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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Character Arcs- Avatar (the Last Airbender)


So, I have two little kids, and a full 2/3 of the movies I see are kids movies. And, I don't really mind because kids movies are awesome. I am so impressed by the storytelling in movies from Pixar, and some others (it's no secret that I LOVED Megamind).

But I've never loved children's shows. Until Avatar the Last Airbender. I actually remember when the show came out (this is embarrassing) because I'd just learned the term avatar, and was trying to use it in as many sentences as possible. Sentences like, have you seen the rockin' avatar I'm using on Myspace? Yeah, my avatar? It's awesome, right? In my own defense, my myspace avatar was awesome...

See it, it rotates, my avatar rotates! And yeah Myspace was the PLACE TO BE. But, back to the point, I never watched the show until some friends shared it with us. And even when we started watching, I wasn't hooked. But after halfway through the first season. Yeah, I was.

Here's the thing...most children's shows have stagnant characters, and, that's probably somewhat kids understand that SpongeBob is clueless, that Squidward is mean, that Mr. Crabs only wants money. I got them through a terrible live rendition of A Christmas Carol by comparing Mr. Scrooge to Mr. Crabs...but as a more sophisticated viewer (and my six year old is a more sophisticated viewer) gets bored by cardboard cut out get introduced to something like Avatar the Last Airbender.

Prince Zuko was my favorite character transformation, but all the main characters grew and changed over the 3 seasons of the show. I do not usually love sweet goody goody characters, but Aang, is probably my true favorite character.

The conflict between Zuko and Aang, set up perfectly in season 1, the Storm, is just amazing. Because you feel for both characters and you know that however much you feel for the characters, they can never both achieve their current goals, because they are in direct opposition to one another.'m not a big expert on antagonist/protagonist relationships...but after watching the show from beginning to end many times...well, I know more than I did before!

I won't talk about the movie. It makes me sad for multiple reasons, has no bearing here.


AS a writer, if you want to learn about transforming a character, watch for Zuko's episodes...if you want to see a wise and humorous mentor (hero's journey, anyone?) watch for Uncle Iroh. If you want to see a great example of a character struggling with an impossible moral dilemma, watch the last four episodes as gentle vegetarian Aang deals with the possibility that the only way he can bring peace is to kill the the fire lord. If you want a female struggling with a patriarchal society, watch for Katara. And if you want a funny guy who never stops being endearing, well, if you've watched the show, you know that's Sokka. The episode in season 3 where he trains with the swordmaster is so great!. And Toph? I love the season 2 episodes with the scams, called The Runaway, has great character building and relationship building between Toph and Katara.

I really can't say enough good things about the show. Except...that there should be more episodes. I'm really looking forward to the new series, but I'd love to see more with the characters that I already know and love.

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Blogger Horserider said...


I remember when Avatar first came out. It was my favorite show then. I still remember the excitement and anticipation of watching the commercials for the finale. I loved all the characters, but Zuko was and always will be my favorite character. There need to be more shows like it. :)

February 11, 2011 at 4:27 PM  
Blogger bethany said...

Yes, the new show is about the next avatar, a female water bender? Aang and Katara's son? daughter? who is an airbender is one of the teachers. And it's supposed to have more steam punk elements. :) I'm excited.

February 13, 2011 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Horserider said...

Awesome! :D Though I was kind of hoping that they'd continue Zuko's storyline...

February 13, 2011 at 1:14 PM  
Blogger FireStarBooks said...

Awesome! I totally agree on the development of the characters! Though some might think they are too cliche but they are actually not! Each one of them had their thing that made them so unique from all the characters from cartoons! I LOVE how Aang and Zuko were parallel! The female characters were all so kickbutts! Toph and Azula were definitly my top girls! Katara, Mai, and Tai Lee were also amazing! And of course the funny but wise characters like Uncle Iro and Sokka just made me laugh and cry! The Tales of Ba Sing Se made me cried! Oh Uncle Iro! And episodes like The Firebending Masters episode made me squeel from the sheer epicness! Oh, oh! I almost forgot about Appa! Fanbulous creature! I remember asking my family to buy me a six-legged flying bison. :3

Oh gosh I am going on a rant! I will now stop before I crash my computer. :P


April 18, 2012 at 4:17 PM  

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