Since The Last Airbender movie sucked unbelievable amounts of @$$, I thought it was worth reaffirming what was so awesome about the actual TV series so that one crappy film wouldn't tarnish its street cred. So, here's my top 10 reasons why the ATLA series totally rocked!
10. The hero is a bald kid!
With every anime hero having an insanely complex mane of hair, its refreshing for once for the main protagonist to be bald, even it is because he shaves it off.
9. The Ember Island Players
Probably the single greatest recap episode ever is done by a theatre group that retell the entire story of the Avatar and his friends up until the final story arc. The exaggerated portrayals of the characters are hysterical, and the fact that Aang is played by a female midget is so keeping with all those cheesy Peter Pan plays your parents used to drag you to as a kid.
In ATLA, nearly every animal is half of one animal and half another one. Appa is half-bison and half the Catbus from Totoro, while Momo is part-lemur/part-bat. The blending of two animals is very creative, although the appearance of a "just bear" completely baffles our heroes.
7. Fan love
The love from the fans on this show is STRONG, more than most "cartoons" have. The ATLA otaku are seriously into this series, but treat at with a real appreciation, and not just some passing fad. It has gained followers from both fans of anime and of general animation.
6. Detail on martial arts
Where as most action animated shows just have the characters learning basic martial arts or just leaping around and giving karate chops, ATLA actually went a few miles further with studying and getting assistance from genuine ancient Chinese fighting styles. Shaolin, Tai Chi, Ba Gua, Hung Gar, and Praying Mantis style were incorporated to show the different types of "bending".
Toph is one of single most interesting characters to show up in a TV show, animated or otherwise. Appearing as a secondary character halfway through Season 2, she takes center stage as Aang's Earthbender sensei. During the rest of the series, Toph grows, and shows she's practically one of the strongest ones in the cast, both in power and in spirit. Despite her handicap, she has a great sense of humor, and fills out the role of the token "tsundere girl".
4. Not just another "anime ripoff"
During a time when alot of anime-styled or anime influenced series were coming out like Totally Spies, American Dragon, and Puffy AmiYumi, ATLA stands alone as an original concept involving an epic quest, grand adventure, and breaking alot of anime tropes. Even though there's some fights during the last season that seem that might be out of Dragonball Z, the series stays the course with being its own genuine story.
ANYTHING with Mako is solid gold! This Academy Award nominee made Samurai Jack an even better experience as the villain Aku, but as the sympathetic Uncle Iroh was one of the best mentor characters since Yoda. RIP, Splinter!
2. It's all about LOVE!
Now, it might not seem like its a new thing in an American animated series, but ATLA sheds a serious light on the characters' relationships. This isn't your regular cartoon infatuation where some guy falls totally in love with some girl and spends the entire series trying to win her affections, but where the characters develop their feelings over the course of three seasons. There's some "head-over-heels" stereotypes, like Ty Lee's small obsession with Sokka, although some romances seem to spark a little to early, like Sokka and Suki. But mostly, they're handled very believably.
1. No damn fillers!
The series runs a perfect 3 seasons, with no pointless filler story arcs. Something that shows like Bleach and Naruto could learn from.