Our son introduced us to Aang and the other characters of Avatar: The Last Airbender, an animé TV series by Nickelodeon. The introduction to this epic story began slowly at first with the children watching episodes on a laptop via the internet. I remember them waiting for an episode to download so that they could watch it at the table, or seated three-in-a-row on a bed. Our young daughters loved the series: the characters, the humour, and the story itself.
Three years ago on Christmas day, our son offered the girls a gift - a gift which ended up being one to the whole family. The girls ripped off the Christmas paper to reveal Season 1 and Season 2 of the animé-style TV series. We made the decision to watch the series together beginning that day. My husband, who is not a lover of animation, agreed to this as he wished to please his children.
After breakfast, we began watching the story which takes place in a world that has been divided into four: Air, Water, Fire and Earth. The Avatar, Aang, is the one who is the bridge between the physical and the spiritual worlds. He is the one who has the ability to master all four of the world’s elements. He had been missing for a 100 years and, in the first episode, we find out why. We also realise that, during the Avatar’s absence, the world has changed: the Fire nation began a war against the other nations in a desire to control the world; the Air nation has been killed off by the Fire nation; the Water tribe is near extinction; and the Earth kingdom has colonised extensively. The story focuses on the ways in which Aang and his group of helpers work towards bringing balance back to their world.
The series was gripping – even for my husband who normally falls asleep during animation films. The action in the film sated his desire for fast-paced action movies. We enjoyed the humour, the story, and the sense of companionship we felt while we were all watching together. The only breaks we took from watching were when I was preparing the meals, when we were eating (dessert had to be eaten in front of the TV though!), and when we went to sleep (which was always very late). The story has many unexpected twists and turns so we were always kept wondering what was going to happen. As the animé was originally a television series, each episode ended with us wanting more.
Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, the creators of this universe, have brought us a lot of pleasure with their work. The fighting styles of each nation reflect the various styles of martial arts that we know are used by various disciplines. The drawings are perfectly executed, and the dialogue natural. The characters they created were “real” and behaved as a person would in similar situations. In 2008, the series was awarded a Peabody for recognition of the series’ excellence in quality; and for its complex characters and the character development that occurs within the story.
The Christmas holiday ended with me going to buy season 3 so that we could finish watching the epic story. My daughters have watched the DVDs many times over. This is one story they will not shove to the back of the bookshelf.
Do you enjoy watching animé?
(This post was inspired by Jake. Yay! He is back )
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2013