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The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

WINGSPAN

The student news site of Liberty High School in Frisco, Texas

WINGSPAN

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Joaquin Perez, WTV Producer • April 16, 2024

WTV's Karina Grokhovskaya brings you today's news and announcements including battle of the books, Red Rhythm Spring Show, and today's sports.

The world of Avatar the Last Airbender

With the release of the live action Avatar: The Last Airbender series on Netflix, I decided to re-watch the original series from 2005 and the Legend of Korra. During the peak of quarantine, I binged through all 61 episodes within three days. After finishing the show, I expected to feel unsatisfied with the ending, like with most shows, but this wasn’t the case. The story ended so harmoniously, and it was the exact way it was supposed to be. Moving on from the original show, I was debating on whether or not to watch The Legend of Korra. But after hearing all of the criticism about the show and the general hate for the main character, I decided that I wouldn’t let a sequel ruin the legacy of one of the best shows ever watched. 

But with the release of the new live action limited series on Netflix, my interest in the world of the Avatar was re-kindled. And now that I am four years older, the show can be appreciated in a different light, allowing me to process so much more. 

For those of those who haven’t watched the show: the basis of it is that there are people called benders that can manipulate the four elements, and the Avatar is the only person that can control all four elements. The Avatar is the bridge between the spirit world and in charge of keeping the balance in the world. However, the fire nation tried to take over the world 100 years ago and tried to kill the next Avatar, but Aang, the Avatar, got away. So when Aang returns it’s his job to restore balance. 

And while the story of friendship, corruption, and coming-of-age is beautiful, the real star of the show, the true reason why the show is successful, is the world-building. The original creators of the show, Micheal Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, based the four different nations on different Asian and Native cultures, drawing inspiration from their clothing, foods, and customs. 

The incredible dedication and accuracy the creators of the show put into creating a fictional universe is heartwarming to me, especially as Asians are placed in a positive light. They portray so many different Asian cultures without disrespecting any of them; there are no blatant racist jokes or stereotypical comments. 

Aside from the incredible world building of the show, the script and character development of all of Team Avatar are deep and good quality for it being a show. There are numerous deep themes of loss, grief, trauma, disabilities, and found families presented in a manner that is palatable for children but suitable for any age as well. 

Avatar: The Last Airbender was turned into a movie in 2010 but was very negatively received due to the bad script and bad casting, where almost every character was caucasian. 

That is one of the aspects the new adaptation did right. The casting, for the most part, is spectacular. The casting of Kiawentiio Tarbell as Katara, Dallas Liu as Zuko, Paul Hyung-Sung Kim as Iroh, and Danial Dae Kim and Fire Lord Ozai are spot on casting. Some of the actors are young, so their acting skills are not as refined, but they still did great with the material they were given. No adaptation is perfect, Avatar 2024, made the effort to come close. 

While the adaptation for the most part did do the beloved animation justice, I still have my complaints about some things. The entire purpose of Katara and Sokka joining Aang was to aid him in his journey to master all four elements. In the original series, the first season was titled ‘Water’ because Aang started incorporating water-bending into his fighting. However, the 2024 version did not do this at all. In the entire eight episode series, Aang did not water-bend more than once if at all. Even if he did water-bend once, I just didn’t catch it. It was not significant enough at all. Him bending all four elements is a crucial part of the storyline and it’s an injustice to the original series to leave that out. 

However, the biggest issue with the adaptation was the writing and casting for Azula and her Squad, which includes Ty-Lee and Mai. The acting was just not there. The delivery and emotions seemed forced and it very much gave off Disney Channel. This might just be due to the fact that the actors are still very young, but there are better actors out there that look more like the characters. This was the opposite problem with the casting for Sokka. Ian Ousley can act, probably the best out of the entire younger cast, but his resemblance to Sokka is questionable. 

Though there are a few problems with the 2024 adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the overall production, with the editing, visual effects, and cast chemistry, was extraordinary. I can see this show being renewed for all three seasons as the vision and dedication behind bringing a beloved world to life were definitely recognizable. While nothing will beat the true brilliance and masterpiece that was the original, this new adaptation re-ignited the spark of joy that I experienced as a child, watching the world of Avatar. 

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About the Contributor
Christine Han, Social Media Manager/Photographer/Staff Reporter
Christine Han is junior and this will be her second year on the Wingspan staff. She manages social media for Wingspan and is also a photographer. She will be participating in her 3rd year with the CTE Competitive Mock Trial Team. In her free time she likes to work in various women’s rights groups, read books, watch movies, and hang out with her friends. Contact Christine: Chaewon.Han.866@k12.friscoisd.org

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