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Even though seven years have passed by this point, there's still no question that a lot of teens and kids today declare Avatar: The Last Airbender their #1 cartoon, and the same applies for me as well. But I guess my personal experiences with it were pretty unique in that I actually dismissed it when I saw the promos and no one was telling me this was "TEH BEST THING EVAHRGH." I only got around to it by Book 2's "The Blind Bandit" episode, mainly because I was shocked that a show for kids my age had a blind main character. And really, I think that was an excellent gateway point for me because the show is unlike anything out there, cartoon or anime.
Probably the most striking thing about ATLA is how compact the story is. The creators put their all into creating an epic that would stand on its own, with little to no filler due to how most every incident, every conversation, every bit of something relates to the characters and their fantastical world. It's certainly one of the most atmospheric shows out there, with beautiful music and backgrounds setting the Avatar world as dynamic and wondrous, helped with loads of creative world-building. This leads us to another striking point of the show: the art and animation. From the characters' subtle expressions to the fluid choreography of the benders to the quirky yet oddly familiar mannerisms of the show's menagerie of strange critters, the animation alone deserves a gold star.
Still, be warned that the really tight storytelling of ATLA does make it hard for newcomers to squeeze through at any point they like. The series is literally a book trilogy; you have to see it from start to end, and the juiciest parts are left for you to hunt since not everything will be spelled out for you. But that's just nit-picking because I know a number of us don't mind re-watching what's consistently a high-quality production. It's no wonder people of so many different demographics attached to it: it can be silly yet mature and dark but inspiring. It's simple enough for a child to understand, but layered so as to warrant attention from teens and adults. Even if you don't buy the hype the around this show, feel free to check this one out: it's a passionate project and a modern classic that'll probably ring true for generations to come.
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