Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Avatar: The Awakening

With the onset of fall come the premieres of shows with plotlines that more than a few people think of as worthwhile. Among them is season three of the program produced by Nickelodeon, known as Avatar: The Last Airbender. Suspending your current definition of reality, imagine a world that is comprised of four nations. That is the world of Avatar, four nations of different people: the Fire Nation, the Earth Kingdom, the Water Tribes, and the Air Nomads. Within each group of people there are those who can control the element they associate with and they are called benders, but not everyone can bend. For instance, one of the main characters named Katara is the only waterbender in the Southern Water tribe, but her brother Sokka is not.

We enter this realm of magical elements and four nations in a time of war, waged by the Fire Nation a century prior to the beginning of the series. Those fighting against the Fire Nation's vast armies and those who have retreated into hiding have been waiting for a hundred years for the appearance of a soul who will end the war, restore the peace, one who has the capacity to master all four elements: the Avatar. Just as people are losing hope, Katara and Sokka stumble upon a boy in an iceberg. He has been sleeping for a century and his name is Aang. He is the Avatar, the last remaining airbender.

The seasons, titled as "Books" begin with Book I: Water, where we meet Aang of the Air Nomads, Katara and Sokka of the Southern Water Tribe, Momo the winged lemur, and Appa the flying bison. Season one is, as people might expect, an establishing set of episodes. Villains are met, allies made, battles fought, some of which are won and others, which are lost. However, even within that basic framework there are the threads that help keep this show interesting, which is to say the villain you met two episodes ago might not be as bad as you think. They might even be on your side. This method of gray instead of black and white gives it a refreshingly real presentation for any show these days, for children or otherwise. Book II: Earth (available September 11), continues on the journey and fight of the Avatar and friends to defeat the Fire Nation, but more importantly, to restore peace, which you realize may or may not be the same thing by the time you reach the season finale.

With a story that is both epic and endearing it isn't a mystery as to why Avatar has a following made up of children, teens, and adults alike. The plot is refreshing but not foreign and works from a construct of emotional strength and technical intelligence that is often lacking in kids' shows these days, simply because the creators often underestimate the children the shows are made for. Avatar does the opposite, if that makes any sense. It treats children not as adults, but as children with the full capacity to feel deeply, to regret, to hate, to love, to worry, to manipulate, and even to fail, which in the past would not have been an option. Left with a devastating and wondrous finale to season two last December, September 21st can't arrive soon enough for the avid followers of Avatar. The trailer for Book III: Fire was released at the San Diego Comic Con not long ago and is now available online, linked at the fan site of Avatar Spirit.

If you haven't seen all of this series so far, it's beyond recommended that you pick it up, regardless of how old you are, or if you like animation or not. If you appreciate a good story, you can't go wrong. Book I is available now, here at the Planet and Book II will also be available in less than two weeks. It's worth your money, which is more than can be said for a lot of things these days, but more than that, it is entirely worth your time, which we all know is just that much harder to come by. After you've caught up, don't forget the season premiere, which is what I was really getting at all this time anyway. Episode one of Book III: Fire airs September 21st at 8PM EST on Nickelodeon.

For those of you who do know what I've been going on, and on, and on about, one more thing: the first DVD of Book III is aiming for a release of October 30. Exciting? Awesome? I really think so! Plus, it's not too far off considering how long we've been waiting already. *insurmountable GLEE*

- Space Bunny



Blogger Davan said...

This is a wonderful article! Thank you for putting it up.

August 28, 2007 at 11:35 PM  

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