The Genius of ATLA (Avatar the last airbender)

By Macabee Callard

Hey! Today I decided to talk about something a little off topic… a children’s show. The reason I wanted to talk about this show is I recently re-watched it and I got to admit, it could be  the best show I’ve ever seen. It is really a marvel. I watched it once when I was like 7, but I didn’t finish it. There’s lots of great things about this show, but, as I’m trying to get people to watch it and don’t want to spoil it, I will only talk about more general things.

    Avatar is set in a sort of 1700’s period of technology where people don’t have guns or cars or anything, but they do use coal-powered ships and trains. There is a magic like power called bending, divided into 4 different forms. Waterbending, all about change and fluidity. Earthbending, which focuses on strength and stability. Firebending, which is about power and prowess. And airbending, the element of peace and freedom.There are four different factions: The Earth kingdom, the majority of the avatar populace, the Fire nation, the industrialized nation with a lust for power which is trying to conquer the other nations, the Northern and Southern water tribes, (the southern water tribe is like 2 families while the north is a massive ice city,) and the air nomads, which are all dead besides the main character who is one. The show is about the main characters, (An Air nomad monk named Aang, a waterbender from the Southern water tribe named Katara, and her brother Sokka) trying to save the world from the Fire nation. There are a few other characters I’d like to mention, but I’m going to try to stick to my no-spoiler rule.

    I’d say the most outstanding and unique thing about this show is its character development. Most Animes, let alone most shows, don’t have much character development. There’s the cool character, the dumb character, the shy character, the comic relief, the fangirl, and a few other character molds. The characters always make the same kind of decisions, be it right or wrong. They never say any lines about anything besides their one, flat, emotion. Avatar is very different from most anime in that way. The characters do develop, and in the right way. Each episode is like a book: It begins with a problem external or internal to one or all of the characters, and the episode’s events teach them how to solve it. They learn their lesson and become a more virtuous person. That is good character development.

As I said before a lot of anime add a new character for every emotion. Take the show Naruto, for example. If you’ve ever watched it, you’ll know what I mean. They spend so much time introducing new characters, they hardly have any time to let the main characters develop! Because of this, they need to add more episodes for the development of the main characters.They split it into two shows, but if you combine them it comes to a total of 720 20 minute episodes! That is 240 hours of watchtime, plus the movies! It is a complete disaster! Plus, there’s only like 20 good episodes in the whole show. Anyways, I have a lot more to say on Naruto, but I’m gonna have to wrap up my anime rant now, because this is a paper on Avatar.

None of avatars characters are designed to make you like them or hate them. (Except Uncle Iroh. Everybody loves Uncle Iroh.) In a lot of shows (darn it I’m ranting again!) The reason the characters never develop is because you’re supposed to like them or hate them. If the good guy that everyone liked turned bad, everyone would get annoyed. But the producers of Avatar weren’t afraid to do that. They didn’t want flat, soulless, characters, so they gave them conflicted motives. Take Zuko for an example. I’m not really gonna go into this for spoiler reasons, but if you’ve watched this already, you know what I mean. Not only does he have conflicted motives, but also different people urging him to take different sides. The show just came out on Netflix, and I watched it with my little brother. It was magical and fun, while being deep and philosophical. It is also good for a variety of ages, and even adults will enjoy it. It is a paradigm show, and I suggest watching it/showing it to your kids. 

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