I just finished watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (the show)(open spoilers on the entire series)

What a phenomenal show.

A few years back a good friend of mine enthusiastically told me about this tv show. He explained the plot and the characters and really hyped it up. This guy was in his mid-30s, and his other interests included Vertigo comics, Spike Lee movies, and Stevie Nicks’ solo albums. Respectable enough. The only catch, for me: the show was on Nickelodeon. Sounds too childish for me.

That was early in its run, so I waited until it came out on DVD and checked it out from the library. I got through the first several episodes and thought it was alright, but didn’t see anything that really grabbed me by the boo-boo. Halfway through the first season or so, the disc froze, and I couldn’t get it to work even after cleaning it, so I returned it and more or less forgot about it.

Fast forward a few years. I came across it on Netflix Instant Watch and boy am I glad I did.

The first half of the first season still didn’t blow me away, but the second half started to show promise. The episode with Boomy showed that there was a little more to this than a typical kids’ adventure series. The Aunt Wu episode showed what I thought was some pretty clever writing, and kept me watching. What hooked me, though, was the final arc of Book One-- the siege of the north. Wow.

The story of the moon goddess was up there with great folklore, the Avatar state was evocative of the climax of Princess Mononoke, Uncle Iroh (by far my favorite character of the series) showed real character, the face-stealing spirit was genuinely creepy as $^&@ . . . it just had everything.

Season 2 raised the stakes, made Iroh deeper and more interesting, and introduced probably my second favorite character: Toph.

Season 3 was equally excellent, but really left me wanting more. I was really hoping for a long, Lord of the Rings-style denouement, and didn’t really get it. I think there was less than 10 minutes left to wrap everything up after the Firelord’s defeat.

Things I absolutely loved about it:

-The different sides of each character’s personality, and how they were allowed to emerge slowly and realisitically. Sokka was a genuinely good leader, but still made mistakes and boneheaded decisions. Aang was one of the most powerful beings in the world, but still doubted himself frequently. Katara was both a vicious foe and a dear, motherly ally.

-Appa. 'Nuff said.

-The attention to linguistics. I loved how Sokka’s teacher knew just from his name that he wasn’t from the Fire Nation. I loved the similarities in the Fire Nation royal family’s names; Sozin, Ozai, Azula, Zuko.

-I loved how fair it was to the sexes. The best earthbender was a girl. Arguably the best waterbender was a girl. One of the best firebenders was a girl. Several great warriors were girls. At least 2 Avatars that we saw were women.

-Just too much more to list, really.

Things that could’ve been a little better:

-Longer, more in-depth resolution, like I said.

-Sokka’s quest to become a master swordsman was very anti-climatic. He never really showed off his skills and he ended up losing his badass meteorite sword.

-I wish it had shown the horrors of war a little more. No one really died that I recall. I predicted back in season 1 that Zuko and Iroh would become good, Zuko would become Firelord, and Iroh would die (and I don’t even care that I was able to predict it-- it was damn fun watching it happen.) I think if it hadn’t been on Nickelodeon, my prediction would’ve been dead-on, instead of almost dead-on.

-I would’ve liked to see some more nuance among the Fire Nation. “Better” (in their eyes) justification for the war, some doubt from the citizens, etc.

-Slower, more “epic” animation in a few parts. Some otherwise amazing scenes felt a little bit rushed. The Aang Vs. Firelord battle comes to mind first.

All in all, though, great series. The only “American anime” that I know of, and a damn fine example of the genre IMO.

I am tentatively looking forward to the movie, though with some reservations; the director is VERY hit or miss - and more miss in the last few years, the kid playing Aang looks a little too serious in the trailers (not that Aang wasn’t serious at times, but I hope this kid can pull off light-hearted and playful too), and some of the cheesey humor that was forgivable in animated form probably will not be forgivable in live-action.

I really hope they handle it well.

I would say I’d like another season of the show, but I’m such a dork . . . I don’t want Zuko to turn bad again :o.

I forgot to mention something else I loved (actually I’m sure I forgot to mention an awful lot of things I loved): I loved how they weren’t afraid to change the characters’ clothes or hairstyles, unlike the vast majority of animated shows. There were frequent wardrobe changes, Zuko got a major hairstyle change, Aang spent several episodes with hair on his normally bald head, Katara occasionally let her hair down, etc etc. That was daring, IMO, and also artistically necessary.

I also liked watching Princess Azula go slowly but surely absolutely nuts.

Azula’s snap-transition from cold-as-ice fire-bitch to pathetic and downright sympathetic teenage girl is cited on TvTropes as one of the show’s greatest triumphs, if not a master-stroke in modern fiction in general.

Did I mention I love this show?

Shhh. I just started S3. I’ll be back once I finish.

My daughter was watching this show and had been for some time. I walked into the room once when she had it on, said “Are they really storming the Forbidden City?” and started watching.

Excellent animated series.

I loved the entire series, but one of the minor things that I really liked was that Aang had animal sidekicks that actually acted like animals. No talking, no clever human-like antics. Appa and Momo really seemed like a bison and a lemur.

I’m looking forward to the movie. Noah Ringer is a 1st Degree Black Belt in the American Taekwondo Association. I’ve quite possibly judged him in tournament competition in the past.

Well . . . Except that one time.

I love this show, and I particularly enjoy the attention to detail (there’s a sketch of a lion turtle in the library from season 2), but I just started re-watching it and something’s been annoying me: am I correct in assuming that the last three avatars, in reverse chronological order, were Aang, Roku, and Kiyoshi? I could’ve sworn Kiyoshi’s statue was just before Roku’s in the southern air temple, and since the avatars go water-earth-fire-air the elements are in the right order, but when the gang first goes to Kiyoshi island Suki mentions that Kiyoshi lived over four hundred years ago.

So was I wrong about the order of avatars, or was that a production glitch? I do remember reading that Suki and the other kiyoshi warriors were originally one-shot characters who were only brought back after their surprising popularity.

It’s also possible that avatars in particular and people in general are just obnoxiously long lived. Look at Bumi: he’s over a hundred years old and still going strong.

I liked how it showed characters of all ages interacting. And anyone was likely to turn out to be a bit mad. The swamp guys, THE BOULDER. Hee.

But I also wish the ending could have been a bit longer. I’m not sure it felt rushed, just that I thought, “That’s it?” Though it could be that I enjoy the characters and the story enough that I would always like more story.

I’m not sure if it’s people in general who are very long lived, or just benders. Or maybe just obnoxious old coots who are too stubborn to die.

And I’ve got to say, at no point did I ever really have sympathy for Azula. My feelings were more that she had it coming to her.

Another thing I absolutely adored: how most of the animals were 2 real world animals mixed (lion-turtle, koala-sheep, eel-hound), and they never felt the need to explain it or belabor it in any way. This set up one of the funniest lines of the series, when Aang says the monks taught him to have respect for all forms of life, “even the tiniest spiderfly caught in its own web.” :smiley:

As well as the introduction of Bosco the Bear: “Wait, don’t you mean platypus-bear? Skunk-bear? Armadillo-bear? Gopher-bear?” “No, just plain bear.” “This place is weird.”

too late

Really? Not even the part where she breaks down crying about how she felt her mother never loved her? That didn’t even arouse a smidge of pathos? Different strokes I guess.

Yeah, Azula was just Zuko without Iroh - with no-one close she could trust. The show never really explored it (but strongly hinted), but she was even more messed up than Zuko. She just didn’t show it as much. She was completely nuts from the start, but she hid it behind a mask of control.

Azula identified with her father from a young age, while Zuko related to his mother. It’s hard to say if her father ever truly loved her, or anyone else for that matter.

Eh, as she herself points out in the next sentence, the reason her mother treated her like a monster is that she really was a monster.

Yeah, but a mother’s love is unconditional, or at least usually is. And her shocking level of self-awareness just made things even more poignant to me. Like her monologue in ‘The Beach.’