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 normal...my 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 characters...you 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. I...wow...I'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, but...it 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.