Nate Watches Avatar #9-12

Alright let’s get to reviewing Supernatural…

Oh hi Netflix, you’ve left something in my mailbox…

Avatar! (the good one)

Man, it’s like some part of me keeps wanting to deny that there’s a sixth season of Supernatural…

(something I just realized… if I pause my dvd player, my TV starts making very faint sounds like it’s picking up the top hits of today – which goes away if it’s muted or turned off – this is kind of weirding me out…)

I was in the book store earlier and looked for some Avatar (the good one) manga.  It seemed interesting… until I saw the tagline at the top: “based on the summer blockbuster from M. Night etc”.  I know I’m only growing into my A:tLA fandom, but that really pissed me off for some reason.

Chapter 9: the Waterbending Scroll
So far I say this might be my favorite episode of this season.  From the “nice puddle” punchline to uncle Iroh’s quest for the lotus tile, I love it when lots of elements are brought together and interwoven.  Plus it’s always gratifying to see a bunch of filthy pirates get their comeuppance (ninjas always and forever!).  Even more gratifying was seeing non benders actually holding their own as so far in the series, what we might call “muggles” almost come off as second-class citizens.  This is especially heightened in Sokka finally NOT being dead weight.  Up till now, he came off as unnecessary, the comic relief of a show and cast that had plenty of humor anyway.  Here he shows greater smarts than the other two leads and we finally get an idea on why he gets to keep being a main character.  Yeah some of the early “kata” stuff wasn’t perfectly animated, but the later action was flawless – definitely a wise choice to stress their budget that direction.

And because a lot of people (both of my readers) will probably bug me if I don’t point it out, you can definitely see that some large parts of the live movie were drawn from this episode.  There, the “prodigy” of Aang (which you’d expect since he’s the avatar) was more subdued while he was less reluctant to be learning.  So comparing the two… I say it’s a greater crime that everything with the movie was more “frowny” than the “race changing” that got most of the attention.  And I think the kids could have done it too – I’m definitely blaming the director for that.

10: Jet
A short title but another pretty good episode.  If you’ve watched much with the “traveling ensemble” motif, you’ve come across this story format before.  Protag group meets a person that will be a sort of “mirror image” of one of the mains (whichever character is getting their growth this episode).  Everyone of the group will like the new arrival but the main in question and then the episode will be a lesson in either the group learning to appreciate the main or the main learning to not be such a jerk/unfriendly/etc etc.  Yeah it’s a bit of a cliche and formulaic but that isn’t a bad thing.  It is nice to see Sokka get some growth two episodes in a row.  I was a little uncertain about the narrative focus as it seemed more like Aang to have hated Jet in a brief love triangle involving Katara, but all in all things turned out well in the end.  It seems that the show is getting better about it’s stories’ rhythms too.

11: the Great Divide
Oh… oh no.  This was the one that…

Part of me wonders what I even need to talk about that Ryan didn’t do better.

Really, I can see the point – this episode wouldn’t even be that bad if it wasn’t surrounded by much, MUCH better fare, even the ending has some potential but… Remember how I said last episode used cliche really well?  This one is a great example on how to use cliche very badly.

12: the Storm
It’s backstory-o-rama!  Saddle up kids as we learn everything about yesterday!

Yes, indeed this episode was far superior to the previous offering.  In a couple of places the editing could have been tighter and some of Aang’s and Katara’s dialogue needed to be tweaked (the whole “i’m mad! [beat] sorry about being mad!” thing is just frustrating) especially as to give the ending more weight than it has.  Still an excellent episode over all though I still rank episode 9 as my season favorite.

Of course, this episode will get the stronger comparison with the movie so let’s get that out of the way…

The movie’s “avatar test” was a better one I think (seeing the four elements reacting to him) than this whole “pick x items” thing.  I’m not going to harp on reincarnation again, but it seems like a test less inclined to just dumb luck.  Aang’s motivation – however – was MUCH better done in the source.  Here we actually see the effects of his status and watch him “suffer” from this rather than just have him experience an anxiety attack.  Prince Zuko’s story is much better here because at least they don’t keep repeating it over and over (that still bugs me from the movie).  I like the parallels done here and commend the show makers for not over simplifying everything – especially as far as Zuko and the ship captain are concerned.

So far, I can definitely recommend picking up season 1 and just avoiding the live action movie.  In fact, I might do so myself eventually…

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6 thoughts on “Nate Watches Avatar #9-12

  1. Why WOULDN’T you avoid the live action movie, anyway?

    Seriously, if I wanted to watch MNS piss over a good idea, I’d watch “Devil” (a “Ten Little Indians” rip off) or “The Happening” (which was a rip-off of the much scarier commercials done by Environmental groups)

    • You know ftidus, I don’t know why people would, but I’ve learned to never underestimate people – in general (good or bad).

      It is funny how watching this season is telling me everything I suspected about the movie in the first place. At some point I’m wondering why they just didn’t pick out 4 episodes and slap together as a marathon for the theater. They very nearly did that anyway.

  2. Oh, I just thought of something–the picking toys thing, that’s actually drawn from the real life process of finding the next Dalai Lama. From Wikipedia: “Once the High Lamas have found the home and the boy they believe to be the reincarnation, the boy undergoes a series of tests to affirm the rebirth. They present a number of artefacts, only some of which belonged to the previous Dalai Lama, and if the boy chooses the items which belonged to the previous Dalai Lama, this is seen as a sign, in conjunction with all of the other indications, that the boy is the reincarnation.”

    It’s pretty obvious the Air Nomads were based off of Tibetian monks. When I was reading that article, in fact, I found out that the second name of almost every Dalai Lama has been “Gyatso”, which Monk Gyatso is clearly based off of.

  3. Regarding episode 11:
    “Part of me wonders what I even need to talk about that Ryan didn’t do better.”

    I dunno, maybe you could talk about why the episode was bad? Because if you aren’t gonna say anything on it, then I guess I just have to complain about what Ryan said.

    Seriously, I enjoyed this episode. Yes, it was a bit cliche and a bit more ‘cartoony’ than the show usually is, but it was both funny and entertaining. And while it is mainly a filler episode, it is cool to see Aang doing something to prepare himself for Avatar status other than just practicing bending.

    “Once they’re gone, Aang admits he made the whole story up. Usually, I’d be in favor of this, as it subverts our expectations in a way the show always excelled at, but in this case it’s too little and too late.” Why? I mean, it really DOES subvert your expectations.

    “Plus, any lesson we were supposed to learn is now hopelessly muddled, and we’re left with the impression that one version of the story really is the truth, and whatever tribe was wrong will get to keep denying a horrible wrong from their past.” Um…what? I took away from this episode that NEITHER story was completely true, which makes Aang’s deception even more interesting since the two tribes have basically substituted one false history for another, and benefit for it. We’ll never know what -really- happened, but does that really matter?

    The ONLY legitimate complaint in that review was how Aang goes after the egg custard, despite being vegetarian. Or is he vegan? There’s a Todd Ingram joke in there somewhere…

    Well, whatever. If you didn’t like this episode, or just think it was relatively worse than the episodes around it, that’s fine. All I can say is, if this really is the worst episode of the season, then that says a lot about the quality from here on out.

  4. (something I just realized… if I pause my dvd player, my TV starts making very faint sounds like it’s picking up the top hits of today – which goes away if it’s muted or turned off – this is kind of weirding me out…)

    Never run into that before? My computer speakers pick up somebody’s phone. Only on the transmit, thankfully, but hearing some guy’s voice very quietly barking stuff out nearly made me go for my gun. The first wireless phone my family had did the same thing on the FM radio, which was also freaky.

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