Monday, October 3, 2011

Television Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Season 1 (Water)

I intentionally waited to watch the television series until after I'd seen the movie [1], since movies are generally less impressive than their source material. Just to be sure I was being fair, I went back and watched The Last Airbender again after finishing the first season (also called Book 1: Water). My principal suspicion about the movie proved to be true: the plot was rushed because they were condensing 10 hours of television (20 episodes) into not quite 2 hours of film (103 minutes, to be exact). I was surprised, however, to see how much the personalities of the characters were altered in the movie. And I was baffled by some of the plot points that they chose to change.[2]

My verdict: The cartoon series is definitely more light-hearted than the movie was. All of the main characters have senses of humor and have fun on occasion.[3] The relationship between Aang and his pet sky bison, Appa, is also more fully developed. While I still like the movie fine, I think that the television series was definitely the superior production. And the character of Uncle Iroh, who was a bit stuffy, but honorable, in the movie, is my favorite character of the series. He is wise and unfettered. I also appreciate the deeper character study of Prince Zuko. He's a much fuller character here than he was in the movie.


[1] Read my review here.

[2] Most confusing was the decision to have Aang raise a wall of water, Moses-like, and then lower it again during the Siege of the North (tell me, what exactly did that accomplish?) instead of becoming the Ocean Spirit (what some fans call "Koizilla").

[3] Sometimes their humor is rather Eastern in its nature, which is surprising to me since the series was conceived, written, and produced by two Americans without any Eastern ancestry as far I can determine.

Image attributions:

Lines of a Wave is by somebody_, available at

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