Didn’t see a thread about this show, and I figured it was because people dismissed it as another poor attempt by America to create an anime series.
For those that aren’t aware, “Avatar” is an animated series on Nickelodeon that merges western and eastern style animation. The world of Avatar is made up four nations, each nation representing one of the four elements, earth, air, water, and fire. In each of these nations there are “benders”, people who are able to manipulate the elements. And amongst all the benders there is the Avatar, the one who is a master of all four elements, and brings balance to the nations.
The story takes place 100 years after the Avatar mysteriously vanished from the kingdom. In this vacuum, the fire nation waged war against the other nations, and are coming close to victory. The first episode opens with Katara, a 14 year old waterbender, and her brother Sakka, discovering that the Avatar had returned. However even though the Avatar left 100 years ago, he’s in the form of a 12 year old boy, Aang. He is hunted by the prince of the Fire Nation, Zuko, who must find the Avatar to restore his honor.
What makes the show surprisingly good is that even though it’s a “kid’s show”, the characters are more complex and layered than we’re used to in most kid shows. Every character has complexities that make them difficult to categorize. Furthermore, the creators of the show, who previously worked on animating shows like “Family Guy”, really respect Japanese anime and researched asian culture to make the world reflect elements of that culture. For example, the various bending moves are based on real martial arts forms. Waterbending for example is based on Tai Chi. The dialgoue is well written and sometimes quite humorous, and the show has a surprising emotional depth and impact.
There are problems with the show. The show sometimes uses unnecessary sound effects to try to make the show more “humorous”, when it’s not needed. But these aren’t that common or obnoxious. And while the show is darker and more subtle than most kid shows, it is still a kids show. You’re not going to get the subtle complexities of something you’d experience in say Legends of Galactic Heroes. (a phenomonal anime dealing with intergalactic conflict). And the story, while well written and intriguing, is predictable sometimes.
Still, I would recommend giving the show a chance. The animation from time to time bears resemblence to Miyizaki and Studio Ghibli’s work, as the creators are huge fans of his work. Either track down the first season dvd’s through netflix, or find it through other means. The show is also available on iTunes.
Also, Avatar is a hugely popular series, and so it’s just been signed on for the third season. The series was originally only going to be three seasons. But due to the popularity it might go longer.
Here’s 4 youtube videos showing how the various waterbending techniques are based on real forms. And also gives you an idea of the animation