I have a type.
There is a very specific sort of person I admire, and whom I aspire to be: determined, caring, focused, kind, and capable of kicking butt when necessary. My type is the Cheerful Badass. The best possible example can be found in yet another character from Avatar: the Last Airbender.
*****SPOILERS FOR AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER******
Suki is leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, a band of female warriors protecting an isolated island in the Earth Kingdom. Their stylized make-up, armor, and dress mimic that of Avatar Kyoshi.
However, they rely on martial training rather than the bending arts. In particular, they use fighting fan technique.
They easily capture Team Avatar, believing them to be the enemy. While that issue is readily resolved, Sokka (protector of his own tribe, for all that he’s barely more than a boy) expresses disbelief they were taken down by a bunch of girls. Suki delivers a repeat performance of her abilities.
A chastened and impressed Sokka asks that she train him. She agrees, on the condition that he follow all of their rules, make-up and dress included. He does so with humility and respect.
He later apologies for thinking of her only as a girl, not a warrior. Her reply: “I’m a warrior, but I’m a girl too.”
Inspired by Team Avatar, the Kyoshi Warriors leave their isolated stronghold to help others in the war-torn Earth Kingdom. Suki and Sokka do meet again, and though they fully have their own character arcs, they are an excellent complement to one another.
Her team readily defends those in need (oh hai, Appa!).
Suki continues to fight despite capture by the Fire Nation. Imprisoned in an inescapable jail, she handily takes down the Warden.
Hey there, Sokka.
Free from the Fire Nation, Suki becomes a fully fledged member of The Gaang. She and Sokka might not be benders, but they are FAN AND SWORD*!
All manner of adorableness follows: Aang’s training, the Ember Island Players, sand sculptures, beach parties; it’s a delightful respite. Then the real world asserts itself. The Fire Lord, the final battle, await. There’s a moment, though, in the final battle – Sozin’s comet is blazing toward the world, empowering the fire benders. The Gaang is divided, fighting multiple enemies. The Fire Nations armored air ships are scorching the earth. Sokka and Toph have done all they can; their ship is going down and they are making their peace…
…and in comes Suki.
Swinging off a freaking air ship in the middle of a literal fire-fight. Strong. Assured. Beaming.
*the name of my tumblr, because I am a dork.