The term "all-time classic" in any medium is not one that can be used lightly. In order for one to qualify as such, it has to fundamentally change the medium in a profound way. Avatar: The Last Airbender doesn't really change anything in animation or storytelling. What it does do, however, is take a lot of basic storytelling elements and refines them incredibly well for a so called "Kids show" creating a very high quality series that the whole family can enjoy, an increasing rarity today. The setup for Avatar is fairly stock when you think about it. An evil empire is out to Take Over the World (Of course!) and only a chosen one can master all four of the bending elements and stop them, bringing "balance" to the world. This is not a grand, original plot, the idea of evil empires and chosen ones taking from dozens of other stories. But that doesn't mean it's done poorly. Quite the opposite. Just about everyone, hero and villain, is fleshed out. The action scenes are extremely well done (with some notable homages to anime series if you look hard enough) given the Y7 restrictions. The story is well told, but suffers from the traditional seasonal trap of filler and varying quality. Characters get an equal amount of development, avoiding the trap of obvious writer favorites. Does that make it an all time great series? Well, nothing in its presentation hasn't been done before, from serial plots to ensemble casts to its themes. There are some filler episodes that range from pointless to outright atrocious. The traditional shounen love plot is present, and just as horribly dragged out here as it is elsewhere (with just as little care from the actual show in comparison to the fans) And the less said about the ending BTW, the better. I could rant for days about the copout it was to present a huge moral dilemma, and then have freaking Gamera appear out of nowhere with a magic whatsit to solve the issue. It just seems like a cheap way to keep the series at a Y7 rating. So it's a great show, and highly recommended. But it's just not something that can be considered the greatest show of all time or any other grandiose title.
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