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Avatar Two: Eclectic Bendaloo
July 28, 2010 9:41 AM   Subscribe

The creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender have confirmed that they will be making a new miniseries, set 70 years in the future. Despite the poor critical reception of the live-action Shyamalan adaptation, the animated world will continue.

Haven't seen the show yet? If you have Netflix, you can currently watch all episodes streaming online. Seen the show, but can't wait until November 2011 for more? You might enjoy these non-canon short videos, drawn in the super-deformed style. More bonus features: a pre-season-3 interview with the creators (1,2,3), and a video interview with the Avatar voice actors.
posted by Greg Nog (107 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
My son loves this cartoon and will be stoked to hear of this. He also enjoyed the movie, fwiw.
posted by Mister_A at 9:47 AM on July 28, 2010


Yes! I'm going to pretend the movie never happened.
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:52 AM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm really looking forward to this. Since they're basing the city it takes place in on 1920's Hong Kong and Shanghai, it'll be really interesting to see how they choose to excise or re-insert Western influences given that the ATLA world is asian/inuit dominant.
posted by yeloson at 9:53 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I heard about this series for the first time in the thread about the movie. Last night I finished watching the last episode. What an amazing show!

I am completely blown away by how good the writing is. I can think of few series that have shown such realistic characters and well-developed plot arcs. A seriously complicated storyline told in a highly competent and entertaining style.

I'm very pleased they are making more. With such a rich world, there is a lot of potential.
posted by Faust Gray at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


FYI ... The first linked article contains some SPOILERS on the future of Aang and some other original Avatar characters.
posted by forforf at 9:54 AM on July 28, 2010


My daughter was sucked into the show, and we've spent the month of July engrossed in the marathons on Nickelodeon. The characters are so engaging and multifaceted. Oh, and I swear that Sokka uses a Gantt chart for scheduling in later seasons.
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:55 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, Spoilers Ho! I am hereby declaring this thread a SPOILER-HEAVY ZONE, given the fact that the new series is predicated in part on the answer to a will-they-or-won't-they from the original series.

I am completely blown away by how good the writing is. I can think of few series that have shown such realistic characters and well-developed plot arcs. A seriously complicated storyline told in a highly competent and entertaining style.

Yeah, this is pretty much the best kids' show I've ever seen, writing-wise; I love the fact that they constantly portray the same kinds of situations that almost every other kids' cartoon does, but avoid easy answers to the characters' dilemmas.

Also:

"Hey JERKS, mind if I watch you JERKS do your JERK-BENDING?"
posted by Greg Nog at 9:58 AM on July 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Awesome - I'm starting the series up on Netflix with my wife, and we're heartily enjoying it.
posted by SNWidget at 10:03 AM on July 28, 2010


The animated series is to television what Pixar is to films. I welcome this wholeheartedly.
posted by StoicRomance at 10:06 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I, too, just finished watching the show. I marathoned it over the course of like a week. I think the movie did some good after all, since now half the people I know have decided to watch it. Good move putting it all on Netflix.

So, yeah, amazing show. Characters, settings, plots, everything were more mature and fully realized than most 'adult' shows on TV. Every now and then something would happen to remind me I was watching a kid's show.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:07 AM on July 28, 2010


...despite the poor critical reception of the live-action Shyamalan adaptation...

Now there's the understatement of the year!
posted by blue_beetle at 10:07 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now there's the understatement of the year!

Now now, Cats and Dogs 2 hasn't come out yet. It could still be saved from the dubious title of "Worst Film of 2010."
posted by SNWidget at 10:10 AM on July 28, 2010


The poor critical reception of what live adaptation? I mean, that wouldn't make any sense, letting M. Night Shyamalan direct a live version. You must be mistaken. Good day, sir.
posted by Etrigan at 10:13 AM on July 28, 2010 [18 favorites]


Now now, Cats and Dogs 2 hasn't come out yet. It could still be saved from the dubious title of "Worst Film of 2010."

I saw the movie. No, it won't. It can't. It's one of the worst movies I've ever seen, and I seek out bad movies to watch. It's sub-MST3k.
posted by kafziel at 10:15 AM on July 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh yeah, Spoilers Ho! I am hereby declaring this thread a SPOILER-HEAVY ZONE, given the fact that the new series is predicated in part on the answer to a will-they-or-won't-they from the original series.

If the series creators are willing to give away these details in an article appearing in a major media outlet a year before the show even premieres, are they really spoilers?
posted by briank at 10:25 AM on July 28, 2010


Yay! I may have to get cable again. Or crank up the torrent search. I've always been an animation freak and Avatar is up there at the top of the list for generally just damn good fun to watch. It's the only "western" cartoon where I've actually bought the DVDs. Somehow I think I'll still end up missing the old characters. :'(
posted by zengargoyle at 10:31 AM on July 28, 2010


Oh man! I started watching this because it showed up on the Instant and I'm 4 episodes away from the end of the last book. IT IS THE BEST SHOW EVER. I've never experienced a more thought out world system in any television show. The creators really thought about how bending would work and every decision they make feels consistent with the rules they've established for the world as well as for the way they've written the characters. My roommate and I have been having long drawn out conversations about how these practices work and why people might do those things, AND THEN THE SHOW ADDRESSES THOSE QUESTIONS CONSISTENTLY WITH THE SYSTEM THEY'VE PRESENTED. It's ruined a lot of other sci-fi fantasy stuff for me, because now I know you can be this good.

TEAM APPA.
posted by edbles at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


Of course there will be a new series. Boomerang always comes back.
posted by Widepath at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


I may or may not have done my best impression of Foaming Mouth Guy [SLYT] when I first heard this news.
posted by zennish at 10:36 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


If the series creators are willing to give away these details in an article appearing in a major media outlet a year before the show even premieres, are they really spoilers?

1. I think he means "spoilers for the original series"

2. Yes they still really are spoilers even if it's the show creators spoiling them
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:37 AM on July 28, 2010


Also:

TEAM IRO. TEAM SOKKA. TEAM AZULA. TEAM ROKU. TEAM AANG. TEAM MOMO. TEAM HAWKEE. TEAM KING BUMI. TEAM DITZY CIRCUS GIRL WHO TOTALLY HAS A CRUSH ON AZULA BUT DOESN'T KNOW IT BECAUSE IT'S A NICK CARTOON SHOW. TEAM I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS SHOW. Phew. Should've listened to my brother years ago when he told me to watch it.
posted by edbles at 10:41 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


You forgot TEAM CABBAGE GUY

I haven't watched this show since it went off the air. It might be time to revisit.
posted by dinty_moore at 10:45 AM on July 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


We started watching the first series on Netflix streaming last week and are about halfway through. It's great to watch with dinner or when you have time to catch something but aren't up to a movie. The next two books have already been added to the queue. The other series we're watching is Clone Wars on DVD, and it's interesting to compare and contrast them. I'm not convinced the writing is as great as someone upthread suggested, but it's definitely fun, and it's great to see something that acknowledges its non-Western origins more openly than some of the Lucas stuff does.

I hadn't caught that the new series was supposed to be early 20th century motifs. That's going to be fascinating to watch. One of the interesting things to me has been the different cultural motifs (including the martial-arts styles reflected in the bending techniques), so watching how they add more-modern technology, which seems to be associated in the first series with Fire Nation, will be high on my list of cool stuff for the fourth series.
posted by immlass at 10:46 AM on July 28, 2010


I'm not convinced the writing is as great as someone upthread suggested

The themes and character development get more complex as the series goes on. The first season is more groundwork, it seemed to me.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:49 AM on July 28, 2010


I saw the first movie listed on Netflix and just assumed it was The Asylum's version of Avatar.
posted by iamck at 10:52 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it would have been worth mentioning that the new Avatar is female, which has made a lot of fans happy. In that interview, the writers disagree with the idea that the main character has to be male in order for boys to remain interested.

That they felt like they could make their main character female probably has something to do with it already being a successful show with a large audience, but still, it's worth cheering, I think. The original show also has some of the best animated female characters I've seen in a long time.

Hopefully, it will be as good as the original and just as popular, so it puts another hole in the wall of "girl characters are for girls."
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:59 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


TEAM DITZY CIRCUS GIRL WHO TOTALLY HAS A CRUSH ON AZULA BUT DOESN'T KNOW IT BECAUSE IT'S A NICK CARTOON SHOW.

I always got the impression that Ty Lee had a minor crush on Sokka. Whenever they attacked, he'd kind of catch her eye, and she'd give a look. Not enough of a crush to stop her from doing her job, but it always seemed like there was some interest on her part.

Count me in the "Just watched it on Netflix" bandwagon, it was very, very good.
posted by explosion at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2010


Yay! I may have to get cable again. Or crank up the torrent search.

Dude: Netflix. Instant. So instant I lost about a week and a half staying up too late to see WHAT HAPPENED OMG.

A kid's show, in that there were limits to how dark it would get. But excellent in conception and execution, funny, humane, and with some of the best and strongest female characters ever put onscreen. Beautifully drawn, too, I thought.
posted by emjaybee at 11:03 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not convinced the writing is as great as someone upthread suggested, but it's definitely fun, and it's great to see something that acknowledges its non-Western origins more openly than some of the Lucas stuff does.

You know that nerd thing you do with a show where you discuss how the world works and operates? And discuss what's motivating the characters and challenge decisions the characters make? This show actively rewards you for having those conversations and addresses them, that's what's so great about the writing.
posted by edbles at 11:07 AM on July 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Can your SCIENCE explain why it RAINS?!

...yes! Yes it can! (*implicit headdesk*)
posted by Night_owl at 11:11 AM on July 28, 2010 [7 favorites]


Ya, going on the rec. of GregNog and others I finally checked the show out, and it is definitely really, really good. I am very glad they will make more.

Spoilery Question:
*****************
Aren't the desert people airbenders? I thought they were gonna do more to explain the connection with them and AAng (like with the swampers and the water people).

Also, I do feel bad for the cabbage guy :(
posted by rosswald at 11:15 AM on July 28, 2010


This show actively rewards you for having those conversations and addresses them, that's what's so great about the writing.

Yeah, every time I would be like, "But wait -- if you can bend water this way, couldn't you also bend it THIS way?", the show would make an episode that essentially answers my question in THE MOST AWESOME WAY POSSIBLE.

Also there's no fucking question whose team I was on from pretty much the first episdoe: TEAM IROH. The episode where the subplot is "Iroh is in jail, waiting" is pretty much the most badass thing of all time.

Also, The Beach may be my single favorite episode of the series, if only because there is nothing more terrifying than Azula trying to flirt lightheartedly.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:17 AM on July 28, 2010 [8 favorites]


Aren't the desert people airbenders? I thought they were gonna do more to explain the connection with them and AAng

I think they were just earthbenders, using the particles of sand to fill their sails.
posted by Greg Nog at 11:19 AM on July 28, 2010


Yup. Sandbenders : Earthbenders :: Foggy swampbenders : Waterbenders

The episode where the subplot is "Iroh is in jail, waiting" is pretty much the most badass thing of all time.

THIS.
posted by edbles at 11:21 AM on July 28, 2010


Ah, the mini tornadoes made me think they were airbenders, but that works to (I think)
posted by rosswald at 11:22 AM on July 28, 2010


It's hyperspecialized bending. More powerful benders actually seem to just have a broader deeper understanding of the energies they are controlling and can apply their bending to more materials in more varieties, weaker benders bend more specialized simple things.
posted by edbles at 11:24 AM on July 28, 2010


Also the wikipedia page for the show is interesting. Like how each bending element is tied (loosely) to a real life martial-art form: Linky
posted by rosswald at 11:26 AM on July 28, 2010


I am so full of glee for this, it is terrifying. The episodes in Ba Sing Se were some of my favorites in the series, and now we're going to get a whole season set in a huge single city? *swoons*

Also, Iroh is a pimp. That is all.
posted by Scattercat at 11:29 AM on July 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


Also, Iroh is a pimp.

One of my favorite moments in the series comes in the recap at the beginning of the episode that follows the "Iroh in jail" episode: you hear the guard saying, voice dripping with disgust, "Look what you've become.", juxtaposed with a shot of a bare-torso'd Iroh staring flintily into the distance. I rewound that and watched it maybe seven or eight times. DAAAAAMN
posted by Greg Nog at 11:39 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


My favorite thing about the show was that it didn't jump for easy answers.

Season 1 did a lot of twists on expected morals that you usually get in these kinds of shows ("No, you know what? Lying is ok sometimes!"). Season 2 really played up the fact that not all the Fire Nation is evil, nor are all the other people good. Season 3 asked some really hard questions- "What do you do with someone you can't reason with?" though I felt like the ending dodged out of really answering those questions.

I'm glad they're doing it as a mini-series- it'll be focused enough they can do everything they want without getting an entire season cut out from under their feet.
posted by yeloson at 11:43 AM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


Book Two is probably my favorite due to the one-two combo of the sheer awesomeness that is Toph and the crazy shit that goes down in Ba Sing Se.

It's great that the original series is getting a lot of attention now. My impression was that the initial ratings were never stellar which is why Nickelodeon had decided Season Three would be the last season and aired the last ten episodes in 5 days.
posted by zix at 11:59 AM on July 28, 2010


I loved, loved Avatar. The only thing I wasn't that happy about was how they handled Azula at the end. I mean she was awesome and evil, and awesomely evil, but that's was all she was. Sozin did much more evil things than she did, but he got humanized and we where shown him as a person as well as Villian McEvil.

Her psychotic break came out of nowhere. It was like, we can't kill her off, but we need to get rid of her for Zuko's story. What to do? I know, make her crazy. Whatevs.
posted by nooneyouknow at 11:59 AM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought that Avatar was always pretty popular, but with nerds instead of the preteen audience that Nick was trying to go after.

It’s popular enough to get a avatar-themed ride at the Mall of America theme park, at any rate.
posted by dinty_moore at 12:01 PM on July 28, 2010


I think we understood Azula quite well towards the end---she was someone who always wanted her way and saw nothing wrong with using people to get it. As things increasingly don't go her way, she becomes more and more unhinged, unable to deal with reality. At the end she has an emotional breakdown.

She probably has an interesting follow-on story. Maybe we'll even get to hear it. This is just one of the threads I really look forward to hearing about.

TEAM CABBAGE GUY!
posted by bonehead at 12:07 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ooooooooooh! Speaking of Toph.

TEAM FOO FOO CUDDLY POOPS.

Seriously need to get back to work now.
posted by edbles at 12:07 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm up to episode 3 or 4 of Book Two and I'm loving it. I guess that's the one good thing the M. Night abomination did: get people (like me) interested in the original show.

Also, I might be just projecting, but I love how... "diplomatic" the creators were when asked about the movie:
What did you guys think of the live-action version of “The Last Airbender”?

Konietzko: We’re just really focused on this new show right now, and kind of taking this off in its own direction and not concerning ourselves with that right now.

So you didn’t follow the casting controversy about the movie version of “The Last Airbender”?

Konietzko: We didn’t head up that film. We’re just happy to be back generating the original content in this mythology, which is what we do.
posted by kmz at 12:10 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Looooove the original Avatar series and cannot wait for them to be shown on Nickelodeon I havent seen the movie but I only saw the original series because of the publicity brought by it.....Never have I been so satisfied with an animated series....is just perfect.


(By the way Zuko's progression through the series is absolutely kick ass)
posted by The1andonly at 12:16 PM on July 28, 2010


A new "Avatar" series? My day is made! Not until Fall 2011? Pfft, BSG had longer waits than that. Like many others, I watched this via Netflix Instant when the feature film got such hilariously bad reviews. It's truly one of the most enjoyable series (animated or not) I've watched.

[Spoiler?] The only lingering question from the series that bothered me is the fate of Zuko's mother. She clearly was a major influence, and sacrificed herself (in some fashion) so he could live. I would have really liked to see an epilogue about his search for her. I doubt a miniseries set seventy years on will address the issue.
posted by BrotherFeldspar at 12:19 PM on July 28, 2010


Sign me up for Team Iroh - one of the most compelling moments in the series, hell, in any television series, is when he's singing patriotic songs to the portrait of his son. That is some serious motivation, there.
posted by Slap*Happy at 12:46 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I doubt a miniseries set seventy years on will address the issue.

I don't see why not, even if it's a 30-second shot of aged Zuko standing over her grave and reminiscing about their reunion (or, you know, possibly something a lot more depressing than that, whatever).
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:48 PM on July 28, 2010


(By the way Zuko's progression through the series is absolutely kick ass)

I was so, so happy about what happened with him at the end of Season 2. It was perfect. Even though it was obvious from pretty early on that he was going to turn out good in the end, I thought his whole 'chilled out tea server guy' phase was totally out of nowhere and I was cringing. Like, really? What a cop-out! Oh, show, I should have trusted you.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:55 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is all enormously confusing, I have no idea what any of the words you're using mean, and therefore you must all be Wrong And Bad.

I may even telegraph my duly-elected Representative to see if perhaps we can promulgate some type of law against the lot of you.
posted by aramaic at 1:29 PM on July 28, 2010


I don't see why not, even if it's a 30-second shot of aged Zuko standing over her grave and reminiscing about their reunion

People seem to live a great deal longer in Benderworld (or whatever it's called) than they do here - Aang knew King Bumi from before he went into the ice, and a hundred years later Bumi's still around. It wouldn't surprise me if at least some of the characters who were around in the original series are still not only alive, but active, in this new iteration.
posted by AdamCSnider at 1:42 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


But Bumi is a master of neutral Jin so I don't think his lifespan is comparable.
posted by edbles at 2:26 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


TEAM TOPH ALL THE WAY!

i mean, Katara bending blood (ans using it against the man who killed her mother) was badass, but she had regrets all through that spooky episode with the crazy water-bending witch (and for a reason).

Toph on the other hand become a master metal-bender on her own. she in a way surpasses the abilities she learned from the giant badger moles. and her character is so unapologetically strong and snarky that she's just my favorite kind of girl.

oh and JUNE.

as to AZULA's ending, it absolutely makes sense. she is sick with power. her paranoia did get the best of her after alienating everybody that helped her usurp power. that's what happens when in the quest for glory, you lose your soul.


oh and IROH!

what a father figure. badass. a pimp indeed and truly selfless in his loving. that scene where he's honoring his dead son? i bawled like a baby. and when he finally hugs Zukko after he asks for his forgiveness? kleenex time.

this show is almost flawless if not were for the incomplete business with Zukko's mother left me in despair. they need to address it in the new show. but as someone noted upthread, it's really raised the bar in sci/fi and fantasy writing. the logic of this bending universe is so complete that it's really just a joy to watch the shows over and over again.

i've watch the whole series probably now about 5 times. with every viewing we find something new.

oh! and TEAM FOAMMY MOUTH AND CABBAGE GUY!

oh oh and TEAM THE GUY IN PRISON WHO TELLS AANG TO GET IN TOUCH WITH HIS FEELINGS!

that scence can never be not funny :D

can't wait for the new series!

SWEEEEEEEEEEEET!
posted by liza at 3:25 PM on July 28, 2010


wake me when there's a non-straight character.
posted by ts;dr at 3:28 PM on July 28, 2010


We were introduced to the show by a friend's daughter, who originally wanted a fourth season of Aang and the crew just going around helping people out. This could be even better than that.

Also, I posted it in the movie thread, but maybe here is good, too. The current soapbending master at Dr. Bronner's is a huge fan and once made a limited-edition Avatar batch with this label.
posted by snofoam at 3:29 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


oh and IROH!

what a father figure. badass. a pimp indeed and truly selfless in his loving. that scene where he's honoring his dead son? i bawled like a baby.


OMG, I'm getting choked up right now thinking about it. I mean, I'm a cold hearted manly man, and I cried during that scene.
posted by keep_evolving at 3:40 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


wake me when there's a non-straight character.

There were no out characters, but this seems like a silly complaint to me. Although there were heterosexual crushes, the characters are kids, so there really wasn't that much sexuality in the show anyways.

I thought it was cool how they portrayed handicapped characters and a bunch of other stuff that doesn't directly pertain to me but seemed quite progressive for a tv show.
posted by snofoam at 3:50 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


wake me when there's a non-straight character.
'Wake me when $MY_PRIMARY_SOCIAL_LABEL is represented, otherwise I don't care?'

How enlightened. By that logic I'd never watch a show featuring, say, black people. Or women. Or a show that lacked a Jewish character. Et cetera.

As noted, this is a show about kids--some of them still on the younger side of growing up. Not everyone has a love interest if I recall correctly--Toph is around 12 years old, a tomboy, and blind. You could pretend she's a pre-adolescent lesbian, if it's that important to you.

But really, that's an unfortunate attitude. Not everything should need to be about you, or offer some kind of token to pander to your social identity, in order for you to be able to appreciate it. You can miss out on a lot in life that way. Avatar was a great series, with or without an explicitly queer character.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:11 PM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I saw the first movie listed on Netflix and just assumed it was The Asylum's version of Avatar.

This would be more fun to watch probably than the actual movie.

Thirding Team Iroh. Undoubtedly my favorite character, although he does seem to lose something when voice actor Mako Iwamatsu died during Season 2 and his accent suddenly becomes rather more... Jewish?

Don't count Sokka out either. I hope there is room for more of his kind of goofiness in the miniseries, because many moments that would have been fairly ordinary picked up lustre when he'd say something like "BOOMERANG! You do always come back!" Or "The universe just loves proving me wrong/Thanks, the universe!" Or when he's hopped up on cactus juice, or has a high fever, or making some clever meta-comment about the story, such as during the Ember Island Players, the last "filler" episode: "This is just the kind of time-wasting nonsense I've been missing!"

Not to mention, when reminiscing over old girlfriends and Zuko mentions leaving Mei back in Fire Nation:
Sokka: "My girlfriend turned into the moon."
Zuko: "That's rough, buddy."
posted by JHarris at 4:18 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


The current soapbending master at Dr. Bronner's is a huge fan and once made a limited-edition Avatar batch with this label.

OMG RABBI IROH'S SECRET INGREDIENT. That is incredibly awesome!
posted by JHarris at 4:21 PM on July 28, 2010


wake me when there's a non-straight character.

Looks like SOMEONE wasn't reading between the lines in re Pipsqueak and The Duke!
posted by Greg Nog at 4:42 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Although there were heterosexual crushes, the characters are kids, so there really wasn't that much sexuality in the show anyways.

Actually, I was STUNNED by the casual way the show implied that Sokka and Suki were having sex in the tent-slapstick scene in "The Southern Raiders". I wonder if the writers got any pushback from Nickelodeon on that front.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:45 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


wake me when there's a non-straight character.

"Oh, and that non-straight character has to be a non-stereotypical one, and can't be a villain, and can't be Magical Mystery Homo Sidekick, and can't be too 'good' either, because that's boring and patronizing. Also, that character can't ever die, but has to be at the front of every battle, except not in a 'crazy fag trying to prove something to the straights' pandering kind of way."
posted by Etrigan at 5:04 PM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


I bet Armond White liked the movie. I can't be bothered to check.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:21 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


wake me when there's a non-straight character.

Is it a really reasonable criticism to say that a US made cartoon for kids that has non-Western fantasy, brown heroes and strong female leads isn't pushing the kyriarchy hard enough by not being the first kid's show to have LGBT characters? I mean, is there any kid's cartoon with non-straight characters?

Still, I've always said the litmus test is when everyone can have a cute, innocuous kids' romance- when people don't fear "ZOMG, the kids will learn to be GHEY!". I figure it's probably going to be another 2 or 3 generations before we get there, at least.
posted by yeloson at 5:25 PM on July 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


wake me when there's a non-straight character.

Looks like SOMEONE wasn't reading between the lines in re Pipsqueak and The Duke!


Looks like neither of you were reading between the lines with Azula and her HAREM. Seriously watch "The Beach" and tell me Ty Lee and Azula don't want to jump each others bones. Ty Lee also wants to jump Mays bones, but May is into Zuko.

Not to mention that the attack on Ba Sing Sae with a giant mechanical penis piloted by lesbians is clearly a metaphor for the patriarchy's fear of liberated female sexuality. And STUFF.
posted by edbles at 5:38 PM on July 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Seriously watch the last half of seasons 2 and all of 3 looking for a lesbian subtext between Ty Lee and Azula and IT'S TOTALLY THERE. Although Azula's too much of a fucking sociopath to return Ty Lee's attention. And Mays to emotionally dead to do so either.

I also agree Toph could totally be gay in 5 years. So althought ht esexuality spectrum isn't necessarily covered the variety of gender expression in people of the same gender. Katara and Toph fighting because of a basic personality conflict and not over a BOY, is fucking fantastic.
posted by edbles at 5:42 PM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jeebus. *So although the sexuality spectrum isn't necessarily covered, a variety of gender expression between characters of the same sex is.
posted by edbles at 5:44 PM on July 28, 2010


althought ht esexuality spectrum

it's okay, i'm also spending my evening drinking cheap wine and re-watching Tales Of Ba Sing Se
posted by Greg Nog at 6:36 PM on July 28, 2010


Sokka did some crossdressing. Does that count for anything?
posted by Faust Gray at 7:26 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


His ponytail makes him fun and perky.
posted by edbles at 7:33 PM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


It is a WARRIOR'S WOLF TAIL!
posted by kafziel at 8:11 PM on July 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Also, I do feel bad for the cabbage guy :(
posted by rosswald

Of course. His cabbages.
posted by jaybeans at 9:00 PM on July 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


is there any kid's cartoon with non-straight characters?

Bugs Bunny: Only a week after the announcement that the character Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series is gay, the fictional world is again shocked with the revelation by Steven Blanc, son of voice artist Mel Blanc, that the perennial prankster “Bugs” Bunny of Looney Tunes cartoons is also gay. This announcement, while unexpected, give new and clearer meaning to many of the on-screen exchanges between the smart-aleck “wacky wabbit” and his put-upon nemesis, Elmer Fudd

Peppermint Patty: Schulz said that he had developed the Peppermint Patty persona in response to the burgeoning Women's Liberation Movement that was sparked in the latter half of the 1960s, and that he desired to create a character that defied gender stereotypes and embraced social norms that had yet to become fashionable. Peppermint Patty was the first female character outfitted with shorts and sandals, rather than dresses; and had a personality much more tomboyish than the girls who played on Charlie Brown's baseball team; and the first character to be the product of a single-parent household.

but that's neither here or there inre: Avatar. the ages of the characters in Avatar are too young for having their sexual identities solidified --not that there arent gay 12 year olds, it's just that they're the exception to a very fluid rule.

it's why i found Katara's and Aang's kiss extremely inappropriate at first. to betroth themselves at such an early age? i mean, ffs, my oldest is 13 and that's a big NO right there from me :D but these are children of war after all and they are the only thing they have as far as family goes; so i can understand why the writers "went there".

am sure i could come up with some more characters, like the emo girl in Teen Titans and of course Robin (although The Joker should not be discounted), but am drawing a blank.
posted by liza at 9:18 PM on July 28, 2010


but that's neither here or there

Yeah, the whole "secretly queer only to be revealed long after the series is over" thing doesn't count. I mean, Joss Whedon is trying to claim credit that he made Buffy bisexual... in the comic books (naturally, her lesbian partner dies horribly, as lesbians do in media).

I was surprised they did have Toph accidentally kiss Suki, though.
posted by yeloson at 11:56 PM on July 28, 2010


Seriously watch "The Beach" and tell me Ty Lee and Azula don't want to jump each others bones.

Okay. I've seen that episode. Ty Lee and Azula don't want to jump each others' bones. I mean, sheesh. Not everything has to be about sex!

Bugs Bunny: Only a week after the announcement that the character Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series is gay, the fictional world is again shocked with the revelation by Steven Blanc, son of voice artist Mel Blanc, that the perennial prankster “Bugs” Bunny of Looney Tunes cartoons is also gay.

For fuck's sake, it's a cartoon rabbit. I refuse to read any sexual preference into Warner Bros. Cartoons. Anyway, Mel Blanc didn't exactly create the character.

Peppermint Patty: Schulz said that he had developed the Peppermint Patty persona in response to the burgeoning Women's Liberation Movement that was sparked in the latter half of the 1960s, and that he desired to create a character that defied gender stereotypes and embraced social norms that had yet to become fashionable.

I really think you're confusing degree of adherence to societal gender norms with sexual preference. In its way, that's just as bad as flaming gay stereotypes: it's stereotyping heterosexuals, because it claims someone who doesn't act a proscribed way must logically not be one. Oh also, she's even younger than Aang and Katara.

it's why i found Katara's and Aang's kiss extremely inappropriate at first. to betroth themselves at such an early age?

They're kids hitting puberty out on their own in the world without parents. For them to avoid romantic involvement would not be true to the nature of teenagers.
posted by JHarris at 1:14 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Seriously watch "The Beach" and tell me Ty Lee and Azula don't want to jump each others bones.

Okay. I've seen that episode. Ty Lee and Azula don't want to jump each others' bones. I mean, sheesh. Not everything has to be about sex!


THEIR LOVE IS AN UNENDING FLAME OF FLAMEY LOVENESS AND SEXING. Stop being a ruiner.
posted by edbles at 4:59 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm embarrassingly excited about this.

Avatar is one of the best cartoons I have ever seen. There are just so many things to like about it! The fully realised world, the whimsical and amusing animals, the stylish Sergio-Leone-influenced fight scenes... Plus, on a deeper level, it deals in a very balanced and thoughtful way with recovery from depression and the psychology of imperialism.

As several people mentioned upthread, there are just so many clever little details to notice. The way that Zuko and Ursa and, well, "Zuko's distant relative" all share a family resemblance. The way that Azula and Ozai fight in the same way (blinding speed, vicious all out and precise attacks) while Zuko and Iroh have more of a "tank" style - and that this means that Azula and Ozai always do very well against Aang, while Zuko does much better against Katara. The many forms that the fire nation anthem appears in throughout the series (as "Darth Vader" style music when Zuko first appears; as a higher pitched, crazier version for Azula; as a cute - and mangled - children's orchestra theme etc.) It doesn't matter if you miss any of these things, but they really are there if you want to stop and think about them.

The creators have set the bar awfully high for the sequel... In fact, they've set the bar awfully high for science fiction and fantasy television in general.
posted by lucien_reeve at 6:02 AM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, Team Lion-turtle!
posted by rosswald at 8:10 AM on July 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm a huge fan of the series. A niece was watching at a family thanksgiving and got many of the adults hooked. It really is some of the best television of any genre. The characters are more real to me than most live-action series, the art direction and soundtrack are first rate, the themes profound, and the episode: Tales of Ba Sing Se is just wonderful.

But I do find it a little odd that the Shmyalan is castigated for his casting choices, while the series seems to get a pass for using mainly caucasian voice actors for the asian roles. Are asian voice actors that much better represented that this is a non-issue?
posted by Manjusri at 8:21 AM on July 29, 2010


The issue with Shamylan’s casting had more to do with the character’s race than the actor’s. The voice actors' race didn’t impact the character’s race at all.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:17 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


"To voice this asian cartoon character, I hired a white voice actress, because I believed she would be the best for the role. As you can see, she was stellar." holds up.
"To portray this putatively asian live-action character, I hired a white actress, changing the race of the character to suit my casting decision. As you can see, she was completely and unjustifiably terrible." does not.
posted by kafziel at 9:22 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


to betroth themselves at such an early age?

Did they actually betroth themselves? I haven't seen the last season in a long time, but as far as I remember, it was just a kiss. I also didn't like it as much--it felt kind of tacked on, like it was there because the last episode of a show has to have a kiss, and not because it suited the characters. (I know there was attraction there, but nothing had happened yet. It would have been more realistic if they had worked up to it with Aang awkwardly kicking the ground and asking Katara on a date, rather than just going straight to the kissing.)

But in my mind, they didn't commit themselves with that kiss. They probably grew up and married later like some childhood sweethearts do.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 10:31 AM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: AN UNENDING FLAME OF FLAMEY LOVENESS AND SEXING.
posted by Slap*Happy at 1:22 PM on July 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


TEAM IROH FOREVER!

srsly, when I found out that Mako had died, I gave up on the idea of an Avatar movie. and that was before I heard about the recent travesty. also, just thinking about that scene where he's remembering his son makes me tear up.
posted by epersonae at 2:49 PM on July 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see you add a rainbow.
posted by Hildegarde at 7:09 AM on July 30, 2010


er...added.

dammit.

Man I love Avatar. I started watching it because my nephew was excited about the movie, and I thought, hey, there's a hero I don't know yet.

It kills me that we don't get to see Aang grow up a bit more, but I guess we'll see him again in the new series in some form. I'm a bit concerned that we have a new avatar a mere 70 years after Aang defeats Ozai. That means he dies in his 50s. What kills him? HOW DARE ANYONE KILL AANG?!
posted by Hildegarde at 7:11 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


I assume we'll be seeing Aang in Korra's visions, so what I'm REALLY curious about is whether he'll be portrayed as fifty-something Aang, or as the little kid Aang we've come to know.

Also, I'll bet he dies young sacrificing himself for something else's benefit. That would jibe with the Aang of the The Last Airbender.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:38 AM on July 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is Korra Water tribe? Becuase that would mean Aang dies in his 50s. If she's Earth or Fire on the other hand Aang could potentially die young.

Air->Water->Earth->Fire: Rinse, repeat.
posted by edbles at 12:47 PM on July 30, 2010


Korra is water tribe, and she is the avatar after Aang. So yes: Aang dies young.

I wonder if Katara is still around. Toph, maybe? I'd love to see a grown-up Toph.
posted by Hildegarde at 12:59 PM on July 30, 2010


Oh man, crazy old lady Toph would be AWESOME. Nobody would dare step foot on her lawn.
posted by dinty_moore at 1:22 PM on July 30, 2010 [3 favorites]


Of course, death for an Avatar doesn't mean the end, they seem to persist very well in the spirit world. And Aang, for his short life, did an awful lot at a very young age.

The most awesome thing about Aang in my mind is that he transcends being an Avatar. In the finale he goes to a place Avatar Roku has no knowledge of. The past Avatars all council him to kill Ozai. He doesn't, not because he's an Avatar, but because he's an airbender and subscribes to their peaceful ways. Even the prior Airbender Avatar told Aang he had to kill Ozai. Instead, he tapped into a source of knowledge more primal than Avatars, revived a long-dead form of bending, and won.

The backstory of the show, alluded to only briefly on-air, is that the Avatar is the spirit of the world, reborn repeatedly in order to iteratively learn what it means to be human. To me, it seems that each of the Avatars we've seen so far is a little more human than the one before. Aang is more human than many humans on the show.

A random fact, mentioned because it's just as awesome. There are clues in the early episodes that there is some strange significance to Momo. The Avatar Wiki mentions that he was intended to be a reincarnation of Aang's mentor and friend Gyatso. While this is never really played up in the show, it is somehow pleasing to think this is true.
posted by JHarris at 4:46 PM on July 30, 2010 [4 favorites]


diny_moore - Toph as the new King Bumi? Oh, awesome...
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:35 PM on July 30, 2010


The past Avatars all council him to kill Ozai.

Actually, they don't. "Be Decisive" "Only Justice Will Bring Peace" and I don't remember the 3rd one, but, yeah, not a one says anything about having to kill the Fire Lord. Aang (and the audience generally) interprets this all to mean murder, but actually, none of the Avatars say that.

Rewatching it, and going into myth/fairytale logic, you can see the Dragon Turtle's gift is for having refused to accept murder, over and over- Aang has proven himself worthy of a gift and a solution.
posted by yeloson at 11:42 PM on August 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Rewatching it, and going into myth/fairytale logic, you can see the Dragon Turtle's gift is for having refused to accept murder, over and over- Aang has proven himself worthy of a gift and a solution.

I also saw it as being a sort of ironic vindication of Aang's love of riding animals in the first few episodes.

He finally rides the biggest animal around. And it tells him how to solve his problems. (Besides, if you can learn airbending from skybison and firebending from dragons, it makes sense for you to learn a different kind of bending from a new magical animal...)
posted by lucien_reeve at 5:55 AM on August 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dudez, I saw a guy doing Tai Chi at the bus stop and it was all I could do not to run up to him and hug him and ask him if he was a water bender. Then I actually had my coffee and my brain switched on.
posted by edbles at 8:02 AM on August 11, 2010


When I was in the midst of season 3 and Avatar was all I could think about, I saw an asian girl wearing a long black-and-scarlet dress in the park, and my first thought was "Oh cool, a Firebender." My second thought was, "No, that is fiction and also maybe a little bit racist"
posted by Greg Nog at 8:40 AM on August 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


Here's my million dollar idea: someone needs to make a wii fit type game where you are the avatar, and you need to learn water, earth, air and fire bending. So you do a bunch of tai chi and kung fu moves, and in each section you can see yourself bending elements. And if you do your water bending wrong, Sokka gets wet! Etc. You could add the fighting and everything if you wanted to, but personally I would just want it as a daily fitness routine: a little water bending, a little earth bending, etc. Especially if I can see my little mii making walls of earth or water whips.

GET ON IT, GAME MAKERS.
posted by Hildegarde at 10:30 AM on August 11, 2010 [5 favorites]


Here's my million dollar idea: someone needs to make a wii fit type game where you are the avatar, and you need to learn water, earth, air and fire bending. So you do a bunch of tai chi and kung fu moves, and in each section you can see yourself bending elements. And if you do your water bending wrong, Sokka gets wet! Etc. You could add the fighting and everything if you wanted to, but personally I would just want it as a daily fitness routine: a little water bending, a little earth bending, etc. Especially if I can see my little mii making walls of earth or water whips.


This would work awesome with whatever they're calling Natal now. Kinect? I looked up both Wii games that Avatar has out for a co-worker because her kids wanted 'em and she doesn't understand how to parse game reviews. Apparently one of them is atrocious and one is passable.
posted by edbles at 10:38 AM on August 11, 2010


They should get the Okami people to do it because that game was fantastic.
posted by edbles at 10:39 AM on August 11, 2010


And if you do your water bending wrong, Sokka gets wet!

And if you do it right, Katara gets wet!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:40 AM on August 11, 2010


And if you do it right, Katara gets wet!

Once the slashers figure out how to jailbreak Wiis, it will be a very disturbing day indeed.
posted by yeloson at 12:19 PM on August 12, 2010


I think you could actually make a pretty solid Zelda style RPG adventure game, using an Avatar game and the Kinect as the controller. All the temples and stuff in the cartoon have those super neat opening devices which could make for great puzzle solving. The world is gorgeous and would be fun to roam around in. The Air Earth Water Fire thing gives you obvious ability enhancements. There’s a lack of “okay to murder bad guys.” But maybe you set it after the events of the series and have Aang fight natural disasters and canyon spider type creatures. Okami really would be a good model to follow. Half of your powers in that game are healing and helping the Earth and stuff, not just slashing and bombs.

DEAR CAPCOM: I will love you forever if you do this. Get on it.
posted by edbles at 12:30 PM on August 12, 2010


I think you could actually make a pretty solid Zelda style RPG adventure game, using an Avatar game and the Kinect as the controller. All the temples and stuff in the cartoon have those super neat opening devices which could make for great puzzle solving. The world is gorgeous and would be fun to roam around in. The Air Earth Water Fire thing gives you obvious ability enhancements. There’s a lack of “okay to murder bad guys.” But maybe you set it after the events of the series and have Aang fight natural disasters and canyon spider type creatures. Okami really would be a good model to follow. Half of your powers in that game are healing and helping the Earth and stuff, not just slashing and bombs.

DEAR CAPCOM: I will love you forever if you do this. Get on it.


There's, like, three such games for the Wii already.
posted by kafziel at 2:29 PM on August 12, 2010


Nope. Not with full body controls and reviews say they all suck hard. I want a good one.
posted by edbles at 5:54 AM on August 13, 2010


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