Saturday, May 20

Avatar: The Last Airbender Book One - Water

High-flying Martial Arts Fantasy Epic.

I've been talking about Nickelodeon's Avatar a lot. Well, don't expect it to stop anytime soon. The series is simply one of the best, if not the best, cartoon shows I've ever had the pleasure to watch. From the story to the characters, the designs and the music, to the animation to the awesome martial arts fight scenes to the genuinely funny banter between the characters... this show ROCKS. It's perfect from head to toe. Except maybe for fan service, but this IS a family TV show, so that's excusable. But the lack of bouncy boobs or skimpy outfits aside, this show is IT.

12-year old Aang would rather have fun than fight fierce firebenders. But then, wouldn't anyone?

Avatar is about the adventures of Aang, the latest incarnation of the Avatar, a champion who has the power to master all four elements (fire, earth, air, water) in a world where most people can only master one. When the evil Fire Nation attacks, only the Avatar can keep the peace. Unfortunately, Aang's youth caused him to freak when he was told that he was the Avatar. This resulted in him running away and getting trapped in an iceberg for a hundred years. Finally awakened from his imprisonment, Aang now has to face up to his destiny. But can a child truly handle this immense burden? Well, if the world is to be saved, he has to.

Katara is an anime heroine if I ever saw one. Smart, beautiful and powerful (eventually), Katara supports Aang throughout the quest as his travelling companion, big sister figure, later teacher and perhaps... love interest?

The characters of Avatar are all excellently designed and realized, with wonderful dialogue in both dramatic and humorous moments. You'll surely find a favorite among the cast, whether it's main hero Aang, or companions Katara and Sokka, or even antagonists Prince Zuko and General Iroh. As the show goes on, more cool characters, both good and evil, join the drama and give this great show even more depth and layers.

While he doesn't have any bending talents, Katara's older brother Sokka is a capable warrior with surprising technical ability. He's also got a sarcastic streak that makes him the source for a lot of the show's comedy.

Every episode of Avatar is tightly written and excellently-paced, containing lots of action, humor, drama and plot development that continues the over-reaching saga. The first Season of Avatar, collectively titled Book One: Water, concerns Aang's quest to master the Waterbending arts, and has him being pursued relentlessly by the exiled Fire Nation Prince Zuko. There are GREAT plot twists, character development, riveting drama and surprises aplenty, and the show only gets better and deeper with every new installment.
What's great about Avatar's writing is that it doesn't really hold back anything or talk down. Things like love, death, war, duty and so forth are handled maturely but safely, and there are great positive values espoused in the episodes. Both kids and adults can easily find something to latch onto this show.

While initially a villain, Prince Zuko will easily become a favorite character thanks to his tragic and intriguing back story and a sense of honor. Truly a villain you actually root for even though he's hunting Aang and the gang.

Avatar was created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino, whose previous credits include Family Guy, King of the Hill and Invader Zim. They were heavily influenced by anime and Asian culture for Avatar, and went as far as hiring a martial arts expert to keep the show's martial arts and bending arts authentic-looking. Each specific bending art is actually based on a real-world martial arts style: Firebending is based on Northern Shaolin Style, Airbending on Ba Gua, Earthbending on Hung Gar and Waterbending on Tai Chi.

Retired Fire Nation general Iroh is Prince Zuko's uncle and ally. Laidback and wise, Iroh may be on the bad guys' side (initially), but he's definitely a good guy. His genial exterior hides his awesomely powerful Firebending skills.

The Second Season of Avatar, Book Two: Earth, has already begun and is into the 7th episode as of this writing. The second season introduces new characters and continues Aang's quest to master the four elements as time grows shorter to the victory of the evil Fire Nation. So far, the quality of the show has remained flawless. The series will supposedly end with the third Season, the Book of Fire. You can catch episodes of Avatar on Nickelodeon on weekends in the morning and in the afternoon.
On other mediums, there are videogames and a card game based on the series coming later this year. It seems like Avatar is destined to be a classic. Well, for me it already is.
I recommend getting this show anyway you can, whether through online or on VCD or DVD, and watching episodes back to back. It's just that good.

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