One of the two best characters in this series, Sokka and the main title protagonist, Avatar.
As mentioned in the last review, this entry will be special because it is the review of all 3 seasons of Nickelodeon’s Avatar – The Last Airbender instead of the typical Japanese anime I reviewed here most of the time. Japan could learn a thing or two from this series, of which will be explained more below. Comparisons will be inevitable of course.
The main protagonist, not even trying to save his comrades.
Our hero Avatar Aang emerged from an iceberg where he was frozen for 100 years just to find out that the world is periled by the threats of the Fire Nation. Alongside the two siblings that freed him from the iceberg, he went ahead to a journey to save the world.
The story is not exactly a masterpiece, and it is safe to say that it is just a typical ‘saving the world from evil’ plot that you can see from many comparable titles, either from Japan or even America. The difference that sets this cartoon apart from others is that Nickelodeon is doing what Gainax has done to Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, and that will be the excellent presentation of a well-polished ‘ordinary’ storyline, aided with great pacing and character developments.
I will put my commentary about the directing here instead of the relevant section below, because the directors (it seems there are a few of them here) utilize good scripts (you should see some of the witty/humorous dialogues this cartoon has), innovative camera angles and managed to maintain good transitions between scenes. They are just some of the factors that contribute to the excellent presentation this cartoon has. With the exception of the first half of the 3rd season, this cartoon also has good pacing that allows the story to flow naturally from the start to the end. This is really apparent in the second season, which is the best from the three.
The best characters in this series, Prince Zuko and Sokka.
Characters’ development is where this cartoon really shines, especially with the major characters. Sokka and Prince Zuko are two characters that stand out from the rest, eclipsing even the main protagonist. You can see each and every character evolves from the start of the series until the end, aided by multiple development strategies used by storywriters and the directors, and this is one thing where Japan can learn from America. Not even Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann can touch this series when it comes to character developments.
For the weaknesses of this series, unlike Gainax, Nickelodeon did not really do anything to eliminate or moderate the clichés that can be associated with this genre. It (the clichés) is a double-edge sword, while it gives birth to excellent characters like Sokka and Prince Zuko, it also caused the storyline to become very predictable, filled with recycled scenes/plots that you can see being used in older but similar titles in this genre. This also affects the ending that becomes so predictable; you should be able to see what will happen even from midway of the first season.
Well, at least this cartoon does not have any emo characters here. That will always be a plus.
Our main antagonist with his followers. Also one of the best characters in this series.
The character design in this cartoon is pretty decent. Influenced by Far East themes, but do not have many black hairs. This is forgivable though, because of the fantasy setting this cartoon has.
Our obligatory female companion for our world-saving hero.
The voice acting in this cartoon is excellent, with the main protagonist, Sokka and Prince Zuko being outstanding. My complaint will be directed towards average voices for many of the female characters, which do not match their output of their male counterparts.
Our obligatory funny sidekick. Also one of the best characters in this series.
This cartoon does not really have themes, but the OST is somewhat decent though.
All world-saving heroes will need at least one pet that will help bail the hero and his companions when they are in a pinch. This is one of them. Fortunately, none of the pets speaks.
The animation in this cartoon is good even in fast-paced scenes, but I can’t help but notice that the quality seems to decrease as the series went on. It wasn’t anything serious though. For the choreography, this is the 2nd thing where Japan can learn from America for sure. The choreography in Avatar is simply out of this world, you won’t see any of the action scenes of this quality here in any of the Japanese anime out there, at least the ones that I have saw. One anime that may be similar to Avatar is Claymore, but they are not exactly close in quality. The concepts of nature elements in Avatar is simpler when compared to the nen system in Hunter X Hunter for example, but the execution is vastly superior, the action being more fluid, elaborate and very fast, plus the techniques are more realistic, intense and beautiful. And do not compare Avatar to Naruto, the difference is like heaven and hell.
My comments for the directing has already being addressed above.
No show will be complete without a recurring character that will make a complete joke of himself whenever he appears.
9 out of 10. America needs to come with more titles like this one. More Spongebob Squarepants will also be accepted.
One of the funniest scenes in this series (early in season 2), you have to watch it to understand.Some of the entries at Peter’s Evil Overlord List apply here.