A while ago, my cousin (hi, BJ!) asked if I would kindly review Avatar: The Last Air Bender--the series on Nickelodeon, not the movie (which I haven't seen and doubt I will ever see)--so here it goes.
I've always been a big fan of cartoons, especially Japanime. I've seen some really good ones, and I've seen some horrible ones. I've seen some that would pass as porn. I call those ones Japornime. I also really like cartoons on Cartoon Network and things I watched as a kid. I'm a big fan of Disney. If it's intelligent and well written, more than likely I'll watch it.
Trust me, not all cartoons are intelligent. There are some things the boys watch that make me want to throw things at the TV. They are terrible, but they appeal to young kids, so I suppose they've cornered their market. I know a lot of people who don't like to watch cartoons because they think they all appeal to kids. While for the most part that's true, the cartoons that last are the ones that can appeal to all generations.
Getting back to Avatar. I don't even remember how I got involved with this series. It ran from 2005-2008, but I know I didn't watch it when it first came out. I'm guessing I didn't start watching it until the 5 year old was older and he started watching it. They replay it every so often on Nickelodeon.
The basic premise of the cartoon is that there are four nations: Fire, Water, Earth, and Air. All of these places live in harmony with one another, and each has a group of people called Benders who have the ability to control the elements. For example, if you are an Earth Bender, you can control rocks and the earth. Water controls water, Fire controls fire, Air controls air. The Avatar has the ability to control all four elements, and they are responsible for keeping things in balance.
When the series opens up, the Avatar has been missing for over 100 years, and the Fire Nation has declared war on the rest of the planet. The Avatar is born from each nation in cyclical fashion, so one year the Avatar is from the Fire nation, the next Water, etc., so it can be predicted what nation the Avatar will come from, just not who it is. Before the Fire Nation attacked, they Avatar was supposed to come from the Air Nation, so to ensure the Fire Nation wouldn't be stopped in their attack, they destroyed the Air Nation.
That gives you a pretty good overview of the story; it's actually quite a bit more complicated than that, but I don't want to explain the entire thing to you. You can watch the series. The storyline of the series is just fantastic. It follows Aang, who is the last Airbender and the newest Avatar, but he's only 10 years old. It's a great coming of age story and a fantastic hero adventure.
The story appeals to both kids and adults alike. It is very intelligently written, but it also has things that kids can relate to. Visually, it looks like Japanime, but it isn't. In some ways, it even makes fun of the genre. It's a really great series, and I highly recommend it if you like cartoons. Heck, I recommend it if you don't like cartoons but enjoy classic storytelling, it might change your opinion about them. It's also important to watch it if you want to get into The Legend of Korra. Again, another amazing series that is a continuation of Avatar. The first season has concluded, and I can't wait for the second to start. Korra is older in this series than Aang was, so it would probably be considered Young Adult. Even if you don't have kids, it's totally worth the watch! If you do, it's something you can enjoy together.