Friday, July 30, 2010

Why I Love...

...Avatar: The Last Airbender!

Even though the ratio of decent:crappy tv on Nick is dangerously close to Disney's, Nickelodeon has it's few advantages that tip them over the edge. I've already discussed one earlier (iCarly) and now it's time to give some love to another one - Avatar: The Last Airbender. With kids' television in the shitter, it's shows like Avatar that give me hope for the young ones today.

First, what I love about Avatar is that it's not another kids' show about singing/dancing little morons who want to be famous. In fact, the Avatar world is pretty awesome. For those of you who don't know, in the Avatar universe, some people (called "benders") have the ability to manipulate the elements (fire, earth, air & water). The Avatar, who is supposed to keep the peace between the four nations, is the only one capable of bending all four elements. Avatar tells the story of a young airbender, avatar Aang, and his mission to master fire, earth and water so he can defeat the evil firelord. At its most basic, it's a pretty standard hero/villain storyline but, the bending & avatar lore mixed in with real Asian cultural influences makes for a very compelling story. (Plus, bending the elements? You know that's cool - don't lie.)

Another great part of Avatar are the characters; especially Aang. Aang has to be one of the most optimistic Chosen Ones I've ever seen. It doesn't take long for him to stop lamenting the fact that he's the Avatar and take full responsibility for his Avatar duties. He's no Buffy or Harry; constantly whining about how tough it is to be Chosen and how sad it is they aren't normal. (Whiny bitches...) Aang's a kid that still likes to have fun and that attitude makes the show a lot more accessible (and a lot less depressing than it has the potential to be). Plus he's freakin' adorable! Also great are Sokka and our favorite little scarred baddie, Zuko (Rufio! Rufio!).*

One of the best elements of the show, though, is the amount of effort the creators put into researching various cultures (mostly Asian) and incorporating them in the show. In fact, I learned something interesting from Avatar. The way they choose the Avatar in the show is based off of the selection of the Dalai Lama. Like the Dalai Lama, the avatar is a reincarnation. They choose the Avatar (and the Dalai Lama) by giving various toys to a group of children. Whichever child chooses the same toys that Avatar has chosen in a past life determines his or her status as the Avatar (Dalai Lama).
Avatar draws from various other Asian traditions, including Buddhism, Hinduism and general Japanese and Chinese culture. There are even elements of Inuit culture in Sokka and Katara's water tribe. Also (I'm almost done nerding out here), the bending styles and weapons used in the show are based on varying styles of martial arts. I find it really admirable that the show's creators and team would put so much effort into a "kids' show."

However, what's most cool about Avatar has to be the ample amounts of kid-friendly, badassery. First, our resident BAMF Aang who is, for sure, a master of airbending. Going hand-in-hand with his epic airbending skills are his BAMF tats. Yes, 12 year old (technically 112 but, whatevs) Aang has got himself some nice arrow tattoos that get all glowy when he goes into ultimate-BAMF mode, aka The Avatar State. Also, there's Katara, who, once she masters it, goes hard with the waterbending. Then there's Sokka who, although he's lacking in the bending department, can definitely hold his own. Also laden with BAMF tendencies is Toph, the little blind earthbending prodigy who'll give you a boulder to the head if you look at her wrong. Wait...
Anyway, the bad guys are pretty cool too (Zuko, Azula, Uncle Iroh, etc) but I've used BAMF enough so I'm just gonna move on.**

As for the movie, well, I haven't seen it yet but I heard M. Night took a big poo-poo on it so I think I'll just away from that one for a bit. At least we have some great source material to fall back on. For what could've been a lame anime knock-off, Avatar's done a great job creating interesting storylines and epically cool characters. Probably the greatest part about it is that you don't have to be embarrassed to enjoy it if you happen to be over the age of 12.

Not that I would be embarrassed because, I mean, I have no shame. *shrug*


**Almost forgot the ultimate bad ass: APPA.


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