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Avatar the Last Airbender had been strongly recommended to me for some time. I had been told by friends that it was just as good, if not better, than the animated classics of the 90s, like the animated series of Batman, Superman or the X-Men. Naturally, a degree of hype aversion set in. I assumed this was typical nerd hyperbole, obsession leading directly into exaggeration.
And then I watched it.
Quite simply, Avatar matches the hype. Yes, it is a children's cartoon and has limitations, but like all great children's programmes, it doesn't treat the audience like they are idiots. The amount of effort and detail that has gone into the artwork and the story is commendable. All of the main characters have depth that you just don't see outside of the very best television programmes. For example, at first glance, Aang may appear to be just yet another generic goofy super-strong chosen one type, but as the series unfolds we see how he labours under the expectations of the Avatar, he has doubts, regrets. He is a far more rounded character than, say, Goku.
The humour is typical kid's show fare, but it works. When Avatar is funny, its very funny. Likewise, when more heartfelt moments come up, they work, because of the aforementioned depth of the characters. When lessons are learned, generally the show sticks to them-the characters are different, better people when the show ends from when it begun. And hey, the fight scenes kick ass. What more could you ask for? Don't let the hype from fans put you off, Avatar the Last Airbender is genuinely up there with the likes of Bt AS or Samurai Jack as the best animated programmes the west has to offer. Check it out.
Dude, first, don't knock DBZ, second, you're absolutely right, this show is awesome, it's on the highest ends of american TV, (note TV, not cartoons), and is up their with the better Anime out there. It reminds me, in terms of its mix between humor and darkness, combined with its character development and awesome fight scenes, Full Metal Alchemist. Its funny, an eastern show about the west, and a western show about the east are rather similar.
Well back on track, this show is awesome, and if haven't watched I would suggest that you do.
I'm not knocking Dragon Ball Z, it was a big ol' chunk of my childhood, but as characters go, Goku doesn't really have that much depth, the words dumb, hungry, likes fighting pretty much sum him up. I mean, Gohan, Vegeta, Piccolo etc have depth, but Goku is pretty straightforward.
I'm just doing some fanboy nerd rage, I know Goku is pretty much the blankest Shonen hero you can get, and the current ones, even Naruto kick his ass in terms of intriguing characterization and goals beyond, "I fight the bad dudes, and eat the food". But about my other theory, do you agree that are similarities between FMA and Avatar, theme and characterization wise?
Yeah, there are definitely parallels between the two.
I'd never watch this show if not for TV Tropes; I don't like western animation at all (mostly because I hate the superhero genre and because of Animation Age Ghetto in general) and I was afraid ATLA was also too children-oriented. Yet I loved it. It could be a lot better, of course... but it's still really good and definitely lives up to the hype.
And yes, if there was one anime it could be compared with, it's FMA.
So your saying don't get put off by the hype and are trying to hype up Avatar at the same time?
Just joking, great review.
I agree about the parallels between ATLA and FMA, but I'd like to point out that FMA is better.
I absolutely adore this show to death, but, looking at the skill of the writers/creators/directors, I can't help thinking of how much more awesome it would be if it were originally aimed for older audiences. They could have made it so much more powerful, allowed the villains to show how evil they were with some real on-screen villainy, and maybe allowed the heroes to get their hands dirty at some point, too. Believe me, I'm not into violence and gore for its own sake, but it would feel much more like they was actually, you know, a war going on. When the world's at war, kids grow up fast. That said, they did the absolute best they could have done for that timeslot. That was some really good use of implication and Disney Death. It's not a complaint against the creative team, but just a thought I have whenever they're forced to take the kiddie route at some crucial points. I desperately want Bryke to produce an intelligent adult cartoon that has an actual plot and isn't just needless cussing and Dead Baby Comedy. They could do it.
I agree with the above commenter, but would like to add that I think it's a necessary step out of the Animation Age Ghetto to aim a show like this at the younger set. Yeah, a lot of it is implied, but this show definitely deals with crazy heavy themes. When was the last time you saw a character in a kid's show deal with the ramifications of genocide? Bryke was quoted as saying that they wanted to make a kid's show that they would also want to watch, and I think they succeeded on every level possible. I do also think that they should dip into the older teen/twenty something demographic at some point; they could really make an admirable piece of animated art.
Just about every character in existence these days is better rounded than Goku...
This is a great show, and I couldn't agree more with this review except for the humor. IMO, it's way too Nickelodeon like and very unfitting for the show's setting. To be honest, the humor is the only thing that ruins the show for me.
Still it's not a horrible cartoon, no not at all. It takes risks and I like that.
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