TV Shows
Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Avatar: The Last Airbender”: Jump on your bison, let the adventure begin!

When reaching for the new Netflix series, I was full of concerns. The original animated series is one of my favorite stories, and the character of Aang always cheered me up. Remembering the failed attempt to create a film based on this production, I watched the first episode with a sigh of relief. And I was very surprised.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” this a unique story about four nations that have lived together in peace and harmony for a long time. The Avatar took care of this: an emissary of ancient spirits who controlled all four elements. The world changed completely as the Fire Nation wanted more power and influence. The first step towards world conquest was the destruction of the Air Nomads – peaceful monks living in the mountains. The avatar, who was only 12 years old at the time, went missing and for a long time it was unknown what happened to him.

A hundred years pass and two siblings discover in an iceberg a frozen boy who turns out to be the missing Avatar Aang (Gordon Cormier). Katara (Kiawentiio) and her brother Sokka (Ian Ousley) decide to go with the young Avatar on a journey that will not only prepare him to take over the tasks of a spiritual leader, but also restore hope and balance to the world.

After the outline of the story, it can be concluded that this is one of those productions that is difficult to translate into acting: the world of Avatar is full of strange animals, monumental buildings and unique landscapes, and the fights of elemental mages are very spectacular. That’s part of the reason for the movie “The last Lord of wind” from 2010, directed by M. Night Shyamalanhe failed miserably. How did the show deal with this?

Fire facing Air, Water facing the magic of Earth – all extremely dynamic and spectacular. The animation is devoid of obvious difficulties such as the limitations of the actors’ bodies or simple physics. NThe latest series was not afraid to show complicated fight sequencesthe special effects keep up with the fast movements, and the actors really devoted themselves to training during a several-week camp where they learned various fighting styles.

Dallas Liu, playing the role of Prince Zuko, brilliantly combines the Kung Fu style with the fierceness and fervor of his hero. Thanks to this, every time when we see Zuko in anger, we know that we are in for a spectacular display of skill. Another interesting fact is that the actor practiced karate for many years, which had an obvious impact on his fighting style in the series.

No less captivating is Kiawentiio, which combines Tai Chi techniques with the fluid movements of Water magicians. Katara’s character is an image of the perfect harmony of Water, which can heal, but when necessary, it can turn into ice and hurt deeply. The heroine is also like this: gentle and friendly all forms, but when danger comes, she throws away conventions and stands boldly to fight, firmly standing his ground.

Gordon Cormier admitted that he was preparing for the role he learned the secrets of Bagua and Wushu — the Chinese philosophy of martial arts, which helped him understand not only how he should fight as Aang, but also the essence of controlling the element of Air.

It’s obvious that not every little detail of an animated series can be incorporated into a live-action series. The Nickelodeon production was full of little tidbits, winks at the audience and jokes that appeared from time to time in the episodes.

However, there have been some changes that I have to be a little skeptical about.

Katara’s brother, Sokka, is the temporary leader of the village – until his father returns. He takes care of the entire community, training young people in combat, providing food and solving current problems. These are serious tasks for an adolescent boy. The division in the village is clear: men deal with war crafts, women make sure that the rest have a warm meal and that the clothes are mended. This state of affairs probably influences Sokka’s perception of the world at the beginning of the animated series he is a sexist character who believes in the above-mentioned division of responsibilities. Was this change necessary? In my opinion no.

Sokka’s behavior was an important element of the character’s development. His narrow views must have undergone quite a transformation the moment he set out on his journey away from his village. His views also influenced Katara, who began to ask questions and question the validity of the tribe’s traditions and hierarchy. Later in the journey, Sokka had to break down and ask a warrior (a woman!) to teach him how to fight. In subsequent seasons of the original, Sokka gained more and more respect for women and began to understand that it is not gender that determines whether someone is suitable for certain tasks.

The young Water Tribe warrior is very softened in the Netflix version. Of course, he sometimes throws out a not-so-nice sentence, but these are definitely rare cases. Unfortunately, the hero was stripped of a very important featurethat pushed him to develop.

One change was the addition of more screen time to the character of Azula (Elizabeth Yu), Prince Zuko’s fourteen-year-old sister. In the original, the girl played a much smaller role at the beginning of the adventures of the Avatar and his team. Expanding this heroine’s influence could prove to be good for the character’s development. For a longer time we will be able to watch the girl fall into madness, and maybe this will become an even more moving thread.

The plot related to the King of Omashu, who, after capturing the Avatar team, decides to subject the twelve-year-old to three deadly tests, has been modified. The king was mad and unpredictable, and in the new version, not only has the plot been significantly shortened, but the ruler is much more sane.

Production also decided to influence the relationship between Katara and Aang. From the very beginning, the Avatar was infatuated with the girl and sought to strengthen their relationship, often in a rather awkward and funny way. In the new version of the story, I feel that there is much more emphasis on friendship and team building.

It must be admitted that there are elements that it delights with and I’m glad that the creators took care to show some of these things.

I was certainly pleased with the appearance of Appa – a flying bison, the Avatar’s faithful companion. Momo, a charming, curious flying lemur with huge ears, has not been forgotten either. The city of Omashu could not miss the character of a cabbage seller, who has become an inseparable element of memes among fans of the series over the last 15 years.

The spirits that Aang encountered on his spiritual path were also beautifully presented. They are terrifying and better made than I could have imagined.

The selection of actors for the main and side roles is great, and visually I can’t say there’s anything I don’t like. Uncle Iroh, Azula, or Fire Lord Ozai are perfect casting.

It is also worth paying attention to the characters’ costumes. Katara and Sokka set out on their journey dressed in their tribal costumes, which clearly show their origins. As they move to slightly warmer parts of the world, the girl’s outfit changes to a summer version, but still clearly referring to the Water Tribe.

The uniforms of the Fire Nation and the costumes of other tribes, referring to the traditions of the nation, are similarly stunning.

Choosing young and quite inexperienced actors to play a role in such a huge production as the latest Netflix series is always fraught with risk. Even though I don’t have much to criticize the main characters, sometimes I feel a certain indecision, lack of commitment and lack of depth. These are not frequent moments, but they disturb the immersion and sometimes it is difficult to take the characters’ emotions seriously.

Yes! And once again yes! We are dealing here with a similar situation that occurred with the live-action version “One Piece”. The adaptation serves its primary purpose: attracting new viewers to read a new, engaging story. It introduces you to the world of elemental magic and shows the story from the inside. The whole thing is done with incredible panache. There were some mistakes in terms of visuals and acting, but I think these are not things that cannot be improved in the future.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” it’s a good adaptation that could become a popular series and, what’s more, fix the mistakes made in the 2010 film.

Rating: 8/10