Avatar: The Last Airbender is a perfectly written show featuring an astonishing collection of well-developed characters. The show is primarily about a boy, Aang, who has to master the four elements, air, water, earth, and fire, in order to prevent the world from being destroyed. There are three books in total, each one focused on mastering one of the elements. Each chapter does a fantastic job of introducing the main characters of the show, building up story and tension, gradually leading to the stunning conclusion.
Ever since I left home for college, I have had many friends strongly recommend me to watch the hit Nickelodeon TV show, Avatar: The Last Airbender. For the longest time, I never cared to watch it, because it was animated. I’ve always preferred to watch live-action shows. However, when my friend and I started sharing TV shows with each other, he convinced me to try out Avatar: The Last Airbender. Although I was reluctant at first, I finished the series and can say that it was definitely worth my time.
My favorite element of this show is easily the characters. I have never seen a TV show with such an extensive collection of exceptionally well-written characters. Even if a character only existed in a few episodes of the series, they still had an amazing presence on screen. Originally, my favorite character was Katara. She was such a powerfully written character, with determination and ambition, which was very endearing to experience. However, by Book 3, her character took a dip for me. Although it contextually made sense in the show, it did not work for me. After finishing the show, my favorite character became Zuko. I have rarely seen such a compelling character-story as his. Every character arc he experienced, even if they were upsetting at times, was truly effective.
Another favorite character of mine that I honestly did not expect to love as much as I did was Azula, one of the main villains of the show. She was terrifying, conniving and wickedly entertaining to watch. Despite those qualities, what made her truly stand out was how conflicted she was deep down inside. She wasn’t just pure evil. However, she wanted everyone to think of her that way, making her character not only one of the best of this show, but one of my favorite villains of all media. Sokka was also one of my favorite characters, as he was the most relatable character in the show. Despite how much drama and horror the main team went through in the show, Sokka constantly tried to find the positives in it all. This is also my attitude toward life as well.
As much as I enjoyed the show and its characters, I had a hard time fully connecting with it. This was very aggravating for me since I really wanted to be fully invested in it and I couldn’t understand why it wasn’t fully clicking for me. I personally have never cared for animated movies or TV shows that much, with the exceptions being Pixar movies and Rick and Morty. I used to believe that the reason for this is that I personally cared for live-action media more. However, after finishing the show, my friend and I had an in-depth interesting discussion about this topic that lead to an discovery. My friend gravitates toward animation more than live action while I am the opposite. We both always thought that these preferences were personal choices. However, what we realized was that there is a lot more internal wiring for these preferences versus just personal choices.
I was never allowed to watch cartoons as a kid, like SpongeBob SquarePants or Scooby Doo. Because of this, I was never wired to the medium of animation. It is hard for me to transport myself into the world of animated media. However, with live-action movies and TV shows, it is much easier for me to transport myself into the world of those mediums. My friend, however, since he grew up watching animated TV shows, it is much easier for him to transport himself into they create. After having this realization, I can now better understand why I could not get fully invested in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Although this realization is upsetting, it is settling to have this clarity.
Avatar: The Last Airbender was a truly remarkable show, even if I could not get fully invested in it. The characters were perfectly written and the overall story was structured well. Also, the visuals of the show were surprisingly breathtaking at times, which coming from a person who was never a huge fan of animation, says a lot. If you have been recommended this show before, but have never been interested because it’s animated, then I would strongly encourage you to watch it regardless.