The animated tv series, not (either) of the movies. Yes, I was just introduced to and just finished watching this series. Coupla thoughts upon finishing the last episode (SPOILER ALERT, just in case you’re like me and were introduced to this years after everyone else):
- I love the score during the fight scene between Zuku and Azula. It made the ending a foregone conclusion, but I admit I stumbled a little when Azula blasted Zuku with lightening and he fell — I suddenly found myself second-guessing the throbbing sorrow in the attendant music, wondering if somehow, someway, Zuku really had died.
- Look, it was obvious from the get-go that Katara would end up with Aang, but I have to admit to a small personal disappointment — I was totally shipping Katara and Zuku. Plus, from a logistical point of view, Firelord Zuku should marry a bender from a different tribe, just to show continuing good faith and rebuilding efforts. Obviously not going to happen, but still.
- Totally did not see that Aang would find a way to stay true to his values. I honestly thought he had no choice but to kill the Firelord/ Phoenix King/ what-the-fuck-ever that guy is. I had predicted the rest of the story arc early on, but I had no idea that was going to happen.
As for the entire series, well, I loved it. Great character growth, great pacing, beautiful art, and just overall fantastic. I will admit to some disappointment that my biggest question with water-bending was never adequately addressed, and in fact more questions were raised with the introduction of blood bending.
See, the human body is something like, what, 75% water? So a water bender could, conceivably, just draw all the water directly out of an opponent, thereby not only instantly mummifying/ desiccating the opponent, but also supplying themselves with an ample supply of water for other bending needs. They kind of addressed this in the puppet-master episode with the introduction of blood bending, but even that seems unnecessarily circuitous. I mean, even supposing somehow waterbenders can’t draw the water completely out of a human body, but only manipulate it within, we’re still stuck with the question as to why one would choose to manipulate and control a deadly enemy when they could just halt the blood flow to major organs, like the heart or brain? Doing the whole blood-bending/ puppetmaster routine seems not only unnecessarily cruel, but also complete ineffective and counter-intuitive. It’s the equivalent of catching a mosquito and pulling the wings off, then letting it go — why not just kill the damn thing? It achieves your end (mosquito doesn’t bite you) without being unnecessarily petty and cruel.
The last season was definitely the best, in my opinion. Once Zuko joined the team, it was actually laugh-out-loud funny for me — I will admit to a nervous moment in season two, when Zuko turned all smiley-nice-good-natured around his uncle. I knew from the first season that Zuko’s character arc necessitated him turning into a good guy; he’s the classic anti-hero — but I didn’t for a moment think they would actually change his essential personality. So I was a little freaked out in season 2, when Zuko turned (briefly) into an easy-going, amenable guy. I was actually relieved when he betrayed his uncle and turned into an asshat, because holy fucking fuck, Zuko was annoying/ boring as a good-natured guy.
Luckily, when Zuko joined the side of good again in season 3, he stayed an asshat, personality-wise. This was particularly awesome when juxtaposed with Aang’s cheery, always-look-on-the-bright-side pacifism, Sokka’s bumbling, good-natured ferocity, and Katara’s maternal squabble-soothing. And oh my god, I loved how Zuko and Toph played off each other — I was actually laughing out loud during those last few episodes. I love Zuko forever so. much.
Oh, and the play episode in season 3? Holy crap, that was hilarious. Spot-on. Perfect — I love the stage characterizations and the actual character’s reactions to it all. Had me giggling so much.