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The Journalist


What is your favorite Pumpkin Spice item in the fall?

  • Iced Pumpkin Cream Chai Tea Latte (27%, 23 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice candles (24%, 20 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice Oreos (18%, 15 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice donuts (18%, 15 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice gnocchi (6%, 5 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice goldfish (5%, 4 Votes)
  • Pumpkin Spice cream cheese (2%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 41

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Avatar the Last Airbender Live Action: Comparing the Animated: Movie Version to the New Show


(Warning: Spoilers Ahead)

I grew up on Avatar: The Last Airbender, or ATLA as most original fans know it. Its plot consists of a fantasy world where people can ‘bend,’ or move the four elements. These abilities are known as Waterbending, Earthbending, Firebending, and Airbending. Not all people can bend, but most can. And then there is the Avatar; master of all four elements, meant to save the world. In this show, as you might have guessed, the Avatar is born into the Air Nomad nation; Airbenders. He is told he needs to be sent away to learn the other bending disciplines, but as a young boy with only a father figure to protect him, he is scared and runs away leaving his home behind, but as he does he is caught in a terrible storm that traps him. Only his Avatar abilities save him, leaving him in a ball of ice for 100 years. While he is gone, his home is destroyed by the Fire Nation as the Fire Lord wants to take over the world. When he is awoken by a young girl and her brother, he realizes how alone he is, and their journey together begins.

I would sit on the carpet of my living room floor and wait for this show to start; whether it was an episode I had seen ten times over, or never at all. Sure, sometimes—most of the time—the episodes were out of order, but it was my favorite show. The character dynamics, the world-building, the plot twists; every aspect of this show was perfect. That was why I was so excited when I heard there would be a live-action adaptation of the show. But of course, with the excitement came worry; they might not make this show in a way that fans would relate to like they used to or even like. Personally, I like the show, but I had a few issues.

Taking this into consideration, I will start with my issues concerning the adaptation of the four main characters in the first book/season (none of which issues include the actors; they did an amazing job, only the writers are at fault in my opinion). Various characters have lost what made them who they are, changing both the appeal of the show, and the lessons characters and viewers learn along the way. Of course, I think there are other issues, but that is a topic for another day.

First off, Katara, a waterbender and the character I might say I loved the most in my childhood has lost her fire, attitude, and even confidence, which are all core parts of her development. In the original, her fire often manifests from her trauma of losing her mother, which like any person, is constantly on her mind. However, in the new adaptation, she hardly mentions her mother leaving viewers wondering if it has impacted her in the same way it did before. She no longer clutches the necklace her beloved mother gave her—the only part Katara thinks she has left of her—and no longer shows her hatred for the Fire nation; who were the people that took her mother from her. Her attitude also seems to be missing; she doesn’t stand up for herself or show her feelings in the same way the animated version did. Many fans think this may be because the writers were trying to avoid apparent sexism, however in this attempt, many think they just added to it. Her rage that used to stem from her attitude is gone, and her confidence with it. Many—myself included—wanted more from Katara, although I am still happy to see one of my favorite characters come to life with an amazing actor. 

Next, we have Sokka, a non-bender. As Katara’s older brother and only man of the Southern Water Tribe, his original character has flaws rooted in sexism, misogyny, and often plain annoyance. However, very early on Sokka learns to change his ways and views and becomes a character that brings comedic relief and love to the show. This was all ruined however when the adaptation took away his controversial views, leaving him to be a slightly flat and less developed character. I know at the beginning Sokka was not a character I liked in the original show, but his development meant so much to me as a sister and girl as he realized his wrongs toward his family (Katara) and the general female population.

Following Sokka is Zuko; a fire bender and the banished Prince of the Fire Nation seeking to redeem himself. He can only restore his honor if he completes the impossible quest of finding the lost Avatar. Personally, I have very few if not no issues with Zuko’s adaptation. He brings the fire that we miss from other beloved characters and if anything, is even better than the original. We see more of his story, and learn even more about how caring and kind he truly can be; that the only reason he acts as horribly as he does is because his father forced him to.

Finally, we have Aang, the last airbender and the Avatar. I miss the character I knew him as in my childhood; his romantic interest in Katara, his goofiness, and his outlook on his responsibilities. Yes, he has had a major trauma, but that should not have changed his character so drastically from a cheery young boy full of excitement to a sad, uber-serious boy. The writers seem to forget that part of Aang’s appeal is his ability to overcome his trauma and push through to be stronger and happier on the other side. Additionally, he seems to have no romantic interest in Katara at all, let alone anyone else. A major part of the plot (sorry for spoilers) in the original show was Aang and Katara being in love, but the writers (possibly fearing two young actors being forced to act in ways that would make them uncomfortable) have completely taken out parts of the plot showing the development of their relationship. Do the writers forget that Katara and Aang have children together? That they help rebuild the world together with their shared love? Finally, his view of his responsibilities is slightly different; it is not explicitly shown, but I feel that he acts and feels differently about his responsibilities as the Avatar; this can be seen in similar ways to previous complaints such as his goofiness and seriousness.

That said, I still loved the show. It brought me back to a part of my childhood I thought I might never get back. It has allowed me to see this series in a new way (although it was not what I expected) and expanded my love for the show. I hope for a more developed next (few?) seasons. The love that I have for this show can never be taken away, even if the new adaptation is not as perfect as I, and other fans, had hoped it would be.

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