

This… this would be perfect. Like… he would achieve his goal. His one true goal. To tell the heavens to fuck off. Wow. Like… it would be perfect.

And utterly hilarious.
“So… you’re a hero now.”
“How does it feel?”
“I miss being able to crucify my problems.”
“I can relate.”