Avatar: The Last Airbender

Given that this blog is meant primarily as a back-up storage for the blurbs I’m using on Reddit, I’ve been oddly hesitant about putting up those rare examples of stuff *other than* anime that I regularly suggest on /r/animesuggest. That said, I’d be annoyed if I lost them, so I’m going to take the opportunity over the Christmas holidays to upload them here.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar

  • Trailer: No official ones for Book 1, though this unofficial one works nicely.
  • What it’s about: The world is split into four political factions, defined by their mastery of a particular Classical element (Fire/Water/Air/Earth). Bridging the societal gap is the Avatar – a hero capable of using all four elemental magics, cyclically reincarnating into each nation in turn. One hundred years ago, the Avatar went missing, and the militarised Fire Nation took advantage of his absence to set about subjugating or slaughtering the other nations. The story follows the recently re-awakened Avatar as he seeks to master his birthright and return balance to the world.
  • Why you should watch it: Avatar is that rare fish: a show that, while nominally for kids, has enough witty humour, action, and an intelligent enough plot to entertain adults as much or more. Once the show hits its stride it begins to weave a cohesive story together with fantastically choreographic fight sequences, goofy jokes and character development. The show’s story continues through three seasons and culminates in one of the most viscerally satisfying finales in Western animation. The world, its cultures, and its magic system are all well-realised and explored in depth over the course of the show.
  • Caveats: It takes a few episodes for the show to find the right pace and confidence in itself. Until then, it errs a little too far on the “silly” side for an adult audience (though it’d still be perfect for its target demographic).
  • Theme(s): Balance (physical/spiritual, emotional/intellectual, etc). Moral courage. Living up to expectations.
  •  Similar works: The obvious choice would be its sequel, The Legend of Korra, which expands on the same themes in a later version of the world. In Japanese animation, shounen such as Hunter x Hunter or Naruto are the closest parallels.
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