This page was last updated: November 19th, 2007
I also recommend: For an absolutely fantastic essay summarizing Aang/Katara in seasons 1 & 2, see here.
Behind the cuts:
- Table of contents to discussions of Aang/Katara in specific episodes
- Aang/Katara in general: how we know that Aang/Katara is Destined Canon, the basic qualities of their romance, how it's "epic," etc.
- Love at First Sight. (Aang/Katara in The Boy in the Iceberg and The Avatar Returns).
- She Loves Him Not: Choices and Destiny on the Avatar Journey. (Aang/Katara in The Fortuneteller . . . and Bato of the Watertribe)
- Small Moments I. (Misc. Aang/Katara moments in the rest of Season One). [[Link will be added when the page is up]].
- Those Who Love You. (Aang/Katara in The Avatar State). [[Link will be added when the page is up]].
- MaybeWeCouldKiss. (Katara expresses her feelings for Aang in The Cave of Two Lovers).
- Coming Back from the Dark Side. (Aang/Katara in The Desert and The Serpent's Pass). [[Link will be added when the page is up]].
- Small Moments II. (Misc. Aang/Katara moments in the rest of Season Two). [[Link will be added when the page is up]].
- A Love Epic and Unstoppable. (Katara and Aang's epic, unstoppable love in The Guru and The Crossroads of Destiny).
- Awakening to Love. (Katara's intense love for Aang in "The Awakening." [[Link will be added when the page is up]].
- Silly Avafandom Beliefs Refuted by "The Headband." (Explores not only Maiko in episode 3.2, but also Aang/Katara).
- The Spirit and the Avatar. (Small Aang/Katara moments in "The Painted Lady"). [[Link will be added when the page is up]].
- Epic Love, Epic War: Confessions on the Cusp of Invasion. (Aang/Katara moments in "The Day of Black Sun," especially the confession and kiss).
- What's Next for Aang and Katara? (Spec on how Aang & Katara will transition from friends to more than friends post-Day of Black Sun).
Bryan Konietzko, from this interview after "The Crossroads of Destiny:" I think it's important to note one thing I have heard from the internet is that some fans have the idea we've put shipping into the show because they've asked for it...requested it. This is totally not the case. Mike and I like to do melodrama stuff and we wanted that in there. Not that it's all cheesy, but we wanted that from the get-go. Five years ago when we were developing this.
Mike DiMartino adds: Yeah, Aang-Katara, that romance. Some stuff developed along the way, and we're glad some fans are more receptive to that element of the show, but it was in the DNA of the thing from the start.
Polychrome writes, partly in response to the above: However, the series is quite clear on the main "ship", and the interview response by the creators pretty much seals it. Aang and Katara's relationship is the DNA of the series? This would indicate that everything we see is being written with the eventual goal of getting Aang and Katara together in the end.
That's not to say that the series is a romance or is particularly romantic. But it does mean that the series is built around the characters and their interactions, and the character growth between these two in particular will result in romantic love.
Heck, I'm just gonna settle this now. Here's a ship-development chronology for Aang and Katara. [. . . .] Combined with the 'ol "DNA" quote, there's really no other conclusion to be made. People have their reasons for liking Zuko/Katara, especially since it's so vastly popular in fanfic, but it just isn't happening in canon.
rawles replies: Just to add to your already excellent post, Polychrome, they didn't say the Aang/Katara relationship, they specifically referred to it as a romance. Just to pre-emptively kill that false ambiguity people like to throw around everywhere. The fact that they expressly referred to it as a romance disallows even the pretense that they were just talking about a nebulous friendship-with-unrequited-crush-on-one-s
rawles, writing after "City of Walls and Secrets:" Aang/Katara is totally big time, universe-saving-love soulmate stuff. It's epic. That's the major reasons that I like it. It doesn't have be full of them having senseless conflict with each other to be a great romance.
He's a boy-messiah tragically displaced while the world, absent of him, falls into war and turmoil. A hundred years of despair drag on, until he is rescued, until he is delivered into the arms of this girl. This girl who is the one who still believed that he would return to save them, this girl who's been waiting for him all her life, the faithful, the one who never lost hope. So they have a connection and they travel together and they bond and he needs her. She does her very best to protect him from the outside world that would do him harm or even his own inner turmoil because, sometimes, it seems like the most dangerous thing that he faces is the rage and pain that creeps up on him, that makes him into a horrifying force of nature, a demigod on a rampage. And it hurts her when he's like that, because when he's hurting so is she. And when he stops being that boy and starts being that divine being, he isn't human anymore, he isn't Aang, and it would destroy her to see him lose his self in being the Avatar. He has to save the world and she has to save him. Because they love each other and that's what you do.
See? Epic.[[Please note that the above was written before the season 2 finale, which amped up the epic-quality of their relationship even more. See here.]]
rawles, writing after "The Crossroads of Destiny:" Over 40 episodes Aang has crushed on Katara, Katara has been awakened to the fact that Aang is a romantic prospect, and Katara has tried to kiss Aang in a love cave. So, Aang/Katara certainly hasn't been NOT happening. It's been building slowly and there's no reason to think it won't continue to do so.
Rawles, writing after "The Desert:" The extent to which Aang/Katara is so deeply encoded in the story (and has been from the very first moment they met) as a Love For All Time is exactly why I find the idea of Zuko/Katara in canon so dubious.
I've often toyed around with the idea of going through the entire series and pointing out every single classic, romantic, obvious, This Is The Canon OTP storytelling device that's been used with Aang/Katara, but I never got around to it. Probably because I didn't actually ship it back then. If I get bored enough between now and September (CRY) I might do it now.
But, honestly, the series has been setup with Aang falling in love with Katara at first sight, her feeling a deep connection to him immediately, his love-feelings intensifying as time passes and his wanting to express them, and her going down a long slow road towards the realization that her devotion to him is rooted in/changing into that kind of love as well.
And, you know, this isn't a gritty realism show, this isn't an adult drama about Defying Expectations; it's a kid's show. And I think a lot of people in fandom tend to forget that. It's wonderful and beautiful and I love it. But it's still a kid's show. It's written in a way that children can understand and follow and it's encoded in a way that's obvious enough for them to pick up on without trouble.
The general thrust of its plotlines is not mysterious. You can generally look at the show and easily predict major narrative turns. Aspects of the milieu and the humor and the specific events are always surprising, but not the general trends of the story. How many people have known that Zuko is undoubtably going to ally with Aang before all is said done since episode 13 of season one? How obvious is it that Iroh's probably going to die before the series is over?
You're not going to get HUGE deviations from what's immediately obvious, especially from what's been long-since set up, on a children's show. Zuko/Katara is a HUGE deviation. Aang, the star, wanting to tell Katara, the girl who he's been in love with since first sight, how he feels about her for almost 20 episodes now is not going to end in rejection for him. It will probably be stalled until the end of the series while Katara is still figuring out how she feels, but it's not going to end in anything but Katara feeling the same way. It's just not. Do not confuse the show and creators being coy about whether he'll ever actually reveal his feelings and if they'll ever actually get past their adolescent awkwardness in order to make the kiddies squeal with genuine doubt being cast on the idea that it'll actually happen.
Because in a show that's not about defying expectations in a gritty realistic way, in a show that is about telling an exciting, moral, culturally-diverse, and sometimes!romantic story to children, the star male and female who are best friends fumbling around their non-platonic feelings for each other are never not going to end up together in some way.
Would it defy expectation if they didn't end up together? Yes. Would it be somehow more inline with the real world if Aang's twelve-year-old feelings passed or if we weren't supposed to take them as True, Real Love? Yes. But Avatar isn't here to defy expectation or to be gritty realistic. And that doesn't make it bad. It's a classic fantasy, a classic type of story. And that's one of the many reasons I love it as much as I do. Because the fact that it's written to Western children means that it has a narrative...honesty to it, if you will. It means, to me, that the creators aren't going to go out of their way, sometimes to detriment of their story, to make it surprise me. It means, to me, that they're going to worry about telling the story in an entertaining way far more than they are about whether anyone's predicted how it will all turn out. Because little kids don't whine about things being predictable. They care if something is boring.
debacul, writing after "The Crossroads of Destiny" in this essay: Aang is nonconfrontational and zen and calm and Katara is fiery and passionate and outspoken. Aang can keep Katara in check while Katara helps Aang be more assertive. Actually, they are already doing this for each other in canon. Aang is often Katara's mediator--with Toph, in the case of Master Pakku. Katara pushes Aang to his full potential and her methods are completely appropriate with Aang, who will take her advice out of respect and love and responds well to positive reinforcement and a not-so-gentle push. He lets her temper bounce off him and, at the worst, is somewhat hurt by her comments; however, he doesn't argue back and feed the flames. When she got angry about his natural inclination towards bending in The Waterbending Scroll, his hurt look was a reality check for Katara.
debacul, writing after "The Crossroads of Destiny:" THEIR LOVE SAVES THE WORLD AND EACH OTHER all the time and all sorts of FANTASTIC things like that! They UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER and BALANCE EACH OTHER OUT and MAKE EACH OTHER BETTER PEOPLE. There are moments of SAVING FROM THE DARK SIDE-NESS and awkwardly adolescent blushy moments of CUTE and WATERBENDING TOGETHER and generally just BEING COMPLETELY DEVOTED TO EACH OTHER. What else could I possibly even WANT from a pairing?
Someone asks: What rituals could be added to their relationship on a daily, weekly, monthly and/or yearly basis that would help them to remain close? Who would adapt to married life sooner?
rawles replies, writing after "The Desert:" I don't think they'd need rituals for that. Their closeness seems to more or less come naturally to them. Aang and Katara seem very much like two people who just clicked immediately and didn't look back.
If there was going to be a differential, I'd say Aang would adapt to marriage sooner by a very small margin, if for no other reason than he's been all MARRIAGE YAY since The Fortuneteller, while Katara hasn't gotten around to consciously thinking about spending the rest of her life with Aang.
Someone asks: What does Aang love best about Katara? Vice versa?
Rawles replies, writing after "The Desert:" Aang: Everything, but most especially her faith in him. I think Katara makes Aang feel like he can do anything.
Katara: His heroism that isn't bombastic or overblown, just the sincere belief that he should do the right thing and the willingness to actually do it, his gentleness, and his sense of humor.
See also here. In particular, scroll down to the section titled "Family" for discussion of (1) their trust in each other (especially Katara's trust in him), (2) how comfortable they are around each other, (3) how they are each other's Most Important Person, (4) how they are the "our love saves the world" pairing of the series, (5) how their relationship has an element of normality, and (6) how they push each other to grow.