The world is divided into four elemental nations: The Northern and Southern Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. The Avatar upholds the balance between the nations, but everything changed when the Fire Nation invaded. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, can stop them. But when the world needs him most, he vanishes. A hundred years later Katara and Sokka discover the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. Together they must help Aang master the elements and save the world. Written by
Kevin Jeremiah Gaona
Water... Earth... Fire... Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And although his airbending skills are great, he still has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone. But I believe Aang can ...
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When I fist heard of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I was a little septic. It seemed like it would just turn out to be another cheesy, serialized anime whose only purpose is to make cash. That, and when I watched the first Avatar episode, I noticed that it wasn't a 'true' anime. Avatar is, what I call, 'hybrid' anime: in other words, anime created here in North America. This only added to my skepticism. I have had bad experiences with hybrid anime. Shows like Martin Mystery and Totally Spies are hybrids, and watching them nearly makes me gag. The anime style is chosen for no reason other than to attract audiences. Their movements are quick, jerky, and you can tell they try way to hard to mimic traditional anime style, but in that sense, they fail horribly. Their written is witless and linear (i.e: the jokes in Totally Spies all relate to some sort of stereotype of girls, like hair, nails, etc) and the plot lines are all contrived (i.e: every episode of Martin Mystery). Yet Avatar: The Last Airbender succeeded where all other 'hybrids' had failed. The anime style was chosen for artistic reasons, and each of the character's movements are very fluid, and almost reach movie quality. There are typical anime elements that give the show a surreal touch without taking it over the edge, such as Appa, the flying bison, or the Spirit World. The action scenes probably impressed me the most, as the animators focus mainly on the ensuing battle, and not so much as the reactions of the fighter's or the onlookers. Each battle has a point, as well, and not just some random duel. The character's are very well drawn out, not just in an animated-sense, but also the depth of each character. But more importantly, we see these characters evolve through their adversities, and we see how they struggle to cope with their tasks, which sometimes require them to question their morals. Again, the humour in Avatar is genuine, and always makes me laugh, whether it be a quick quip from Sako, the running joke of the Cabbage Man, or even the coincidential irony. Even it's serious moments are well written, and the character's words have a deeper meaning. One of my favourite quotes is, "Part of being a man is knowing where you are needed". But what impressed me the most is how deep Avatar actually goes. The show has it's own mythology that is easy to follow, but sports a deeper meaning. Each tribe or nation represents a different element, but the fire nation is the main antagonist in Avatar. Yet we gain insight as to why this is. Fire is probably the most dangerous element, as it is essentially alive, and can destroy almost anything. This give us insight into the fire nation's need for power. Yet the fire nation has its own morals too, and we occasionally see things from their side, a technique that helps us gain better understanding for the fire nation, and even creates pathos for character's like Prince Zuko. Each tribe has it's own special abilities, relating to their element, and this relationship between man and nature is a common motif that permeates through many anime movies and shows (Hayao Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke" and "Nausicaa" are excellent examples of this). Various symbols of Chinese mythology also show up in the series (i.e: panda bear's, dragons, etc.) giving the show another level of depth. Avatar is, at its core, a story of growing up and facing fate, no matter how hard it is. I am so glad I was introduced to Avatar, and I am pleasantly surprised by its depth and wit. The voice acting fits the character's perfectly, and even the music is a joy to listen to. I would gladly recommend Avatar: The Last Airbender to practically anyone.
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