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Avatar The Last Airbender back to reviews
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This Made Me Believe in American Animation Again
I grew up with Batman The Animated Series, Gargoyles, and other shows whose quality I thought I'd never see again in American works. Samurai Jack was perhaps the one exception, with Justice League also worth note, but these, I felt, were just the last embers of the glory days of early-to-mid-90's animation. Gone were the days of Doug, Rockos Modern Life, Ah Real Monsters, and all those other shows on Nickolodeon, and Cartoon Network had replaced Toonami with Miguzi. Ew. Everywhere I looked, I saw Tom Goes To The Mayor, or Spongebob Squarepants, or something else just as god-awful. Once Genndy Tartakovsky and BruceTimm retired, I figured, there'd never be a truly great American cartoon again. And then I watched Avatar.

I then showed it to my roommatem. His reaction was, "this is on Nickelodeon!?" Friday's at 8 quickly became our hour of worhsip.

Despite being visually modeled on Anime, it doesn't try to copy it. Instead, there's barely a hint of anime sight gags, characters act and move like westerners, and the animation is some of the smoothest on TV. The fight scenes, too, are a spectacle. Every one is its own Crowning Moment Of Awesome, and, like Samurai Jack, are not quick skirmishes - they take up a good portion of the final act of an episode usually. The final fight(s) in the finale (which are non-stop for a good 20 minutes, by the way, and not DBZ-style either - these are non-stop, hit-block-parry-block-thrust fights, for 20 MINUTES!) easily outranks even many of the best movie fight scenes.

Beyond the visuals, the writing is some of the best we'd ever encountered in a series, animated or otherwise. We quickly became weary of watching for the most minute things, because we knew they'd become important later. We'd repeat one-liners, usually from the newest episode endlessly until the next episode the following week, and then-some. In all, the scope and eloquence of the story, the world, and the characters is comparable to Lord Of The Rings.

This isn't just a well-done kids' show; this is on-par with shows like Lost and Heroes. Avatar has the perfect blend of drama, comedy, action, & romance that made Star Wars and Indiana Jones classics. Avatar is truly a landmark in animation. It's restored my faith in American Animation
After I got out of primary school I never was one to watch animation.

However I saw Avatar accidentally and loved it. It wasn't something confided to the parameters of children's television. It was just entrancing. Detailed characters, epic (literally) plot, and a progressive story arc. I want to marry this series and have it's child.
comment #805 wellinever 14th Aug 09
Until the third season anyways.
comment #807 Mr. Lostman 14th Aug 09
@Mr. Lostman:

What are you talking about? Each season just kept topping the last as far as I'm concerned! Like most stories, it has its low points, but in general the quality just skyrocketed after each season finale.
comment #822 Shrikesnest 16th Aug 09
Don't get me wrong. They did have a few good episodes, but as a whole the season is just plain weak.

The plots were all filler. Zuko loses fire bending randomly so they meet some dragons... okay? They see fire being bent in every color of the rainbow, but Zuko STILL can't bend lightning, even though he's resolved that conflict within himself, and they both only bend fire in red, when one would imagine, if they learned fire bending from the dragons, they ought to be able to conjure omgwtfpwn fire. Also, Azula is able to use lightning even though she was having a breakdown as opposed to Zuko, making it more dubious.

The finale where they got confused and thought they were DBZ rather than The Last Airbender. Energybending deus ex machina. That "I can't kill the Fire Lord!" nonsense that wasn't in the previous seasons.

Aang - "But I don't want to kill, wahhhhhhhhhhhh!"

Island - "Don't worry little dud, just pull this out of your ass and you'll win at life forevarz!"

Aang - "YAYYYYYYYYY!"

Fire Lord - "If it wasn't for you kids and your giant dog" *shakes fist angrily at the heavens*

Blood Bending, which was only used once inconsequentially. The White Lotus society. It's just four guys? And it was built up as this crazy organization that wasn't even really worth anything. 'Combustion Man' is never explained in any detail and serves only as a cheap plot device. They had all these little things they kept bring up and never really did anything with to justify it.
comment #825 Mr. Lostman 16th Aug 09 (edited by: Mr. Lostman)
Okay, Zuko still didn't have the raw power to lightening bend, he didn't beat Azula with skill, he beat her cause he wasn't nuts. And IMHO the whole lightening requiring a soul of peace was bullshit, Iroh just wanted Zuko to give up being a violent jerk.

Okay, energy bending is a cop out, but, kids show.

Blood Bending is used inconsequentially cause only two people know how, it requires a full moon, and it's highly immoral.

I understand your complaints, and it does require a bit of Fan Wank to explain it, but third season was still cool, even for the epic fights in the season finale.
comment #832 Phrederic 17th Aug 09
Yes, Fan Wank because there was nothing about "raw power", just that calm thing which Zuko did have. And he re-learned his bending (why I don't know) from DRAGONS (which should have solved the inability to use lightning if nothing else). Can you point out where in the show itself that calm thing is all bullshit, because that is not said anywhere.

Kids show nothing. They were attempting to tell a story and couldn't properly resolve it. Bad writing has no excuse, especially when Aang's resolved himself to actually kill him, even though he didn't have that problem previously to begin with. Even a Disney Death would have been acceptable.

Blood bending had no reason to be brought up if they weren't going to use it or play up any moral dilemmas.

This season also took a crap on Zuko's 'redemption arc', replacing it with some other random, boring reason to want to fix things.

I'm not saying's it was all horrible, but it is the weakest of the three seasons. The one with Roku and Sozin and their history was alright.
comment #837 Mr. Lostman 17th Aug 09
Did Zuko even try to bend lightning again after training with the dragons? I don't remember him making the attempt.

Bending lightning supposedly required emotionlessness, not merely freedom from inner turmoil. The firebending Aang and Zuko learned from the dragons drew on positive elements, rather than rage or hatred like the firebending Zuko was taught, but it wasn't emotionless. As for bending fire in red, why shouldn't they? The Sunbenders' firebending differs from the "corrupted" form in emotional quality, not special effects.

Of course, it's a fair question why Azula was still able to use it when she was having an emotional breakdown. Personally, I suspected that she was able to achieve the stillness of chi that ordinarily requires emotionlessness because she's a prodigy who's been lightningbending for ages. She's just that good.

The White Lotus Society wasn't just four guys. The grandmasters of the White Lotus Society were four guys.

There were some flaws in the third season, certainly. None of them was perfect. But all in all, I thought that there was a general increase in quality from season to season.
comment #870 Desertopa 22nd Aug 09 (edited by: Desertopa)
I was surprised that Azula seems to be evil but not truly evil. In fact, after reading Sozin's Comet Book Exclusive Interview with Mike and Bryan I learned a lot about her. What made her evil was her jealousies and repressed emotions.

There are more information about the rest of the characters in the interview that gives better understanding.

comment #918 kuei 31st Aug 09 (edited by: kuei)
In my opinion, season 3 was weaker than the other seasons. Simple explanation: Season 1: OMG, we need to get to the north pole! Season 2: OMG we need to find an earthbending teacher! OMG! We need to get to Ba Sing Se! OMG, they stole Appa! OMG, we need to stop the 1984-like regime! OMG the Fire Nation's trying to take over! Season 3: OMG, we need to... sit around for a few weeks with our thumbs up our asses until the eclipse.
comment #1390 SalFishFin 27th Nov 09
I think the show is very good, but also VERY overrated.

And also, season 2 dragged on for what felt like decades. Honestly, I'm surprised I'm alone when I say I don't give a damn about Appa and I certainly don't want to watch a whole episode about him.
comment #1470 EponymousKid 9th Dec 09
In my opinion, season 3 was weaker than the other seasons. Simple explanation: Season 1: OMG, we need to get to the north pole! Season 2: OMG we need to find an earthbending teacher! OMG! We need to get to Ba Sing Se! OMG, they stole Appa! OMG, we need to stop the 1984-like regime! OMG the Fire Nation's trying to take over! Season 3: OMG, we need to... sit around for a few weeks with our thumbs up our asses until the eclipse.

I have to disagree. In Season 3, the Gaang was spending the first part of the season making their way to the invasion rendezvous point. They couldn't fly there on Appa very well...
comment #1701 TomoeMichieru 19th Jan 10
At Mr. Lostman Blood bending was used in that one episode where Katara was trying to get revenge on the person who killed her mother. I think it was supposed to signify how Katara was acting against her morals, considering she said she would never use it again after the whole Hama incident. Also she tortures a guy with it.
comment #2043 174.49.212.131 11th Mar 10
I would say that Season 3 isn't the best of the three, but it isn't the worst either. I personally think S1 and S3 are about the same in terms of quality, and that S2 is a little above them both. I hate to rank them, because I love the show a lot and it's all good. I will say that I preferred the primarily plot-driven format of S2 to the episodic format of S1 and parts of S3. I think it was the return to the episodic format when S3 started that turned me off of it for a bit; after the crazy high point of the S2 finale, I was expecting more of the same, and instead we got half a season of filler. Extremely high quality filler (I'd watch any of those episodes in a heartbeat), but filler nonetheless.
comment #3481 Aerodactylus 20th Jul 10
Whoa, Eponymous Kid, you don't like Appa? Seriously? I thought "Appa's Lost Days" was one of the best in the series, and certainly one of the most heartwarming.
comment #4792 Crewe 15th Oct 10
Here's how I see it. The high point of the series is the Season 2 finale (starting with City of Walls and Secrets, though I skip over Tales of Ba Sing Se except for that one scene. You know which one. Hell, throw Zuko Alone in there too), but Season 3 had more awesome spread out over the whole season. At no point did it eclipse the finale of season 2, but at no point did it sink lower than certain other episodes. Not to say that those "other episodes" were bad, they were still way above the standards for TV these days.
comment #5501 DragonOfTheWest 20th Dec 10
That one guy, with the Zuko and dragons thing, having a powerful teacher doesn't make you stronger. That's like saying if Superman taught Batman hand-to-hand then Bats could start punching through buildings. And Azula being able to lightningbend is because she's really just that good. Zuko only even chooses to fight her alone because she wasn't anywhere near at full strength.
comment #14110 Blacknumber 2nd May 12
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