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.

Vin tagged me to do this meme about '6 Weird things/habits about Myself', so here's some odd tidbits about the MADman...

I buy clothes about as often as I see my friends Arnold and Cynthia. That means if I buy articles of clothing more than once or twice a year, that's unusual. Clothing would consist of less than 1 percent of my yearly spending.

I have a Salt Tooth. I cannot do without patis or fish sauce at the table when I eat rice. I do so with pretty much any kind of viand.

I apparently snore like a motor running full tilt when I sleep on my back. As a result, if I have any roommates I must make sure I sleep on my side and stay that way (since that posture seems to negate the problem).

I cannot eat any seafood that requires shelling or removal of carapaces. I can only eat shrimp if it's served as tempura. I guess I'm just too lazy.

I have a favorite pillow. I don't consider it a security pillow, since I can sleep without it (I don't pack it in my bag on trips, at least), but I just have a combination of sentimental value and the genuine belief that no other pillow has the right balance of softness and firmness than my old pillow so I keep it even after years and years. How old exactly is my favorite pillow? I've had it since I was in elementary school.

I hate crowds, and this is something I realized only recently. I hate people who walk too slowly or try to overtake me. I hate people who block the way walking side by side or walk erratically like they have a broken gyroscope. In another world, I'd probably go wild with a machine gun in Cubao or Megamall on a random crowd. That's why I take taxis a LOT these days. The cost is worth the peace of mind... and the safety of the populace.

The last part of this meme requires that I tag it to 6 other people. I therefore tag El, Camy, Cams, Jamie, Jeremy and Cynthia. That's that.

Wednesday, May 17

Son of a Beach

I'll be heading off with the rest of the Salt Mines crew to enjoy a cloudy day at the beach from tomorrow until Friday. It's a bit of a reward I guess for all the salt production and elbow grease all these months, so that's good. The most worrying thing on my mind is that I tend to overpack for any trip, so I should make it a point not to stuff in four pairs of pants, ten t-shirts and the five pairs of socks into a valice. All I need I guess is a change of clothing from what I'll be wearing going there, underwear for sleeping and swimming gear... then pad it out with one extra article. Then there's the usual toileteries, toothbrush, toothpaste, soap and towel. Just wear sandals coming and going. That should all fit in a small bag.

As for gadgets, I'll be bringing along my mini, of course, so I'll keep in touch and have my media in hand. I'll also be bringing along my new digicam hopefully to snap a lot of pics and hopefully catch a ghost or two (the resort we're going to may have a spirit or two). Anyway, the best thing about the outing is that it ends going into the weekend. Coolness. I need this break. I need it a lot. Here's to a not-so-sunny but very funny (and safe) outing.

Tuesday, May 16


Toph the Earthbender is just the latest face to join the Avatar cast.

I've probably posted about this animated series on Nickelodeon before, but really, I haven't posted enough. Avatar: The Last Airbender is just an awesome series. Mixing anime with western animation like never before, Avatar is a refreshing quest adventure starring a party of young heroes battling to save their world from evil.
While outwardly looking a bit kiddy and liberally laced with humor, Avatar is actually a series as deep and powerful as a lot of the best anime out there. There are complex characters, plot twists and themes that are more mature than you'd think, and the characters are brilliantly conceived and designed. Best of all, while not as violent as the usual anime tends to be, Avatar boasts of a lot of awesome, super powered action thanks to it's magical, martial arts-based fight scenes.

I'm pretty sure local cable hasn't shown the Second Season episodes yet (thankfully there are other places to get your Avatar fix), but suffice to say that the series gets a LOT better into the second season, if only by expanding the number of characters to follow even more than your simple good guys-bad guy mechanic. The series gets a kick-ass trio of female villains while Aang's party gets a butt-kicking and cute new member in the form of Toph, a spunky and powerful earthbender girl. Awesome stuff!

With one season down and the second season only about a third of the way through, there's a lot more Avatar to enjoy. I wholeheartedly say that this show is one of my favorite anime right now. Simply awesome!

EDIT: Had me an Avatar marathon last night, and it just made me appreciate this wonderful series even more. The action, humor, story and characters are simply sublime. A perfect series? Well, as perfect as a kid-friendly fantasy action title can be (fan service would have made this an instant anime classic), I guess. Avatar ROCKS. Can't wait to get the new episodes as they appear. WOOHOO!

Monday, May 15


The Da Vinci Code movie is showing in a week or so, and I have to say that I am interested. I haven't read the actual book but I've seen so many specials on all the Knowledge Channels that all that's missing from my actual experience are the action scenes that will inevitably be part of a movie about bookish heroes dodging ordained assassins trying to uncover a scandalous 'secret' about the Christian faith. I'm not sure that I'll be moved to read the book after watching the film- that usually happens for me with the Harry Potter films (I'll probably read Order of the Phoenix right before the actual movie), but who knows. How can several million pageturners be wrong? We'll see soon enough.