Monday, January 25, 2016

Toon Ninja Reviews - Avatar: The Last Airbender Part IV - Inspirations, Music & Voice Acting (Guest Co-Host, Ryo of the Wildfire)

This is getting nowhere! I did the intro, the 3 book summary and the characters. It's been a long time since I did the last part. And I don't know where to begin!

*The wall starts to flash red, then it explodes; Ryo of the Wildfire, complete with his armor, but no helmet, enters the fray, along with his white tiger companion, White Blaze*

Oh, my goodness! It's Ryo of the Wildfire from Ronin Warriors!

Ryo: Hey there, Jason. I heard you are having trouble with your review. Perhaps, I can help.

Wow, thanks Ryo! I am glad you are one of my favorite anime heroes.

Ryo: Don't mention it. So, what you do need help with.

Well, the music & voice acting I know, but I need help with the inspirations for Avatar.

Ryo: Inspirations, huh? I can do that. You take care of the music & voice acting part, I'll take care of the inspirations.

Will do! Since we're on the subject of it, you take over.

Ryo: You got it. I won't let you down.

15 Minutes later

Ryo: Although one of the best action cartoons in not just NickToons, but one of the best action cartoons in all animation,  Avatar: The Last Airbender is not just action alone. This show has a tone of inspirations, lots and lots of inspirations. Anything that goes from Mythology, History, Environmentalism, Spirituality, Sacrifice, Redemption, Philosophy, and so on and so forth.  For instance, the four nations themselves, they are loosely based on actual nations and their respective races of people. The Air Nomads, they are based on the Shaolin Monks, know for their peaceful pacifism, The Water Tribe, they are based on the Inuit tribes, known for their parkas and their fishing hobbies, The Earth Kingdom, which is based on China, especially Ba Sing Se, which was based on the Forbidden City itself and finally, the Fire Nation, based on Japan, known for their industrial might and advances and just like the island nation itself at the time, it had a bad history, when it comes to occupation. And if you are wondering how those benders are so good with their bending, they are based on actual Martial Arts themselves. Sifu Kisu did the majority of the Martial Arts choreography for the show. For the choreography for Toph, it was done by Sifu Manuel Rodriguez, which he based her moves on Chu Gar Southern Style Praying Mantis Kung-Fu. Well, I am not be as smart as Rowen or Sailor Mercury, but at least that's all I know. Jason?

Thanks Ryo. With the inspiration part taken care of, now for my favorite part of the review, music and voices! Let's start with the music first.

The music was composed by duo called The Track Team. They consists of Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn. Their music for Avatar is a blend of both western orchestra and Chinese musical instruments, with hints of a choir mixed in with it, which explains their soundtrack is as epic as those in some awesome movies, whether it's for action, for comedy, romance, drama and so on and so forth. They later did the music for the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, which maintains most of the oriental feel from the original, but added some of the jazz feel for some moments, including those from Republic City. But that review is for another time. Now, for my favorite part of this, the voices. Let's start with the main cast.

Zach Tyler Eisen was kid back then when he voiced Aang. Eisen displayed the balance of our main hero, hence the word, "balance," whether he could be funny in one episode or can be serious the next, something his movie counterpart wasn't (more on that later).

Mae Whitman displayed both the nurturing motherly side and a dark, serious, yet strong side when voicing Katara. But, like Aang, she does have her funny moments, especially with her banter with Toph. Not bad for someone later gave the Disney version of Tinker Bell her voice.

Jack DeSena, like Aang, can be serious AND funny at the same time as Sokka, but mostly funny with his dialogue, especially with his "Sok-casm".

And then there's Jessie Flower, who displayed her sarcastic, funny yet easy going persona for Toph. Before voicing Toph, Jessie voiced a little girl named Meng in the episode from Book One, "The Fortuneteller."  And when it comes to doing the Melon Lord, she can be quite a ham.

Finally, rounding out the main cast, Dee Bradley Baker provided the vocal growls, chirps and roars for both Appa and Momo. Where Appa displays his loud growls and roars, Momo does small, chipmunk like chirps. The only time they spoke normally was in the the episode in Book Three, "Daydreams and Nightmares," but it was all in Aang's head because he didn't had enough sleep. Weird.

Now, here are the very familiar people we know who voiced the other characters.

From Rufio to the prince of the Fire Nation, Dante Basco, did an admiral job as Zuko, displaying not just his anger issues earlier on, but also his sense of honor and redemption later. Some people think that Zuko is the Anti-Jake Long for being not easy going as the American Dragon himself. But I will leave it up to you. And on top of that, Basco is also a decent breakdancer. If you see Zuko does those breakdancing moves with his Firebending, that's all him!

Grey DeLisle's portrayal as Azula makes Vicky from Fairly Oddparents look like a wimp by comparison. DeLisle gives Azula a cold, calculating persona that will give other right hand people a run for their money. Scary, indeed. Speaking of scary.

As Firelord Ozai, Mark Hamill makes his voice a bit more menacing than he did with the Joker. Not as insane as the Clown Prince of Crime himself, but his quiet fury and fiery hatred towards everything makes Ozai the ultimate villain, especially when dealing with the pure-hearted and brave hero like Avatar Aang.

And last but certainly not least, the late great Mako as Uncle Iroh. From playing the wise wizard Akiro from the Conan movies to cackling around as the shape-shifting master of darkness Aku from Samurai Jack, Mako brings the goofiness, seriousness and the wisdom of the Dragon of the West himself. Unfortunately, after Book Two ended, Mako died and Greg Baldwin took over from Book Three. Baldwin did okay as Iroh, but it was Mako who made this character his own. So much so, not only one of the tales from the episode, "Tales of Ba Sing Se" was dedicated to him, but the character, Mako from The Legend of Korra was named in honor of him. He was a great man, and he will be missed.

Oh, one more thing, as an added bonus, did you know that Gran-Gran was voiced by none other than Melendy Britt? I am not making this up, the voice of She-Ra voiced Sokka and Katara's grandmother. I was a bit surprised over this, even my brother in arms, Stefan was shocked to hear this. Although it was only two episodes, Melendy Britt's performance as Gran-Gran was an honor. And I am pretty sure the cast were honored by her presence, especially for the her role as the Princess of Power herself. One day, if I go to a convention somewhere and if the cast of Avatar was there, including Mae Whitman, I will ask this question:

"How did you feel when you were in the presence of a voice acting legend like Melendy Britt, the voice of She-Ra?"

Anyway, I think that's about it. Thanks for the help, Ryo.

Ryo: Don't mention it. Besides, this review is long from over.


*White Blaze roars*

Why is White Blaze roaring?

Ryo: He wouldn't be roaring like this unless...

*Evil Laughter off screen*


*Jadeite appears; Jason and Ryo motion their fighting poses as Jadeite appeared*

Jadeite: My friends, this is indeed FAR from over!

*Jadeite laughs maniacally*

To Be Continued...

*Fade Out