WESTERN ANIME: WHY AVATAR THE LAST AIRBENDER IS THE PERFECT INTRODUCTION TO ANIME
When I first decided to check the Avatar series out, I did so against a huge wave of hype that has put me off of reviewing it or even looking at it, for quite a while. Now that the wave is subsiding and the waters begin to calm, I have decided to give the series a try. I hate to admit this, but it really is a series that is deserving of the hype.
The pilot of Avatar is literally one of the strongest pilots I have ever seen for a series, animated or otherwise. The first episode others an opening to a story that has mystery, action, comedy and a serious overtone that older Anime fans can appreciate. The Animation, voice acting and sound design are stellar, with high production value in spades.
The story follows a 12 year old called Aang who is thawed out of a huge block of ice that he has been trapped in for decades. When he emerges we soon learn that he is possesses the extraordinairy ability Airbend, however, Aang being freed has alerted the prince of the Fire Nation; Zuko. Zuko won’t stop until he can capture Aang.
The series spans over 3 seasons and has a spiritual successor in the name of The Legend Of Korra. The Avatar series is incredibly popular amassing millions of viewers and fans alike. The series has gone on to win many awards.
The American Answer to Anime
Now, much to the chagrin of the more elitist Anime fans, it must be said that Avatar is a sterling example of Animation; one that can be used to help get the more unsure or cynical people into Anime.
The reason for this is that Avatar has all the elements of a popular Anime series; for example if Avatar was an Anime then you would be calling it a Shonen, this is great, because if your friend likes Avatar then they stand a good chance of enjoying other series such as One Piece or Naruto.
Avatar effectively leaves the door open to people who might find Anime a little too alienating to start off with. A good example of this comes with the more natural dubbing of a western animation. In the case of Avatar, dialogue has been written and recorded with western audiences in mind. There’s no awkward “Hey Senpai!” “Hey Onee Chan” or “Hey Sensei” moments that would make someone new to Anime feel a little confused. There’s no awkward translation or slightly wonky lip-syncing, this is 100% accessible to the intended audience.
Now, before the elitist brandish their pitch forks and go on a hunt for a blasphemer, hear me out. I am not saying that Anime needs more westernisation or western friendly translations, I’m just saying that Avatar will always come across as more natural and less forced than it’s eastern translated counterpart.
Avatar may not be Japan in origin, but instead, just see it as a journey from west to east, a journey that takes a slightly longer route but avoids all of the rough seas, and bumps in the road. When you eventually get to your destination, you have a more open mind and are richer for the experience.