Avatar: The Last Airbender (2003–2008)
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I give the show an easy 10/10, especially if you watch all the shows in order.
It is September 2016, more than a decade this this series was done, and I will be your reviewer this evening.
Our menu is simple -- we are only offering just one review and that review only comes with the very rare "perfect score" of 10. Sorry, no substitutions.
I am a prolific reviewer here (over 1350 reviews) which is a polite way of saying I watch too much TV and have too much time on my hands.
When I first watched this series I made the same "mistake" most reviewers do when reviewing anything for the first time. As good as it was, I "assumed" that over time something better would appear. But that never happened.
So after 10 years I have given up. I just rewatched the whole series top to bottom and currently have a nice endorphin buzz going because this astonishing series just gets better as you go, and the final episode just plants a big smile on your face.
Perfect writing, direction, story, dialog, animation, characters. And all with a chewy moral center.
(And some really deep metaphysical concepts -- like the island where everything is connected. That is a reference to one of the oldest religions in the world.)
I know what you are thinking. I tried to get into Korra but all I kept seeing there were the many errors the producers made in trying to improve on something which simply cannot be improved on.
It is official. I am calling it.
The best overall series in the history of TV.
And it just gets better with age.
Avatar tells a complete a perfectly paced epic plot over the course of 61 22 minute episodes. The show contains several unique and beautifully detailed characters among its main cast, all of whom are given consistent and engaging development throughout. From family related guilt and angst, identity dilemmas and the characters constant, overarching and looming quest, the characters are pressed with many trials which actually truly change them over the course of their magnificent journey. Aside from the primary cast, many intriguing and varied side characters appear throughout the adventure. They offer comedic levity, new forms of drama and help to add to the deep mythological and philosophical backbone of the show. All characters are exquisitely written and voice acted, with not a badly portrayed among them.
Next I will cover the show's borderline legendary animation. It is a sight to behold indeed. I believe I am justified in believing that such stellar production values will never again be pared with this level of artistic imagination again, at least not in my lifetime. The scope, creativity and energy of the shows animation is second to no other show, and it's balance of colour is never anything less than sublime. Aside from sweeping and moving visuals, Avatar also offers fast paced and unbelievably well choreographed action scenes (once again, second to none) and well timed slapstick comedy. Not only is the animation stunning, it is also staggeringly versatile.
The show's epic mythos is also very strong, and demands to be deepened and added to (thankfully Korra is doing just that). It takes inspiration from Buddhist, Inuit, Western, Japanese and Korean cultures to deliver it's unique world, as well as many original and creative elements in conjunction with the more recognisable real world concepts. The show manages to weave philosophy and deep moral concepts within its world and characters, creating one of the most fleshed out fantasy worlds of the last several decades.
In conclusion, what can I even say? I love Avatar: TLA more every time I experience it, and it is one of very few shows (or even films) which can provoke a primal emotional response from me each time I see it, without fail. It sends shivers down my spine, and puts a tear to my eye, leaving me totally satisfied and fulfilled each time. My favourite television show, of all time.
Anyway, I think that Avatar: The Last Airbender is a good program, and is sure to be a hit as long as Nick doesn't screw it up. It seems to have the right amount of humor and action to keep it appealing to me (and I'm 19!). As long as the creators can keep the show original and stop Nick from bastardizing it by saying things like "its too violent" or "You can't have Saaka be sexist." Stay the course and you'll be gold!
Avatar: The Last Airbender is Nick's newest show where they took a sudden left turn from traditional American comedy Cartoons into something similar to DC's Teen Titans and Cartoon Network's Samurai Jack. A series anime show with some laughs mixed in while the world literally is on the brink of destruction.
So far, Nick has outdone themselves this time and if they can keep it up, Nick is going to have a brand new name for itself.
I tune in every week just wondering what will happen; will Aang move any closer to mastering the elements? What's Zuko's plan to capture the Avatar this week? And is there a love relationship growing between Aang and Katara?
Once you start watching this show, you won't be able to stop. It's THAT good. Every new episode only adds to the legend of the Avatar, and if you haven't seen it, I suggest you see it soon, because you are missing something great. I predict that "Avatar: The Last Airbender" will become the best cartoon in Nickelodeon history, if it isn't already. 12/10
Compared to other anime-inspired shows made here in the US, Avatar is a leap ahead of the rest. A big leap. And furthermore, it's on Nick. Nick viewers aren't used to to shows like this. Shows with developing characters, and a deep story. But despite that, and what you may hear from others, Avatar is a popular show. I wouldn't be surprised if this show went far. It has humor, a good bit of it, and those cute anime faces we all love (well, anime fans). It has action. It even gives us a reason to cry once and a while (if you like the show enough). And romance, of course, if you look for it. Overall, this show is worth a watch. However, you have to start from the beginning, so you know what's going on. I give it a 9/10.
Of course, this isn't the first form of media that has incorporated the power of the elements, but their method of how they do it here is remarkable. For every element to be adopted into its own nation, reflecting the psyches and philosophies attributed to the respective element is truly inspiring.
All the characters are written for and performed expertly, save for maybe some of the guest characters (*cough cough* Jet). My favourite character by far is Zuko. The progression and development of this character is incredible and captures perfectly the transition from villain to antihero to hero. Aang is a good character too, but he's a bit of a goody-two-shoes half the time. Katara and Sokka are equally appealing characters, as well as Toph.
The brilliance of this show is that it is perfectly paced. Sure, you get the occasional filler episode, but every episode (leaving out The Great Divide) has a purpose and adds more layers to this intriguing story and the world it is set in.
Again, for a children's show to incorporate seriously heavy topics and still have a silly sense of humour is just impressive. I get annoyed every time someone stereotypes this series as just a 'kids show', brushing it off. This show can be watched by someone of any age, and that is one of the reasons I admire it so much. It's not pandering at all and tackles the heavy subject matter in a mature way.
Sadly, after The Legend of Korra, Nickelodeon never seemed to follow in the footsteps of Avatar which I found upsetting. Kids need more shows like this, if I'm being honest.
Loved it and Recommended it to all my pals and not one person has failed to fall in love with this epic. I ranted and raved about it wherever I went.
Then, life took over and I didn't have the time to think about or revisit the original Avatar : The Last Airbender.
Until last week, I tuned in again. I finished the episodes by the fistful, completing 3 complete seasons in 3 days.
I never thought I would miss my friends so much because by the end of this series thats what the characters will be to you. I cannot express the sadness that creeped in over the last episode when I knew it was all going to come to an end. I would no longer get to see the wonderful lives of all characters I had grown to adore & take into confidence.
Watching & experiencing this series has been one the most affirming moments of my life.
I beg you not to go without experiencing the brilliant epic that is Avatar : The Last Airbender.
What makes this show incredible is how it blends rich colourful storytelling that aims to entertain with deeper nearly philosophical structures beneath it. It's subtle. It's clever. You can watch it again and again and pick up new pieces each time. The story itself is about a child named Aang who finds himself in a world he doesn't belong in - quite literally, as he had been frozen for about a century and 'woke up' in this world. The protagonist is a young boy named Aang and is, as the title suggests, the last Airbender - a sect of humans with the ability to manipulate the air around him, such as using it for his glider to fly higher and for catching himself when he falls. In this world there are 4 kinds of bender: Earth, Fire, Air, Water. In this world, you are born into these sects. Mastering a single form of bending can take a lifetime. Aang however is special, he is the Avatar, the one person who can use all 4 elements and uses this power to maintain the piece between the 4 bending peoples. He has had hundreds of past lives as the Avatar, and has a spiritual connection to each of his past lives, but ran away from his training before connecting with his spiritual past selves.
Once awoken, Aang finds out that the world he left behind to be in turmoil as the nation of the Firebenders have begun to use their strength to conquer the world, slaying every Airbender in the hopes to kill the Avatar. The world has assumed the Avatar line is broken and Aang died long ago, such as the two young Waterbenders that awaken Aang in the pilot episode. These two, Katara and Sokka, are two young kids left parent-less by this war, with Katara the only Waterbender in her whole tribe, as the Firebenders remove anyone capable of waterbending in fear of rebellion. Throughout the first series, Aang must learn how to waterbend from Katara - a task that is not without slip ups. The plot begins as a simple coming of age story, but quickly takes to tackling far more mature themes from the deeds of Aang's past life to struggling acceptance that not everyone can be saved, in thought provoking greying morality where right and wrong are nothing more than tidal forces. Each season introduces a new element for Aang to master until finally he must retake the responsibilities of the Avatar and bring balance to the world.
This show has so many layers that there is without doubt a character for everyone. There are powerful, well defined story arcs, but within episodes, there are simple adventures that let each character grow and develop into almost real people. There is a plot about redemption from one of the show's main antagonist, Zuko, son of the Fire Nation's supreme leader, Fire Lord Ozai, exploring the morality of what it means to be born into the baddies side of things that in itself deserves the highest awards in plot writing. One of the main characters, the water tribe born Sokka, does not have any super powers but still tries to stand on the shoulders of giants. His grievance that the world is not fair to his attempts to become a man is an enthralling story of acceptance and overcoming limitations. The earthbender companion, Toph, introduced in the second season, is blind and thought of as helpless. She struggles with being thought of as less than everyone else for a disability she was born with, and is as stubborn as the rocks she bends. Seeing her open up and begin to trust her friends enough to let them in is heart warming and portrays human emotion in an incredibly believable light. Even the world itself is a living, breathing thing, the plot lines revolving around the animals of the world are near parable in nature without ever coming off as overly preachy or boring. This show is without doubt for you if you have ever felt emotions and can care about the lives of others, and if you can't, this show will make you feel those things.
This show's central theme is Balance. Not winning, not losing. Not for glory, or for sorrow. Every aspect of the story is perfectly fitting and a joy to watch, no matter what age you start. If I ever have kids, I'm watching this with them. It's incredible what you can learn from a well thought out story
That being said, the show is truly amazing. The characterization is great and the voice actors fit the characters well. The animation is of a fairly good quality, although it's clear that some corners are cut with the animation at times.
The reason I say the show is amazing is because of the concepts. The martial arts and bending of the elements are a real joy to watch, and you can tell that a lot of thought was put into it. I would recommend this to anyone who still has enough imagination to fully appreciate it, (a rarity in recent times), and to anyone mature enough to be able to enjoy something that a kid could enjoy as well, (sadly enough it seems these days people think something has to be full of torture and death to be entertaining.)
Not only that, the universe created is astounding, and even comparable to the universe of The Lord of the Rings. Even more, with the different bending techniques shown: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. The fighting techniques were almost perfect, simple and yet extremely detailed. The storyline was intricate and delicately intertwined with each character, full of revealing information that helps you understand, all the while developing into a final climax which bursts out and leaves you breathless.
The animation left me at a loss for words. It was crisp, clear, and full of detail, every line drawn out beautifully, from the first season to the third, the animation gets better progressively. The backgrounds and landscapes were awesome: Book One opens with the icy blue atmosphere and muted greys of a winter season, then bursting into a green and flowering, as well as shaded brown spring in Book Two, and finally opening into a golden-red summer wreathed with sun in Book Three.
The script, on the other hand, was put together marvellously, incorporating witty quotes and perfect conversation. The voice acting was excellent, each voice actor blending emotions into their respective character and making us truly feel for them when they get hurt, when they experience sadness or happiness and so forth, and make us really come to care for them in time. My personal favourite is Katara - gutsy, independent, and fiercely stubborn, but there's a lot to be said for Aang, who learns to grow up and face his responsibilities, and also for the trustworthy and steadfast Sokka as well as the sarcastic but emotional and reliable Toph, and Zuko, who is angsty and troubled at first, but later becomes more courageous and willing to face his fears.
All in all, this is not a show to be missed. This is one of those cartoons which are for both adults and children to enjoy. This show, as prejudiced it may seem, actually makes your imagination explode (I admit I'd have loved to be a Waterbender) and burst to life as battles and confrontations are fought. Truly, it really will be remembered in years to come.
Season 1 starts off slowly but only because of the terrific character introductions and world building, introducing the lovable team of protagonists Aang, Katara and Sokka being chased by the angsty Prince Zuko accompanied by his adorable and wise uncle.
Season 2 is probably the best, and introduces an awesome new character, Toph and a perfect new villain, Azula. The animation also improves and is packed with action, emotion and epicness.
The Final Season is also magnificent and the characters are at their best at this point, and so is the animation quality.
Overall this show is a must! I've shown it to several kids and adults alike and they always end up being hooked.