As a child, my parents worked at a video rental store meaning I had endless supply of cartoons, but none of then had impacted my life more than Avatar: The Last Airbender had. In short, the cartoon is about a young boy, Aang, who along with his group of companions and allies, must defeat the Firelord and to restore peace across the nation after 100 years of war. The show successfully intertwines elements of innocence and joy with darker tones like destiny and responsibility. Beautiful is but one word that can describe the show. Its theme, its characters, its storyboard, even down to its filler episodes, it stood superior in every aspect. However the one trait that pushed it passed the boundaries of a children’s cartoons was the respect the writer gave to its audience, the children.
In your average children’s cartoon, you have a protagonist and an antagonist. No matter what the situation the antagonist will always lose and the screen will pan to the main character and his or her sidekick celebrating their victory. Not in this cartoon.
The writers were not afraid to show the characters, good or bad, in a state of desperation and lost without direction. In a two-part episode, the main characters face a huge loss. Along with his group of allies, Aang plans to defeat the Firelord during his weakest time. Ready to end the war, the group plans and attacks. Everything seems to go well until the characters are faced with the Firelord’s daughter. She confesses that she’s known of their plans all along and in the end, our protagonists are forced to escape and leave their allies to be imprisoned. The effects are detrimental as the group have lost practically everything and are forced into a state of hiding. However despite the loss, the beauty in these episodes was the message that it sent to its audience,
there is no one in the world, who will always be the victor.
Another example of the admirable writing was one specific scene , my favorite in fact, where one of the protagonist challenges his sister, the antagonist, to an Agni Kai(as shown below). What stood out to me the most about this was how, instead of panning to the victorious protagonists and forgetting all about the enemy, we were able to see the effects of a loss. The antagonist is shown in her ugliest state and despite being completely evil, we can’t help but feel sympathy for her. Never in a children’s cartoon have I ever cared so much for the villain, but after watching this I was open to a whole feeling.