Anime Month: Day 19- Avatar: The Last Airbender

Who would have thought that one of the best anime shows of this generation would come from Nickelodeon?

Even though it isn’t from Japan, Avatar: The Last Airbender is an animated show that was heavy influenced by overseas animation and culture. The term anime usually refers to a Japanese cartoon, but The Last Airbender is one of the rare exceptions for me simply because of the quality of the show. It is not like other cartoons on Nick, as it was subtly a mature show, with an actual plot that went from beginning to end.

The story was amazing, but two things that made this show so exponentially above the rest was its characters and the world they inhibited. 

The Characters

gaang

The “gaang” is what made the show special and endearing from the beginning. You learned more and more about the four nations as the story continued, but the hook was the characters themselves from day one. Some of them filtered in and out of the series, but the main group, including Toph, who joined later, made the show immediately gripping.

 

Aang- The easy-going airbender who spent the past 100 years in a sphere of ice because he ran away from his responsibilities.

Katara- The caring waterbender that sets off with the Avatar to help him as well as hone her abilities.

Sokka- The sometimes sarcastic realist with no special abilities who outsmarts his foes.

Zuko- The fallen firebending prince who wants to redeem himself by capturing the Avatar, and is struggling to find the right place to release his anger.

Toph- The blind bandit who later joins the team to teach Aang how to earthbend.

This core group of characters made the show what it was. You can have a good story and environment, but if the people in the story and world aren’t lovable, you’d quickly forget the entire show’s existence.

The World

avatar symSomething that I think is taken for granted in storytelling is world-building. Taking time to build the world that the characters inhibit takes detail and time, which some shows don’t have. Within its first season, Avatar did an exceptional job of making its world seem palpable. Heck, even the opening credits establishes the way the balance of the benders and the land works.

The world of Avatar was so strong, that when the series started an entirely new story with new characters, it didn’t falter a bit. Sure there were new characters to introduce, but the world of the Avatar was changed, but still so well established that the same amount of lore was still there.

Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra had a balance between the story, world and characters that came together to create one wonderful show that stands against some of the best animes out there.

 

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10 thoughts on “Anime Month: Day 19- Avatar: The Last Airbender

  1. I like Legend of Korra, but it sometimes feels too ‘teenage drama-like’, like besides Amon, the first book concentrates a lot on Korra’s relationships. I’m not saying that makes the show bad, but from a narrative stand point they should have done better to place it.

    As for Aang’s story, we see who he likes, but because he was a goof it brought comic relief, not drama. (Not until like the very end). I prefer the Last Airbender, it gives a light cartoonish feeling as well as nice fight scenes.

    • Yeah I definitely liked The Last Airbender a lot more, but Legend of Korra did have a lot of great moments, especially in the later seasons.
      I 100% agree with your teen-angst thing they had going on, but it made sense to me, because they were a bit older than the original group, but it certainly held the show back a bit.

      • I’ll look back into it, still with all the other anime getting a more juicy narrative, its hard to get back into it. i will see if i can make time!

          • Fairy Tail, Naruto Shippunden, finished Bleach, getting into Soul Eater and Full Metal Alchemist, after that I’ll probably move onto Code Geass.

          • Good selections! I couldn’t get into Bleach but I used to watch Fairy Tail almost religiously haha. Full Metal Alchemist is my favorite of all-time and Code Geass is a must-watch. I recommend Death Note too if you haven’t watched that already.

          • I did, I loved it. Dat second season intro doh XD Oh tell ya what try bearing with Bleach til you hear this- “Bankai”. Also avoid fillers at all cost, except the Zanpakuto arc. Yeah the fillers of Bleach aren’t really good…

  2. Pingback: April is Anime Month | Classic But New

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