You guys remember this show, right?
When it comes to children’s cartoons, it’s hard to beat Avatar: The Last Airbender. It’s one of those shows that it’s viewers loved as a kid, then watched again as an adult and loved just as much. Maybe even more so, depending on the person. It does plenty to entertain both possible audiences, those audiences being children and parents.
The show’s distinct anime-esque art style still ignites arguments between weebs like me to this day (an argument I don’t intend to throw my hat into). This may sound like a bad thing, but it’s actually quite the opposite. The fact that many confuse Avatar for a beautifully done anime thanks to the excellent art and animation alone is impressive.
And that’s without mentioning the story and characters. Each character, from our main protagonist to the most forgettable side character, is memorable, fun and relatable. From Sokka’s inadequacy complex and sharp intellect to Aang’s light-hearted joyous attitude being dragged down by his heavy burden as Avatar, each one of the protagonists and even the antagonists feel three dimensional. Even if I hadn’t finished watching the show again a few months ago, I’d still remember all of these guys by both name and their unique designs.
I could go on and on. The world is well fleshed out and fascinating, the action is absolutely incredible and fun to watch, the dialogue is downright artful, and the pacing of the story is absolutely perfect. Sure, there were a few episodes that can easily be considered bad, but the quantity and the quality of the good vastly overshadow these duds.
So naturally there had to be a live-action movie, right?
We all remember M. Night Shamalangadingdong’s adaptation of the series, simply titled ‘The Last Airbender’. It’s widely considered by practically everyone to be not only a terrible adaptation, but one of the single worst pieces of cinema ever created. It completely ruins the world-building, the characters, the perfect pacing of the story, and even the action.
And that’s ignoring both the white-washing and the ear-grating dialogue and vomit inducing acting.
I could go on and on about how terrible the movie is even longer than I could praise the animated series, but I don’t want to watch it again to do so. I’d rather watch Dragon Ball Evolution while cramming pickles into every entry point on my body then watch this movie again.
So instead, I’ll just as a simple question.
Why the fuck haven’t we learned our lesson?!
For those who don’t know, a live-action Avatar TV series has been confirmed by Netflix. Production starts next year, with the original creators of the show to be head producers and show runners. We don’t know when it will come out, but we do know that it will exist.
Why do people always ask for live-action versions of anime and cartoons? Is it that hard to realize that maybe some series are animated because that’s the best way to tell that series’ particular story? Live action is severely limited when it comes to animation; it’s hard to capture the same energy or charm that animation has.
In case you think I’m over-reacting, then let me give you a list of terrible animation to live-action adaptations. These include…
- Mob Psycho 100
- Death Note
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- Ghost in the Shell
- The aforementioned Dragon Ball Evolution
- Yogi Bear
- Woody Woodpecker
- Four separate Scooby Doo movies
- Four Alvin and the Chipmunks movies
- Transformers (all five of those dumpster fires, with a sixth one coming soon)
- Ninja Turtles (yes the first one from the 80s was also bad fight me)
- Jem and the Holograms
And so on.
Don’t expect me to give Netflix’s version the time of day. I’ve been bitten by this shit one time too many. And I’m not just talking about terrible live action versions: I’m talking about Avatar itself.
Let’s face the facts: The Last Airbender was lightning in a bottle. The magic of the series simply cannot be replicated. Not in live action, and not even in animation. Remember the Legend of Korra? If you do, then congratulations!
You managed to sit through four seasons of garbage.
I know that these follow ups and adaptations make money. They wouldn’t exist if they didn’t. People want to recreate the emotions the original series invoked in them, so they go off to see the different versions hoping that it would capture them. Maybe some of them get what they’re looking for. Hell if I know.
Though I’d highly doubt it.
I, however, am not one of these people. I’m not going to give them the time of day because I want to recapture the magic. If I really want to enjoy Avatar again, I’ll grab my DVDs and watch them again. No other version will make me as happy as the original. Am I being too judgmental too soon? Probably. But time is the only resource you can’t get back.
So I refuse to waste mine on something I know I won’t get anything out of.