Monkey at the Movies: Avatar the Last Airbender Television Show

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*Wow*- I waited wayyy too long to watch this, didn’t I? Let me back up a second. It’s no secret that after Game of Thrones ended (in the worst possible way imaginable) I was feeling pretty distraught and uninspired by TV. So I settled down to watch a classic… and I was not disappointed.

monkey avatarFrom the opening visuals, I knew this was going to be quite the experience. The artwork is literally stunning and the set up incredibly promising. With these gorgeous images, we’re thrown into a fascinating fantasy world, where people have the power to control the elements. Not to get too in depth about the premise (because a lot of people will know it) but essentially it’s set after the Avatar who can control all the elements disappeared and the Fire Nation took control. And let me be the first to say, that simple sentence could never do the world building justice. This not only has one of the most intricate magic systems imaginable, as the story goes on, it develops a deep mythos for each location it explores. Having watched this now, I can safely say I have no idea why anyone would try to reduce all this down into a (terrible) movie- it was always doomed to be a mess.

But this is all just background- I haven’t even got to the plot yet! While episodic in the most rewarding way imaginable, each season builds upto epic conclusions. In a ride as wild as soaring on a flying bison, we’re lifted off the ground and taken to new lows. There are times when the audience is rewarded for their patience; there are times when expectations are subverted- in the best kind of Empire-Strikes-Back way. The characters win and lose- keeping you on your toes! And I mean really lose- because it often feels like victory comes at great cost (and let me remind you this is a kid’s show!!)

In terms of individual episodes, it’s hilarious at times, devastating at others. Having mentioned all the fantastic finales, you’d think they’d be my favourite episodes- not so! The one that stands out to me the most (and a fan favourite) is the Tales of Ba Sing Se- an intensely character driven episode which will make even the most stone-hearted of earth benders tear eyed. I also thought Ember Island Players was one of the best recap episodes in the history of TV.

zukoAll of this said, I haven’t even mentioned the best part of the show: the characters. From Katara to Toph to Sokka, it has a strong cast of supporting characters. There are amazing villains; there is a hero you can root for- one whose struggle to be the Avatar ties in with the fate of the world. I loved how he had to make sacrifices in order to reach the end of the story and it was never an easy path for him. On the subject of difficult journeys, my favourite character (perhaps predictably) was Zuko- I found him fascinating from the off: his backstory intrigued me, the promise of a potential redemption kept me hooked and every choice the character made had me on the edge of my seat. And I especially liked Azula as his foil. It’s because of characters like him that this show has such a reputation for amazing character development.

I’m also delighted to say this show had a beautiful ending! The justice meted out certainly gave balance to the magic in this universe. I will quickly say that the only thing in the entire show that I had an issue with was how the relationships turned out. At the risk of annoying old fans of the show (who are no doubt still licking their battle wounds from shipping wars of a bygone age) Aang/Katara *at all*. This isn’t just because my ship didn’t sail (le sigh) it was because I thought it came across as forced and I disliked such an awesome female character being reduced to the hero’s reward… But I don’t want to bog down the end of this review with this- though I’ll definitely get into it at a later date- because this wasn’t ultimately detrimental to my enjoyment. There is so much to this show that I loved that I simply can’t cover it all. I wouldn’t feel reasonable giving this masterpiece of television anything less than:

Rating: 5/5 bananas

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So have you seen this? What did you think of it? And when did you join this party? Let me know in the comments!

48 thoughts on “Monkey at the Movies: Avatar the Last Airbender Television Show

  1. So glad you enjoyed Avatar! I’m due for a rewatch myself! In the meantime, though, I finished The Rise of Kyoshi, which is actually really great–I don’t thinks fans of the show will be disappointed!

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  2. Nice to see you review an animated series and such a legendary one at that. So, what did I think of it? Well erm….I erm….haven’t seen it myself yet 🙈🙈 So I guess I’m even more late to the party lol Having read this though, I’m guessing I should change that very fast ! 😊

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  3. AHHH OMG I’m so so glad that you loved Avatar because this was one of the TV shows that defined my childhood!! I grew up watching this with my grandma too. Zuko is also my favorite character because I loved seeing his redemption arc. From the hilarious Sokka moments to crazy battle scenes, this show does not disappoint, and I’m so happy you enjoyed it!

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  4. I didn’t love how the relationships turned out either- but I was spoiled for that part so maybe I had more time to prepare myself?

    Fantastic character work in this show. It should be taught and in the end so much fun! Glad you liked it!

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    1. Ah I’m glad I’m not the only one to be honest. And I think that’s fair- it made it much harder for me because Zukana was teased and even in the last episode Katara said she didn’t want to be with Aang, so it came totally left of field for me.

      Absolutely agree!! Yes!! Thanks- glad you did too 😀

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  5. OMIGOSH YES!! Tales of Ba Sing Se is also my favourite episode. Mostly the Iroh section. I’m genuinely tearing up just thinking about it.
    Totally agree about Zuko being a favourite character as well. His redemption arc across the entire series is just amazing. In fact, it’s probably my favourite character growth in every medium.
    I’ve watched the whole series about 5 times now, and it never gets old. The Legend of Korra isn’t quite as good, but it’s cute to see what happens to the mcs from the first show. (I also recommend The Dragon Prince as it was done by the same people.)

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    1. It’s such an amazing episode- and yeah the Iroh part made me tear up too!
      yay so glad you’re a fan of him as well!! I loved his redemption arc 😀 it was amazing. And I think I might agree with you there!
      Ah I can see why! Yeah I’m curious to check it out at some point (though I think I need space from how magnificent this was, or I’ll just end up comparing them too much) Oh that’s great- thanks for the recommendation!

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  6. Welcome to the Gaang! 😀 This is one of my favourite series of all time!

    Friendly advice: (1) DO NOT watch the live-action movie. Just don’t. (2) You might really like The Dragon Prince, which is up on Netflix … a lot of people who worked on Avatar also worked on it. It’s a lot of fun!

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    1. hehe excited to join the Gaang!! Totally see why!! It’s amazing!

      oh yeah I’ve no intention on watching the live-action- it looks *TERRIBLE*. I heard that- I definitely want to add it to my watchlist now 😀 Thanks for the recommendation!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I watched this back when it was airing on television, though it also meant that I didn’t catch all of the episodes in the correct order. It wasn’t until a few years back that I finally watched it all straight. I agree that there is so much to love about the show, especially the times when characters are developed. I also agree that Aang and Katara’s relationship felt forced and stuck in there without much planning (at least, not to the same extent as everything else).

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  8. I also started watching it! I still have to start season 2 but I’m so glad you loved it. I missed it when it was on TV lol. So far, uncle Iro and Sokka are my favorite. I highly recommend watching The Dragon Prince on Netflix, since it’s the same writers from Avatar 🙂

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  9. ATLA, to this day, remains one of my favorite TV shows of all time. It’s so incredibly complex, and deals with adult issues far better than any live action adult show today. It’s just SO GOOD!

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  10. I’ve not watched Avatar, but it’s definitely something I have to watch some time in the future – the animation does look good. It sounds awfully cool as well! (Anyway, a side-note of sorts: I love your monkey portraits, they’re all cute and fun!)

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  11. Don’t feel bad because I have yet to watch this! xD I started The Legend of Korra first, for some weird reason, and found her absolutely delightful. You should give this sequel a go and see if it’s even better than Airbender or just a terrible mistake LOL
    That’s a shame about your failed ship… Most of mine sink as well so at this point I’m barely affected anymore xD (JK, I hate EVERY. SINGLE. TIME)

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  12. Yo! Kudos on doing a fantastic job wrapping up that show in a short post.
    I’m so glad you tried and enjoyed it!!! It’s one of my fav (probably my utmost fav) TV show ever. You mentioned my 2 fav episodes there, Tales of Ba Sing Se and Ember Island Players. LOVE THEM!! Although that Ba Sing Se one is my all-time fav. I’ve memorized it because of how many times I’ve seen it.
    Yeah… I didn’t ship Kitara and Aang. (But I did ship Kitara and Zuko! lol)
    What’s your fav animal from the show? Mine are Momo and the lion turtle.

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  13. I loved this series when I was a teen. Then rewatched it and fell back in love a few years ago. If you like the style, definitely watch Legend of Korra, and then The Dragon Prince.

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  14. Ah, this post just came at the perfect timing, since I finished rewatching the series with my younger sister only a few days ago! This is one of my all time favorite TV series, and I adore it with all my heart! The characters, world, and story are absolutely incredible! My ship didn’t sail in the end either (I wanted a certain waterbender to get with a certain firebender, but alas *sigh*). It’s such a phenomenal series, inside and out, and I’m so happy that you enjoyed it! ❤

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  15. The Last Airbender sets the groundwork, The Legend Of Korra knocks it out of the park. Every character is so well developed, and SO many amazing female characters, favorite animated series of all time. Also love how Korra is opposite in so many ways to Aang, makes the next era of the Avatar even more interesting.

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  16. I watched Avatar for the first time this year and oh my gosh, it is *incredible* – the worldbuilding, the magic system and especially the characters. Zuko’s redemption arc has got to be one of my favourite character arcs in TV. I would recommend watching The Legend of Korra after this! It’s not the same feeling as Avatar as it’s set in the future with the next Avatar (Korra), but it’s a beautiful Steampunk successor to the show and builds on what Avatar set up.

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