Time to discuss the first season of Avatar: the Last Airbender!
Said first season ended with the siege of the north being broken by Koizilla.
Aang is the titular personage and the central figure. Although he’s often a typical twelve-year-old boy, he is also the most powerful bender alive. Having mastered air-bending before his century-long freezing, Aang must now learn the other three elements before Sozin’s Comet returns at the end of next summer. Appa is his flying bison companion and Momo his flying lemur.
Katara is the last water-bender in the Southern Water Tribe. She’s hopeful and nurturing, but also determined and hard-working. By the end of this season, she has effectively mastered water-bending given her solid foundation by working alone that was then built upon by Pakku’s teachings.
Her big brother Sokka has no bending, but instead relies on his wits. He wants to fulfill a ‘manly’ role despite it becoming clear that’s not who he is. He’s determined to be a leader but rarely has the opportunity to do so. The siblings’ mother died several years ago and their father left to lead the rest of the tribe’s men in battle against the Fire Nation in the Earth Kingdom a couple of years ago. This means both are in some ways mature beyond their years but at other times are still children at heart.
Zuko is the banished Fire Nation prince determined to capture the Avatar so he can return home and reclaim his former life (and his honor). It turns out he has a little sister, Azula, who will play a large role in the upcoming season. His uncle Iroh is a retired general who now enjoys tea and Pai Cho but will kick butt if necessary. All three are talented fire-benders.
Zhao was a key figure in this season, being an antagonist to both Aang and Zuko (well, mostly the latter). His pride and drive to left behind a lasting legacy ultimately caused his downfall. Fire Lord Ozai has been a distant figure so far.
The Gaang traveled from the South Pole to the northern one in order for Aang and Katara to learn water-bending. On the way, they had many adventures that showcased the changes wrought by the century-long war waged by the Fire Nation. The world is out of balance and Aang must restore that, largely by ending said war.
I adore all the world-building. It’s so thorough and beautiful. For once, I’m more or less content with the quantity and quality seen on-screen… that’s not to say I wouldn’t love to see more, but I don’t crave it the way I often do when watching or reading other media.
Like I keep saying, this show perfectly merges action, heart, and humor. I have a hard time picking a favorite character as I enjoy the whole core cast. And it looks good doing it! Maybe subjectively there are shows I prefer, but objectively this is the best television series I’ve ever seen.
The art book at the end of the Water segment does a spotlight on the various hybrid creatures seen throughout all three seasons. Apparently the creators started it with Appa and Momo, but the other writers apparently “ran with it” to come up with all sorts of combinations.
As I discussed in “The Avatar Returns” the four types of bending are each inspired by a different martial art. Air-bending is Bagua or circle walking and is largely defensive. Tai Chi is the elegant water-bending. The Hung Ga tradition, AKA Tiger and Crane style, is earth-bending with its wide range of effects. The aggressive Northern Shaolin kung-fu is used for fire-bending.
I know I didn’t go into a lot of detail about the fight scenes, but I don’t know much about martial arts, let alone how to describe the moves. The bending enables a lot of gorgeous fight scenes but Jet and Zuko as the Blue Spirit prove that it’s just the show’s style to have elegant, breath-taking sequences. Sifu Kisu did a superb job assisting the show in creating a combination of actual martial arts with fantasy results.
In conclusion, I adore this series and can’t wait to watch and review the second season! Even the DVD case is gorgeous, featuring the northern tundra.
Book of Earth starts off with General Fong wanting Aang to learn how to wield the Avatar state against the armies of the Fire Nation.