It’s a giant mushroom… MAYBE IT’S FRIENDLY!   

Where to begin this tale of a girl and the TV show she falls in love with in the span of three weeks…

It was a dark and stormy night (lie!) and I was flipping through the channels (more like reading LJ) when I happened upon something so wonderous that I felt compelled to keep watching (well, that part has been known to happen). Sigh. I can’t lie to you. I’m weak.

[info]spectralbovine has been talking up Avatar: The Last Airbender for… I can’t actually remember a time when he wasn’t talking about it. (Just kidding, Sunil.) I was resisting. Not because I doubted his word that it was a great show. Quite the opposite. If there’s one thing Sunil and I share, it’s a similar taste in television and movies. Granted, he’s more discerning than I am but, then, who isn’t?

No, no, it wasn’t because I didn’t trust Sunil’s recommendation. It’s just… look you know how many shows I’m watching. I just couldn’t bear to add another one to the list. Juggling my TV schedule is hard enough as it is without having to go back and get caught up on something new. But, I am weak and the curiousity was killing me. Then, in a post not long after the new year, he recommended it yet again and I finally broke down.

The first DVD arrived on my doorstep on January 26th. In the 19 days that have followed (I finished watching on Valentine’s Day), I have watched all of season 1 and 2 of Avatar: The Last Airbender and I’m here to tell you that I LOVE IT. I’m going to do a shitty job of articulating just how much I love it but you must trust me. IT IS AWESOME. I want the power to travel through time so that I can jump forward to July and season 3 of this incredible show.

So what exactly is this show about and why do I love it so? To put it simply it’s about a boy, Aang, who just wants to be a boy but is expected to save the world. He ran away from these expectations once but now, a hundred years later, he’s finally facing his destiny with the help of his friends. Together they are on a quest to save the world from the Fire Nation. We get to travel along on this epic journey of balance, self-discovery, and friendship.

Now, for the more complicated explanation…

You see Aang is the Avatar, the one being on the planet capable of mastering the bending of each of the four elements of the planet: water, earth, fire, and air. As such, the world looks to him to keep each of the four nations (Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, Air Nomads, and Fire Nation) in harmony and maintain world order. For ages, the various incarnations of the Avatar have done just that. Only when Aang learned what he was, at the young age of 12, he was overwhelmed by what it meant. His youth was cut short with his friends suddenly treating him differently and the weight of the world falling onto his shoulders. Confused and frightened by it all, he jumped on the back of his flying bison, Appa, and ran.

A hundred years later the Fire Nation is waging an imperialistic war against the other nations. As far as we know, the Air Nomads have been eliminated. The Water Tribes are barely holding on, the Southern Tribe has sent its warriors out to help with the war and the Northern Tribe has cut themselves off from everyone else in an attempt to keep the Fire Nation out. The Earth Kingdom is the last wall of defense and yet the Fire Nation is slowly but surely chipping away at them. No one knows where the Avatar is and hope is running out. That is until a brother and sister from the Southern Water Tribe, Katara and Sokka, find Aang and realize who he is. With the exiled Prince Zuko, of the Fire Nation, hot on their trail they set off to find the masters Aang needs to finish his training.

I can’t say too much more without giving away more than I should. I hope it’s already enough to get you interested. Especially since I’ve finally gotten to the part where I admit it is an animated adventure. I refuse to call it a cartoon because it isn’t really. Or, if it is, you should consider that a disguise intended to get kids watching because it’s not your typical cartoon. If anything, it’s more anime-like than cartoon-like. And none of this is said to knock cartoons, which I love. I say it to make it clear that you shouldn’t dismiss it as a kids show. It’s a great show. Plus, the animation is kick ass. The transitions between scenes constantly blow me away. The effects in the finale of season one are phenomenal and there are some visuals in the finale of season two that are my favorite of the entire series.

As for why I love it… well the great story is definitely a draw. You can’t wait to see what happens next. I had to wait on Netflix to send me new discs every day or I probably would have watched all the way through in one sitting. And the episodes are just plain fun. These are kids and teenagers so there’s always plenty of lighthearted moments and humor to go along with the more serious moments. Then there are all the secondary characters, many of whom I love almost as much as the main characters. Not to mention the crazy continuity. You can tell that this show has been planned out and the showrunners know where they are going. Things that you think are throwaway mentions end up being plot points entire episodes and even seasons later. It’s also pretty amazing how much research has gone into the show. Each of the various elements and their bending techniques are based on actual martial arts styles and elemental mysticism. Even the slightest details in the show from the styles of each Nation to the clothes to the writing to the characters you meet are drawn from so many various cultures. You can tell that they are paying attention to everything they do.

But, in the end, it’s the characters that make me all weak in the knees. Sunil asked me who was my favorite and, you know, I can’t pick. Every time I try to narrow it down to one, I keep coming up with reasons to pick them all. The majority of them are pre-teens or teenagers but none of them are one dimensional. They have depths and they do both the expected and unexpected but they always do things that make absolute sense given what we have learned about them and their age and their point in their various journies. I could go on but I’ll save it for my post about why I love each of the characters, my favorite episodes and quotes. A post for another day because this one is already way too long and I wanted to stay away from spoilers right now. It’s so much better to watch the entire tale unfold before your eyes.

Convinced yet? If you want to catch up on Avatar: The Last Airbender, you can buy season one in stores now or you can download it off iTunes. Nickelodeon is currently repeating season two so you can tape the various episodes as they repeat or you can also get them on iTunes. The one thing I will say is that you definitely want to watch these in order. I suspect you’ll still be pulled into the story if you can’t but it’s a much more satisifying experience to be able to see the entire progression.

So, watch! Please… pretty please? And then come back and read my next post about it, whenever I get that one done.

3 Responses to “It’s a giant mushroom… MAYBE IT’S FRIENDLY!”

  1. 1
    cdn_tvaddict says:

    D’oh! What are you doing to me? You know I can’t resist this kind of stuff… this is only going to lead to more DVDs and hours of mainlining.

    Great pimping BTW!

  2. 2
    spectralbovine says:

    Joooooooin uuuuuuuuus!

    Great pimping, Rae! I await your other posts!

    Also, your favorite character is Iroh. Or Sokka. Or Toph. Or Appa. Or Zuko. Or…yeah.

  3. 3
    cdn_tvaddict says:

    LOL! Really, this is all your fault to begin with. :)

    I have new, un-watched DVDs right now, so I am able to resist the urge. Once those are done though… well, my willpower will be greatly weakened.