|Reviews for Distorted Reality|
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 56 . 12/19/2022
Me waiting for Zuzu to show up or have a POV:
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 53 . 12/19/2022
getting better- getting good!
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 51 . 12/19/2022
The fact that he accually said Zooker kills me
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 50 . 12/19/2022
this is getting goooooood!
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 49 . 12/19/2022
STill waiting for Zuko to talk with his spirit again. Also I reconize the episode at the top immidiatly-ish!
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 48 . 12/19/2022
We get more of some other people now- COOL!
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 46 . 12/19/2022
IM GETTING CLOSER TO THE ENDDDD I NEED TO SEE HOW THIS ENDDDSSSSS
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 45 . 12/19/2022
This is good so far! I saw a meme of this and look at me now! Reading this 70 chapter story!
| RedJive47 chapter 70 . 12/19/2022
This story will always be close to my heart. I discovered it years ago and lost it. I refound it in 2019 and since then I've read every update within hours of them landing. It's one of the greatest fanfictions I've read, good enough to be it's own novel in fact. Thank you Ogro for not giving up on it and giving all us readers the great pleasure to read your work
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 44 . 12/18/2022
I need Zuko to have more spirit moments!
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 39 . 12/18/2022
| MistypoolWatershadow chapter 37 . 12/18/2022
I love when characters are forced into a situation to make me read longer to expirience their trauma they gonna get (sometimes) !
| Rocket Axxonu chapter 69 . 12/18/2022
And—it’s here at last, the final chapter. This story has been such an amazing journey over the years and it’s almost surreal to see it come to an end. It delivers on so many promises with so many characters and I love it, yet no story is ever truly over as the lives of the characters continue, and I also love the sense of further possibilities to imagine in the future.
I’ve said all this one way or another already, but I can’t help but say it all again. I love this epilogue—I just love each of the Aang flashbacks, how mysterious they feel. That first one so perfectly captures how beaten down we knew Aang to be in his own world—still fighting even as he’s come to expect failure, seeing how the landscape has been destroyed, and always having to fear losing more friends. Yet with each flashback of this particular experience, we see Aang discovering there is still kindness in the world, people helping each other, and I just love the place where it ends up, where it inspires Aang to recapture a bit of hope that actually instigates his decision that leads to the prologue that incites the entire story in the first place—it’s such a fitting flashback to be the final one of the story. I also just love how the symbolism of the moon flower (I can’t believe I completely forgot these were canon), how the adversity has helped shape Aang and others and pull them down a path of more understanding and kindness.
On Azula’s side—there’s so much emotion here. The atmosphere is festive and happy as everyone celebrates the end of the war, and I love how we get these snapshots of what things may look like for each of the characters in the new world. Yue acting as a leader of the North and trying to help bring peace to dark spirits, Nagi taking care of knowledge and working in the Spirit Library, Jet forming a new band with a new intent of doing good for people, Toph leading the displaced earthbenders who served the Water Tribes to a new path, Ty Lee helping rule jointly over the Golden City, Sokka uniting the Water Tribes—there’s so many little details how the world may look and how it will look for the better and it’s so wonderful to see that all the struggle and turmoil they all went through was worth it in the end. (Also Hama and Katara—YES YES YES, I’m screaming. I still don’t know if I trust either of them, but I love this sense that maybe Hama went through a little character arc of her own after The Puppetmaster chapter, and with Katara no doubt feeling lost after having what had become her driving purpose pulled away from her, there’s a potential for both of them to start forming new and different kinds of relationships, with each other and with others like Kanna as well. Also, side note—strangely, while I love to imagine Katara’s perspective on all this after the fact, I love the way all this played out so that it wasn’t shown. Katara made the choice that she did for revenge, and she can’t be a part of this world of peace, not the way she is now, and I love how her conspicuous absence from the celebrations demonstrates that for us tangibly. We know any change for Katara is probably going to be a long road that she may resist in various ways along the way, but we’re still left with a sense of hope for her and her future as far as who she might become. So subtly and beautifully done.)
Of course, even in the midst of all this celebration Azula is dealing with the loss of Aang. I love the sense of weight that hangs over her in these scenes, and the way she avoids talking about it makes it all the more powerful. The scene with Ozai—gosh I loved this, Ozai is just such a horrible person in canon that it can be hard to imagine a good version of him, but his portrayal in DR is somehow exactly what I’d have imagined if I’d thought to imagine it. Someone who might be ruthless but also honorable, who might seem distant and hard to connect with especially for his children, but in the end ultimately cares about them, and is willing to trust their judgement, even if it means losing them. This scene speaks so many volumes about Ozai as he finally connects to Azula as a father, just seeing Ozai’s ability to see and understand what Azula needs to hear most—it’s sad but also wonderful as a final scene before their parting. And that’s to say nothing of Azula and Zuko’s last scene—it’s so hard to imagine knowing you will never see your sibling again even if you know they are still going to be alive out there somewhere, and this scene perfectly reflects all the painful emotion of that. But they still allow themselves the hope of communication again someday, I love how this reflects both how much they care for each other and also their mutual stubborn determination.
As for Azula’s final decision—this was for me in all ways the perfect ending to this story, played perfectly. It is truly a sacrifice for Azula to make this decision, to be parted from everyone she knows and loves in a world moving toward peace for another world she knows is ripped apart by war. She’s just been through so much in terms of fighting and war and death, and now she is setting off to endure more, just at the point where she cares less about fighting and has come to appreciate peace and the bonds of relationships so much more. She has the hope she will find Aang again and will be reunited, but doesn’t know how soon that might be, given how vast the world is and how that’s not her primary objective. At the same time, for us on the reader’s side of things, such an ending is such great fodder for the imagination as far as the adventures and stories for Azula that may still be yet to come—who might she meet in the other world and travel with? What new allies will she make, and what good will she be able to do, who will she be able to save? When will she face her other self again? And, of course, though it may take a long time, leaving open the possibility of seeing Aang and Azula reunited after all. The story may be ended, but there’s a sense of the characters living their lives beyond it that we can imagine, and I love it. The final ending of Aang’s flashbacks of him getting ready to meditate into the spirit world and Azula’s ending of contacting the lion turtle made for such an amazing parallel—the chapter begins with both Aang and Azula being in a place of feeling down and depressed, but ends on a place of hope, for adventures still to come, and I can’t get over how much I love that.
Once again, truly an astounding work. There are so many twists on familiar characters and interesting new characters as well as incredible vibrant or terrifying settings, and you’ve wrangled it all together into a story that at once is breathtaking in its epic scope, yet also on the character level so emotionally poignant and personal. It’s a story that’s had a profound impact on many people, including myself, and I look forward to seeing more readers discover it in the future. Thanks so much for sharing this masterpiece of a work, and I’m so excited to continue to enjoy this story in the years to come. Thanks so much again!
| Rocket Axxonu chapter 68 . 12/18/2022
And, here we are. This last chapter is such a ride in so many ways—every one of these scenes is just so incredibly done, once again going from the epic battles of enormous scale to small character moments of people reuniting or realizing things about themselves and who they want to be. We’ve gotten to know so many characters over the course of the story and I just love how each and every one of them gets their own chance to shine and do their part to bring peace to the world at last. As always it’s hard to put into words, but I’ll do my best:
Toph/Combustion Man battle—Combustion Man is a terrifying force of nature at the best of times, and under the power of Sozin’s Comet something more akin to a titan. That Toph would be the one to have to face him feels fitting as it takes a lot to challenge Toph—that she’s hampered by Thod’s drugs makes things feel all the more hopeless, and I just love how the efforts of Ty Lee/Ghashiun from the previous chapter directly save the day in bringing Toph back to full strength. We see Toph’s incredible power and control brought fully to bear, yet I love that this fight was also a team effort. The moment after Combustion Man is defeated and she’s faced with Xin Fu from her old house was such an unexpected and great way to conclude things, giving Toph an unexpected connection to her old life after so many years with the freedom fighters.
Buggy team—This is a ship I can honestly say never crossed my mind before this fanfic but I’m 100% on board with it, and it might be one of my favorite obscure Avatar ships ever now, it just fits. With so much epicness going on once again I just always appreciate taking time for some epically funny moments as well. This scene made me laugh so maniacally, maybe in part because it began with the apprehension that something bad really may have happened.
Haru—once again one thing I love about all these battles is how everyone is placed at a different point, giving us a ground-level view of the fighting in different places and a true sense of the scope. Haru is a solid leader and support as always, but given the disadvantages it still feels hopeless, which makes the relief of the arrival of their Water Tribe allies all the more acute. (Also any scene where Lirin shows up is going to be awesome in any case, you’ve definitely ruined me by making this canon-minor character into one of my favorites, lol.) And the arrival of the Wolverine-Skunks… ha, the mystery...! I think I was in the middle of reading this part for the second time and wondering if this was going to be explained in the epilogue somehow when I was suddenly like… wait… WAIT. Could it be?! (This made me so happy I can’t even say.)
Suki/Mai battle—Seeing these two work and fight together is so cool to see, in part because they are counterparts, but also just because of where they started out, Suki as the too-smart henchman of the enemy keeping them imprisoned. Fighting enemies with skills and weapons and poisons comparable to Mai’s is always going to feel dangerous, but I just love how fun back and forth and repartee adds humor too. DR Suki definitely seems like the type to bait Mai whenever she gets the chance.
Yue battle/dark spirits—one thing that fascinated me about the original end summary for DR was the idea of Yue being connected to the Night spirit and having a connection with dark spirits, I just loved the hints earlier on of how spirits were intimidated by her because of the Nightseer’s touch and the mental image of this scene is just kind of awesome. Also just love how this kind of hits home the idea that dark spirits does not equal evil spirits, any more than light spirits equal good spirits. Also, though we haven’t spent much time with Yue’s old master before, there’s a great sense that Shimo’s decision to yield rather than fight to the death feels strangely fitting of what we know of his character. Where someone like Gilak seems so full of arrogance and pride he would rather die than admit defeat to someone he views as weaker, Shimo as a great sword master has the humility to acknowledge strength when he sees it, even that of a former student.
Sangmu—This scene is so beautiful, I love how you used the fact dark spirits are calmed by music as we know from canon (even though I didn’t remember that at first lol) here to make this ‘fight’ unique from the others, and it’s particularly fitting of Sangmu, not just because she’s an Air Nomad who would want to avoid fighting if possible, but also because soundbending has always been her signature and singing is such a fitting skill for her to have. The mental image this scene creates is so striking, you can just see the miasma getting cleared away with both sound and spirit.
Hakoda battle/conversation—Again, that Aang chooses to save Hakoda says so much about his choice to return to the convictions of the Air Nomads, actively choosing to save Hakoda’s life is a step beyond simply not killing him, and I love that. There’s a sense that we would want Hakoda to be able to feel a sense of gratitude and respect for Aang for making such a decision, and yet from what we know of what he believes his decision to continue the battle from the moment he is able to feels inevitable in a way. As Hakoda sees it, the world is at stake, the Avatar a threat in being a bridge between worlds when he wants humans to be allowed to decide their own destiny. We get the sense that Hakoda does have a sense of honor, yet his conviction of what he believes is best for the world and humanity eclipses it here. When Aang goes into the Avatar State, I love that the scene is from Hakoda’s perspective, how he’s forced to confront his own arrogance in thinking he could defeat such a power and also his frustration at the helplessness of humanity in the face of such powerful spirits. The hints at his intent reaching further into the future beyond this immediate battle, a contrast to Ozai’s single-minded focus on his own power, and his thoughts of Malina toward the end—in some ways it doesn’t make him a nicer person considering all the horrible things he’s done, yet I love the sense of complexity there, the sense of purpose that, while it’s still terrible, we can see why he thinks that way, and he’s not fully wrong. Hakoda’s portrayal all along has been so compelling and seeing his perspective here at a low point when he’s essentially powerless only adds to it, and I love it.
Katara/Azula battle—we’ve had battles between them before and it feels like it’s been building up to this, and I think that’s what made me love this resolution all the more. The epic scale of such a huge bending battle using the enhanced strength of Seiryu’s Moon and Sozin’s comet was so incredible and satisfying to see, yet even more amazing was seeing Azula cut it off unexpectedly in the middle. Katara has always been about wanting to prove how powerful she is, and throughout Book 3 she’s tried to draw Azula into thinking the same way, valuing power—and Azula in part followed that path, even if her goals were more about achieving power in order to protect herself and the people she cares about, rather than power for itself. To a point where, in a way, their like-mindedness brought them to a point of being, not just enemies or rivals, but almost friends. Here Azula makes the conscious decision that she doesn’t need to prove how powerful she is, that in doing so she’ll have lost sight of what’s important, which is protecting the people she can. Katara’s not her real enemy she needs to overcome, but rather it’s the version of herself that’s been with her all along, that’s she feared and perhaps even more feared that she could become. Absolutely brilliant in thematic conception and execution, I love it, especially as Katara, even as we see her, in contrast to Yue’s warnings, reacting with victory and joy in thinking that she’s succeeded in her goal with Hakoda. Because even though she’s succeeded, there may still be a sense she’s still looking for a sense of purpose, and now she has to shift the focus of her revenge to Azula, still in search of a sense fo fulfillment. AHH, I love it
Sedna Katara/Hakoda/Sokka resolution—Considering how much I love the distorted Water Tribes, it was inevitable I’d love this scene. So much of Katara’s actions in Book 1 and much of Book 2 were tied up in supporting Sokka as future emperor, yet with the end of Book 2 it felt like her true colors and attitude toward their relationship had been revealed. As Sokka comments it’s the first full real fight between them, and I love how it echoes Zuko’s final fight with Azula in canon while also being so different—Katara’s still angry and frustrated and not at peace, and there’s almost a sense of compassion from Sokka as he allows her to take out that anger and aggression in this fight. Yet when it comes to Sokka sacrificing his life to save that of Katara and Hakoda to fulfill the vow with Sedna, her true feelings are revealed yet again in a mirror twist of the end of Book 2, in that she does care about Sokka after all. That Hakoda and Katara and their twisted goals were somehow in the end the same even as Katara wanted to kill him is such a compelling irony that makes a strange kind of sense, and I love it.
Aang/Spirit World—one aspect of post-hiatus DR that has been so cool to see has definitely been the way Korra lore is fully integrated into the world of ATLA, and it was great getting to see Aang speak with the first Avatar, and through Wan’s voice and wisdom seeing all the themes introduced at the beginning of DR come back, as Aang works through the most important things he’s learned through his journey in the distorted world. I love how the fact his conversation takes place in the spirit world adds an otherworldly quality to the scene and so fitting a setting for self-reflection, this moment has such atmosphere and I love it as Aang’s sendoff. So good.
Aang/Azula parting—Ah, I can’t lie. Much as, like Azula, we were all expecting it and had accepted it, I couldn’t help but tear up at this part, just at that image of Azula looking up and seeing Aang as he looked in the canon world, his own world, standing with his other friends. There’s such a sense of relief and joy that Azula is going to get to say a few words and get a proper goodbye after all when it looked like she wouldn’t get chance to, and yet there’s already a sense of separation, as Aang seems to already have one foot back where he belongs. (And when she does have the chance to speak, she can’t after all, but she manages to say the one thing that’s most important. So many feelings.) That final parting line when the real Aang of the DR world wakes up—there’s such an irony in the way it echoes canon, the promise of adventure to come, and yet also the pain and sadness that the Aang as Azula knew him is now really gone. There’s so many mixed emotions in this scene on so many levels, it leaves me with a sense of loss and regret, yet also possibility for the DR future, which, thanks to Aang and Azula, will now, we hope, be one of peace and better futures for all. So beautifully done.
Just such a wonderful finale all around. We got huge incredible fights and also powerful emotional moments of reflection, characters coming together and, as we knew all along, forced to part. It was terrifying and happy and sad too, and I loved it all.
Now onto the Epilogue…!
EDIT: What CowTrain said on the previous chapter, about Distorted Reality ultimately choosing to take a positive view on the world, yet a positivity not without flaws or hard work or having to face pain, suffering or death for achieving harmony and peace—Just love this way of putting it. This is something I’ve felt keenly about this work for a long time and one of the things I love most about it but had not quite put into words. Knowing the world Aang has come from and all the people who have died gives a sense of a real harshness to reality, and with Katara and Hakoda’s choices in the end it may feel even harsher, because not everyone will choose to be open to good or compassion or trying to see things a different way. But still there’s a sense of the hope that choosing compassion even in the face of harsh realities can give a person, to the person giving it even if not to the person receiving it. I love that this sense was captured so powerfully in this story even without having to have lots of characters die, though I’ll admit Azula’s choice for strength and sacrifice in letting Aang go may have been as emotionally intense and powerful for me as a death scene. We both see what she’s lost and the person she has become, all at once, and I love it. Just so well done.
| Rocket Axxonu chapter 67 . 12/18/2022
(Uh, I thought I’d had this review written already, but couldn’t find it?) Maybe my memory is skewed from how much I’ve gushed about all this already lol, but here it is all again:
Opening flashback—I have to say I’ve always loved how the story is set up, with Aang having flashbacks at the beginning of each chapter of his old life that set us up for a comparison to things that happen in the canon world, there’s something so wonderful about going back to the familiar to drive home the contrast of the events in the DR world, but also at the same time there’s the mystery of how things happened differently in the canon world that we see unraveled bit by bit. I absolutely love that we’ve been building up to this particular moment in the canon world, Aang’s failure, where he both betrayed his own beliefs yet also lacked the conviction to follow through on the choice in the end. You can just see this as the true origin for how Aang became who he was at the very beginning, someone hardened and who had turned his back on many of the teachings of the Air Nomads, because he had to feel that that lack of conviction was so much of what led to all the loss and tragedy later. There’s so much terror and weight and guilt in this scene, and I love it.
Haru battle—more on this next chapter but Haru really is the perfect lens to let us see this part of the battle. It’s more the traditional ground soldier battle you automatically think of when you think of this type of conflict, and the harsh terrain only makes it all the more brutal, I just love how we’re able to feel all that by seeing it through Haru’s eyes. We also get to see Ozai fighting, and a Haru-Lu Ten teamup which is unexpected but as fellow soldiers makes so much sense.
Mai/Suza—Having Sozin’s (well, Suza’s) Comet in the sky alongside Seiryu’s Moon creates such a beautiful and striking mental image, and it’s such a wonderful irony given how the very same comet helped devastate Aang’s world that it gives the firebenders of the Golden City and taking part in the invasion a weapon to fight back with. It’s something Hakoda never could have predicted. However, I love even more how lowkey Mai is about it in avoiding explaining it to anyone. (I find this weirdly relatable, she knows if she mentions it even briefly in passing she’s going to find herself peppered with questions that will take more energy to answer than she’s willing to exert. It’s so classic Mai, and I can’t blame her.) Her choice to stay behind to protect Pipsqueak also feels poetic in a way, a second chance after her failure to protect her warriors at the end of Book 2.
Thod/Ty Lee/chi-blocker fight—This fight only gets more and more brilliant to me the more I’ve read it and thought about it. Thod is the perfect opponent for Ty Lee to have to square off against, it’s almost a shame they never fought in canon because expert chi-blocker against expert chi-blocker I so compelling in how specific a fighting style it is and how they’d be aware of the other’s skills and perfectly equipped to try to counteract them. The moment when Ghashiun thinks of Thod as the weaker one and it’s Ty Lee who knows not to underestimate old people—such a great moment, funny but also we know very wise. What also makes this scene great is the humor—Thod’s horror at losing his liquified elephant koi eyes (among other horrifying things) was so hilarious and so like a scientist, even in the middle of a fight, and Ty Lee always manages to have such great lines even when things are at their most dangerous. Ending on Niyok and Nutha’s betrayal was the perfect conclusion for just how funny (while also totally believable) it was.
Also just have to say I loved the setting for this scene, there’s just a certain vibe about the Aniak’to Alchemical Institute with its air of clinical science and discovery, and just loved the mental image of Nagi surrounded by all the different colors and types of sand—it was so cool to see, though she might be a Dai Li agent, how her sandbender roots enabled her to fight back here when she wasn’t strong enough to make use of normal Dai Li tactics and bending styles.
Zuko/Chit Sang battle—Oh man, there’s such a painful irony in the fact that Zuko is back to being without bending for this fight, especially with Sozin’s Comet giving their enemy such a powerful boost. Given that earlier on before canon Zuko granted him the gift of bending he had to struggle with the idea that Azula was the ‘special’ one with bending and it made him feel as though Ozai was less interested in him and his potential because of it, in a way it’s fitting to see him forced to confront this struggle again in a way, yet we see him in a way at his best here, fighting more with words and understanding Chit Sang and his life and perspective than with power and force, wanting Chit Sang to rediscover his own honor rather than simply defeat him. Zuko has always shown himself proud to be Fire Nation and finds a sense of strength in who he is, while Chit Sang has betrayed all that, yet wants to be able to expunge his own sense of shame—that contrast of ideals makes this fight personal for Zuko in such a deep way, and I love how it shows the person he’s become, in both strength and kindness.
Side note, there’s also something just nice about seeing Jet and Zuko fighting together here—in being friends when they first met there’s been a lingering sense of resentment in Zuko over the way Jet turned out to be much like Katara’s from canon, yet now they’ve faced enough together (not least of which Katara’s violence and torture), there’s a sense of trust and friendship, and it’s so cool to see that in action in this fight.
Aang/Hakoda battle—I just love how grand and epic in scale this fight feels, the bending is massive and terrifying, and yet in the midst of it we have more personal interactions, and find out more of Hakoda’s motivations. His actions are not just about power, but full freedom from spirits—what he sees as a better world. The moment of Sedna and Seiryu’s interference adds to the sense of chaos as the spirit world continues to encroach on the mortal world, and Hakoda choosing to reject Seiryu’s offer of added power marks tangibly his commitment to his convictions. Yet what I also love about this fight is how it also parallel’s Zuko’s in the way that Aang tries to reason with Hakoda as Zuko tries to reason with Chit Sang, to appeal to his better nature, the intentions that, in a way, do have a nobility about them even with all the despicable things he’s done to achieve them. But in contrast Hakoda is much harder to influence than Chit Sang, perhaps impossible. And so, without killing him, that makes bringing the fight to an end so much harder. People can be helped with kindness and understanding, as Zuko proves—but not everyone is open to it. (Also have to say, the setting of this fight being the place where Sokka and Katara found Aang in canon—that is so beautiful, the emotion and symbolism of that is just so good.)
Toph/Yue/Mai fights/Sangmu arrival in the North/White Lotus—these were all mostly setup/buildup scenes to be continued next chapter, but wanted to mention them because they are all just so good in ratcheting up the tension and once again giving us a sense of scope. I love how they end on moments of suspense, either with a sense of about to dive into the turmoil or with things seemingly about to go terribly wrong—there’s so much happening here, with so many different characters we’ve come to know and care about, and it all flows together perfectly.
Final scene—this moment of shock is just so good, I think because on some level even though we knew Katara was still Katara and almost impossible to dissuade once she’s set her mind to something, with her joining forces with the gaang and fighting alongside them we’d almost come to want to think she might be able to join them as one of them after all. But of course this is always the problem with joining with someone who’s fundamental worldview, focused on vengeance, hasn’t changed, you might be able to fight with a shared purpose for awhile but when opportunity strikes or circumstances change, there was never any basis for real trust. Yet here we see Aang finally realizing who he wants to be, and what choice he has to make—this is beyond simply choosing not to kill Hakoda, but rather taking active action to save him. This speaks volumes of just how much Aang values life as an Air Nomad. Especially given the contract with Sedna, which still has to be paid…
In conclusion, amazing chapter once again. Just so full of action and massive fights or brilliant setup for fights still to come, yet also with smaller character moments of allies connecting or trying to understand an enemy, and it all flows together in one seamless whole. Incredible work as always!