I have always been a fan of disabled characters, especially those who still fight despite them. I find it makes a character seem doubly awesome and more inspiring. So give me a character that is not just a skilled fighter, but also arguably the greatest at their style of fighting, and they become shoe in for my favorites list.
Today mates I want to talk about the blind powerhouse that is, Toph Beifong!
As many of you may know, Toph is the only child of the Beifong family, one of the most powerful families from the Earth Kingdom in Avatar. She is physically a small girl who has been blind since birth, so as such is treated by her parents as if she is helpless. Toph is however anything but helpless, instead being one of the greatest earthbenders in the world. She however largely keeps this secret from her family, fearing what might happen should her over-protective parents find out.
For those of you who have not watched Avatar: The Last Airbender or its followup, the Legend of Korra, bending in a unique art that allows a user to manipulate an element to their will.
In the Toph’s case she is able to “bend” earth, allowing her to do such things such as cause portions of the ground to rise or move boulders with a push.
Of the four types of bendings, it is the tankiest, being all about heavy defense and forceful attacks. Even the stances by which one must perform to utilize it share this trait, being wide and balanced with lots of rigid movement, and its users are often large and brawny. So to see a small girl like Toph using such as contrasting skill to her appearance is quite unique, especially with the level of skill and prowess she shows in it.
Her skill in earthbending however goes beyond just being a means by which she is able to fight, instead very integral part of her character and lifestyle. For Toph, earthbending is everything, as by utilizing it to sense vibrations in the ground she functionally has “sight” despite being blind. And it is this dependence on her powers that I feel makes her so skilled. For her earthbending isn’t a choice, if she wants to function independently she has to constantly use her abilities.
Her unique form of sight also gives her a completely different view of the world around her and as such allows her to pick up on things others many not notice.This perception ends up leading to some of her greatest moments, where she performs feats others have deemed impossible.
The other aspect of Toph that really stands out is her personality.
She is sarcastic, brash, and as stubborn as the rock she bends, the exact opposite of what one would expect from one of her upbringing. However one gets the sense that she acts this way to distance herself from that upbringing; She doesn’t want to be the helpless child her parents think her and nor does she want to constantly rely on others.
She seeks independence and freedom, the ability to do and say what she wants when she wants to, though this aspect of her at times leads to tensions with others. However despite her flaws she is very loyal and courageous, willing to face any threat that would come against her and her allies. She also is quite confident, not letting her physical disabilities nor the negative opinions of others drag her down. It is this aspect of her by far that I like most about her.
She may have things about her that others may view as limits, but she is able to stand on her own despite them and hold her head high.
Overall Toph is an inspirational and fun character. Her earthbending is a visual treat, watching a small girl shape mounds of earth with ease, and her sarcastic quips always manage to get a chuckle out of me. It is actually because of her that I watched Avatar: The Last Airbender in the first place, having seen a few clips online that piqued my interest. I’m glad the creators added her, as she is not just a great attention to her team, but also an all around solid character!
And that does it for this mini-series mates, I hope you enjoyed them! Now as always feel free to comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
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Hope to see you again next week!