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.
4 thoughts on “thoroughly enjoying The Last Airbender”
Count me in as a huge Avatar fan… in fact, I’ve been rewatching it in the last few weeks, and am halfway through Book 3 as of yesterday. Definitely one of the best American animated series of all time.
As for the movies, I’m worried… MNS is a very hit-or-miss director, and lately he seems to be missing. A lot.
Agreed about MNS. Hes been quoted recently as saying he knows he went off track after Unbreakable, and he always wanted to do a sequel to it instead of the other stuff, and is now considering making that his next project. I think the big problem with him was that he got caught p in the whole “mystery BIG REVEAL” formula that his early stuff was built on and just took it too far. With Avatar, he has to work with an existing plot that doesnt fit that formula, so in a woerd way, it’s fresh. It will let him explore other aspects of being a director other than “ok, keep this BIG SECRET” – you know, innovative shots, scene lighting, whatever it is that directors do. The epic scale of Avatar is also something new for him, as most of his stories are pretty limited in scope.
In my mind, the one thing that will sink or swim the movie is not the director but the casting choice for Aang and Katara. And Aang is a lot harder. You need a goofy 12 year old whose as likely to use his amazing waterbending talent to make a snowman as he is to sweep fire nation warriors off the deck. but in the Avatar State he has to have serious presence. The thing I love about Aang is how he’s a 12 year old goofball kid AND a supremely powerful being at once. Hes so well-realized that you buy it completely. Thats some hard shoes to fill for an actor.
I too greatly enjoyed The Last Avatar. Unlike most epic anime series they did a bang up job on the ending while leaving the door open for a sequel.
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