Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Do I Love Avatar: The Last Airbender?

Or, Four More Reasons that You Should Love Avatar

Jana has covered this before (see Five Reasons to Love Avatar: The Last Airbender), but rewatching a bit today inspired me to reflect on it myself.

If you just glance at a few images, it’s hard to see sometimes what all the fuss is about.  I’m a smidge older than most people in the Avatar fanbase.  My middle school students adore it- it’s their childhood, as they tell me.  Some siblings and friends just a bit younger than me swear by it.  But what made me love it?  Honestly, I started watching it because the description sounded like something Tamora Pierce would write.  It feels right out of the Circle of Magic.  In reality those stories are very different, but the idea of a group of people controlling different types of powers intrigued me. That’s what got me started.  After I started, I couldn't stop.  I started talking friends into trying it, and raced through the entire series.  Here are the four main reasons I kept watching.

Sokka With His Dad
4.       The people on this show are just like us. Some of them have parents that love and accept them (Katarra & Sokka), some reject what makes them who they are (Toph), some are absent (Aang), and some are abusive and cruel (Azula & Zuko).  They have to learn how to make friends and get along with people.  They have to learn how to deal when things happen that they didn’t plan on. Sometimes it’s hilarious and ridiculous, and sometimes it’s tragic.  They have to grow up and struggle to find themselves in a world that isn’t always friendly.  Their goals may not match ours (I personally am still preparing for the attack of the Fire Nation, but true battle eludes me), but their lives mirror reality.

3.      They make the wrong choices sometimes, and there are real consequences. Like anyone in real life, they often make wrong decisions. Sometimes there are dire consequences.  Choosing the wrong time and place for a battle could lead to death and defeat.  Choosing the trust the wrong people, or not to trust the right people, has a consequence.  In a regular kids’ show, even bad decisions would be wrapped up quickly and resolved with a quick band-aid.  In Avatar it isn’t always that simple.

2.      Each person matters. Among the main characters, we learn that each of them contributes to the group in different ways.  “Team Avatar” wouldn’t stay afloat without everyone, but it goes beyond that.  Sure there are episodes highlighting the need for each character, but the show itself balances every week.  It shows the need for all people, of all talents, in nearly every episode.  Even the minor characters can have a major impact on the world.  Since these people are saving the world itself- it ALL matters.  The show magnifies the concept, but it reminds viewers that people matter in real life.  You personally can make a difference to somebody, so make the effort!

Zuko With His Dad
     1.      People grow and change.  Zuko is my favorite character on the show.  In the beginning he’s one dimensional and whiny.  He is living according to the standards and ideals he was raised with.  He is forced to reconcile himself to situations that he doesn’t want to be in.  Even with his understanding uncle shoving the right thing to do in front of him all the time, Zuko repeatedly throws it back in his face.  Zuko believes that he wants recognition from his father (don’t we all want to make our parents proud?), and it takes getting it to realize that it doesn’t make him happy.  I love that Zuko had to really learn for himself what was wrong with the world.  All the characters in this story grew in confidence and other things, but Zuko literally had to shed the ideals that he was raised with and create his own set of moral boundaries.  It's so rare, especially in things made with kids in mind, do you get to see such a shift.

Prince Zuko on His Own

So whether you’re completely on board with Aang saving the world, or you’ve never heard of the show, head into the world of the Benders and experience the awesomeness. (Can be watched on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or in reruns on Nickelodeon channels.)

Stay Shiny!


No comments:

Post a Comment