“Avatar: The Last Airbender” merely scratches the surface of the iconic nature of Avatar Kyoshi.
In the fourth episode of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” titled “The Warriors of Kyoshi,” viewers are introduced to the Kyoshi Warriors, a group of skilled female fighters from Kyoshi Island. They model themselves after Avatar Kyoshi, an Earth Kingdom-born Avatar known for her decisive and firm actions.
While both “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and its sequel series, “The Legend of Korra,” provide glimpses into Avatar Kyoshi’s life, a series of young adult novels provides a deeper exploration of the character and her journey to becoming the revered figure she is. Despite the novels shedding light on her story, fans still have some lingering questions, such as why Avatar Kyoshi lived for such a long time.
One distinctive aspect of Avatar Kyoshi’s appearance is her iconic makeup. It is not only her signature look but also the inspiration for the makeup worn by the Kyoshi Warriors. Before it became a tradition for the warriors, Avatar Kyoshi wore makeup as a way to honor her past. Abandoned as a young child, she lived as a homeless orphan until she was taken in by an Air Nomad monk named Kelsang.
In the Avatar universe, most Avatar incarnations show signs of their identity early in life. Aang, for example, was drawn to objects that belonged to past Avatars, while Korra displayed the ability to bend multiple elements without formal training. However, Kyoshi’s path was different. To survive, she adopted stoicism and lacked self-confidence, not having the luxury of getting to know herself. At the age of 16, she was finally recognized as the Avatar, replacing her friend Yun, who had been mistakenly identified as the next Avatar.
Following the revelation of Kyoshi’s true identity, chaos ensued, resulting in the deaths of both Yun and Kelsang. Kyoshi and her long-time friend Rangi joined the Flying Opera Company, a criminal gang led by the Avatar’s parents. To honor her past, Kyoshi wore her late mother’s headdress and wielded her war fans in battle. As a tribute to her father, Kyoshi adorned her face with her signature daofei face paint.
In the novels “The Rise of Kyoshi” and “The Shadow of Kyoshi,” Rangi becomes Avatar Kyoshi’s girlfriend. Rangi’s mother taught Avatar Kuruk, the Avatar preceding Kyoshi, how to firebend, establishing a long-standing connection between Rangi’s family and the Avatar. Rangi, a skilled Fire Army officer and bender, initially served as a bodyguard to Yun, who was mistakenly believed to be the next Avatar.
Rangi and Kyoshi formed a friendship through their association with Yun. After Kyoshi was recognized as the true Avatar, she faced threats from Yun’s former master, Jianzhu, who ruled the Earth Kingdom. Devoted to her duty, Rangi fled with Kyoshi to the safety of the Flying Opera Company, determined to protect the Avatar. While hiding within the criminal syndicate, Rangi trained Kyoshi in firebending. Eventually, their relationship developed into a romantic one.
Although Rangi temporarily leaves Kyoshi’s side to assist her mother, she reunites with the Avatar the following year and helps her put an end to an ongoing war. While Rangi initially displays a cold demeanor, she becomes more vulnerable and affectionate when she is with Kyoshi. On the battlefield, she is willing to resort to violence to achieve her goals, a trait she shares with Kyoshi. As Kyoshi’s girlfriend and bodyguard, Rangi promises to stay by her side through whatever challenges arise.
The Kyoshi books, “The Rise of Kyoshi” and “The Shadow of Kyoshi,” are considered canon. Co-written by F. C. Yee and Avatar: The Last Airbender co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino, these novels contribute to Kyoshi’s official story and expand the world of Avatar and Korra, providing insights into events that took place 396 years before the original series.
These novels chronicle Kyoshi’s transformation from an unassuming girl to a relentless force of justice. Avatar Studios has confirmed that several characters from the Kyoshi books, including Kyoshi, Rangi, and Yun, will appear in a future animated series project. Additionally, fans can anticipate Yvonne Chapman portraying Avatar Kyoshi in Netflix’s live-action adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
The question of why Avatar Kyoshi lived for such a long time is addressed in the Kyoshi books. One of the criminals Kyoshi encounters, Lao Ge, also known as Tieguai the Immortal, is a skilled assassin who claims to be able to repair his body and halt the aging process through concentrated meditation. Kyoshi learns this technique from Lao Ge, explaining her ageless appearance when she appears before Aang and Korra. Whether future series in the Avatar universe will explore this technique further remains unknown, but fans eagerly anticipate any new stories centered around this revered and feared Earth Kingdom Avatar.
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