July 23rd, 2008 > Film and TV

Avatar: A Retrospect on the Last Airbender

AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER is an epic fantasy, “long ago,” about a young boy in a mythological world where tribes of people are represented by the elements water, earth, air and fire. Though the set-up appears to be that of a videogame, the cartoon actually holds closer to that of a Japanese-style anime.

The world fell into chaos after the Fire Nation declared war on all other tribes, and the one remaining hope is a being that encompasses the mastery and balance of all of the elements. This unifying presence has been lost to the world for over a century until two siblings of the Northern Water Tribe discover a young boy named Aang, the new Avatar.

Aang’s playful yet insightful nature endears him to his rescuers Katara and Sokka. With his newfound friends and his flying bison, Appa, Aang embarks on a quest to realize his past and his present place in the world. And thus, the viewer is introduced to a magical fantasy-comedy that showcases awe-inspiring martial art sequences and includes characters that you will ultimately find close to your heart.

Indeed the series, which first aired on Nickelodeon in February 2005, isn’t a one-dimensional display of cartoon violence. The fantasy adventure includes a spiritual underlining that runs throughout its plot accompanied by light-hearted, meaningful, dialogue.

With its epic action, the most captivating feature of Avatar is it characters. From a flying lemur named Momo to a redemptive Fire Nation Prince named Zuko, the characters are the essential element of the series.

Here’s a recap of essential characters in the show:

Aang (The Avatar) is the last airbender who must now holds the world on his shoulders as he must masters the four elements, uncover his mysterious past, and ultimately defeat Fire Lord Ozai. It is his responsibility to confront the Fire Lord and reunite the four nations.

Katara: As the last waterbender of her tribe, she holds a deep resentment towards the Fire Nation for murdering her mother in an early raid. With her dark past, she can only hope to end the Fire Nation’s conquest by assisting Aang in his quest as the Avatar.

“Flying Kickapow!”

Sokka is a quirky, man of science, whose bottomless supply of awkward, lame jokes ultimately leave an impression on the viewer. After his father left to fight the Fire Nation, Sokka watched over his tribe as a warrior. He later reunites with his father and soon after, rescues him from a fire nation prison.

Prince Zuko is the son of Fire Lord Ozai and banished failure of the Fire Nation. Early in the series, he is obsessed with reclaiming his honor by capturing the Avatar. Struggling to deal with his self-pity and anger, he soon grows sympathetic to the people the Fire Nation has terrorized. He then decides to leave his father and his nation to join Aang on his quest to stopping Ozai and his rampage.

Princess Azula is Zuko’s younger sister and serves as the main rival and one of the major antagonists in the series. Self-centered and merciless, she is a sadistic, calculating, sociopath. She holds no sympathy toward familial ties other than her loyalty to her the Fire Lord.

“Yip, Yip”

Appa is Aang’s childhood friend and flying bison. Appa is Aang’s only connection to his past, so when Appa is taken by sand benders, Aang desperately searches for him, nearly unable to control his emotions.

Avatar State: Though not a physical character, the Avatar State allows Aang to surge with power, enabling him to perform insurmountable bending abilities. The Avatar State requires Aang to experience harsh emotions to enable and ultimately symbolizes Aang’s struggle in protecting his loved ones through the destruction of others. To fully harness its power however, Aang must dispose of earthly bonds, thus leaving his friends behind.

THE SERIES is now coming to a close as the final three episodes are to be showcased as a feature film titled “Sozin’s Comet.” The feature has Aang and his friends confront Fire Lord Ozai and, hopefully, defeat him before Sozin’s Comet nears the planet, boosting the strength of the Fire Nation and allowing Ozai to easily finish his conquest of the world.

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Posted by Anthony Esquivel

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