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Given that this is considered the arc-based action cartoon of recent years, I was really curious to see how well it lived up to the hype. Going by the first season... it sort of does.
The production values and technical elements of the animation are all top notch. The art style is good, the animation is expressive and fits the content of the story well, and in general the writers and designers clearly did their homework in Asian culture and martial arts. They've most definitely Shown Their Work. The real question is how well they've incorporated that research into a story and characters. The answer is, again, sort of.
On paper all the elements are there. Most of the time it works, but it isn't until near the end of the season that the show really finds its feet. The main issue is the protagonist trio; it feels like the writers hadn't quite smoothed out the dynamic and couldn't decide which characters fill which roles. Zuko and Iroh fare better, which is good in that the dynamic is interesting, and bad in that it's more interesting than that of the actual protagonists. Initially, I found Zuko's quest for honor and Iroh's attempts to temper Zuko's attitude more interesting than what the Gaang was up to.
Additionally, this season has Zhao as a recurring villain, and unfortunately I didn't find him particularly threatening. His introduction features him getting his butt kicked by Zuko, and for the rest of the season he relies on his troops to actually accomplish things. Zuko would've made a more interesting arc-long villain, because Zhao just doesn't feel dangerous or competent enough on his own merits.
The overall plot of the season is good, but the pacing leaves something to be desired. There are maybe ten episodes in the season that directly involve "get to the north pole" and the rest are just the cast farting around rather than trying to actually achieve their goal. And as a side note, the general treatment of romance is... odd. Suki starts macking on Sokka in the first episode she's introduced, and Sokka considered Yue his girlfriend even though he's only known her a short time and she doesn't seem to reciprocate.
Now, all of this isn't to say that the season is bad. A lot of it is strong. But still, the show is still finding itself. It's very good, but hasn't hit "greatness" yet.
I completely agree with this review (even though I'm not done rewatching Avatar). I also agree that Zhao isn't really that threatening of a villain and Zuko would have been more interesting. The romance is addmittedly kinda odd looking back but if you want to see some really weird treatment where romance is concerned, go watch The Legend of Korra.
You watched the entire first season, yes? Because she did.
Her initial reason for shrugging off Sokka's advances was because she was already betrothed to someone else and didn't know how to tell him. But she eventually hooked up with Sokka anyway.
Sounds like a case of Reality Is Unrealistic (no offense).
They're a group of kids between 12-15 off on a journey for the first time in their lives and two of 'em have only just met the third member of their party. It takes time for people to get used to each other, to where they comfortably settle into any sort of group dynamic. "Book 1: Water" is essentially the foundation for the rest of the series. You'll see them settle into their roles during the next two.
It wasn't like the Northern Water Tribe was gonna up a vanish if they didn't hurry, so where's the harm in a sidetrip, or two? In fact, in the next two Books, you'll find that's actually gonna work to their benefit.
One of the things that I like about the series and its sequel, is how realistically the characters behave. Sure, they've got a tremendous responsibility, and they've got elemental powers (well, two of 'em anyway), but the show reminds that they're 12, 14, and 15 respectively, by having them act their age.
So we're clear: I'm not criticizing the review, I just wanted to address those points.
"You watched the entire first season, yes? Because she did.
Her initial reason for shrugging off Sokka's advances was because she was already betrothed to someone else and didn't know how to tell him. But she eventually hooked up with Sokka anyway."
Point, though I still feel like the show gave it more weight than it actually showed. Their entire relationship consists of like maybe 10 minutes total; it just wasn't enough time for me to get emotionally invested in it.
As for the Reality Is Unrealistic bit, that's probably true, but there are Acceptable Breaks from Reality for a reason. It just ended up feeling like their personalities weren't really defined.
But yeah, you're right, the next two seasons fix most of that.
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