Avatar – a great example of animated series that became urgent again
As we recently learned from the lists of best tv series to watch on Netflix – and generally on all the platforms that generously give us many stories in a sequence of episodes – animated content is one of the most interesting for the audience. No, for the audiences, actually. That’s what happened with the Avatar animated series.
The target audience of animation for tv is not limited to the younger generation – people of different ages up to 60 are actually enjoying animated content. No one is saying anymore that animation is only for the youngest.
What is more interesting is how the appearance of, as it seemed, a forgotten movie suddenly makes people rethink its value or push them to love it again. It also helps to understand that culture has been formed under a certain phenomenon – particular culture embodied in fans of particular movies.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Pivoting to animation
Netflix started investing heavily in animation a few years ago, understanding that people have a demand for such content more than ever. It stopped being children’s content and became engaging for everyone.
However, Netflix boosted not only the creation of new movies like famous, highly interesting and experimental Love, hate & robots, Masters of the Universe: Revelation, Tuca and Bertie, Kulipari: An Army of Frogs, but acquainted entirely new audiences to legendary tv series.
As Netflix aimed to develop more of their animation production overseas and perform a pivot from the traditional in-house production system so well-known in the U.S. It means that more diversity is going to be on the platform. Including forgotten masterpieces. Like Avatar, The Last Airbender series.
The last Airbender great return
The Last Airbender debuted on Nickelodeon in 2005 and recently Netflix re-acquainted the audience with the movie once again. And… with the scale of Netflix, the series became even more popular than it ever was. The only question that pops up in our minds is very simple: why?
Let’s take a look first at the story itself.
“Avatar’s” happens in a fictional medieval world of four nations: fire, water, earth and air. This skill called “bending” is the ability to move and generally manipulate a variety of elements, a skill called bending. Those who can do things with all four elements are called “Avatar”. Such people are automatically assigned the responsibility to preserve peace among all nations. The main character is 12-year-old Aang, the only person that survived Airbender after the genocide. Well, it is no secret that he was the last reincarnation of Avatar.
Why did Avatar become popular once again after 15 years since its release?
In 2005 Avatar was the highest-rated animated show for children. 5.6 million people – as the official statistics claim – watched the series finale in 2008.
15 years later the generation of kids grew up. Those kids who watched it back then. Well, now the show is the “number one” thing on Netflix. Of course, these kids watched that again, but many older generations join them here.
After debuting on the platform it has skyrocketed in a moment – the series stayed in Netflix’s top 10 for 61 days!
Absolute record considering the fact that the cartoon is 15 years old and it is animation.
It is not the case where old forgotten things become fresh again after you pick them up from the box of treasures somewhere in the hidden drawer. That is not what Netflix did.
Avatar, the Last Airbender became so popular due to the fact that the cartoon is both visually stunning and it has a unique, deep, engaging and highly incredible story. Besides, people love going back in time to find something so amazing through the new lenses.
We learned that it is the Miyazaki films trick – to give the children this responsibility to save the world, or, to put in other words, to take a task willingly of working for the good. Avatar follows the same path but in its own fashion.
The child that is also a hero – isn’t that the reason we subconsciously like some characters because of their oxymoronic appearance?
There is another reason we already mentioned. The cartoon became engaging for many audiences, but why? Here’s the thing: even though the show was created for children originally, the series feels like adults have too many layers to be involved. Politics, ethics, identity, culture, relationships, drama – all of that is the areas where adults felt perfectly interested at any time. Especially at our times.
The role of animation in the Avatar animation series
It’s hard to overlook brilliant fight scenes that are animated in a way that can’t remind you of anything similar. Maybe because there is not something similar to this.
Avatar is probably the only Western animated series that was so careful at portraying martial arts.
Yes, all of us, or maybe most of us have a knack for old-styled animation, but in Avatar it is not nostalgic sentiments that makes us love it so much.
The characters are not just good or bad, there is no this white/black dividing line. All of them have flaws and positive sides.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
The style of animation series
Avatar, the Last Airbender is not just the action and the philosophy behind the whole story. The way animators and directors made the movie is still giving us moments of joy.
The show is literally a masterpiece of details that, like a very good novel, makes us imagine and remember even more than we see in the plot.
Aang’s iconic tattoo, the way water and fire bends, architecture and the choreography of actions — all of that created in a partly Japanese animation style with inches of western cartoons style.
What’s astounding is how well it blends into such a complex story. This animated series happened to be everything at once with the wise balance: hilarious sitcom, a drama, epic story.
Animation is perfectly used here – as a method with the help of which you can implement any ideas and stories.
The style of the series combines anime with American cartoons. It is not an anime, you are right if you think so. But the way creators nod in this direction is a kind of loving gaze. Besides, one of the directors admitted that they wanted to leave a trace to their love of anime, but not repeat the style itself.
- Directors: Giancarlo Volpe, Ethan Spaulding, Lauren MacMullan, Dave Filoni, Joaquim Dos Santon, etc.
- Writer: Aaron Ehasz
- Creators: Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko
- Cast: Zach Tyler Eisen, Dante Basco, Mae Whitman, Jessie Flower, Jack De Sena, Dee Bradley Baker, Mako Iwamatsu, Greg Baldwin, Grey DeLisle, and Mark Hamill
- IMDb Rating: 9.2/10
- Rotten Tomatoes: 100%
- Streaming Service: Netflix
The popularity of Avatar claims more than one thing. First of all, it’s another proof of the fact how modern audiences enjoy animated content.
The show is often funny, at some moments in the best way it allows silliness, balancing hard moments with light ones.
As IndieWire claimed in its wonderful list of the best animated TV shows of 21 century, “Movie? What movie? We don’t need no stinkin’ movie. Instead, we have three seasons of dense mythology, solid comedy and amazing anime-inspired animation, followed up by “The Legend of Korra,” a spin-off series which proved even more intriguing and progressive”.
Avatar took a task to respectfully portray a world that is affected by Eastern civilization more than Western. The philosophy, concepts, and relationships are all non-western. However, we can still feel the presence of the western way of seeing things. And that is wonderful.
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