Arden Cho as June in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Our Favorite Bounty Hunter Returns in ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’

The more I learn about the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series, the more I think it’s gonna be … good?

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Listen, like the rest of the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanbase, I was traumatized by the M. Night Shyamalan live-action travesty. When the original creators of the series reportedly parted ways with the Netflix production team citing “creative differences,” I thought that I was all set to be retraumatized. But these recently dropped photos look … sick. I’m cautiously optimistic now. Emphasis on “cautiously.” However, my fears are slowly but surely being assuaged. And now that I’ve seen the casting for the original series’ tracker-for-hire June, I’m—in the words of Aang when that lady had a baby after being harassed by a giant sea serpent—feeling hopeful again.

But who is June, you ask?

Simple answer: She is one of the two iconic goth girlies that grace the Avatar: The Last Airbender series. The other being Zuko’s gloriously deadpan paramour Mai.

Long answer: We first meet June in Avatar: The Last Airbender season 1, during the events of Bato of the Water Tribe. She is hired by the still-evil Prince Zuko and everyone’s favorite tea-drinking war criminal Uncle Iroh (no shade, I love him too) to sniff out and capture Avatar Aang. She’s an excellent tracker, but it’s the animal she uses to hunt Aang that truly deserves the praise.

June rides a beast called a shirshu, which is essentially a cross between a weasel and a star-nosed mole, except it isn’t cuddly and cute. It’s a grizzly bear-sized monstrosity, and twice as aggressive. The shirshu has the most sensitive nose in the known world of Avatar. In fact, its nose is so powerful that the creature has evolved to have no eyes. It “sees” using the awesome power of its nose. To quote June, her shirshu Nyla can “smell a rat a continent away.”

June’s true talents lie in her ability to control Nyla. Shirshus are extremely aggressive, and June appears to be the only person who Nyla doesn’t lash out at with her venomous tongue. Oh right, forgot to mention—a shirshu’s tongue is coated in a toxin that paralyzes its target. June doesn’t even have to bring rope when she’s capturing a bounty, Nyla takes care of it for her.

Aside from June’s animal taming prowess, she is also an extremely competent fighter. One of her first appearances in the series shows her arm wrestling a man twice her size in a bar, whom she beats easily. When his friends try to teach her a lesson, she manages to (literally) whip their collective ass without so much as spilling her drink. That’s the thing about June: she loves to drink. Once she gets paid for a successful hunt, she squanders it all on booze. Work hard, play hard.

According to Avatar lore, June was raised in the Earth Kingdom. As a child, she learned the tricks of the bounty hunting trade from her father, a successful bounty hunter in his own right. One day, June’s dad was given a shirshu from a rare animal collector as payment for a bounty. That shirshu was Nyla, and June and Nyla have been inseparable ever since.

While June’s personality is unempathetic and mercenary, she does have something of a moral code. When the (now good) Zuko hired her once again, she offered her services for free when he told her the world would be destroyed if he couldn’t find Aang. Well, I guess it wasn’t that nice of a thing to do. If the world gets destroyed, she can’t exactly drink or make money now, can she? Self interest wins once again.

Who is playing June in the live-action series?

June is played by Arden Cho, an actor who played Kira Yukimura in the series Teen Wolf and Ingrid Yun in the Netflix series Partner Track. Judging by the in-costume photos that were recently released, she’s already crushing it playing the bounty hunter.

Perhaps there’s hope for this live-action series yet. Even if there’s only a shred of it, Nyla and June can sniff it out.

(featured image: Robert Falconer, Netflix)


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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.