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Avatar: The Last Airbender: Book 3, Vol. 1
Reviewed by Tuxxer

10 out of 10

When you think 'Nicktoons', a few images pop into your head. A gibbering, talking yellow sponge. A small child with fairly odd godparents. A CGI child genius and his robotic dog. All these cartoons are certainly fun, but definitely lacking in the 'substance' department. Thank goodness Avatar has it in spades.

When it premiered three years ago, I immediately felt the show was going to be something special. It's character driven, has interesting mythology, and is filled with small but fun surprises. Meticulously crafted, Avatar tells the ongoing story of a boy destined to save the world. What kid (or not-entirely-grown-up) wouldn't want to see that through to the end?

The fascist, military-driven Fire Nation seeks to control the world. Their power is growing, as is their grip on the other continents. The passive Water nation and proud Earth Nation have produced masters of their respective arts to train Aang, the sole remnant of the long-extinct Air nation. This stuff is neat.

With the start of the final (I think) Book, the stakes have been noticeably raised. Aang received a near-fatal blow at the previous book's climax; and spent weeks in a coma. Now, he and his friends (Water Tribe siblings Katara and Sokka) have infiltrated the Fire Nation and make their way to the King's palace, inch by inch.

This is an incredibly well-written saga; filled with very human characters. The vengeful Fire Prince Zuko has been striving for the first two books to regain some honor and return home triumphant. Now that he's returned, he's learning that getting what he wants doesn't make him happy. There are also reminders that every main character, despite their responsibilities or their gifts; are still teenagers: Capable of irrationality, ill-timed moments of humor and oh yes; beginning to notice the opposite sex.

My favorite aspect of the program has to be the Bending itself. Earth, Air, Water and Fire are manipulated in ingenious ways, every episode. A form of telekinetic Tai Chi, the four elements are harnessed and used as an inventive martial art. It's brilliant stuff.

Volume One of Book Three is now available on DVD on I couldn't recommend it higher.

Review ©2007

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