Take all the good parts of anime
while dropping some of the more questionable
elements, add all that was good about American 90s cartoons, add a dash of French animation, and you've got Avatar
The plot isn't exactly groundbreaking - young kid is the chosen one with magic powers and has to save the world from the Evil Overlord
. What makes is the fantastic spectacle it is, is that it's simply really well done
The art style looks rather Japanese at first, and many subsequent, glances. However, when you see it in motion, it utterly lacks the Limited Animation
common to anime
, and the characters instead move in a fluid manner reminiscent of Disney.
All the characters are supremely well-designed and written. Aang really seems like a happy kid faced with the burden of saving the world, Azula is believably vicious, Ozai is an honestly fearsome Evil Overlord
, and it's easy to see why Zuko has so many fangirls
Not only that, but the writers actually remember that there's a war going on. Regularly throughout the show, the characters come across some wreckage or damaged ground left by an army. Fire Nation plots interfere with the journey on numerous occasions, and to the writers' credit, these can't always be solved by four kids with plucky determination.
We also get to see the human cost of the war. Only one character actually dies (off screen), but a big chunk of the second series involves refugees fleeing the fighting, and we see all the hunger and desperation that entails. Still, the writers go on to deliberately avoid Always Chaotic Evil
in the third series, when they show how most Fire Nation citizens are decent folks who just want to make a living.
Unfortunately, the third series suffers from some Pacing Problems
. In order to get a counterattack by the good guys to occur exactly halfway through, the writers resorted to Wacky Wayside Tribes
in order to stretch the plot. To their immense credit, these episodes were still very interesting and well written. After the battle, the sequence of events leading up to the end felt somewhat rushed, though it was still decent.
And then the Grand Finale
itself blew everyone away with its epic awesomeness.
In closing, this is easily one of the best American cartoons ever made. Watch it and you won't be disappointed.