We’ve been watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and are already on Book 3. This has been a fantastic series. It’s what I call Amerime (American animation expressly inspired by anime, like Samurai Jack or the Dark Knight prequel) and follows the story of a hero who has to master his innate power and save the world. Yeah, you’ve heard that before, but what makes Avatar so enjoyable is the sheer fun that the writers have with the characters. Main protagonist Aang is 12 years old an acts like it – goofing off, possessed of that maddening childhood overconfidence one moment, and stressing about facing off in his destined battle with the Fire Lord like a kid worries about an exam the next – including the mandatory dream about showing up without his pants. The basic premise of “benders” who can manipulate each of the primary elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water is both familiar and unique, with the bending styles drawn from real-life asian martial arts styles (with the same attention to choreographic detail as Samurai Jack). The world is richly detailed and the secondary characters are never two-dimensional. It’s just… fun.
I was also quite excited to hear that M. Night Shymyalan was tapped to make a live-action version of Avatar next year, but my enthusiasm for this has suddenly cooled given how the design for the Dragonball Z movie seems to be going. Not that I know anything about Dragonball, mind you, but it just serves as ample warning of just how profoundly Hollywood can take something and make it suck. That which is truly great has farther to fall.
In its pristine animated form, however, I can’t recommend Avatar enough. It’s derailed all my more traditional anime watching right now.