Life

Characters I 100% Ship Despite Never Wanting a Relationship Like Theirs (Spoilers!)

Warning: Spoilers for Yuri on Ice, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, The Owl House, Kaguya-Sama: Love is War, The Legend of Korra, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Heaven Official’s Blessing, Fruits Basket, and Sasaki and Miyano.

I don’t like the typical lovey-dovey stuff that most couples think is romantic. You know, the hand-holding, kissing, cuddling, drama, passion, etc. I consider myself biromantic, but the kind of romance I want is very unconventional. Writing together, editing each other’s work, sharing music, having meals together, watching stuff together, having conversations late into the night….that’s my kinda romance. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a romance that is not my type. These romances are just plain cute and I love them. I will rank them from #10 to #1.

#10: Sasaki and Miyano from Sasaki and Miyano

I finished a review on Season 1 of this anime just recently. Miyano is a high schooler who is addicted to BL (Boy’s Love) manga, which depicts homosexual romance between boys or men. Careful to hide his interest in BL, he eventually shares one of them with a classmate named Sasaki who ends up really enjoying it. This begins a friendship in which Miyano gives Sasaki a new BL manga every time he finishes the previous one. Sasaki develops feelings for Miyano and confesses. Miyano asks for some time to sort out his own feelings. The only person he has had a crush on before was a girl, and he is unfamiliar with bisexuality so he has a hard time coming to terms with this.

Miyano discovers he is equally in love with Sasaki after a few agonizing episodes, and at the end they share a kiss and officially become boyfriends. Their relationship was sweet from the beginning and I found myself really enjoying this anime.

#9: Tohru and Kyo from Fruits Basket

During most of Fruits Basket‘s three seasons, there was an implied love triangle between Tohru, Kyo, and Yuki. Yuki annoyed me beyond reason most of the time. I eventually realized that his profound self-centeredness was his way of coping with trauma from the past and trying to move on, but I still didn’t feel like he was a good match for Tohru. Kyo always seemed to have a personality that was more fun, even if it was a little more angsty. Yuki and Kyo both had baggage, but the chemistry between Kyo and Tohru was always better. Eventually, we find out that Yuki sees Tohru in more of a familial way. So many obstacles seemed to stand in the way of Kyo and Tohru being a couple, but they made it! The anime ends with a flashforward to when Tohru and Kyo are old and living their lives together still.

#8: Xie Lian and Hua Cheng from Heaven Official’s Blessing

This anime was added to Netflix recently, though I watched it on Funimation. Xie Lian is a Heavenly Official and Hua Cheng is a ghost. They meet very early on in the anime, but they only officially talk and start living together after meeting on the back of a cart. Their relationship quickly develops into what seems like a more-than-friends kind of dynamic. The way they talk is notable for instance. It definitely seems like flirting with each other. And when they touch. And just every cute little thing they do. Season 1 doesn’t end with them officially a couple, but the manga does. It is a confusing anime at times, but the one thing that is not confusing is the love they have for each other.

#7: Aang and Katara from Avatar: The Last Airbender

Yep, I’m one of those Kataang shippers. Pretty sure we’re in the minority since most people seem to ship Zuko and Katara. Katara and Aang’s relationship was in question throughout the seasons until the end. Katara seemed confused about how she felt about Aang. Aang frequently feared that Katara saw him like an awkward little brother. It sucks to be friend-zoned by someone you like, so his consternation is understandable. Even the second to last episode it is not clear how Katara feels and there is the sense that they are running out of time. The kiss they share puts it beyond question in the final episode. I don’t know why people always seem to need a kiss as confirmation of love. It is like it is explicably intertwined with romantic love, even though there can be romance with no kissing. But anyway, I was happy to see them admit how they felt in the final episode, and I saw some of the continuation of that relationship in the graphic novels. It was cute, even if it gave Sokka the oogies.

#6: Korra and Asami from The Legend of Korra

Korrasami is a great ship, and I wish we had seen more of it on screen. But there were restrictions on how much the creators could portray of a LGBTQ+ romance, so ugh but whatever. I’ve seen enough of the two of them together to know that I ship them, and the ending with them going on a spirit world vacation but it beyond question for me. What’s awkward is that they both dated the same guy, and even were kind of romantic rivals for each other. It’s definitely a unique romance.

#5: Vi and Caitlyn from Arcane

So this one is just implied. HEAVILY implied. These two hit it off relatively quickly, making some people say it was too much too fast. All I have to say about that is that I doubt there would be that much complaint about a heterosexual romance that developed as fast. Being in dangerous situations where you have to depend on someone entirely can advance feelings like this pretty fast. I was so sad when they had the equivalent of a soap opera breakup in the rain. I mean, they weren’t officially dating, but DAMN. I really really hope when Season 2 of Arcane comes out, Vi and Caitlyn are a couple.

#4: Kaguya and Miyuki from Kaguya-Sama: Love is War

These two are awesome. They are freakin’ hilarious. The premise is, they are both hopelessly in love with each other. They also both think that it is a sign of weakness to confess their love, so they both subtly try to get the other to confess. It’s a big game to see who cave first, and they are both so adorable. They make formidable and intelligent opponents. As of the end of season 2, no one has confessed still, but I am rooting for them. They are perfect for each other! If only they could let go of their pride for half a second to admit it.

#3: Luz and Amity from The Owl House

Lumity is a wonderful ship, and I shipped them from pretty early in Season 1. Probably partially because it kinda got spoiled for me and I knew what was going to happen. The blushes are a dead giveaway to how they feel about each other. By the end of Season 2, they are officially girlfriends. Luz the human, and Amity the witch. I am pretty annoyed that the show got canceled, but at least they are canon. It’s always nice when one’s headcanon becomes actual canon.

#2: Adora and Catra from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Catradora is one that some people think is toxic. I should explain. Catra and Adora are besties until Adora switches sides in a war. Catra feels abandoned in the wake of this treachery, and they become enemies. Not frenemies. Actual enemies. The way they treat each other as enemies is physically and emotionally scarring. But when they become friends again and eventually girlfriends, they treat each other in a healthy and sweet way. So it’s an enemies-to-lovers situation and some people feel fit to call that toxic even though it is clear by the end that the relationship has a healing effect on both of them.

I love them. I didn’t think the cartoon would have the guts to let them kiss, but it did and it was precious.

#1: Yuri and Victor from Yuri on Ice

When I saw the way Yuri and Victor interacted with each other, I couldn’t help thinking that I would love a relationship as intimate and pure as theirs–although the touchiness and drama of their relationship is something I could do without. Though personally, my love language is certainly not touch, it is the genuine, deep love that they had that was what really stood out to me. They were so sweet and sincere, and were truly better together.

I have seen some people complain that the romance was too vague, but my god, I don’t see how it could have been more obvious. Yuri blatantly speaks of how his figure skating shows how he loves Victor. Victor surprises Yuri with a kiss after one of his performances. And yes, it was confirmed to have been a kiss, for all you naysayers. Victor cries at the idea that he may not continue to be Yuri’s coach. Earlier on, Yuri cries at the same thought. Yuri buys the two of them matching rings as a gift, and watching them put them on each other is adorable.

It’s so unbelievably cute. I was so worried about the ending, but it turned out really well and I was impressed and so happy for them.

Conclusion

So do any of these ships sound like the type of relationship you would want? Do you have a favorite out of these? Any more cute ones to recommend I watch? If so, leave a comment!

Shows

Korra: The Polar Opposite of Aang

Spoiler-Free Show Review:

The Legend of Korra Season 1

Rating: 9.0 out of 10 stars

Intro

The first time I watched The Legend of Korra I had such high expectations because it was in the same world as Avatar: The Last Airbender, that I felt a sense of disappointment. It just wasn’t the same.

The second time I watched it, I was able to appreciate it better because I accepted that it could not be the same as Avatar: The Last Airbender. I watched Season 1 with my roommate and we had a great time.

If you go into this show expecting it to be the same as Avatar: The Last Airbender, you will not be satisfied. But if you go into the experience embracing the new and relishing the old, you will see that The Legend of Korra is a fitting sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender.

If you haven’t watched Avatar: The Last Airbender yet, don’t watch the The Legend of Korra. Go watch Avatar: The Last Airbender first.

From now on, for simplicity’s sake, I will often refer to Avatar: The Last Airbender as ATLA and The Legend of Korra as LoK, the acronyms commonly used by fans.

Background

The Legend of Korra was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. It is a sequel to the TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Characters in this show are either benders, who can control one of the four elements, or non-benders, who cannot control any elements.

It is a unique blend of anime style with the style of American cartoons. It draws from Inuit, Japanese, Chinese, and Tibetan culture.

Summary

Beginning 70 years after the events of ATLA, LoK follows the journey of 17-year-old Korra, who is the new Avatar and grew up in the Southern Water Tribe. In Season One, she travels to Republic city seeking to learn airbending.

Pros

  • Entertaining, appealing characters
  • Character who has the same voice actor as Zuko
  • In some ways it is the same world as ATLA, but it has changed
  • Considers how those without bending ability live in a world of benders
  • Creative ways of using bending
  • New types of animals unique to the world, old ones make a reappearance
  • Fitting villain who is both charismatic and frightening
  • Catchy music

Cons

  • Because of ATLA, LoK was held to a very high standard that it couldn’t quite reach

Review

Characters

Korra is not just a reiteration of Aang. She is strong-willed, often defiant, powerful, and very much a teenager. She’s not afraid to say what’s on her mind, and she’s willing to take chances.

Korra’s biggest obstacle at the start of the series is her struggle to airbend. In ATLA, Aang struggled to learn earthbending because it was so different from airbending. In LoK, Korra struggles to learn airbending because it contrasts so strongly with her personality.

Mako vs Bolin - Battles - Comic Vine

Mako is a firebender who is typically untrusting, aloof, and somewhat short-tempered. He will often act without thinking in a way that hurts or offends those around him, even though he is a good guy at heart.

Television Screencap Image For The Legend of Korra Season 1 | Fancaps.net |  Legend of korra, Bolin legend of korra, Korra

Bolin is a fun-loving guy who is more laidback than his brother Mako. He’s a strong earthbender. If you’re thinking he’s just a replacement for Sokka, he really is not. He might have the best sense of humor, but he’s not the sarcasm guy.

Asami Sato | Asami sato, Legend of korra, Korrasami

Asami is sweet but tough, a non-bender who came from a rich family.

Tenzin and his family are helpful mentors to Korra as she seeks to master airbending and figure out how to be a good Avatar, but they also serve as comic relief!

There’s also a character voiced by Dante Basco, the same voice actor as Zuko from ATLA. Listening to him is a nostalgia overload.

Worldbuilding

Avatar The Legend of Korra Newbie Recap Pilot | The Mary Sue

The most notable way LoK differs from ATLA is the advanced technology that has allowed cities like Republic City develop. Sato-mobiles are the cars of the Avatar universe. Radio and telephones have become the major way people hear the news and communicate.

There is also a police force mostly comprised of metal benders. Seeing them in action is actually pretty cool.

Lin Beifong | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
Lin Beifong, Head of the Police

Another thing I love about the worldbuilding of LoK is the inclusion of modern spectator sports–namely, pro-bending. The game is more than just two teams beating each other up with fancy elemental bending. There are plenty of unique rules and ways to incur penalties. Watching it is more exciting than seeing an actual sports game, at least to me.

Korra and friends in pro-bending garb

Animals

The animals of LoK are just as lovable and fun as those in ATLA, although there are not many introduced in the first season. We meet two animals who are pretty much mascots for the main characters.

Naga
Pabu

Naga is a polar bear dog that belongs to Korra, while Pabu is Bolin’s pet fire ferret and the mascot for the Fire Ferrets probending team.

Villain

Amon is the major villain of Season 1, and without spoiling anything, I can only say that he is basically the leader of a militant group of non-benders. He is formidable and terrifies Korra despite her usual courage.

Music

The music is unique to LoK, completely different than ATLA. There’s some jazz music, for example. It’s all instrumental, which I prefer for shows like this.

Conclusion

A lot of people hate on Korra and complain that LoK is not as good as ATLA, but I promise you, it is well worth it even if ATLA was better. ATLA was a hard act to follow, but the creators did a good job nonetheless.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

If you like my content, subscribe to my newsletter!

Shows

A Fiery Finale to My Favorite Childhood Show

Airbender-CompleteBook3.jpg

Spoiler-Free Show Review:

Avatar: The Last Airbender Season 3

Rating: 9.8 out of 10

Intro

Avatar: The Last Airbender is my favorite childhood show, and Season 3 has always been my favorite season. I recently re-watched this show with my roommate and she really enjoyed it as well.

It includes my favorite episode of the whole show, Chapter 17: The Ember Island Players, when Team Avatar gets to see a play based on their own adventure.

It also includes my least favorite episode, Chapter Eight: The Puppetmaster, which is super creepy for a kid’s show. Nonetheless, it was a well-made episode that helped set up a concept that would later be important for The Legend of Korra.

Read on to find out why this is the best season yet.

(Quick warning–there are no spoilers for Season 3, but there are some minor spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2.)

Background

Avatar: The Last Airbender was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The head writer was Aaron Ehasz. The genres it straddles include Fantasy, Action, Adventure, and Comedy. Season 3 was released in 2007.

The show won five Annie Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, a Genesis Award, a Peabody Award and a Kid’s Choice Award.

It is a unique blend of anime style with the style of American cartoons. It draws from Inuit, Japanese, Chinese, and Tibetan culture.

Summary

The world of Avatar: The Last Airbender is made up of four nations which each are focused around a different element: water, earth, fire, and air. Each of these nations is made up of those who can “bend” (control) one of the elements.

Map from the series
The Four Nations from Avatar: The Last Airbender

The current Avatar, Aang, must master all four elements in order to stop a war that has been going on for a hundred years. The war was launched by the Fire Nation, which is bent on world domination.

Real-World Influences of Avatar Part 2: The Water Tribes - The More You  Know post - Imgur
Katara and Sokka

With the help of his friends Katara and Sokka, in Season 1 Aang seeks to master waterbending by traveling to the North Pole to find a waterbending teacher. Along the way, Katara is able to teach him basic waterbending and the team goes on various adventures.

Toph Beifong | Avatar Wiki | Fandom
Toph Beifong

In Season 2, the earthbender Toph joins Team Avatar, the Fire Nation grows in power and influence, the heroes reach Ba Sing Se, and Zuko tries to establish his own identity.

Avatar: The Last Airbender | Netflix

Season 3 begins with Aang waking up in a Fire Nation ship confused–and with a full head of hair! The main point of Season 3 is Aang’s attempts to find a firebending teacher and master all four elements in order to defeat Fire Lord Ozai and end the war.

Pros

  • Powerful character depth and development
  • Creative system of elements
  • Developed fictional cultures based on authentic cultures
  • Diversity
  • Balance of humor and tension, comedy and tragedy
  • Smart musical choices to create humor and tension
  • Range of expressions of characters
  • Entertaining for child and adult audience
  • Explores themes rarely touched upon by children’s shows
  • Intro orients the viewer to the story and is accessible to new viewers
  • Wonderful animation
  • Pacing is better than first season
  • Intense fight scenes
  • Lingering consequences/lasting wounds from last season

Cons

  • Chapter Nine: Nightmares and Daydreams is bizarre and over-the-top
  • Never learned how Hawky worked, but used him anyway

Review

Characters

Zuko | Avatar Wiki | Fandom

Zuko has the biggest identity crisis of all the characters, so it is natural he gets the most development. At this point, his uncle is imprisoned, so he has to decide on his own path without Iroh’s help. He is at home with the life he has always wanted–will he finally be satisfied?

Iroh | Avatar Wiki | Fandom

It is like this season is a reminder of who Iroh really is–a capable, wise man who is more than just a mentor to Zuko.

Azula | Avatar Wiki | Fandom

Azula is a truly terrifying character. Her callousness toward her own family and her intense ambition makes her especially frightening. This season also develops her as a person almost to the same degree as Zuko. We see her insecurities and her paranoia, ripples in the pool of her calm demeanor.

System of Elements

Map from the series

The elements of water, earth, fire, and air are controlled by movements mimicking Chinese martial arts. Because they are modeled off of different forms of martial arts, the bending looks authentic. Waterbending is graceful, earthbending is formidable, firebending is fierce, and airbending is elusive.

The variety of techniques that can be used within a single element mean that battles are never boring. Benders like Aang, Katara, and Toph continually find new and creative ways to use their bending.

Toph is unique as a bender, as her bending is based off the Southern praying Mantis Style.

Season 3 is definitely Azula and Zuko’s time to shine with elaborate bending as well. Furthermore, fire as an element is reconsidered as representative of life, not just destruction.

Culture

This season of Avatar: The Last Airbender focuses on Fire Nation culture. This includes their mythology (The Painted Lady), their education system, their forms of entertainment, and their way of life more generally.

Nature - Transcendentalism

Small towns and larger cities are visited throughout the season. This one is a village on a polluted river. Most people wouldn’t have thought a Fire Nation village would be situated on the water–that’s kind of like an earth bending city high in the sky. But the creation of the elemental system does not categorize and simplify people. The cultures in this show are complex, just like cultures in the real world.

The Headband | Avatar Wiki | Fandom

In the Fire Nation, education is propaganda, painting their own society as a heroic force of good in the world. The fierce patriotism of Fire Nation citizens is fueled by a powerful set of lies.

What’s also interesting is the difference between what Aang remembers of Fire Nation culture, and what it is like now. His outdated slang and long-forgotten Fire Nation dances are a source of humor and an indication of how society changes over time, for better or for worse.

Diversity

Avatar: The Last Airbender has cultures based on various real-life cultures. Unlike in some shows, it mimics these cultures while honoring them and without making caricatures of them.

Katara and Sokka have light brown skin, so there is some diversity in skin color as well.

In Season 2, the show introduced Toph, who is blind. She remains a critical character in Season 3.

Balance

The balance of humor in this show with mature themes (war, imperialism, colonialism, corruption, propaganda) makes this show appropriate for children yet entertaining for adults–the perfect balance.

Music adds to the humor at some times, and adds to the tension at others. It isn’t like the show has phenomenal musical scores – it doesn’t, not even in the intro. But it uses music that supports the story and does it well. Season 3 has more epic music for its fight scenes in the final episodes.

The range of expressions on the characters’ faces also adds to the comedy.

Avatar's The Beach Is The Breakfast Club with Bending

Sometimes they are realistic, but occasionally they are way over the top.

Avatar: The Last Airbender / Radar - TV Tropes

Intro

Who is the Earth silhouette in the intro to Avatar: The Last Airbender? -  Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange

The intro neatly explains the system of elements, explains about the war, and introduces the Avatar all in about thirty seconds. It is followed by a “Previously on Avatar” montage that concisely gives more background.

This is good for two reasons. Viewers who watch episodes with large spaces of time between get a reminder of what is going on and the stakes. And new viewers who may have missed the first few episodes get a sense for where the show has been and where it is going.

It’s a smart choice on the part of the directors.

Animation

The animation is beautiful and attractive. I can definitely see both the influence of anime and of American cartoons in the art style.

Pacing

The pacing, which I mentioned as a potential shortcoming in the first season, is not really a problem in the second season. Sure, there are filler episodes, but not as many.

Fight Scenes

Wow. Just wow. The fight scenes in this season blew me away. I can say literally nothing about them without spoiling something, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Consequences

History of Aang (Summer 100 AG) | Avatar Wiki | Fandom

The biggest consequence of Team Avatar’s failure in Season 2 is Aang’s lasting injury. I like that this is not something Aang just recovers from and everything is better. He has a permanent scar on his back and foot from the lightning strike.

Anyone know what the scar on aang's foot is? : TheLastAirbender

Bizarre Episode

Book 3, Chapter 9: "Nightmares and Daydreams" | Avatar airbender, Avatar  picture, Avatar images

Chapter Nine: Nightmares and Daydreams is basically about Aang trying to handle an immense amount of stress. It includes bizarre hallucinations and childish nightmares. It’s weird and unnecessary and doesn’t add much to the story.

The Last Airbender Book 3 Fire E09 Nightmares And Daydreams - video  Dailymotion

Hawky

Avatar Gave Sokka The Pet That Zuko Was Supposed To Have

None of the characters has any idea how to use Hawky, but by the end of the episode Hawky is sent to a deliver a message. There is no indication how it will get to its destination, it’s never shown how it’s done, and all they did was send it off. Sloppy, in my opinion, but it was most likely due to time constraint. Not a big deal, just disappointing.

Conclusion

This is my favorite season of my favorite show for a reason. This is not just some kid’s show. It’s worth watching if you are an adult. If you want to learn good storytelling, watching high-quality shows will teach you. This show can teach you something.

Rating System

If you are interested in how I rate shows, check out my rating system.

If you like my content, subscribe to my newsletter!

Shows

Show Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender Season 2 (Spoiler-Free)

Avatar-TheCompleteBook2Collection.jpg

Rating: 10 out of 10 stars

Intro

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of the few shows I have watched that actually gets better in the second season. The whole dynamic of the team, which was already phenomenal, improves when Aang gets an earthbending teacher.

Background

Avatar: The Last Airbender was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The head writer was Aaron Ehasz. The genres it straddles include Fantasy, Action, Adventure, and Comedy.

The show won five Annie Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, a Genesis Award, a Peabody Award and a Kid’s Choice Award.

One episode of this season also won a Humane Society Award.

It is a unique blend of anime style with the style of American cartoons. It draws from Inuit, Japanese, Chinese, and Tibetan culture.

Summary

The world of Avatar: The Last Airbender is made up of four nations which each are focused around a different element: water, earth, fire, and air. Each of these nations is made up of those who can “bend” (control) one of the elements.

Map from the series
The Four Nations from Avatar: The Last Airbender

The current Avatar, Aang, must master all four elements in order to stop a war that has been going on for a hundred years. The war was launched by the Fire Nation, which is bent on world domination.

Real-World Influences of Avatar Part 2: The Water Tribes - The More You  Know post - Imgur
Katara and Sokka from Avatar: The Last Airbender

With the help of his friends Katara and Sokka, in Season 1 Aang seeks to master waterbending by traveling to the North Pole to find a waterbending teacher. Along the way, Katara is able to teach him basic waterbending and the team goes on various adventures.

In Season 2, an earthbender joins Team Avatar, the Fire Nation grows in power and influence, the heroes reach Ba Sing Se, and Zuko tries to establish his own identity.

Pros

  • Powerful character depth and development
  • Creative system of elements
  • Developed fictional cultures based on authentic cultures
  • Diversity
  • Animals are creative mixes of various creatures
  • Balance of humor and tension, comedy and tragedy
  • Smart musical choices to create humor and tension
  • Range of expressions of characters
  • Entertaining for child and adult audience
  • Explores themes rarely touched upon by children’s shows
  • Intro orients the viewer to the story and is accessible to new viewers
  • Wonderful animation
  • Pacing is better

Cons

  • Well, I thought about it for a few days, but I got nothin’.

Review

New Characters

ATLA
Toph Beifong

Toph Beifong is a phenomenal character. She can put on the manners of an aristocrat and take them back off again like a mask. Her true personality, however, is one filled with fun, a complete lack of regard for germs, and a sense of humor that almost matches Sokka’s.

Toph is a skilled earthbender. She is blind and unable to read and write, but is able to sense her surroundings with her earthbending. She does this by feeling every vibration in the Earth with her feet. Because of her blindness, her parents treat her like she is helpless, overprotective to a ridiculous degree.

Azula

In my opinion, Azula is the most terrifying character in the show. She is cold, manipulative, and usually completely calm. A firebending prodigy, she is able to bend lightning and wield blue fire, which is hotter than the red-and-orange variety.

Azula is the daughter of the Fire Lord and sister to Zuko. She is introduced briefly at the end of Season 1, but is further developed in Season 2.

Mai

Mai is from the Fire Nation, a childhood friend of Azula who had a major crush on Zuko as a child and still has feelings for him now. Her personality is apathetic and easily bored.

She is not a bender, but she uses stilletos to attack her enemies, and is capable of defeating multiple benders with her skill.

Ty Lee

Ty Lee is another Fire Nation girl, and is not a bender. However, she has a skill called Chi blocking that allows her to temporarily take away another’s bending and incapacitate them.

When we meet her, she is a highly skilled performer at a circus. She is usually cheerful and optimistic – basically the opposite of Mai, even though they are close friends.

System of Elements

Map from the series

The elements of water, earth, fire, and air are controlled by movements mimicking Chinese martial arts. Because they are modeled off of different forms of martial arts, the bending looks authentic. Waterbending is graceful, earthbending is formidable, firebending is fierce, and airbending is elusive.

The variety of techniques that can be used within a single element mean that battles are never boring. Benders like Aang, Katara, and Toph continually find new and creative ways to use their bending.

Toph is unique as a bender, as her bending is based off the Southern praying Mantis Style.

Culture and Setting

The Swamp

A small waterbending tribe calls the swamp home, wearing clothes made of leaves and bark. They have a culture of their own and diverse personalities. They hunt for their daily food and are in communion with nature.

Ba Sing Se
Ba Sing Se

The name Ba Sing Se means “impenetrable city.” The city is called that because of its thick walls that have made it impregnable against the Fire Nation’s attacks.

Ba Sing Se is the largest city in the show, so large that it is almost like a small country. Within the walls, peace is maintained by strict laws and a strong police force, as well as by more immoral methods.

Ba Sing Se is beautiful but tainted by corruption and fear. The culture is a mix of many cultures because of the refugees that shelter in the city, and features of the city include, but are not limited to, a zoo, a spa, poetry houses, restaurants, and tea shops.

There are many aspects of Ba Sing Se, but I won’t spoil the show by going into any more detail.

Diversity

Avatar: The Last Airbender has cultures based on various real-life cultures. Unlike in some shows, it mimics these cultures while honoring them and without making caricatures of them.

Katara and Sokka have light brown skin, so there is some diversity in skin color as well.

In Season 2, the show introduces Toph, who is blind. Shows rarely include blind characters, leading to underrepresentation, so the directors of Avatar: The Last Airbender made a good choice.

Animal Life

Turtle Ducks

Turtle ducks are my absolute favorite animals of Avatar: The Last Airbender. True, they don’t play a major role like Appa or Momo, but they are just so cute!

Foo Foo Cuddlypoops

The Saber-tooth moose lion is adorable when young, but dangerous when full-grown.

The purple pentapus does not have much of a personality, being a simple invertebrate that lives in sewers. It is similar to an octopus but smaller.

In this season, viewers are reminded that Appa is not just a vehicle, but a character with his own story.

There are many more interesting animals, but I recommend you watch Season 2 to see for yourself!

Balance

Humor and tragedy are well-balanced in this show. Sokka, Toph and Iroh are major sources of humor. The remembered loss of Iroh’s son, the turmoil inside Zuko, and an unexpected death balance out the humor with a more serious tone.

Music adds to the humor at some times, and adds to the tension at others. It isn’t like the show has phenomenal musical scores – it doesn’t, not even in the intro. But it uses music that supports the story and does it well.

The range of expressions on the characters’ faces also adds to the comedy. Sometimes they are realistic, but occasionally they are way over the top.

The balance of humor with mature themes (war, genocide, imperialism, colonialism, corruption) makes this show appropriate for children yet entertaining for adults – the perfect balance.

Intro

The intro neatly explains the system of elements, explains about the war, and introduces the Avatar all in about thirty seconds. It is followed by a “Previously on Avatar” montage that concisely gives more background.

This is good for two reasons. Viewers who watch episodes with large spaces of time between get a reminder of what is going on and the stakes. And new viewers who may have missed the first few episodes get a sense for where the show has been and where it is going.

It’s a smart choice on the part of the directors.

Animation

The animation is beautiful and attractive. I can definitely see both the influence of anime and of American cartoons in the art style.

Pacing

The pacing, which I mentioned as a potential shortcoming in the first season, is not really a problem in the second season. Sure, there are filler episodes, but not as many.

Conclusion

If you watched and enjoyed Season 1, you can expect Season 2 to blow you away even more. There are new characters to fall in love with and the old ones are still acting in character.

The pacing is better, the plot is engaging – really, if you haven’t watched it, you’re missing out.

If you haven’t watched Season 1, you obviously should watch that first. It’s phenomenal and shouldn’t be skipped.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is currently available on Netflix.

Rating System

If you want to know how I rate things, check out my rating system.

If you like my content, subscribe to my newsletter!