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Avatar a hit with kids

June 07
12:00 2008

image Written By : JONATHAN BRYCE . Young viewers often tune in to Sky TV to watch their favorite cartoon programmes.
One of the most popular and influential animated programmes are the Nickelodeon series called ‘Avatar: The Legend of Aang’.
This animated series has proven to be a hit with young children as well as teenagers.
The series is also called ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ and is set in an ancient Asian influenced fantasy world.
While the series is similar to the Japanese style of animation called anime, this American show sets up a fresh new look at how many modern animated TV series have changed for the better.
The series is set in a fiction ancient Asian world, which is divided into four different countries.
In this world, many of its human characters are trained in martial arts combat; but some of them have the power to control the natural elements through body movement techniques they call ‘bending’.
Members of one of the four countries specialise in bending the power of fire, while another controls the movement and temperature of water. Members of the third nation control the rock hard movements of the earth while the fourth kingdom is populated by people who control the flow of the air.
Reborn into every generation in a new body, is a character called the Avatar who is the only person in the series with the power to use all four natural elements.
However, the four countries had fallen into war as the one called the ‘Fire Nation’ attacked the others and sort to conquer the entire world.
In the series, the Avatar is a boy named Aang and he is the main character of the show. He specialises in air-bending and must travel to the other nations to learn how to control the other three elements in order to stop the Fire Nation. Aang is accompanied by five other characters. The first is a kind girl named Katara who specialises in bending and controlling water. The second is her brother Sokka who is the battle strategist and the jokester of the group. They are also accompanied by a blind girl named Toph who has a feisty attitude and can bend and control the earth beneath her feet.
The other two in their company are their pets; a monkey-like creature named Momo and a giant flying bison called Appa.
Three other major characters of the show are the fire nation characters, Prince Zuko, General Iroh and Princess Azula.
The Prince is an angry, banished teenage heir to the fire nation who wants to capture the Avatar to prove his worth to his father, while General Iroh is Zuko’s old, kind uncle who believes his nephew is capable of being a good and just person and hopes their exile will teach him humility.
Princess Azula however, is the villain of the series and wants to capture the Avatar as well as her banished brother and uncle for her nation’s glory.
While the series focuses a lot on Aang and his comrades’ travels to learn the powers of the elements and fight the Fire Nation, it equally focuses on the character of Prince Zuko who is the very opposite of Aang.
While the hero of the story is a calm, relaxed and gentle person, Zuko is a hot-headed, ambitious and impatient character who cares only about restoring his honour.
These two characters are the driving force of the show with each displaying the two different sides of the conflict from their own point of view. The creators of the series based each of the character’s elemental bending movements on various different forms of real-life Chinese martial arts such as Tai Chi, Hung Gar, Bagua and Northern Shaolin.
The show was so popular; it won multiple awards in the United States including a Kid’s Choice Award and a Primetime Emmy.
The voice actors of the series do a masterful job in giving each character their individual voice especially the vocal work done by the late English speaking Japanese actor Mako who provided the voice of General Iroh.
After the actor’s death, the show’s crew dedicated an episode of the show in his memory.
Avatar is one of the very few American animated shows that bases and styles its story and background on a foreign country’s history.
While the episodes shown on Sky television are around its first and second seasons, the show’s creators are moving to complete its third season which had been made difficult resulting from repercussions from the writer’s strike that occurred late last year and ended earlier this year.
Despite, the show being deeply rooted into Asian culture, it occasionally displays the many aspects that make a lot of animated shows great.
However, its unique storylines and use of Chinese cultural background are some of the major reasons to watch the show.
Avatar is a wonderful animated series with a lot to offer and is great fun young and adolescent audiences.

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Waisale Serevi
Sevens Legend
June 2008
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