• Published a book you want to tell us about? Uploaded a YouTube video you want to share?

    Normally you'll need 100 posts to self-promote, but with an upgraded membership you can do so with your first post.

    Find out more here: Become a Supporting Member

Review: The Last Airbender (TV series)

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
22,832
Location
Highlands
Last-Airbender.jpg


You know how Pixar do great films, with clever plotting, characters, and appeal to both kids and adults?

That's what Nickelodeon achieved with their Avatar: The Last Air Bender.

On the surface, it's just a kid's cartoon series, superficially touching on traditional Far Eastern tales, such as Monkey or The Water Margin. That in itself might have been enough to make it unique and interesting.

But there's a real depth to this series, and a dedication to detail that goes way beyond the norm.

There's also humour, drama, seriously well-developed characters, clever plot developments, and some of the best subversion of tropes I've seen. The people behind the series show a clear devotion that makes Avatar: The Last Air Bender something special.

Yet at it's heart, it's a simple story - I'll let the introduction explain it:


Three seasons of Avatar: The Last Air Bender were made, all part of the same developing story arc, and ends after a satisfying climax.

What's really interesting isn't simply that everything is rooted in Asian analogues, but also that there's a serious diversity of roles. Many could have been lazily assigned to males, but there's clearly been some clever thinking in terms of challenging gender stereotypes.

This is made immediately clear in episode 3 of the first season, when we discover the Avatar is a continuous reincarnation where gender is irrelevant. Additionally, that's the same episode where the subject of "fight like a girl" is wonderfully tackled with the Kyoshi warriors.

This becomes underlined in season 2, when Zuko's sister and two of her deadly girl friends become the lead antagonists - and the powerful earth-bending master turns out to be a 12-year old blind girl. Oh, yeah - did I mention there's also diversity on disability issues?

Intelligent, clever, and inspired, Avatar: The Last Airbender is an animated series well-worth watching, no matter how old you are. It's also a great example of how the intelligent use of diversity can make characters and story much more interesting.

Just stay away from the travesty of the film. It's by M Night Shyamalan - need I say more?
 
Last edited:

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
22,832
Location
Highlands
We're watching this again - it's such a great TV series. Although it's a cartoon, it's an intelligent one that's really well scripted and has some superb character development. Would definitely recommend anyone with any interest in good storytelling to watch this. :)

Still available for free on Amazon Prime Video in the UK, too...
 

picklematrix

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 1, 2018
Messages
452
There aren't many shows of this quality for younger viewers at the moment, at least to my knowledge. I hope when I have kids they get into stuff like this.

Adult cartoons are going strong, funnily enough.
 

Werthead

Lemming of Discord
Joined
Jun 4, 2006
Messages
2,040
I strongly recommend the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, and the new series by much of the same team, The Dragon Prince, although it's set in a different world.
 

L.L.Lotte

The Anime King
Joined
May 1, 2019
Messages
281
Location
A Land Down Under
I strongly recommend the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, and the new series by much of the same team, The Dragon Prince, although it's set in a different world.
The Dragon Prince is a fantastic epic fantasy story. The script is probably a little too modern for the setting. It is targeted at the current generation of kids after all, so no surprise there, but the quality of the show is really good for a western animation. I thoroughly enjoyed it and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anybody.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
22,832
Location
Highlands
Finished our second viewing - this is such great family entertainment. Definitely recommend it for anyone with kids who might want to enjoy something with them. Some superb characters and story arc. :)
 

MikeAnderson

Emperor Xenu's Life Coach
Joined
May 15, 2019
Messages
90
Location
Making soap with my buddy Tyler!
Classic animated series. Deep characters, the story lines were complex, but children could grasp them. Clean animation. Too bad the live action movie was a...

Well, can't describe it in the words that perfectly describe it; I've actually invented new profanities when the topic of M. Night Shamjob's desecration comes up.
 
Top