on June 23, 2010
First and foremost, about the show: I never had an interest in watching it until I started seeing the trailers for "The Last Airbender" live action film. To me the show just seemed soooo kiddie-looking. However, after doing some reseach and finding almost total critical praise and a huge fanbase encompessing boys girls, men and women, I thought I'd give it a try. Man, was I blown away. This is definitely a cartoon for the ages. While it is lighthearted, it also explores darker themes as the characters are slowly fleshed out. My wife and I, as well as my two daughters, were completely captivated. 5-stars without question.
For the Collector's Edition, if you've already purchased the previously-released Book I collection, you DO NOT need this edition. I repeat, you DO NOT NEED this edition. Inside the fancy box is a DVD with a 20-minute documentary that explores the origins of this series with its creators. Not a bad documentary, but not worth throwing an extra $30 on the counter. Also included in the set is a small booklet that shows some earlier sketches as well as commentary from the two creators. Again, nice, but not worth a re-purchase. And last, the previously-released BOOK I collection is what you're actually getting inside this box. They just took the old edition (box and all), put it inside another box along with a documentary and booklet, stamped LIMITED COLLECTOR'S EDITION on the box, and then jacked the price up $10-$15 dollars. The distributor is trying to take advantage of the up-coming movie. Don't be duped.
on September 23, 2006
In a world where the airways seem to be ruled by uninspired and badly dubbed anime, Nickledeon has created something truley amazing. A show that both kids and adults can enjoy, complete with tremendous voice acting, fantastic animation, good music, and awesome execution.
Season One of Avatar begins with a war going on between nations who control different elements through techniques called 'bending'. There's the Fire Nation, which, under Fire Lord Ozai, is attempting to take over the rest of the world. The Avatar, the only one who can control all four elements, is supposed to stop power imbalances between the nations, but the war started 100 years ago and the Avatar hasn't been seen since. And with the airbenders already wiped out and the water tribes being composed of tiny populations, only the great Earth Kingdom remains intact.
What makes this show great is a combination of character and plot. The characters aren't stereotypical. They act in predictable ways sometimes, but then there are episodes that really show their deeper sides (The Storm, The Fortune Teller, and The Blue Spirit are all examples of this.) The story focuses around the main characters Sokka, Katara, and Aang, the Avatar (returning to the world after being incased in an iceberg for 100 years.) There's also the Fire Nation's General Iroh, Price Zuko (a banished prince trying to regain his honor by capturing the Avatar) and Admiral Zhao. However out of these characters only Admiral Zhao seems truley evil. Zuko and Iroh however are in the gray.
There's some fantastic fight scenes in this series. The Blue Spirit, Jet, and Bato of the Water Tribe are all episodes with incredible choreography. Animation is top notch. There was only one episode where it went down a little. And finally the Season Finale is really well done and filled with mythology about the spirit world which the Avatar must learn to communicate, as well as he must learn to master the four elements to defeat the Fire Lord.
As good as Season One is, it's inferior to Season 2. If you thought that the Earth Kingdom was portrayed as the good guys and the Fire Nation are the only ones with bad leadership, Season 2 may change your mind. However as a first season of a show Avatar succeeds incredibly well. Recommended to people of all ages. There's some corneyness in a few episodes, but the series does a great job of catering to all ages.
on September 16, 2006
Wow, this is seriously the BEST show on television right now. I'm over 30 years old and I get more excited about a new episode of Avatar than I do about Lost, Smallville... ANY other show. I am a big fan of animation, and Avatar is like a breath of fresh air. FINALLY there is an animated show on television which is intelligent, exicting, humorous and surprisingly emotional. (I can't tell you the amount of times I've gotten teary-eyed watching it!) Yes, it's THAT good.
The animation is wonderful and the characters are well devoloped and engaging. The martial arts are fantastic to watch. The storyline is incredible - the writers for this show have a clear vision and every episode is linked. (Even now when I watch Season 2 characters from Season 1 will unexpectedly show up.) This is the only show on TV where you KNOW every episode is going to be pure gold.
Please don't underestimate this show because it's on Nickelodeon or you might think it's for kids. It has so many levels that it appeals to everyone. One episode and you'll be hooked - TRUST me! ;)
on August 13, 2006
Nick cartoons have really gone downhill lately, EXCEPT for the Avatar. It's an excellent, extremely well-written, beautifully animated series that is very engaging, dramatic and funny all at the same time. It is clearly well-researched, and serves up lots of Asian wisdom, not just a lot of silly platitudes. I love this show. Hurray for the AVATAR! I can't wait to buy the complete series as a Christmas gift for my kids (and me!)
on September 24, 2006
Wow. I just bought this blind after reading a couple reviews on here and I will say this: it absolutely blew me and my girfriend away. And we're huge animation geeks...not always easy to please. Watched the whole box set in 2 nights. She's keeping it so now I have to get my own copy.
Great art/design, beautiful animation and color, realistic and thinking characters and a well thought out story. Great voice actors also. I noticed Andrea Romano of Batman: TAS fame is in charge of voice casting so it's bound to be good.
See, this is what we get when a network like Nick takes a chance and does something daring and different. Not since Zim has Nick done something even remotely innovative and different. Same old kiddie crap in my opinion. I realize it's their bread and butter but thank goodness theyre finally doing another Friday night type of show for an older crowd (Oh how I miss Invader Zim). Good for them....now do more, Nick!!
This is right up there with Venture Bros, Teen Titans and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends as my current favorite toons in production. Although all of these are quite different I will say.
I would also recommend this to any fans of Samurai Jack as well.
R.I.P. Mako. (voice of Uncle Iroh on Avatar; Aku on Samurai Jack)
Most western animation for children is, to put it simply, really wretched. At best, it's tolerable.
But a shining exception would be the tale of the Avatar of all four elements, and to restore the balance in the world. "Avatar The Last Airbender - Book 1" serves as a solid first season to this series, with its colourful world, vivid action and complex characters. It may be aimed at kids, but it's a solid enough series to be enjoyed by any age.
South Pole Water Tribe siblings Katara and Sokka stumble across a glowing iceberg, with a young Airbender boy named Aang (and his flying bison) sealed inside. All Airbenders were killed long ago by the Fire Nation -- and Aang is the Avatar who mysteriously vanished a century ago, and is the only hope against the Fire Nation.
Unfortunately, a Fire Nation prince named Zuko has been wandering the world in search of Aang, and agrees to let the Water Tribe alone if Aang surrenders. Katara and Sokka manage to rescue their friend, and since Katara isn't experienced enough in waterbending to teach Aang, they set out for the North Pole to find a waterbending master -- with Zuko and his cruel rival Admiral Zhao in hot pursuit.
Along the way, they encounter hurricanes, woman warriors, a loopy old king who seems very familiar, a Spirit World Beast, pirates, teenage rebels, two tribes locked in an eternal feud, a mysterious blue masked man, fortunetellers, a rogue Firebender, and an Air Temple turned into a steampunk city. But when they arrive at the north pole, Aang and his friends find that their time is running out...
The highest compliment I can pay "Avatar: The Last Airbender" is that it's like a thoroughly solid action/fantasy anime. It's graced with good writing, excellent animation, and a general look drawn from Asian and Inuit cultures -- not to mention different civilizations clashing against the steampunky armored tanks and ships of the Fire Nation.
That isn't to say that it's all grim and serious -- it's quite the opposite. Lots of amusing dialogue ("I'm too young to die!" "I'm not, but I still don't wanna!"), slapstick, and flashy fights involving eruptions of fire, swirling water and blasts of air. It all culminates in a brilliantly epic clash, which wraps up the season nicely while leaving the way open for Aang's next lessons.
Aang is a kind and selfless kid, but still a kid -- plenty of turmoil over his role as the Avatar and his past mistakes, but he's still down-to-earth and sometime spacey. Katara and Sokka make good companions -- a sensible, short-fused girl with waterbending powers, and her reckless, courageous brother. And though he's technically a villain, the scarred, exiled prince Zuko is a brilliant anti-hero. And his lovably pervy uncle Iroh makes for good comic relief ("I'm certain you bathe regularly"), but there are hints that he's much more than that.
The special edition is being released in time for the live-action adaptation, and it adds a sleek blue "book" case with silver detailing. There are going to be seven discs instead of the usual six, with extra stuff -- an exclusive documentary, a paperback companion for artwork and designs, and so on. This could be worth it if you're just discovering "Avatar," but I wouldn't advise buying it if you already have the regular "Book 1."
"Avatar The Last Airbender: The Complete Book 1" has a few initial wobbles, but quickly blossoms into a brilliant little show. Definitely worth seeing.
on August 11, 2006
I may be biased from the cartoons I watched while growing up, but it seems like nowadays cartoons are just lacking in quality. I changed that opinion, though, once I saw Avatar.
The show draws on Chinese culture and mythlogy and is drawn anime-style, which means that each episode is a visual feast. But what really drew me was the characters. Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Zuko, the main characters, are easy to gain affection (and sympathy) for, and even the minor characters that appear for just an episode have depth.
The story is both serious and funny, a combination that could appeal to both children and their parents. I recommend this especially for people who want a cartoon that goes beyond slapstick stupidity, and I'm already looking forward to the next season!
on November 3, 2006
Warner Brothers can take pride in "Batman: the Animated Series". Disney lays claim to the "Gargoyles" series. But "Avatar: the Last Airbender" can be said as one of the most sophisticated animated shows on Nickelodeon.
Elements are drawn from a continuous epic storyline that stays consistent as well as very believable characters that the older viewers can relate to. From the magic of supernatural flight to the setting of an ancient land that blends Asian myth and folklore to the modernized battleships and tanks that adorn the power-driven Fire Nation (think Imperial Troopers from "Star Wars") the cultural awareness and depth to a children's cartoon is surprisingly well researched.
The mysterious disappearance of the chosen Avatar over a century of war has led to disbelief until two siblings discover discover the new Avatar frozen within an iceberg. When Aang awakens from his hibernation he discovers that the Fire Nation annihilated all the other airbenders years ago, leaving him the only survivor of his kind.
Aang is a good-natured boy and though he's slightly mischief, he willingly accepts his role as the Avatar and the tremendous responsibility he must undertake. He's unselfish, loyal, and willing to do anything for his friends. Aang must study and master all four elements by the end of the summer or else the Fire Nation will be too powerful to stop and Armageddon will occur.
Aang's primary adversary in the first season is Prince Zuko, an exiled member of the Fire Nation who has been given strict orders to capture the Avatar. While Zuko's hard driven obsessive nature makes him a hostile threat to Aang and his friends, his personal struggles depict him more as an anti-hero than a villain. Viewers discover that Zuko's distinguished facial scar was a sign of punishment from his father for refusing to fight him in a duel. He has been banished from his home and considered a disgrace to the entire Fire Nation for showing "weakness". Only by capturing the Avatar can his honor be restored. Despite his arrogance and short temper, Zuko is deeply loyal to those close to him such as his uncle, General Iroh.
In contrast to his nephew, Iroh is a good-humored man who enjoys music, drinking tea, and playing Pai Sho. Iroh's carefree attitude barely masks his true identity as a shrewd strategist and master firebender. He considers Zuko like his own son and is constantly by his side, offering words of consolation and wisdom to the agitated prince.
The show's plots often involve social issues that are relevant even today. There's nothing to tone down the grimness of life after Sokka and Katara constantly mention how the Fire Nation killed their mother. The show accepts death as a natural part of the life cycle; something I'd only see handled this well in a Miyazaki film until now. Despite this loss, the siblings are strong and courageous kids who stick with Aang throughout their adventures.
As others have said, the price for this is a bit steep but it is certainly worth it. There are plenty of extras to watch on the making of Avatar. I found the origins of the bending styles very intriguing. After leading the viewers on a fascinating quest around the world, the season finale pits the ruthless Fire Nation against the Northern Water Tribe in a fight that can only rival that of the battles in "The Lord of the Rings". The choreography, all based on various forms of Chinese martial arts, is dazzling to watch while the excitement is heightened as the ruthless Zhao seeks to uproot the balance of life itself. There is little that can be expected as surprises turn around every corner. Can Aang protect the Water Tribe or will the balance be destroyed along with the Avatar for good? By the end of the first season, you'll be in tears, cheering with delight, hankering for more good storylines, or all of the above.
Spoiler warning: Season two will turn certain events around as Aang and his friends get a new member of the team. Toph is a small feisty girl who, despite a particular handicap, is a master earthbender. Zuko's menacing sister Azula brands him and his uncle as traitors so the former prince-turned-refugee is forced to go on a spiritual journey, seeking his own destiny and questioning his personal values. Though Azula and her cronies are a deadly threat, she's the least of Aang's problems and we discover that there are other scheming forces besides the Fire Nation. The tension and thrill only accelerate as the series progresses and as an avid viewer, I'm looking forward to every new episode.
on June 23, 2010
I wouldn't call this a true Collector's edition. Sure, there is an extra disc and a come-on to buy the Art of book, but the Book 1 collection itself is the same, they didn't even change the box. The nice looking box simply contains the original 6 disc release of the first season, in the original packaging. I was a little disappointed that the nicer box wasn't integrated a bit more. Like the Lord of the Rings Collector's Editions. I think something as simple as that would be really nice for this series.
In short, if you own the original 6 disc release, don't bother. But if you don't, the box looks great and it'll add some class to your DVD shelf.
on March 20, 2010
This show has an intelligent plot that as an adult I found compelling and yet my 9 year old daughter had no problem following it. After every episode we both couldn't wait to start watching the next one. Too many shows that start out success keep going on season after season, long past it's prime. This show started with the premises that it would be 3 seasons and they stuck to that. The only thing I didn't like is how sad I felt when I realized after watching the amazing last episode that it was truly over.