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Avatar: The Last Airbender
December 8th, 2005 6:55 PM by Kendall Lyons

Nick Premiere Show

Check out subsequent pages of this exclusive Animation Insider news feature article for additional reviews of additional episodes of this intriguing new, original animated television series airing on Nick.

Anyone watching Avatar: The Last Airbender will be reminded of the anime-style cartoons seen on the air today on other networks. Some are calling it Nickelodeon’s way of gaining an audience of Japanese Anime fans, and others are calling it a new style that probably wouldn’t hurt to try at least once.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is the story of a young boy named Aang, an Airbender of course, one who can basically use air to do all sorts of interesting movements and tricks. He carries a stick that can turn into a kite – like flying device, allowing him to fly as he manipulates the wind with his powers to airbend.

Twelve year old Aang is found in a glacier in the South Pole by two members of the Water Tribe village known as Katara, whose the only water bender in all of the South Pole, and her brother, Sokka, whose a young warrior in the tribe. Other characters Aang and the rest of the audience gets to meet include Zuko, a fire bender and, in fact, prince of all fire benders. During the time that Katara and Sokka find Aang, Zuko is on a major quest to search for “the Avatar,” whom apparently is Aang, the one whom supposedly has mastered all earth elements, from fire to earth to water to air. Simply, an Avatar is someone who can control or shape these earthly elements. Other characters include Aang’s flying bison, Appa, whom seems to be quite the interesting creature to travel on.

The conflict is protection. The water tribe for some time has been under attack by the fire benders. No one has been around for about a century to keep all of the land in balance between the elements of earth, fire, wind, and water. Aang just may be the one to help bring balance back to all the land; could he be the Avatar is the question. Many would sound out yes immediately, but perhaps the many other upcoming episodes will allow the public to answer the unanswered questions. As we look further into the premiere episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, it turns out that Aang only knows how to airbend. A little over a century, the fire group apparently worked towards taking over most of the globe, and at that the same time many wondered if after all this time, the last Avatar died after such a long period of being missing in action. If Aang is the Avatar, he is much younger than a century or so old. After being stuck in the glacier so long, assuming that things were still peaceful, Aang had no idea of the conflict that was taking place. The end result is that it could very well be up to a twelve year old airbender to learn all the tricks of the trade and help restore peace across the lands, with some kind of help from Katara and Sokka, and if were all lucky, a few others along the trail.

The characters are quite interesting. Aang seems to be the lighthearted kid that you can easily familiarize yourself with. He seems to bring comfort in the most dangerous or hostile situations. Aang is practically unafraid. Katara seems to be very close to the age of Aang, and most likely will continue to grow closer to a strong relationship of friendship with Aang. Katara doesn’t mind having the ability to water bend, but she wants to learn to improve her skills and believes that Aang would be able to really assist her in some form or fashion. Sokka is kind of a bothersome but meaningful older brother, who has very strong pride in his tribe. Sokka proves to be more than just what the show leads him on to be. He thinks Katara and Aang are both very weird, but most likely as the series goes on, he’ll get use to it all.

Avatar: The Last Airbender really was a surprise to me and surely many of the Nickelodeon viewers. Granted, there are many out there who will debate that the show truly was not Japanese Anime, but perhaps it was only meant to be a generic copy of the anime that is seen today on other TV networks and VHS or DVD’s. Regardless, Avatar: The Last Airbender has a great beginning story to the show, leading to questions that could easily be answered by upcoming episodes to help the show move forward. Also, the characters are, in all honesty, pretty cool. Aang’s amazing agility and graceful movement while airbending is very appealing to the eyes of a viewer, without any unnecessary Matrix-like parodies. Katara is the girl you wouldn’t mind hanging out with; and Sokka is the guy you can’t help but laugh at once in a while.

The color scheme of the program is not bad at all, almost following a standard color usually used for anime that is light in violence, large in action. However, once again, many may follow by a particular view on how anime truly looks in a genre of action packed fantasy. The best part about this series is that its not as heavy on general Japanese Anime if your not the type to watch this type of animation, but at the same time, if you are a fan of Anime, you may not mind the light tone of anime – style that is existent within Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Avatar: The Last Airbender airs on Nickelodeon with a new episode at 8 PM Eastern / 7 PM Central on Friday, February 25th.

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