Avatar: The Last Airbender - Surprisngly good animiated series

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





I watched the first 5 episodes or so and really liked it, but then I missed a couple and never got back into it. I’ll try to check into it again, but it’s a series…so missing one can hurt.

The past episodes are easily accessible. I don’t know how much I can say without violating any rules, but do a search for the show in popular places that stream videos, and you’ll find it.

The show has also improved since the first five.

I watched a little bit of this with my little brother (he’s eight) and I think I liked it more than he did. It’s been a while since I’ve been into a cartoon, anime or otherwise. Maybe I’ll check it out!

Yea. Honestly I think some of the best aspects about this show would go right over the heads of kids. And some of the subject matter is pretty disturbing, especially in Season 2.

My brother turned me onto this series because he watches it all the time with his daughter, and I’m really digging it. I LOVE the Season 2 episode with “Earth Rumble 6” and Aang’s search for an Earthbending teacher. Just entertaining stuff.

Oh, and the voice work is particularly good as well. Extra extra points for Mako (Aku!) as Zuko’s uncle.


Sadly Mako died last Friday :(

Are you sure, because IMDB doesn’t have anything listed about that for him.

Mako, who in 1965 co-founded East West Players, the nation’s first Asian American theater company, died Friday of esophageal cancer at his home in the Ventura County town of Somis. He was 72.


Woah! That’s news in itself. Mako was a big player in the Asian acting community.

I actually typed in a thread about this very topic on Friday, but I didn’t like how it was going, so I aborted it.

I love Avatar, it’s a great series.

That’s very sad about Mako, though. :(

I got completely addicted to this show and watched them all about a month ago. I chose not to geek out about it at the time, but now that you all are…yup, great show! Surprising that Nickolodeon got its hands on something that’s so good and appealing to all ages, I thought they generally went for the extremely kiddie stuff. Zuko’s sister’s pure evil really is pretty disturbing, way more so than I would think people would want their kids seeing. Especially in the episode that’s mostly a flashback to their childhood. Sad to hear about Mako :( I never heard of him outside of Avatar and Samurai Jack, but he was a great voice in both of those.

I also thought Mako was great on Samurai Jack, horrible that he died though.
I’ve watched a few episodes of Avatar, it’s ok . The art style is pretty nice, the earthbender’s city looked pretty neat. I don’t think I’ve seen any of the new season yet. Last episode I saw was Ang getting taught rockbending.

Thanks for the recommendation. Just finished up watching the first 8 episodes via Netflix and I’m very impressed. High quality stuff all around and I’m particularly impressed by the attention to detail and choreography used for each element’s fighting style. I look forward to showing this series to my daughter in a few years.

Please change the mangled text of the title of this thread to “Super-awesome actor Mako dies, geeks mourn.”

Check out the young Mako with Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough in The Sand Pebbles, about an American gunboat in China in the 20s. Awesome movie, ties further into Qt3 by making frequent use of the word “coolie.”

As for airbenders…They’re good for your heart, so eat your beans at every meal. Know what I’m sayin’?


I recently finished watching both seasons of this show and it is freaking fantastic. For anyone worried about it being a “kiddie” show, don’t be. It’s got surprisingly mature characters and themes, and the action scenes are up there with the best of martial arts anime and films. The plots are generally very intelligently done, and there’s parts that will have you yelling “Fuck yeah!” and other parts that are heartbreaking.

Kung fu fans, check it out. Anime fans, check it out. This is not your typical Saturday morning cartoon.

They depict Chinese often in the worst light.