Is the Lion-Turtle a lion hybrid animal, or just very ancient?
Let’s recap: It is very ancient, can communicate with humans, has a lion mane and his wise.
The turtle (龜) is one of the auspicious animal in China. (Other auspicious animals are phoenix (fenghuang 鳳凰), unicorn (qilin 麒麟) and dragon(long 龍).)
Can communicate with humans:
It is said in the Zhong xuan ji 中玄記 (a collection of supernatural stories from the Jin Dynasty 晉 (265-420) that thousand-year old turtles gain the ability to communicate with humans.
In the later Shu yi ji 述異記 “Tales of strange matters” (a collection of ancient novellas and stories of strange events from Southern Qi period 南齊 (479-502), the following Liang period 梁 (502-557).) Says that a:
Has a lion-mane i.e. hair:
In the age of one thousand years a turtle grows hair, as the Shuyiji 述異記 says.
A five thousand years old turtle is called shengui 神龜 “divine turtle”, an animal older than ten thousand years is called linggui 靈龜 “spiritual turtle”.
Now, I am very aware that the show uses hybrid-animals, but I think that, when you compare the lion-turtle’s traits with what traits ‘ancient turtles’ in Chinese stories have, you can clearly see where the inspiration for the lion-turtle came from.
The books I am talking about can be found here: One
Ozai declaring himself ‘Phoenix King’ is supposed to show how far around the bent Ozai has gone. And my it is far.
But if you view it in-universe (the show is set in a sino-centric universe) it becomes even weirder.
Let me explain:
The phoenix is the embodiment of female power i.e. the Empress; not male i.e. the Emperor. That would be the dragon.
The phoenix represents yin, the dragon yang.
So Phoenix King is kinda an oxymoron.
What he did is either declaring that he now is Emperor and Empress in one person. Ozai is taking on the yin part of the yin and yang, on top of the yang of ‘king’. He is now, by declaring himself phoenix and dragon, ‘complete’. Or, and I am not going down that creepy road, one could argue that by making Azula Fire Lord, he is making her the dragon/husband.
Now I understand that they wanted to run with the ‘reborn from ashes’ aspect, but it makes Ozai, in cultural and show context, sound even more insane than he is.
On a side note: There is a real phoenix crown, traditionally worn by the Empress (compare picture), and there are even similarities between Ozai’s helmet/crown and the real thing e.g. the wings on the sides.
The Ember Island Players chose a woman to play the role of Aang.
There are two reasons for it, for one the network was pressuring for Aang to be voiced by a woman, instead of an actual teenage boy. This is pretty common practice e.g. Tara Strong (who voices Actor Azula) has voiced more than one ‘boy’ in her VA career. But even though they were pressured by the network and later had to digitally alter Zach Tyler Eisen’s voice, they never caved to the pressure, opting for authenticity instead.
The second reason would be that the play, especially how Aang is portrait, is an homage to Peter Pan. Peter Pan, too, is most often played by a woman. And to be fair, Aang does share quite a few traits with Peter Pan, especially in season one e.g. the ability to fly, his not wanting to grow up and his daredevil personality (riding the Unagi).
Did Sokka Just Walk in on one of Kuei’s Concubines?
We never get any mention of there being an Earth Queen i.e. of Kuei having a wife and/or kids in either the show or the comics. (That would make him running off with Bosco at the end of season two even more douchy than it is.) We also never get any mention of him having a sister, and that lady is definitely not dressed like a servant. So who is she …
The ice cage Katara ends up in when she loses the fight against Pakku is an homage to the bamboo cage in House of the Flying Daggers. As is the ‘Dai Li hanging upside down from the cave’ scene at the end of season two.