Matt McHugh
Matt - Blog - December 2006


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Good Cartoon: Avatar
December 31, 2006

Right... first of all, I know I'm cheating. It's January 1, 2007, and I'm posting a December 2006 blog entry. So what? I told you before, for the structure of the site, I need to have at least one entry per month in its own folder. Who cares when I actually post it? Do you? I don't. So there.

So anyway. My new favorite TV show (actually, the only show I make an effort to watch) is a cartoon on Nickelodeon. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Here's a review of a DVD I posted on Amazon (What? Not only am I cheating on the date, but I'm cannibalizing my own Amazon reviews for blog entries! For shame... for shame...!)

I'm 41 years old and not particularly a fan of animation. I don't dislike it -- but I don't seek it out. I like to think I'm willing to accept well-crafted stories in any genre. "Avatar" fits the bill... and how.
I've described the show to peers as akin to recent highly stylized Chinese martial-arts movies such as "Crouching Tiger..." or "House of Flying Daggers." It is beautifully animated with sincerely exciting battle scenes and fight choreography (I don't care how good the "wire work" is on film, such fantastic maneuvers are much more "believable" in cartoon form!). It has a rich mythology, an interesting storyline, truly sympathetic characters, and good touches of humor. Without seeming strained or heavy-handed, it manages to explore some complex moral and spiritual topics along the way. I watch it with my kids (3.5 and 6) and we are all transfixed through each episode. It's even sparked some interesting discussions about loyalty and responsibility with my 6-year-old. Made-for-TV cartoons don't get much better.
I can recommend this show whole-heartedly to anyone looking for a little family-friendly entertainment that doesn't condescend or compromise. This disc -- Book 1, Volume 5 -- has four episodes that make a nice arc. Starting from the beginning is better, but you can pretty much watch any episode and get a self-contained story that doesn't demand you know every detail.

Seriously. It's my current favorite show. Watch it. You'll like it. If you don't... well, it's a half-hour wasted. So what the hey.

-- mm

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