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Author Topic: ASN Wants Your Episode Reviews!  (Read 47214 times)
sokkitome
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« Reply #175 on: Aug 05, 2008 01:27 am »

Episode 306: The Avatar and the Firelord

Grade: A

The long awaited explanation of how the war began is featured in season three's "The Avatar and the Firelord," and it does not disappoint its high expectations.  However, perhaps unexpected is that the episode is filled with parallelisms and double-entendres, from the title itself to Uncle Iroh's final speech, making it one of the cleverest episodes to date.

The episode starts off as an elegant mystery, complete with the eerie music.  Both Zuko and Aang are sleeping, when they are both told they need to receive information about their respective "shared past(s)" from their respective mentor figures.  The premise is set up quickly, which allows the episode to get to the main plot, which is of course the flashbacks, told through the eyes of Avatar Roku and Firelord Sozin, in a similar style to season one's "The Storm."  This time however, Zuko and Aang are learning the same story.  And this time, the transitions between the two sides of the story are done seamlessly, almost poetically.  My favorite such transition, perhaps because it is so suggestive, is the shot that links Zuko's face to that of Avatar Roku.  The point of all these parallels seems to be to show some form of interconnectedness between Zuko and Aang, previously hinted at in the dream sequences of season two's "The Earth King."  And it creates these parallels mostly through the subtlety of transitions.

However, the episode has a lot to offer besides transitions.  The pace is quick and fluid, the plot is enthralling and exciting, and the story constantly defies expectations.  I thought Sozin's good-willed intentions (or perhaps euphemisms) in starting the war were particularly interesting, especially with the lovely bit of hindsight we viewers have.  This also stresses one of the main series themes which is developed so well in this episode:  there is no absolute good or evil, and it is the choices we make that determine on which side of the spectrum we fall.  Sozin is not, as we might have expected, a piece of pure evil like Azula, but is instead a deluded idealist, who ultimately lets his evil inclinations get the better of him.     

The animation is almost flawless, and did a great job of portraying the full power of a fully realized Avatar.  It also paid great attention to subtle details, such as the quick framing of Roku's characteristic headpiece as it falls to the ground in his soon-to-be enveloped house.

Though the episode was plot-heavy, it did not neglect touching on many poignant series themes, from the eternality of friendship to the always-present possibility of redemption.  And it managed all of this without any feeling of rushing the plot.

To me, the most interesting development comes at the end.  I am talking of course about the twist that brilliantly ties together the motif of Zuko taking on Aang's role and brings many key series themes to near-mature status.  The revelation of Zuko's ancestry becomes a brilliant metaphor for his own inner conflict, and simultaneously gives Zuko the chance for redemption, both for himself and, symbolically, for the fire nation.  And in a brilliant Iroh speech (done excellently in the spirit of Mako by newcomer Greg Baldwin), we see again the hint that Zuko's role and Aang's role are destined to be one and the same:  the both have the potential to correct the mistakes of their ancestors and "restore balance to the world".  Iroh's speech is strangely, powerfully reminiscent of Avatar Roku's.  And we suddenly realize that this episode is as much about the future as the past.  "The Avatar and the Firelord" is perhaps no longer only a reference to Roku and Sozin. 

Of course, no episode is perfect, and "the Avatar and the Firelord" is not without a few flaws.  The moment that irked me the most was the bit of "potty humor" about bathrooms in the spirit world.  I understand it was for comic relief, and perhaps in a lighter episode, this would have worked fine.  However, what with the more serious, stylized tone the episode boasts, I felt it hurt the flow a bit.  On the other hand, the humor worked into the flashbacks, mostly revolving around Roku's interactions, was much appreciated, and I think did help to cut up the darker moments.  A few parts of the plot seemed a bit too unlikely or contrived, such as the way Zuko figures out the secret message, or the way Iroh manages to get the message to Zuko in the first place.  However, for the most part, you would be hard pressed to find many flaws with this episode.  It simply awes, from the twists and turns of the story right down to its surprising moral: It is no longer just the Avatar's role to restore balance to the world.  It is all of ours.
« Last Edit: Aug 05, 2008 01:30 am by sokkitome » Logged
Manaic742
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« Reply #176 on: Aug 05, 2008 06:30 pm »

Episode 314: The Southern Raiders
Book: Fire
Grade: D+

The Southern Raiders sadly proved to be the worst of the Zuko field trip episodes.  From the spoilers we were lead to believe that the episode would encompass Katara and Zuko's journey to find the Fire Nation soldier who killed Katara and Sokka's mother.  What we got was a rushed story line that failed to expand on the previous concepts that were put in place just so that they(the writers) could have this episode.

The first half of the episode has nothing to do with Katara.  It's all about Zuko.  While I enjoy Zuko as a character and welcome any chance to see him fight Azula, this fight scene absorbed so much time that when the field trip portion DOES come around it has to be rushed to the point of butchering.  Zuko and Katara instantly locate the Southern Raiders fleet without any trouble at all and locate the real Southern Raiders leader just as instantaneously and easily.  The retired soldier turns out to be a stereotypical " cowardly bad guy" type character with no regard for any life other than his own.  This down plays the meaning of Katara's meeting him and makes the conversation between the two uninteresting and unemotional.

Though this episode was supposed to expand somewhat on Katara's ability to blood bend, when she does blood bend it's for only five seconds and contributes nothing to the story line.  Its presence in the episode is ultimately pointless, and since we never see blood bending again in the series this begs the question "Why did they introduce blood bending at all?"

Overall this episode was rushed and disappointing.
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A culture's teachings, and most importantly, the nature of its people, achieve definition in conflict. They find themselves... or find themselves lacking.  - Kreia
ReturnableMemory
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« Reply #177 on: Aug 14, 2008 12:20 am »

"The Southern Raiders"

Grade: C

The Southern Raiders was probably the most anticipated episode before the finale. Fans everywhere expected to see Katara and Sokka's mother as well as both her killer and Zuko's mom. I was one of those fans expecting this to be one of the darkest and tearful episode based on theories and speculation made by fans. After seeing this episode the day it aired, I was in disappointment.

The episode off with the most unnecessary part of the show however it did have a significant part as to how most of the gaang found the flyer to see the play on Ember Island. What disappointed the most in the first part was the separation of the gaang. I was really looking forward to seeing more of Chit Sang, the firebending prisoner from the Boiling Rock. He unfortunately, like everyone else, was pushed aside and sent away. The fight scene was pretty good, not the best fight of the series, but their have been worse. Unfortunately the fight took so much space in the episode it made it completely unnecessary and, frankly, out of place. It was interesting to see Zuko show some compassion to Azula as she was falling to what looked like her death but soon faded as she jetted herself to the edge. The whole scene could have ended shorter than it was but I guess the writers felt it was necessary to add in a fight despite the fact that there was enough fighting in the previous episode to keep one satisfied.

The gaang returns to the invasion base after a long day and like the fight before it, dragged the episode in time. Katara's attitude towards Zuko felt somewhat awkward considering in the previous episode she showed no sign of resentment towards Zuko (then again see was distracted with joy from the fact her father had returned but the attitude did feel out of place). After a comic moment between Zuko and Sokka we are given a flashback to the day Sokka and Katara's mother was taken away from them. When the flashback came it felt like a load of fresh air had come over me. It was great to get some character development in and it literally felt like the episode was actually going somewhere. I felt empty when it ended only because we didn't get much to take in. However, since it was from Sokka's point of view, I eagerly anticipated for Katara's perspective of that fateful day.

The episode started to drag again as Zuko, knowing that the Southern Raiders were responsible for the attack, told Katara where he could find the killer. When Sokka and Aang figure out Katara's plan they go into a conversation not once but twice about how vengeance and violence aren't the answer. The talk, like most of how the episode has been, took more time out of what the fans really wanted to see. Despite two conversations about it, Katara and Zuko go out anyway, thinking this is the best thing to do.

Now the episode finally goes into full motion however the episode is unfortunately already half-way in. This half of the show felt completely rushed. If it was the other half that was rushed I would have like the episode more than I do now but that's not the case.

We are again given a flashback this time through Katara's point of view which gets more in depth than Sokka's flashback. This time we are not only given the face of Katara's mother, but her name as well, Kya (an obvious reference to Katara's original name for the series). I liked this part because I felt I was given valuable information. We are given some light on the situation but not the reason why the soldier killed Kya.

Let's skip to the part where Zuko and Katara finally get to the Southern Raiders' ship to find the soldier they are looking for is no longer a Raider. The only good that came out of this part was the bloodbending. I expected Katara to use it in this episode especially towards her mother's killer however she used it on the wrong person. Another thing about this part was that it was only used for a short time. Although it was nice to see bloodbending in action again, I was left disappointed and thinking why bloodbending was introduced. Zuko showed a shocking expression towards this power however he never mentions anything about it afterwards not even any concern or encouragement about it. They find out where the real killer is and go for the final moments of the episode

We discover that the man who had killed Kya is just a cowardly old man who is living with his mother. We also find out that the reason he killed Kya was because he was told by Kya that she was a waterbender, the last one in the Southern Tribe and the prize The Raiders were looking for. Katara tells the man that he was lied to because Kya wanted to protect the true last waterbender, Katara herself. Katara shows some powerful bending and gets ready to attack. I was expecting a long battle to commence and possibly some bloodbending to happen agian, heck I expected to se Ursa pop up out of nowhere with some wise advice to Katara however we see Katara give it her all only to halted herself as she sees the coward begging for mercy. The episode ends with Aang thanking Katara for not using violence and forgiving the man. Katara however tells Aang she did not forgive the man however has forgiven Zuko and walks away. Zuko ends with a good point in the series asking Aang what he will do when he fight the Firelord.

I was completely disappointed in this episode. I was expecting a decent battle between Katara and her mother's killer but I was gypped. I wanted to show some tears after watching the episode however thanks to the rushed plot and dragged unnecessary points, the episode left me completely unemotional. The plot was a good idea however the way it played into motion, it simply felt like a test drive gone wrong. I was not interested in this episode at all. The only amusing part was the scene with Sokka and Zuko inside the tent which gave Zuko a funny face, something I have not seen since possibly the first season.

Overall, the episode might be enjoying to some but definitely not to me. This may have been the most anticipated episode ever but in my book it was a incredible low point for season three.

[ Please cut your review to a maximum of 750 words. -Forau ]
« Last Edit: Apr 23, 2009 05:04 am by Forau » Logged

<3
Aang-a-lang
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Did the definition of "genius" change?


« Reply #178 on: Aug 19, 2008 11:15 pm »

 I agree with alot of your reviews!!!!!!!!
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Qi Chin
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I keep Katara's acrobatic dancing skills \(^_^)/


« Reply #179 on: Sep 22, 2008 04:47 am »

Episode Review 314 The Boiling Rock, Part I

Grade:
B+

'The Boiling Rock' is another in-season two-parter with the only premise being a prison rescue. What we are given is a low action, high tension, espionage type story along with some great bonding between Zuko and Sokka, and finally a large dose of revelations and heavy duty changes. Because this is another two-parter, I have a strong urge to compare it to 'The Day of Black Sun', but these two are very different. Where 'DoBS' is about a big battle, this one is about stealth. Where 'DoBS' is about huge, world-altering events, this one seems rather inconsequential and localized. But it gives us a very different version of awesome.

Even though we've had such a scenario before in 'Imprisoned', it was not this dramatic, this tense. Zuko and Sokka are now on their own, and their mission is one of uncertainty. And really, it is this uncertainty that is used very well. We don't know what the two will find on the Boiling Rock, how they will free whoever it is they will find, how they will get back, and so forth. No plan, just a head-first plunge into danger.

However, even for a plunge, the pacing of this episode is relatively slow. There isn't much going on, no immediate tension, no real fight scenes. Just two guys sneaking around a top-security prison. I have to say that I really like it. It brings a whole new feel to the show, it's not slowing down or relaxing things, but instead displays a completely new scenario that hasn't really been done before. Danger is all around, but for now, the heroes haven't been noticed yet.

Of the many individual things I like about this episode, the scene on the war balloon is one of them. Sokka and Zuko are both different and similar enough to be best pals, and they are the right age to be two typical teenager buddies. And yet having been on opposite sides of the war puts them into an awkward position at first. But once this is overcome, their dialog seems pretty natural, and is a good next step in their characterization.

While there isn't too much to say about the artwork (since most of the episode is concentrated in similar looking scenery, and there's nothing extraordinary), the music is brilliant. This episode introduces a new theme, and while it might only be some bells mixed with rhythm, it evokes the perfect mood and fits completely. It's prevalence throughout the episode just gives it more chances to shine.

The plot itself isn't too spectacular, but still very cohesive and flowing. There's the odd twist in it, but nothing too surprising, or too major, just enough to keep things interesting and on edge. And even though the plot might be described as rather mellow, especially when compared to some other episodes, it's very nice. Along with that, Suki, whom we've all been waiting for since season two, is finally reintroduced.

There are two parts about the plot that are special enough to deserve mention. The first is Chit Sang and the escape plan. The escape plan itself is not extraordinary, but the twist of having Chit Sang instead of our heroes follow it through, and then failing, is likely going to bring interesting consequences in the next episode. The other part is Hakoda reappearing, again bringing so many more possibilities.

Overall, this episode doesn't really stand out. It doesn't do anything wrong, and has a nice feel to it, but that's really all there is. It introduces a fresh mood, definitely, but it can't really grip me, and in the end, it's just a nice episode. Not that that's bad.


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Episode Review 315 The Boiling Rock, Part II

Grade:
A-

I see this episode as an episode of changes. For one, the mood and pace of the first episode changes in this one. For another, the entire show changes. Now, there is more action, a faster pace, and huge, world-changing (so to speak) twists. It is a continuation of the last episode, but it is also a whole new episode of its own.

What this episode does is flow. It manages to tie together the events left over by the first part with even more ingredients, creating an explosive mixture; Hakoda, Suki, and Chit Sang, the failed escape, and Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai reappearing. It's stuffing even more characters with their individual agendas into a tiny, confined space, and letting it all play out. And all the while, the plot and the events move along swiftly and smoothly, adding more and more complexity as the episode continues.

Indeed, this is a very multi-faceted episode; the writers had to come up with a second escape plan, they involved Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai, Mai's reaction to Zuko leaving the Fire Nation are finally revealed, and then there's the whole gondola scene that is the high point of this entire episode. In fact, the new escape plan fits the overall feel of this episode, where there is a lot of messy action going on, just like how the last escape plan fitted the first episode's feel.

This scene deserves special mention, and not only because it contains in itself an arc of tension, going through all the phases of introduction, build-up, climax, and resolution. Our heroes seem to have made good their escape, even though we know that something bad has to happen. Then we get the heroes confronting their arch enemies, the wire being cut, and then finally Mai's rescue. This scene would be very good just up to there, along with some wonderfully animated combat, but it's the ending of this whole ordeal that had my head explode.

The scene is very well written, with good dialog, and some excellent cinematography. Mai has already betrayed Azula, and though that is a very big issue, Ty Lee's sudden intervention by joining Mai's side is another blow in the viewer's face. To be honest, in order for the story and the characters to work, this event was more or less inevitable, but seeing it happen is still a huge surprise, partly simply because it was written and performed very well.

While the plot is certainly the best and most striking part of this episode, the music is also worth mentioning. The Boiling Rock theme returns once again, even though not as extensively as in the first part. Along with that, the animations and cinematography are excellent, such as during Suki's awesome acrobatics scene.

All in all, this is a very great episode. It has lots of action after a more quiet first part, it changes many of the big issues of the show, and the presentation of it all is in a very high quality to boot. There is only one gripe, the one thing that prevents this episode from attaining a higher grade: The ending. The ending is very sweet, and Sokka, Katara, and Hakoda get reunited, but somehow, the whole feel is off, and the culprit is mainly the dialog. Sokka's line seems a bit ridiculous, and so do Chit Sang's introduction to the group, and Toph's final question about meat. The two messages – a heartfelt reunion and funny lines – don't mix at all, and ultimately cost this absolutely fantastic episode a top grade.


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Episode Review 316 The Southern Raiders

Grade:
B-

I want to like this episode, a lot. It's yet another Katara episode (at least partly), it focuses both on Katara's past and her interesting relationship with Zuko, it deals with and resolves an issue that was brought up way back in the very first episode of the show, and it displays some awesome waterbending, including Katara bloodbending again. It really want to like it.

The opening of this episode is as genius as it is awesome. Azula attacks the Western Air Temple, forcing the large group that has gathered over time to split up again. I really like it, because it refocuses the show to the few characters that we all know, and reintroduces the leitmotif of travel that has been such a large part of the show. Of course, the animations during Zuko and Azula's battle are great as well.

The premise of this episode is very intriguing, because Zuko manages to dig up an event so far in the past that it happened before the show, and yet has an effect on it time and again. Katara's and Sokka's mother actually appears on screen, has a name, and we find out what happened to her. Indeed, the flashbacks were one of the strong points of this episode. We get to see the same event from three different views, and together they create a very well rounded image of the past.

The execution of Katara's and Zuko's field trip, on the other hand, is pretty poor. Not much happens, actually, and yet the episode seems rushed. There are no big action scenes, just some display of awesome waterbending, and not a lot of tension. Still the pacing feels off. Plot-wise, the events happening in the present are rather thin, and seem devoid of any heavy emotions. Which is ironic, really, seeing as how this episode is all about Katara dealing with her emotions and her past.

I guess one of the things that killed this episode was its hype. Throughout most of the fandom, this was the episode known for having bloodbending. To be honest, the bloodbending was both good and bad for the episode. Ever since 'The Puppetmaster', fans knew that Katara would have to use this technique again. And it's great to see this speculation come true. Just seeing Katara actually bloodbend again is a great moment. However, the actual bloodbending was highly disappointing. It has become a big part of Katara, some technique from the “dark side” that requires an important moment to use. But instead of bloodbending to save someone she loves, she uses it to unleash her anger on some nameless minor character of no importance whatsoever. I was slightly disappointed about how this aspect of her was treated.

Another inelegant move was the whole treatment of the subject of this episode. Katara is supposed to be undergoing a journey of coming to terms with her past and herself, to confront it and to deal with it. Yet somehow, there is no emotional connection, just an objective view of the unfolding events. The dialog might be heavy, but the feeling is all wrong. Which means that this very significant step in Katara's life is just another adventure on the way to the finale.

In the end, 'The Southern Raiders' is a two-sided coin. It was some of the best animations of the show, some excellent dialog (something that cannot be overlooked), and a very interesting ending. But in light of the finale looming ahead, and by the way the story was told, this episode fails to sink in. It just doesn't have the necessary impact it should have, given the topic, and so, even with it being a Katara episode, it is a low point in the second half of season three.


631 words

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Episode Review 317 The Ember Island Players

Grade:
A-

I see this episode as the creator's of this show saying “thank you” to the fans. It is the last “normal” episode before the finale, the last chance to insert any messages before the big bang. And really, this episode fulfills three main purposes: Make the audience laugh, recap the show, and make the fans feel right at home.

In its first purpose, this episode is a lot like 'Nightmares and Daydreams'; it creates a balance of emotions throughout the show, and presents a light-hearted mood before two hours of seriousness. But it also deals with some unresolved issues that have to be touched upon before the finale, if for no other reason than to make them recent. Things like Zuko's redemption towards his uncle, Suki's integration, and Aang and Katara's relationship come to mind.

In its second purpose, the episode does a good job just summarizing the story up to now. Of course, with more than 20 hours stuffed into less than 20 minutes, the summary can only be brief, and only skim over the most important things. But it still helps to bring back all the episodes that have come before, and to present the events in a new light. With this episode, the show is, in a way, parodying itself, showing the characters in their flaws, picking on several weak or confusing spots in the various episodes. And this is where the third purpose comes in.

Truth be told, this might not even be a purpose, but a consequence, but still, fans who have followed the series and discussed it with other fans will quickly recognize the various pointers this episode shows, and will get many of the inside jokes. Making fun of Zuko's honor, the heavy jab at Zutara, the questionable circumstances surrounding Jet's death, the meaninglessness, so to speak, of 'The Great Divide' – all of these are things that fans have discussed, and which are now presented, comically, almost as a way of mocking the fans and the show in a light-hearted manner. It's lots of little jokes mostly for the fans, and I guess that, in a way, it creates a sense of understanding between the creators and the fans.

That is not to say that this episodes doesn't have serious bits as well. The most serious one might be Aang and Katara's talk about their relationship on the balcony. I was very glad that after six episodes of nothing on this matter, it gets brought up again. And even though there is not too much development on it, it's just nice to see that the two of them are thinking about it.

Next to all the fan service (in terms of familiarity), inside jokes, plot recap, and character development, there is one more aspect about this episode that I have enjoyed tremendously: The special effects on stage. The black-clothed stage helpers, the ribbons for firebending, the make-up effect for the Avatar State, they all added a very nice touch to the play itself. Being used to bit flashy effects on the show, it's nice to see the inventiveness and intelligent prop use. In fact, they reminded me a lot of genuine Beijing Opera effects, such as the miniature glider.

So while 'The Ember Island Players' is a jumble of many things with no clear focus, it does its job well, and has an added bonus: The “alternate” ending to the show, in which Ozai rules supreme, is a great note to end this episode on, because right at the end of a light-hearted story, it shows both the characters and us just how dire the situation really is, and is a slap across the face for everyone to wake up in earnest. A great ending to a great episode.

631 words
« Last Edit: Sep 27, 2008 04:28 pm by Qi Chin » Logged

You are entitled to your own opinions, but you aren't entitled to your own facts.

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proudnintendofan
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« Reply #180 on: Sep 25, 2008 04:17 pm »

Question: are season reviews in general allowed or just individual episodes?
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MasterYinYang
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« Reply #181 on: Oct 27, 2008 02:24 pm »

My Marking Scheme: EGSUB + mark out of ten, 1 being the lowest
E- Excellent
G- Good
S- Satisfactory
U- Unsatisfactory
B- Boring

Review: Bitter Work
Grade: E
Mark: 9

This is one of my most favourite episodes; it is jame packed with all sorts of bending. My favourite part of Avatar is seeing bending actually take place, I love seeing the incredibility that the makers of Avatar can display.
The episode is chapter nine of Book Two, and revolves around Aang and Zuko trying to overcome their bending abilites; Aang begins his training with Toph and Zuko seeks to further his training with his uncle.
Aang instantly has great difficulties with airbending, mainly because he is and Airbender; the fighting philosophy of Airbending is to 'avoid and evade', to come at it at a difficult angle; basically a 'diversional' fighting strategy, howevere Earthbending is quite the opposite; Earthbending philosophy is to face things head-on, like a rolling boulder, that the only way to bend a rock is to be a rock, so basically a 'conversional' fighting strategy. So naturally Aang finds it hard to face things head on.
Zuko also faces troubles as he and his Uncle begin to further his training in Firebending, his Uncle Iroh attempts to teach Zuko how to bend lightening, explaining that it requires 'peace of mind', and that the only reason Azula can bend lightening is because she feels no emotions and so her mind is always stale. Zuko however fails to bend lightening due to the 'turmoil' within.
Sokka becomes trapped while hunting for meat, and Aang finds him when Katara realises that he is missing. Aang finds him and tried to help Sokka but a Giant Sabre-Tooth Moose Lion attacks them. After facing the beast head on Aang learns the secret of Earthbending and manages to move a boulder.
Failing to learn lightening bending, Iroh teaches Zuko a secret technique: redirecting lightening. ZUko and his Uncle work on it for hours and eventually master it, however when Zuko asks his uncle to shoot lightening at him as to test out his new ability, his Uncle refuses and he storms off in search of 'his own' lightening.
The ending scene of the episode sees Zuko atop a mountain; a storm is raging all around him, he cries out to storm that it has never held back before, referring to the universe giving him such bad luck; and claims that the universe can do all it wants to Zuko, but now he can give it back. No lightening strikes down at him, and he crie out in anger and dismay.
It is one of my favourite episodes and one of the best episodes (in my opinion) in Book Two. As I have said, there is a LOT of bending in it; Toph displays a lot of masterful Earthbending techniques when training Aang, and the scene where Iroh teaches Zuko lightening bending and he makes lightening himself is amazing. It is also quite a humorous episode, as when Zuko explains to Uncle that he has to beat Azula, he claims that he expects Uncle to want them to get along, howevr Uncle replies:
'No she's crazy and she's going down.' It is an action-packed, suspense-high and Excellen episode, if you haven't seen it already watch it NOW


[ Please give your ratings in the American A-F system and make proper paragraphs. -Forau ]
« Last Edit: Apr 23, 2009 05:03 am by Forau » Logged
toph24
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« Reply #182 on: Oct 30, 2008 12:58 pm »

Episode: The Ember Island Players
Rating: 7/10
Grade: A-
2nd Rating: VG

KEY:
E- Excellent                            1 lowest 10 highest
VG- Very Good                        F lowest  A+ highest
G- Good
A- Average
BA- Below Average
P- Poor

This episode is like a recap of the story so far according to fire nation and its 'sources'. Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph and Zuko go and see a play about them and their story. They think that their characters do not resemble them at all and the story is inaccurate. For example Aang is annoyed that his character is acted by a girl, Katara is annoyed that in the play her character has been portrayed as a 'cry-baby' and someone who gives over emotional speeches about hope all the time and Sokka is annoyed that he is shown as someone who gives bad jokes about meat all of the time . When it comes to the part in the Crystal Prison Aang feels that Zuko maybe competition for Katara and he is only lookedupon as a little brother or just a friend. During the intermission Katara and Aang  have their first talk about the kiss at the invasion and Katara is worried it is not the right time and rejects Aangs kiss. Toph tells everyone that what is put up there is the truth but the gang aren't convinced. After the intermission the play continues and finishes with the tragic end of Aang. It is a big reality check for Aang. He has doubts about beating the firelord.
I think it is also a reality check for Zuko because he realises what he has done to Iroh and makes him feel guilty. It also makes him feel bad about all of the things in his past. This episode really makes fun of his honour and how stubborn he was. This episode is like a big sum up before the finale starts to end things. It also is a big reminder because over 20 hours is alot to remember! I would have to say though it doesn't move the story on. It does prepare for the finale but I would of like to have seen the story been properly moved on and almost just in the finale. I think that would of left more room for loose ends to be tied up. This is a very good episode because to me it is like a tribute to all things Avatar. I would recomend this to any loyal Avatar fan!

[ Please create proper paragraphs and extend your review. -Forau ]
« Last Edit: Apr 23, 2009 05:06 am by Forau » Logged

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« Reply #183 on: Nov 09, 2008 01:37 pm »

I'd give the very first episode an A+ because thats the very first one what made the whole thing start. Its also very funny as well! I love the very start when they're fishing! Grin

Edit: oops sorry this is way to small. I'm adding more.

The thing about it is that it is so good at the start, even though it isn't much believable. When people first see it on the first episode they love it bits. its got everything in it. Amazement, funniness, sadness and all of that. I have forgot about alot of that episode except it was really enjoyable There is only few to me which feel better than that (like the most recent). I'm wondering one little thing if someone could please answer this on there next post. When will they show all the episode from the beginning to the end without skipping any of them?
« Last Edit: Nov 09, 2008 01:44 pm by Offscott » Logged

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« Reply #184 on: Jan 07, 2009 04:10 am »

Undecided ok this is my first time on one of these lol so sorry if im doing everything totally wrong  Tongue

Zuko alone- A

i love this episode, and im not even a huge zuko fan (aang’s my favorite)
but this episode is so amazing! it shows poverty in the earth kingdom, and how even earth benders
the supposedly good guys are bad! i loved how it showed his mother, she was beautiful and a strong mother! it also showed how zuko has had a crush on mai since childhood, and it shows azulas power hunger! its great that you get more of there story, because there a big part in the show as well. this episode also shows there is a good side to zuko, but the ending is very sad after the battle ends and when they ask him to leave...but its to be expected
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« Reply #185 on: Jan 16, 2009 05:44 pm »

I have a review for "The Awakening." It's quite long, But I'll let everyone decide on how good it is.
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« Reply #186 on: Jan 16, 2009 06:29 pm »

Episode in Review: 301, "The Awakening"

Grade: A+


The first episode of the third season had a huge bill to fit. It had to wrap up what was left of Book Two, coming off of what was, and still is, one of the best episodes to date, launch the third book without losing any momentum, and set the bar for what fans could only hope would be the best season saved for last. And it had to do it all in under half an hour. Certainly, this was no easy task, but the fact that they were able to not only pull it off, but also shoot it right up there on the list with "The Crossroads of Destiny" is nothing short of astounding.

In this episode, we see the weight of Aang's responsibility weighing down on him as well as the subsequent shame for losing Ba Sing Se to the Fire Nation. Aang's emotions come across very clearly in this episode. He believes he has failed the world, because he was in Ba Sing Se and was poised to make a difference and spur a turning point in the war. Instead, he lost his fight with Azula. The Earth Kingdom, and consequently the world, slipped right through his fingers. Aang not only lost, but was killed, and if it hadn't been for Katara's spirit water, he would have remained dead; the Avatar, the world's last hope, would have fallen in the Crystal Catacombs of Old Ba Sing Se. It is immediately obvious, once all the details are filled in by Katara and Sokka, that Aang is both deeply disturbed by his brush with death and ashamed of himself for failing as to do his job as the Avatar. It is then that we see yet another example of Aang's two-season long similarity with Zuko, and the switch from the right side of Aang's face on the ship to the scarred left side of Zuko's face in the Royal Palace in the next scene, accompanied with the all-too familiar line "I need to redeem myself. I need my honor back" on Aang's part, make it very clear that the object of the moment is to highlight just how much Aang has in common with his would-be arch enemy. Skipping ahead, Aang later leaves with only his glider, intent on redeeming himself in his own eyes by facing Ozai alone and, in a reckless act of despotism, trying to force his destiny regardless of current events. As the story follows Aang, we see his situation go from bad to worse as his injuries make it difficult for him to fly. Upon reaching the blockade, he is forced to dive into the water to avoid it. Aang remains resourceful, however, and undaunted, he uses a piece of driftwood to surf, which is easier then flying. His hopes are dashed again though when a wave catches him off-guard and he loses his glider. Still, he clings to fleeting hope, trying to reach it in the increasingly violent storm. When another wave forces him under though and he loses sight of it, he finally breaks. Here, we see Aang at his lowest point in the entire series, and he expresses this verbally with, “I’m not gonna make it. I’ve failed.”

The literary device of water plays a huge role during these scenes. In literature, water is often used a symbol of change. Just as it is the element of change in the Avatar universe, it is also the element of change in the real world. All during Aang’s ordeal alone in the storm and sea, he is surrounded by water. Water is the element of change because of its dual nature. It represents life just as much as it represents death; good, just as much as evil. Prior to Aang reaching the blockade, he flew over the water. Another way to think about this was that he was still clinging to the older circumstances and not wanting to adapt to the new ones, which were that he lost in Ba Sing Se and he is injured and needs his friends to help him; that he can’t do this on his own. It can also be interpreted as a brief history of him, where he was in the iceberg for a hundred years and up until this point, has gone largely unchanged by the new state of the world. He’s a little bit of a blast from the past, up until now. When Aang dives into the water, he makes his first approach at adaptation to the new circumstances in which he finds himself, and attempts to adapt like he has before on occasion and keep going. It is also symbolic of Aang saving the Northern Water Tribe and learning earthbending, where he really begins changing for the first time. When Aang is knocked off his improvised windsurfer by a direct, frontal hit from a wave, could be considered as two things: when Aang lost Appa and underwent a terrible personal ordeal as a result, one that shook the foundations of his gentle spirit, and the group’s encounter with Ba Sing Se under the control of the corrupt Dai Li. The last major event in Aang’s journey alone, where he is forced is trying to reach his glider but is forced under by yet another wave, is most definitely a reference to his battle at Ba Sing Se with Azula. Aang being thrust under the water unwillingly by a force he is unable to overcome (the wave) is symbolic of his literal death at the hands of Azula. Aang, at his lowest point, at the point of surrender, is then contacted by Roku and Yue. The two convince him that he cannot give up, that it his destiny to save the world and so he cannot meet his end here in this stormy sea. The rain stops, the sea calms, and Aang finds his drive again. Summoning the power of waterbending, Aang rides a tidal wave all the way to the shores of the island where he first talked to Roku during the winter solstice. This is symbolic of him accepting that his life has changed and his full adaptation to the new circumstances. Aang finds himself again in the storm.

On the island he awakes to the relief of his friends who have made it there as well. Toph finds his glider in the surf, broken and ruined. Yet, Aang relinquishes it easily for the practical knowledge that it would give away his identity to an enemy who thinks him dead. Aang’s disposal of the glider in the fire of a volcano is also very symbolic, and the music and camera angles make it clear that the audience is meant to take note of this. Aang has always had his glider. It has been his only real possession aside from his clothes. The glider is a symbol of Aang’s past and his life as an airbender. When he burns it, it is a sign that he is growing up and realizing his destiny as the avatar. He can’t go back and he can no longer think of himself as just an airbender. The glider is a symbol of his freedom, but as the avatar, with his duty being to the entire world, he can no longer be free from the world’s affairs.

In addition to highlighting the relationship between Aang and Zuko, this episode also bears witness to Zuko's trademark dual nature and the battle within himself. On the ship returning home, Zuko's line, "I wonder what's changed. I wonder how I've changed" serves to encourage the idea that Zuko has indeed changed and that he, like Aang at the moment, is unsettled with how things have turned out, though at one time such an outcome was all he ever dreamed of. Throughout the episode, one cannot help but notice Zuko's expressions and emotions are less than enthusiastic. Even when he is welcomed home as a hero and praised by his father for capturing the traitor, Iroh, Zuko shows naught but inner conflict.

This episode nods to Azula's character, her manipulative nature, and sheer power in general. Such traits are amplified near the pond at the Royal Palace, where Azula learns from Zuko, without a word of confession, that the Avatar might not be as dead as she once believed. Azula is quick to cover her bases, and in one of the most politically brilliant moves of the entire series, she gives Zuko credit for killing the Avatar, thus averting any shame for failing to kill Aang if he survived, maintaining her position as her father's favorite just for conquering Ba Sing Se, and setting up Zuko for yet more sleepless nights. In short, Azula turns the situation around completely and forces Zuko to defend her honor for the sake of his own, and she does it all with only the slightest effort.

In addition to Aang, Zuko, and Azula, Katara also gets plenty of attention in "The Awakening". The chapter makes it a point to emphasize that, though she may not have shown it all this time, Katara has been going through a tough time ever since her father left to fight. It is yet another buttress to Katara's already powerful character. Katara has had to take on so much responsibility and been forced to grow up so fast as a result of her mother's death and her father's need to leave for the war. The pressure, demands, and responsibility of the life she never chose to begin with come exploding out in one of the most touching scenes of the series to date when she runs crying to her father after Aang leaves out of his own self-disappointment. Though she words her sentences to describe how she feels about Aang abandoning them all to try and accomplish his destiny alone, it is no secret that she is describing how she feels inside about her father leaving and the life that the chain of events has forced on her. She references this in the previous episode to Zuko when she says, "You have no idea what this war has put me through, me personally!" Though she constantly identifies these feelings as being the result of her mother's death, taking this episode into consideration and the emphasis it places on her relationship with her father may indicate that what Katara was talking about was in fact much deeper than anyone watching the show could have originally guessed. It makes the case: that when Katara said what she said to Zuko in Ba Sing Se, it was probably is silent message to the audience as well, that no, WE really don't know what the war has put her through either. Power to the character, Katara.

All things considered, “The Awakening” is as much the beginning of Book Three as it is the end of Book Two. The episode does the series justice, bridging the gap between the two books, shifting gears without losing any momentum at all, and we see many characters develop further in it. Without a doubt, Avatar is famous for its quality episodes, and “The Awakening” is no exception. So much was accomplished, so much story was told, in such a short amount of time that it is really mind-boggling. “The Awakening” certainly deserves every ounce of praise.

======================================


In a word, LONG. But I think I hit on just about everything you could draw out of this episode. I would appreciate some help critiquing it and shortening it. After all, it's 1,896 words long.

[ As you've said yourself: this review is way too long. -Forau ]
« Last Edit: Apr 23, 2009 05:20 am by Forau » Logged

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« Reply #187 on: Jan 17, 2009 01:24 pm »

This is my first time reviewing anything other than Video Games so bare with me.
Episode: The Runway
Grade: B+
   What can I say? After the previous story-heavy, dramatic beautiful chapter we have "The Runaway". This episode is kind of two-fold, it boths focuses on Toph's development and a second encounter with Combustion Man.

   The "previously on Avatar" segment was a bit surprising at first. For a moment, I thought I was watching a completely different episode. Another off thing about the opening was starting with a scene from later on, when we don't yet know the context, and then showing us how it happened. This was a great move as it both causes suspicion and suspense by misleading the audience.

   I have to say however, the fight between Toph and Katara at the begining was kind of rushed. It doesn't seem normal that a rock to the face, by accident mind you, is any reason to start a fight. But nevertheless, I guess it's because those two characters never truly got along until this episode anyway.

   While Aang, Sokka and Toph are pulling their "scams", there is a nice theme in the background that reminds me of the "Fooling Theme" from Naruto. The art style is also fits quite well, from the opening we see the statue of Ozai which is blowing an endless stream of fire. Another example of the nationalism and worship in the Fire Nation.

   Sokka gets a bit of character development as well, by admiting his appreciation for his sister and how much she took on after their mom died. Now I'm gonna leave my Toph/Aang feelings out of here, but in a way, Toph going, not quite against, but understanding how her decision to run way with the gaang may have affected her family, is a development of maturity that I feel is a great step in her development.

   As far as the Combustion Man scene goes, I thought it was well done. There was a sense of fear, or atleast alarm when they heard him breath because they knew the blast was coming.

   This was sort of another filler, but it seems more important than some of the other ones. I only have two complaints, First is some bad continuity, such as when Aang and Sokka are sitting on a bench thinking of how to get Toph and Katara to apologize, the first clip Aang is sitting to the left of Sokka, and in the next shot he's sitting to the right. Also, when Sokka tells Toph they need to talk they walk to the cliff that she was just sitting on.

   My last complaint is that Katara's decision to pull a scam with Toph seemed quite out of character. Aang was also sort of out of character as well, it seemed like he'd be trying a lot harder to get the two girls to apologize but he didn't. In fact he seemed to have little actual importance at all in this chapter.

   All that aside, it was a great addition to the series and I hope the rest are just as good, if not better. Grade: B+.

Thank you, for letting our opinions be heard.

[ Doesn't the Aang/Sokka scene have a timejump in it? Momo goes from being on Aang's shoulder to sleeping so it's not unthinkable that they walked around a bit. The Toph/Sokka scene, isn't that just another part of the cliff? -Forau ]
« Last Edit: Apr 23, 2009 05:17 am by Forau » Logged

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« Reply #188 on: Mar 11, 2009 12:16 am »

Episode in Review: The Western Air Temple

Grade: A

Set in the aftermath of a colossal disillusionment, the last hope of an entire army brought to its knees at the verge of victory, the Avatar and his friends along with the other youngest travel to the final Air Temple to be visited in the series, as an asylum from the Fire Nation. Biding their time, in this episode the plot shifts. A plan to defeat the Firelord has vanished with the recent Solar Eclipse, and now the GAang must grapple with a substitution: drawing a new plan comparable and feasible to be enacted within a month to bring down The Firelord.

The new location is something unequivocally captivating in this episode: an Air Temple clinging to the underside of a cliff (something reminiscent of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon). The children are completely astounded by the architecture, and it is no different for the viewers, equally swept of their feet by the sheer and seeming impossibility of fixing those temples in that peculiar way.

Architecture and aesthetics aside, this chapter offers all the viewer could possibly seek in Avatar. There is both physical and verbal conflict: Zuko in his infinitely dorky nature rallies his courage to confront the GAang and to request admittance into their group, offering his Firebending tutelage as his contributing attribute. He is met with rash bewilderment. Then after meeting a frothy blast of water in the face, courtesy of the bitter Katara, he is left soaked and rejected only to return to his camp all the more let down. Toph the voice of reason attempts to enlighten the group to the reality: Zuko can teach Aang, that's one fortuitous solution to an impossible problem that can't be ignored. As liaison, she visits him and, inadvertently, her feet get burned. This simple summary obviously points to one thing: great character dynamic and interaction. This chapter is brought to life by these circumstances: personalities light up and come to life as arguments arise and past hurts resurface.

The story comes to a head when Cumbustion Man reappears. He attacks, and Zuko boldly attempts to protect the Avatar while managing to nearly blow himself straight into the gorge. He bombards the Temple, and is only stopped by Sokka with his boomerang action. The battle is exciting and refreshing: that good old Avatar bending we missed in The Day of Black Sun, the previous episodes. In particular, this battle gave the episode that heightened excitement level not so typically found in every seemingly commonplace chapter. It was concerted, well-placed, innovative, and this scene certainly makes The Western Air Temple that much more attractive.

Finally, the ending is bitter-sweet. Sure we learn Zuko is indeed a caring, level-headed Firebender, who is accepted by each group member with varying degrees of reluctance, but we also witness this ominous death-threat from Katara. With a chilling voice acting performance from Mae Whitman, Katara basically tells Zuko she'll destroy him on the spot if he ever slips from his new path of righteousness. This ending note rings with a haunting sibilance as the episode closes, completing the fully enjoyable, emotional ride that is The Western Air Temple.

[ 4th paragraph is just a scene recap. Fix this and get the wordcount back to up 500 and it should be good. -Forau ]

I edited it all. It's a few words over 500, and I totally changed the 4th paragraph. Hope it works for you now. Thanks for your consideration.

[ Added. -Forau ]
« Last Edit: May 06, 2009 05:01 am by Forau » Logged


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« Reply #189 on: Apr 23, 2009 05:33 am »

Reviews have been looked at. If a your review has not been commented on it's either because the submitter hasn't been here in a long time or what is wrong is too obvious (spelling/length/etc). The comments should tell you exactly what you need to look at it.

Any questions can go via private message, NOT via this topic. All non-review posts from now on will be removed.
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« Reply #190 on: Jul 24, 2009 09:49 pm »

Episode in Review: The Western Air Temple
Grade: A

The primary focus of this review is on the characters in this episode. Although others have done an exceptional job at reviewing the episode in its entirety, I believe that a character-focused analysis is required to address the dissatisfaction that has developed among certain viewers in the wake of Katara’s death threat.
 
Let us begin with Zuko. The newly metamorphosed Zuko possesses two qualities that come to the forefront in this episode: serenity and humility. The Zuko we see in this episode is not conflicted. Sure he may be unsure as to how exactly to approach the gAang but he knows that there is one and only path that lies ahead of him. He has also broken free from the pride-shame circle that had caused him so much angst in the past. He has rejected everything on which he used to base his pride and is now truly humble. He remains, for the most part, soft-spoken, collected and persevering in all his interactions with the gAang. His humility is truly revealed when he offers himself as their prisoner so they may get to know him better.
 
Having followed Zuko's journey across two and a half seasons, the audience is most pleased to see these developments. However, what we were really anxious about was his reception by the gAang. On this account, I found the gAang to be completely in character throughout the episode.
 
Katara is supremely wary of Zuko and it is not because she thinks he is lying about being good. Notice her words at the end: "...but you and I both know that you've struggled with doing the right thing in the past." She knows that Zuko has good in him (from their conversation in Old Ba Sing Se) and that he has tried to be good in the past. However, the last time she trusted Zuko with himself led to Aang getting shot by lightning. She considers him unstable and so, she lets him know that instability is NOT an option this time around. Her actions and hostility are completely justified.
 
Sokka, on the other hand, is seeing the goodness of Zuko revealed for the first time. He is initially wary of Zuko because of their history and because as a child he has only seen firebenders as antagonists. However, he (somewhat) accepts Zuko near the end because of his help against Combustion Man and because of an open-minded attitude developed during by meeting people like Jeong Jeong and Piandao. I doubt the Sokka from the series opener would have been that accepting.
 
Unlike Katara and Sokka, who have had to face the realities of war since birth, Aang has seen the Fire Nation before the war. Also, he saw Roku's past first-hand. Not to mention, as an airbender, he is naturally optimistic. That is why he is open to Zuko's "transformation" and believes him.
 
For Toph, there is not much to be said, due to her absence in Season 1. But she met and talked with Uncle Iroh during "The Chase", so she can believe that there is good in Zuko. Her family was never (as I believe) personally affected by the war. Hence, she is the one to first consider the practical good that Zuko could provide.

Notice the sneakiness of the writers: the three minor characters in this episode are one of the very few ones who did not face Zuko in the first season. So it makes sense that their reactions, whatever they were, would not matter.

For the near perfect character interactions, this episode deserves an A+. However, two things brought the ranking down. The first was the obvious and rather anti-climactic realization that the sole purpose of Combustion Man in the series was so Zuko could “redeem” himself in the eyes of the gAang. How did CM find the gAang so fast?
The second thing is very minor (in significance to the show) but it nags at my willing suspension of disbelief and so has to be mentioned. The upside-down architecture of the Western Air Temple, while very awe-inspiring, is physically very unstable because stone is good at withstanding compression not tension.
Even so, I have to applaud the writers for their ingenuity in developing such a unique design that could only be used that a culture of high flyers.

Overall, this was one of the most satisfying episodes to watch and yet it left the audience wanting to know more about how the Katara/Zuko situation will develop.
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« Reply #191 on: Mar 28, 2010 06:17 pm »

Episode 104: "The Warriors of Kyoshi"
Grade: A-

It was inevitable that sooner or later Avatar: The Last Airbender would get around to a story with a moral—or "an Aesop,"  as TVTropes calls them. Most kids' shows have them; it's sort of a price of getting to be a kids' cartoon. Some character has to start the episode wrong-headed and come to grief in order to Learn His Lesson.

The reason is, of course, that thanks to anti-30-minute-advertisement advocacy groups and laws, kids' shows are frequently called upon to demonstrate redeeming qualities to counterbalance their popcorn-for-the-mind nature. And one way in which it can do that is by teaching some important moral value. (Can you imagine what it would be like if adult action movies and TV shows were required to push a particular sort of morality on their viewers? Deckard teaching the audience to be nice to animals? Robocop reminding us not to jaywalk?)

Fortunately, Avatar is generally light-handed enough on the moralizing that its Aesops aren't the usual patronizing pain in the pants. This isn't always the case—we'll run into an episode late in the first season where the writers flub it pretty badly—but fortunately, "The Warriors of Kyoshi" handles it pretty well.

The problem with Aesops, in my opinion, is that the character learning the lesson is often required to act like an idiot so that he can "learn his lesson". Sometimes the character spontaneously develops negative attitudes he never had before just so he can have them "cured" by a life lesson. This is a problem that is a bit less in evidence here, however. Even though Sokka has never actually come out and said he's a chauvinist, it seems to fit with some of his attitudes toward Katara in the first episode.

Interestingly, Katara seems to have gone along with it so far, taking on the "women's work" in her family in the Southern Water Tribe (including, famously, dealing with Sokka's socks) because that's what women in her tribe do. (This actually explains and excuses Sokka's attitudes to a certain extent—he's brought up to believe that tribal responsibilities are divided a certain way between the genders.) And she's still doing it now that they're away from the tribe, as she is seen mending Sokka's pants as they fly across the sea on Appa—until Sokka cops the 'tude that this is what GURLS are supposed to do.

Now, to give Sokka credit, he didn't come right out and say they were "supposed to" do it, he said that they're "better at" doing it. But still, Katara decided she'd had the far side of enough and threw Sokka's pants back in his face. And this led to one of the all-time greatest taken-out-of-context Avatar lines ever: "Relax, Sokka. Where we're going, you won't need any pants!"

And it turns out that Sokka isn't the only one getting Aesopped here, as Aang gets to learn a lesson about showing off versus taking responsibility. The first time Aang shows off, he nearly gets eaten by the Unagi. Subsequently, when he tries to impress Katara by doing more and more dangerous things, she doesn't bite—which leads to Aang nearly drowning until Katara bends the water out of his lungs.

So the Aaang gang (or, as fans call them, the "gAang") are ambushed by the Kyoshi Warriors—and despite being tied up, Sokka still manages to put his foot in his mouth. And the village elder accuses them of being Fire Nation spies, insisting on Kyoshi Island's strict neutrality in the war, until Aang proves who he is by airbending—and then shows the villagers his "impressive" airbending marble trick. (One of them actually foams at the mouth and collapses (…what the heck?), setting up the single-most delayed-action running gag in the entire show.)

Subsequently, the gAang is welcomed to the town, and Aang, despite his claim of being "just a simple monk," lets fan adulation go to his head. But the fans aren't the ones he really wants to impress. He's showing his first real sign of being majorly attracted to Katara and he really wants to get her attention—but she isn't biting, and to make matters worse Aang's efforts are actually annoying her.

So Sokka goes to see the Kyoshi Warriors to assure himself that they really aren't All That—with predictable results. Seems that Suki et al are just as unimpressed by Sokka's self-importance as Katara was (and you can just see it coming, as Suki asks for a "demonstration"). It seems that the Kyoshi Warriors are, among other things, especially adept at jujutsu (which was originally developed as a fighting art for samurai to use when they had to go without their swords).

But here is where the episode gets really interesting.

When the series started out, I really wasn't impressed with Sokka. He seemed to be cut from the same "sarcastic whiner" cloth as one of my least favorite characters from my Saturday morning cartoon days, "Eric" the Cavalier from Dungeons and Dragons. Throughout the entire series, it seemed all Eric existed to do was be annoying, and provide comic relief by getting smacked in the face. I was afraid Sokka was going to go the same way.

But "The Warriors of Kyoshi" changed my mind. Because after it had been demonstrated that Sokka was an idiot, rather than sulking for the rest of the episode he actually humbled himself, admitted his mistake (albeit with a classic "non-apology apology," "I"m sorry if I insulted you earlier" (emphasis mine)), and went down on his knees to beg Suki to teach him.

This was the point where I blinked and went, "Wait, what?" Characters in cartoons aren't supposed to learn anything, after all; they're supposed to be unchanging one-note stereotypes of specific character traits (like Eric) so that viewers have an easier time relating to them if they pick up any given episode without ever having seen the show before. That Avatar's writers were willing to show there was more to Sokka than whiny sarcasm speaks well for them.

So then we have Sokka forced to wear the Warriors' standard dressy kimono outfit and face paint (though you'd think Sokka wouldn't be too upset at the face paint, at least, given how he painted himself up in the first episode. Maybe he and Suki could trade makeup tips!). Standard embarrassment humor: Sokka's punishment isn't over even though he's admitted he was wrong. I can't help but think Suki and the others took a little too much enjoyment out of it, but on the other hand it was a chance to show just how much Sokka had changed.

Meanwhile, Aang continues to try to impress Katara, but still ends up missing the point. There's a nice bit of schoolyard repartee here, as Katara calls Aang's behavior ridiculous and Aang gives an "I know you are but what am I?" response. A little later, he gets so desperate for Katara's attention that he decides to go ride the Unagi, the giant eel-monster that nearly got him earlier, hoping to get a rise out of her—and all she says is, "Good for you." Classic child-wanting-attention vs. "parent" (or parental figure) too smart to give it to him.

And going from weakness to strength, Sokka demonstrates the Water Tribe versatility that makes him such a good warrior. Though some people will complain that Sokka learns too much too quickly at one point much later in the series, even as far back as this episode Sokka turns out to be adept enough at picking up the Kyoshi Warriors' fighting style that he is able to throw Suki (though she rather unconvincingly protests that she fell on purpose to make him feel better) after just a day of practice.

And then we have the episode's other Aesop, as Katara apologizes to Aang for not paying attention to him, and Aang apologizes for "being a jerk." And then the Unagi shows up, and Aang gets his ride after all. It ends poorly, and Zuko arrives, but at least Katara is able to bend the water out of Aang's lungs and save his life.

The fire benders tear up the town, and the Kyoshi Warriors turn out not to be quite a match for Zuko and his forces. Aang gets his Aesop driven home—by showing off and taking advantage of the town, he brought destruction to it at the hands of the fire benders. Meanwhile, Sokka and Suki cement what appears to be a growing relationship (though not one they will have much time to consummate) as Suki tells Sokka that she's a warrior but a girl too. Aang somehow manages to get the Unagi to spray water over the town to put out its fires, and awaaaaay they go (and Aang gets the hug he was hoping for only after doing something "stupid and dangerous" but also helpful).

The episode is full of great comedy beats: Zuko proclaiming himself a master of calmness, then losing his temper when Iroh says they have no idea where the Avatar is. ("You really need to open a window in here.") Iroh saying that the Avatar is "a master of evasive maneuverings" and the music doing that "phonograph-record-slows-down" thing as the scene changes to Sokka accusing Aang of not knowing where he's going. Aang's "airbending trick" complete with comedy music sting. Aang remining Appa that he's tired ("Yeah, that was real convincing.").

Iroh's reaction to Zuko's learning where the Avatar is. ("Are you going to finish that?" "I was going to save it for later!") Sokka's conflating of a rant against being beaten up by a bunch of girls with appreciation of his breakfast. (Angrily: "Mmm. This is tasty.") Aang and Katara's rapid-fire "Great." "I know it's great!" exchange. Aang being chased around over and around the bridge like the Beatles in A Hard Day's Night. The village elder's consternation as the subject matter for his painting kept growing and growing. The soaking fire benders after Aang's Unagi spray. Just…lots of funny stuff.

Something else I liked was the use of the caught fish as a metaphor for the news of the Avatar's arrival on Kyoshi Island. The news passes along with the very prominently-displayed caught fish as the fish goes from the sea to Zuko and Iroh's table. You don't often see such finely nuanced metaphors from a kids' show; they're mostly straightforward to the point of being dumbed down.

Most impressive of all is that the show managed to get not one but two Aesops across without coming across as heavy-handed or preachy, and at the same time giving the characters some much-needed development. (It was great to see there was more to Sokka than annoyingness.) It would have been nice to see more of Suki, but the show has enough of an ensemble cast already.

I only have a couple of complaints. For one thing, the Unagi seemed to be a little too biddable at the last. How is it that tugging its whiskers makes it spray water exactly where Aang wants it sprayed? Oh well, it's just a show. I should really just relax.

And for another, I know this goes against what I said earlier but thinking about it I can't help think that Sokka seemed to be way too easily convinced that his attitudes about "girls" were wrong. I mean, he's been raised his entire life in a tribe where men have certain responsibilities and women have others—but all it takes is getting tossed on his rump a few times by GURLS to make him suddenly adopt a Pee Cee "genders-are-equal" attitude? (I know, I know, Just A Show.)

Zuko and Iroh really don't get a whole lot of screen time in this episode, but that's all right—they've had more time in past episodes, and will in the future. This is the gAang's turn in the spotlight.

As an aside, it's worth noting that The Last Airbender's "enlightened" attitude toward women, as evinced by episodes such as this, has made it very popular with feminists—but, ironically, Mattel refused to make action figures of any female characters, since female action figures historically don't sell very well.

Anyway, it's a much better episode than by rights it ought to be.
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« Reply #192 on: Jul 30, 2010 03:14 pm »

Alright, I'll give it a shot.

Episode 316: The Southern Raiders

Rating: A

There are many reasons to love Avatar: The Last Airbender, my favorite being the multifaceted characters and the deep moral questions posed in many episodes. I believe The Southern Raiders perfectly exemplifies why I love this series because it demonstrates these things  almost flawlessly. In this episode we see a complex array of emotions within Katara, and see how she deals with them. This episode also exhibits the first subtle change in Azula after Mai and Ty Lee betray her, which I think is worth noting.

The Southern Raiders begins with a more or less fast paced action scene, and we get a glimpse of Azula’s state of mind after her friends’ treachery. Azula has a somewhat maniacal look to her face as she announced to Zuko that she was about to celebrate “becoming an only child.” The calm, cool, and collect Azula began to slip away there and made room for the Azula wrought with pain, anguish, and insanity.

I felt like that was worth mentioning, but now on to who the episode is really about: Katara. Viewers have by now been able to acquire a sense of the amount of grief Katara suffers from due to the loss of her mother. Losing her mother was so hard for her, that upon hearing that Zuko had lost his mother in Crossroads of Destiny, she felt sympathy for him. She knew first hand of the toll that the loss of one’s mother takes on a person. But now we see the full brunt of her emotions on screen.

Understandably, when she heard that the man who killed her mother could be found, her first instinct was to seek revenge. Aang’s pleas to Katara for her not to seek revenge went unheeded since Katara was blinded with rage. At this point, we wonder whether Katara really was going to do the deed.

As Katara and Zuko faced the man who they believed to be the Captain of the Southern Raiders, Katara used Bloodbending to subdue him. If it wasn’t clear enough already, we really see the lengths to which Katara will go to to seek “justice.” The dark side of Waterbending is something she normally would not use, just as the dark side of her emotions are something loving Katara normally doesn’t display. Some criticize this scene because the bending wasn’t cool enough or something to that effect. I highly doubt the point was for it to be “cool,” but symbolic rather.

Finally, the duo located Yan Ra, the man who killed Katara’s mother. However, he was in a sorry state, living with his demanding mother and tending to a pathetic garden. When the two confront the man, Katara (in a very cool display of Waterbending) attempted to kill him, but hesitated at the last second. Katara realizes how he is just someone “empty” inside—void of love, hate, happiness... anything. She then walked away.

The final scene of the episode poses a very profound moral question. Katara tells Aang that she’s not sure whether she didn’t kill Yan Ra because she was “too weak to do it” or “strong enough not to.” We’re left to ponder the question of whether revenge is the proper way to right a wrong. One of the reasons I love this episode so much is because it shows that human emotion is not black in white. Katara reveals to Aang that, contrary to his advice, she couldn’t forgive Yan Ra. Aang was evidently correct in saying earlier that it’s hard to forgive.

As perhaps the darkest episode of the whole show, it was one of the best.
« Last Edit: Jul 30, 2010 03:19 pm by Tale of Iroh » Logged
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« Reply #193 on: Aug 03, 2010 04:29 am »

We're not looking for reviews that merely restate what happened in the episode, but rather, opinions about the episode.  Check the examples for what we're looking for.

I don't recall hiring you to speak for ASN. Refrain from making posts like these. -Forau
« Last Edit: Aug 03, 2010 08:34 am by Forau » Logged

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« Reply #194 on: Aug 04, 2010 01:42 am »

The Painted Lady

Episode: 303

Grade: A-

This was undoubtedly an episode that really didn't focus on the main parts of the storyline (Sozin's comet), but was great nevertheless. It could be considered a filler episode, but I don't see it that way. This is one of my favorite episodes. The character development was great, though we already did know that Katara is obsessed with helping the needy. A whole lot of mythology was added into this episode, I can see. I really liked the concept of other spirits other than the ones that Aang has met previously. Also, the Painted Lady, as Aang puts it, is attractive Cheesy. I loved the jokes in this one, and the dialogue was perfect. The sound was great, as always, but what really put me in the mood to love this one so much was the fact that it focuses a lot on how people in the other nations are dealing with the Fire Nation's tyrannical display of their forces. And, there was a whole lot of but-whoopin' in this one, and Team Avatar faking the Painted Lady together was hilarious and genius. The characters had a lot of personality, Sokka displaying how he doesn't really want to help others who should help themselves, Katara's parallel personality to Sokka's, Aang's willingness to destroy the factory. Overall, it had a great plot and everything was great about it.
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« Reply #195 on: Aug 30, 2010 08:47 pm »

Zuko Alone:

Episode: 207

Grade: A

This was easily the darkest episode in the Series, and one of the most thrilling. This episode changed the perseprective that we looked at some of the characters, such as Zuko and some Earth Kingdom citizens. We see from the very beginning that Zuko is beginning to hallucinate, seeing a women walking out of a room in what looks to be a Rich Person's home in the Fire Nation. It can be assumed that this is the Fire Nation Palace. Of course, after encountering some Earth Kingdom "Soldiers", they don't know who he is, we don't know who they are, all we know is that they're corrupt. This shows a change that hasn't been seen in the series so far, that not all Earth Kingdom citizens are glorious members of Society. Zuko is taken in by a group of farmer villagers, and befriends the little boy in the family. What's going on during the plot isn't what captivates our attention, it's Zuko's past. He reflects on his previous life as the Fire Nation Prince. Even as an eleven year old, Zuko is tormented by his Sister, Azula, rejected by his Father, Prince Ozai, and only recieves any form of love and affection from his mother, Princess Ursa. Zuko's life is turned upside down after Ozai requests that he recieves the right to become heir to Fire Lord's Throne, after Zuko's uncle, Iroh, loses his son in battle in Ba Sing Se, and brings the troops back to the Fire Nation. Events leading to Azula claiming that Zuko will be murdered by Ozai, the the Current Fire Lord, and Zuko's grandfather, Azulon's death, and the mysterious disappearance by Ursa, and the crowning of Ozai as Fire Lord bring out the dark nature of the episode. These events lead into what we already knew about Zuko's past, but add another layer of depth onto him. Zuko no longer is portrayed as a bad guy, but a person who had to suffer a great deal as a child, affecting his personality and feelings in the present. We feel sympathetic towards Zuko, as we feel discontent towards the Earth Kingdom soldiers after they kidnap the little boy, Lee, and force him to fight in the Earth Kingdom Army. Zuko shows that he has a compassionate nature, and that he'll fight for the people he cares about. Showing how powerful he using the dual swords, he's able to fight off the entire band of Earth Kingdom soldiers, all of them except one. Zuko eventually defeats him, as well, but not until he is forced to use Firebending, revealing his true identity. He is shunned from the village, and even the boy Lee, because of who he is and where he came from. Before this episode, it was portrayed that all Fire Benders were evil, and the Earth Kingdom Citizens were patron saints, but this isn't the case. This episode reveals that even though Zuko, as well as other people have good intentions, and others have negative ones, it doesn't always mean you'll be accepted. The turmoil brewing inside of Zuko during this whole episode makes us see the human element of Zuko. Zuko up until this point was portrayed as another, one dimensional Evil Character, but the episode reveals that's not necessarily the case. When it's revealed that his own father was going to "potentially" kill him, it naturally affects a child, even if he is a member of the Fire Nation Royal Family. Scorned by the emotional abuse by his sister, his father's total negligence and outright disdain for his son, and his mother's vanishing, we see Zuko is really just another person, a human being, not someone nearly as malicious as Ozai and Azula.
« Last Edit: Aug 31, 2010 06:31 pm by thelastmindbender » Logged

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Oblivion
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« Reply #196 on: Aug 30, 2010 08:49 pm »

I actually have a question. Are you guys even doing the episode reviews anymore?
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« Reply #197 on: Aug 31, 2010 09:11 am »

I actually have a question. Are you guys even doing the episode reviews anymore?
Yes. We are updating the mainsite as we speak so the reviews will get uploaded in due time.
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I keep Zuko's dagger & EK coat, Iroh's wisdom, Lu Ten's grave offerings | Mako's scarf, Naga, General Iroh's army outfit, Korra's new formal outfit
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« Reply #198 on: Sep 19, 2010 04:47 pm »

Season 3 Episode 16 (I think) The Southern Raiders...

Ok before I say anything else let me just say that this is one of my faves. Mostly because Im a Zutarian, and this episode is all Zutara. And pleez pleez pleez no ship bashing or ship wars.... It really annoys me! I know how the series ended and I know that in legend of Korra, Tenzein is Aang and Katara's son (At least that's what has been released.) so there.

Onto the review.

The episode starts kind of awkwardly, but I did like it. I think that it was really obscure to have them all fighting at the beginning, but ya now it made for the start of a good story line. We obviously see that Zuko is trying to redeem himself when he reszcues Katara. He is trying to gain the trust of the group. That scene also shows that Katara doesn't trust him at all.

This is one of the first episodes in witch we see Azula going insane. Witch I found really weird. But little did I know that we would see her and her inner struggles and why she was insane in Sozin's Commet.

Anyway so the group os camping, and Katara and Zuko chat a bit. He is obviously trying to gain her trust, but Katara still has a hard heart twoard the Fire Nation. Then she talks about her Mother so Zuko goes to see Sokka.

I do critisize Mike and Bryan for the fact that Sokka wasn't wearing pants. I mean it was PG nothing bad, but still...

Anyway so this is the first time you see a flashback. That was pretty cool. I also liked how there were multiple flashbacks from diffrent POV's.

Then Zuko waits all night for Katara and says he's gonna help find the man that took her mother. Aang gives a big speech about forgivness.. and Zuko and Katara steal Appa. Sokka asks to borrow Momo (lol).

Then Zuko and Katara set off. ITs pretty cool to see another flashback. I really liked the affects of the Water BEnding when they raid the Southern Raiders Ships.

Another Critisism. I HATED with a burning passion of fire that Katara used Bloodbending on an unimportant no name charecter. That annoyed me. She learned bloodbending just to do that. She never uses it ever again in the entire series.

Anyway then they find Yon Rah. I liked the water bending spikes that froze in midair. I was really happy that Katara didnt kill the guy. I knew she wasnt that cruel.

Then they fly back, and Aang tells Katara he's proud that she didnt kill Yon Rah, but my fave part is the ZUTARA HUG!!!!!! She forgave Zuko!!!! And gsave him a hug! (Sadly thats as far as the relatonship ever went.)

Then the episode ends with a beautiful cliff hanger. It sent chills up my spine, yet made me respect both Aang, and Zuko.

 Zuko- "Violence want the anwser."

Aang- "It never is."

Zuko- "Then I have a question for you. What are you going to do when you face my Father?"

Aang looks out to the horizon uncertain and confussed. Fade out.


Overall it was a beautiful and amazing ending to this amazing powerfull episode...
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« Reply #199 on: Sep 26, 2010 08:36 pm »

I'm surprised no one has yet reviewed any of the finale episodes of Book 3. I've never written a review before, but I might try it. I'm re-watching the series now, but I'll write the review of the last episodes when I get to them.
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