(photo by finni.deviantart.com)
“Epic” is too puny a word to describe this television show, nay, life experience. I have finally finished the 3 seasons of the life-bending animated series (thank you Janet for the DVD’s and thank you Mr. Perk for the “digital copies”), and I must ‘fess up, that I’m still pretty stunned. From the 1st episode, I was hooked. There was something about the way the characters were molded that made you care even about the non-speaking, non-humans as if they were major characters! One of the most emotionally gripping episodes for me involved a flying bison, for crying out loud! And for me, the series involved one of the most complex, most finely crafted characters in recent memory, General Iroh.
In essence, I guess the reason the series was very attractive to me was because it very much reminded me of another series that’s inextricably close to my heart, the Harry Potter saga. There are many similarities:
- Both are boys with marks on their foreheads that signal their significance, and the future of their respective worlds lay solely in their hands.
- Both reach a point where they have to face their enemies/destinies alone, with no help from anyone.
- Both have a male/female tandem as best buddies, the loony male and the serious female.
- 4 nations=4 houses play a major role in the plot structure, with one nation/house playing the villain role.
- Characters Zuko and Snape both keep you asking the is-he-good-or-is-he-bad question.
- The Roku/Sozen and Dumbledore/Grindelwald power-couples-slash-frenemies angle.
- Zuko and Harry both learn to come to terms with both good and evil co-residing in themselves.
- Both emphasize heavily the themes of friendship, loyalty and destiny.
Seriously, the list is long and getting into every minute similarity will be geek fanboy overload. But you get the point. Of course it’s hard to assume anything since Harry Potter approximately was laid out between 1997-2008 while Avatar had it’s run 2005-2008. Are the similarities coincidental or was some migratory “inspiration” derived from one series to another in one form or another? No matter, for each series, in my opinion, rose on the merits of top-notch writing, the perfect mixture of entertainment and art.
I really love it when something out there, whether a book or a movie or a TV series, grabs me by the shoulders and shakes me to my very foundations. It’s not easy to move me at this stage in my life, so it was a pleasant surprise to find myself gripped, and by a cartoon series at that! I’ve learned to love the characters as if they were real. I was the fictional nth member of Team Avatar (I guess I was the Bodilyfluidsbender?) and when the series ended, just like the Harry Potter series, I went into grieving mode. One time it got so bad, that while I was sleeping, I dreamed that I was Aang and Appa was licking my face. I woke up to see that it was Cairo, my Yorkie (who kinda looks like Appa, come to think of it…).
Anyway, I’ll miss Aang and the gaang (hwehwe) and I have no choice but to accept the fact that it was just a cartoon series, get a life, and move on.
POSTSCRIPT: I took the Facebook test, “Which bender are you?” and it turned out I was a Waterbender. And as I was watching the final battle between Firelord Ozai and Avatar Aang, the rain was pouring with primal rage! Of course I filed that under my waterbending powers, the weather mimicking my turbulent state of mind as I watched in suspense if Aang would step up and kick Ozai’s sorry firebending ass! Okay, I think I overshared again and my “loser alert” is going off wildly. Anyway, try to catch it if you haven’t. It’s really a good watch. Yip, Yip!