Sunday, February 22, 2015

Toon Ninja Reviews - Avatar: The Last Airbender - Part II: Summaries of the Three Books!

Welcome back, Toonsters.

In our last part, I told you about the story of Avatar: The Last Airbender itself. But now, to fully understand the whole story, I will sum up what I know about the 3 seasons, or should I say, the 3 Books.  Unlike most shows, rather than calling them seasons, we call them Books, like we are reading a chapter of a book.  In the case of Avatar: The Last Airbender, it is so.  Before I get started, let me give you a heads up on the two versions of this awesome show. The first was the pilot itself, which was completely different from the actual show itself, from Aang and Zuko fighting on the scalpel, which was used in the Aang/Azula battle in the episode, "Return to Omashu", to Katara being originally named Kya, which was later used as the name for Katara's mother. I didn't see the whole pilot, so I don't know the whole plot other than the story.  The other were those animated shorts featuring the Avatar characters, being  "Chibi-ized", just like seeing cute versions of our favorite characters in Japanese anime, which I have seen.  And for the longest time since then, they didn't show them again.  Anyway, I am getting ahead off topic here, so let's get started on the 3 Books, shall we?

Book One - Water: This is the first story of the Avatar saga. As we stated before, the four nations lived in peace and harmony until the Fire Nation decided to occupy and take over the other nations, by force.  Without the Avatar, the Fire Nation couldn't be stopped. So much that the Fire Nation launched an attack on the Air Nomads, preventing the Avatar from being reborn, thus breaking its life cycle. 100 years later, Southern Water Tribe siblings, Sokka and Katara found someone in an iceberg.  Fearing that person would died by being frozen solid for so long, they freed the individual, only to be revealed to be an Airbender named Aang, who may look 10 years old, but because of being trapped in an iceberg, he is, in reality, 110 years old. Elsewhere in the South Pole, Zuko, the exiled prince of the Fire Nation, was in search of the Avatar. By capturing the Avatar, Zuko would restore is honor to the whole Fire Nation, including his father, Firelord Ozai.  But there is more to Zuko than just restoring your honor by capturing the Avatar, much more, evening through the experience of his uncle, Iroh.  Meanwhile, Aang was a welcomed guest in the Southern Water Tribe, much to the chagrin of Sokka.

Sokka: "Your kidding, right?"

But the peace was short lived, when the Fire Nation, black snow and all, made their move and capture Aang.  But that didn't stop Katara from going out there and saving him.  From there, she and Sokka came to save Aang.  But little that they didn't know, as the clever Airbender that he is, Aang got himself out and outsmarted Zuko and the other Firebenders.  Katara and Sokka battled valiantly against the Firebenders, but they were outnumbered.  That is, until Aang became a different person, and I do mean "Different," when his eyes and his arrow tattoos started to glow, when ended up in the Avatar State, the Avatar's true power.  Katara hoped that one day, the Avatar will return and her prayers had been answered.  After escaping Zuko, through Appa, the flying bison, Aang and his friends left the South Pole and head to Aang's home, the Southern Air Temple, where he was raised by his master and father figure, Monk Gyatso. Only the discover that the Fire Nation wiped them out, thus making Aang, at the title suggested, the last Airbender.  With renewed determination and with encouragement from his friends, Aang vowed fight the Fire Nation and bring balance back to the world. To do that, he needed to contact the last Avatar before him, Avatar Roku.  Roku warned Aang about the Sozin's Comet, the one thing the Fire Nation used to wiped out the Air Nomads and they are planning to use it to destroy the other nations, too.  And there is one other problem, while the past Avatars learned the other arts of bending within a year or so and since Aang was trapped in a iceberg for 100 years, he has to learn the other elements within a few months, before the comet itself comes and the Fire Nation will be an unstoppable force.  Throughout their adventures, Aang, Sokka and Katara travelled far and wide, meeting friend and foe alike. From the Warriors of Kyoshi Island, including Sokka's future love interest, Suki, to Aang's old friend and I do mean "Old", King Bumi of Omashu, to a group of freedom fighters, led by Jet, whose obsession in the Fire Nation's destruction, disregards any innocent life, even if some are part of the Fire Nation, but not involved in their campaign of occupation, know what I mean.  All this ends, when Aang not only finds a Waterbending master in the form of Pakku (who initially didn't want to take in Katara as his pupil until his past involving Sokka and Katara's Gran-Gran, Kana, changed his mind), but has to defend the Northern Water Tribe from the Fire Nation army, led by Zhao, who was a captain in the beginning, only to be promoted to admiral near the end.

Book Two - Earth: After saving the Northern Water Tribe from the Fire Nation and learning a thing or two about Waterbending, Aang and his friends continue their journey to stop the Fire Nation while at the same time, learn the next element, Earthbending. Meanwhile, Zuko and his uncle Iroh are now fugitives of the Fire Nation after the failed siege of the north and are being pursued by Ozai's daughter and Zuko's sister, Azula, who is as cold and calculating as her father.  After his side trips from learning the control the Avatar State (which failed miserably) to going through the Cave of Two Lovers with a bunch of singing travelers,  Aang and his friends return to Omashu, only to be taken over by the Fire Nation.  Aang wanted Bumi to teach him Earthbending, but due to what happened (that and Bumi was waiting for the right moment to strike back), Aang had to search elsewhere for another teacher.  After wading through a swamp and clearing the Avatar's good name in a local village who blamed the Avatar before Roku, Kyoshi, for the death of a warlord at the time, Aang found himself a new Earthbending teacher in the form a young, blind girl named Toph Beifong.  Although born to a rich and powerful family, Toph prefer a life of a free spirit and not being so frilly all the time.  Despite her blindness, her Earthbending helps her "see" and she is awesome.  While Aang tries to learn Earthbending, despite his problems learning it at first, Iroh teaches Zuko the true meaning of the elements while in hiding from Azula while at the same time, Zuko was trying to find himself. With Toph joining Team Avatar, Aang and his friends continue their adventures, including to an ancient library in the middle of the desert and protecting the wall that protects Ba Sing Se from a giant Fire Nation-built drill.  Afterwards, Aang and his friends ended up at the Earth Kingdom's capital city itself. Though peaceful, behind the scenes, it is secretly ruled by its secret police known as the Dai Li.  Led by Long Feng, the Dai Li makes sure that Ba Sing Se and most of the Earth Kingdom don't get involved with the war against the Fire Nation through some "persuasive" methods and keep the Earth King under tight control.  After figuring out their treachery, Aang and his friends, including Jet and his freedom fighters, fought against the Dai Li in their underground lair underneath Lake Laogai, only to see Jet died in battle after he was brainwashed by Long Feng and Aang freed him by reminding him of who he is. Later, Aang and his friends convinced the Earth King that the Dai Li was using him for their base ends and thrown Long Feng into prison. You though it was over? You are wrong. After liberating Ba Sing Se, Team Avatar went their separate ways. While Katara stayed put with the Earth King and his guard as they prepared for their attack against the Fire Nation at the day of the eclipse known as "The Day of Black Sun", Sokka visits Hakoda, his father (and Katara's, too) near the shores of Ba Sing Se, Toph returns to the Beifong home, which was revealed to be a trap by two Earthbenders her father hired to bring her back (but she escaped by creating another form of bending, Metalbending), and finally, Aang travels to find a guru who can help him control the Avatar State.  But, their separate adventures were cut short, as Azula, along with Mai and Ty Lee, disguised as Kyoshi warriors, infiltrated Ba Sing Se.  Not only freeing Long Feng and controlling the Dai Li (only to betray Long Feng in the process), but also getting rid of the Earth King's royal guard. And along the way, sending Katara into the ruins of Old Ba Sing Se, along with Zuko, who earlier failed to escape from Azula.  With the aid of Iroh, Aang eventually found Katara and Zuko, only to be surrounded by Azula and company.  To make matters worse, Zuko, who we thought embraced the teachings of his uncle and living happily with him at the tea shop he just opened, betrayed Iroh and sided with Azula. When Aang was going to use the Avatar State, Azula struck him down with lightning, nearing killing him. With the Avatar disabled for the time being and Iroh being captured due to Zuko's betrayal, Ba Sing Se has fallen to the Fire Nation and Team Avatar makes a hasty retreat...for now.

Book Three - Fire: The be all and end all of the series itself.  After their defeat back in Ba Sing Se, Team Avatar regrouped and infiltrated the heart of the Fire Nation itself, while in all the while, plan their invasion during the eclipse (which they fail miserably when Azula learn of their plans back at Ba Sing Se). Meanwhile, Zuko, after returning home after the fall of Ba Sing Se, has his own issues, too. At first, he was proud of betraying his uncle Iroh and blames him for not siding with him AND Azula back at Ba Sing Se.  But after a trip at the beach to let off some steam, so to speak, and reading about both Avatar Roku and Firelord Sozin, learning that Roku was his mother's grandfather, Zuko started to regret his own actions and started to fully embrace his uncle's teachings.  By doing so, Zuko has sacrificed his position to the throne and his heritage of the Fire Nation to join the Avatar in his quest to end the Fire Nation's invasion.  After retreating from the Fire Nation after the failed invasion, Team Avatar headed to the Western Air Temple for safety, but Zuko wasn't far behind.  Zuko eventually joined Team Avatar and became Aang's Firebending teacher after a rocky start. They slowly accepted Zuko as their friend, but Katara wasn't so thrilled about it because of what happened back at Ba Sing Se (but she finally accepted him after her quest to overcome her demons by getting back at the man who killed her mother, which she didn't cause revenge doesn't make the hurt go away).  After one prison breakout at the Boiling Rock to save both Hakoda and Suki and one clip show in the form of a parody type play by the Ember Island Players, it all comes down to this. While Sokka, Toph and Suki deal with the airfleet and Katara and Zuko confront Azula, which leads to the ultimate Agni Kai between the two fire siblings, Aang, after disappearing before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, becomes a fully-matured and powerful Avatar and confronts Firelord Ozai, who proclaimed himself as the Phoenix King. The entire world itself is on the shoulders of a not-so young boy (who looks young) who is destined to bring peace and balance back to the whole world.

And that's the three books, in a nutshell. I know I left out a few things, but as long as I mentioned about the main parts of the story, that's what counts.  Join us next time, when I talk about the characters themselves. I'll see you next time. Until then, Stay Frosty and Stay Flame-O, my friends.


(Avatar: The Last Airbender end credits play)

*Fade Out

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