Yes, I know I’m way late to be getting into Avatar. I always seem not to get into such things until after they’re already finished (Harry Potter, for example, I didn’t read until a couple years after Deathly Hallows was published). But anyway, I just finished the series. I liked it so much that I felt like writing a blog post about it, so allow me this brief bit of rambling about a favorite story, and then I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled programming (I promise I’ll write more Them Doctors! In fact, I’ve decided that the next installment will be extra-long and hopefully get the story moving pretty well).
Anyway, so Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’d had multiple people tell me it was really good and I needed to watch it, but I just hadn’t gotten around to it yet. I wasn’t terribly enthused, despite all I’d heard, because I’m not a big fan of American television. In fact I’m not much of a fan of television, period, and in general I only watch anime and some story-based live action shows such as Doctor Who and the BBC’s Sherlock. So I was a bit dubious. Then I started watching Avatar and got completely absorbed into it. It’s one of those stories that you can just sit back and lose yourself in, and those are my favorite kind. So many great elements to the show… I’m not even sure where to begin.
I suppose the characters and the way they were handled are my favorite aspects. This might sound strange, but I love that many of the characters were immature. They weren’t immature in an annoying way, though; they were immature in a realistic way. Most of them are under 20 years old, so it only makes sense for them to be so. Yet in so many fantasy stories with children and young adults as the protagonists, they’re either not immature, or they’re immature in the wrong ways. These characters behave realistically (although they’re not always treated quite as realistically, in my opinion). They act their age, yet they also show many good and strong and worthy characteristics. They act like kids who’ve been forced to grow up too fast, which is exactly what they are. Aside from that, I enjoyed their personalities quite a lot. Even Katarra’s–although for much of the series she seemed rather flat, by the end she was rebelling against her flatness, often trying to be “fun.” You’ve gotta love it when a character realizes how serious she is all the time and starts trying to act differently. Because, of course, that’s true to real life.Another thing I really loved was the treatment of Azula in the series. In the end she’s the most twisted and conflicted of them all, and she never repents as far as is shown. Her inner turmoil is never explicitly stated, never explained. But you just know she’s torn up inside, lonely, devastated, empty. I didn’t like her when she first came into the show. By the end, I pitied her as I’ve pitied few characters in fiction.
Anyway. I suppose all I really want to say is that Avatar: The Last Airbender had quite an affect on me. It’s the sort of grand adventure that seems to be rare these days. People often want to make their stories “gritty” or “edgy,” make them less innocent and more mature and dark. Here we have a story made for kids, which couldn’t be any of those things precisely because it was intended for kids. I think adults need more of that kind of story… that youthful, innocent sense of adventure, good striving for victory over evil, love and redemption and friendship. There’s a reason we tell those sorts of stories to our children. You don’t want to tell your child stories that would hurt his development as a person or put wrong or bad ideas into his head, or at least most people don’t. Why should something that is not fine for one’s children be fine for oneself? Now I’m not saying this applies all across the board. Plenty of good stories have things in them that you wouldn’t want your kids to see until they were of age. But never should an adult think that just because a story is “for kids,” it has no value for an adult. I think the world would be a better place if adults cared more about cultivating innocence and a sense of adventure in themselves….
Okay, I started rambling. Back to Avatar. There are a lot of things I could say about it, but… I think I’ll just end with this. Avatar has spirit and heart. It’s wholesome and satisfying on multiple levels, like a good savory meal. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t seen it yet. And yep, I know how late I am. :P