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Hello everybody!!! >V<
Am going to premise this review by saying am still in tears after The Legend of Korra finale on Friday ;_; -- and that I watched the Winter Solstice episodes (part 1 and 2) in one sitting. I may split these into two reviews, or maybe one, but I suppose that’ll be decided once I’ve uploaded this. Anyways, let’s not worry about that now, let’s get to reviewing some more Avatar: The Last Airbender before the Christmas holidays! ^_^
“Winter Solstice, Part 1: The Spirit World”
ReviewOn our continuation of the Avatar series, which is weird in a way, now that’s all done when am writing this review, with another lovingly, painted background. Before being introduced to a flying red bird and the Appa. And with that, we get the question we’ve all asked once in our live; “are clouds as soft and fluffy as they look?” Answering Kataras question, Aang jumps off Appa to the clouds below, reminding us of his playfulness and that fact, that clouds are indeed made out of water! With this intro, I knew I was in for a treat -- on the landscape Sokka notices a scar, a burnt out forest. As they land on the ash of the once wood, quickly we discover, well Sokka discovers, that it was firenation troops who did this, and his fit of rage, Katara shushes him down, with a very heavy scene. A distant shot of Aang, with his head down in both shame and sadness, realizing his inaction has massive consequences, which he fully understands. I liked that this was pointed-out, the weight of responsibility, which some may pull away from, but Aang takes it and knows that it was his fault that it happened - but with that, Katara is right too. He’s young and without the knowledge of being able to protect Nature and/or the Spirits, how can he, I mean, the reason of them being here, in the burnt-out forest is due to them being on a journey to help Aang learn, so should he still blame himself? I think it’s the answer is clear…
After that, we cut to Zuko, who’s looking for friends >V<, as he yells for “UNCLE! It’s time to leave!” Relaxing in a spring, Iroh enjoys the heat as Zuko tells him they need to move, but I mean seriously, no-one in their right mind would move from a nice, toasty, warm spring ^_^, aaaah, sounds like heaven… -- Then a solid, almost washed over (no pun intended) remark from Zuko; “my troubles can simply be washed away”, I think this statement was actually quite smart to shoehorn in here, it’s said so casually, which made me realize something, Zuko and Iroh both understand this, that Zuko’s trouble are not simple ones, hence why it can be said so casually. Or maybe it was just some the writers threw in there as a wild card…!? ¬_¬ In demand for Iroh to get the water, he does with scarring effects to Zuko, and me! I’m lucky this is a Kids show, or it would’ve scared me! 0_0
We cut back to Aang, who get’s “cheered-up” with an Acon, which smacks him in the head like this plot point! An Acon mean the forest will regrow, turning into a luscious green vegetation again. I would say, Kataras has a mean throw, and impeccable aim! Anyways, our nice one-one with Aang and Katara is interrupted by an old man, stumbling in the scene asking for the Avatar’s help. As they reach a small, green roofed, what is in there green roofs, the Earth Kingdom sure love their green roof architecture -- we then get a full explanation for this why the villagers need Aangs help, a Spirit monster named Haabi, who is destroying their village and take villagers, for some reason, and they need Aang to speak with spirit and ask it to leave. Sounds simple enough… I would say Aang saying ‘sure I’ll do it’ was actually a ballsy thing to do, I mean he just admitted that he doesn’t quite know how to be the avatar, but yet he says he’ll help. This is what makes him so interesting, even as a kid, that kind of acceptance to do something you don’t understand or know, is not an easy fear to overcome, but Aang does very bravely, or maybe it’s just his ignorance. >V<
Back to Uncle Iroh, who is captured by some Earth Kingdom soldiers, which I must admit, for a general bathing on your own in Earth Kingdom territory was, kinda stupid! 0_o
Well, that was a short scene -- Aang exist the door of this town hall looking place, before going to confront the spirit Haabai. As Aang talks, and the sunsets, Sokka eagerness to help does seem needed, for one Aang doesn’t know what he’s doing, and to him it seems wrong leaving him out there to the dangers of this spirit. You know, I think Sokka is a fantastic character, full of quirky one liners, but is brave and honourable! ^_^ Aang walks away after his banishment attempt of Haabi, which doesn’t work as the giant, four-armed black and white Venom (from Spider-man) looking monster appear behind him - IT’S BEHIND YOU!!! >V< Haabai’s design is awesome, it’s very Miyazaki inspired, especially since Spirited Away would’ve come out around this time. It’s lazer breath beam, soo Godzilla like, this is definitely a Japanese based creation, which just shows where the creators inspirations came from. Aangs tries to introduce himself, but Haabi is having none of that, he’s going to wreck shit, despite Aangs efforts. In his last futile attempt in catching the awesome Haabi’s attention, he gets KO’ed, and Sokka’s bravery get’s him snatched-up by the spirit.
We then cut to Zuko and friends, as they discover that Zuko’s Uncle had been taken by Earthbenders -- Sherlock Zuko is on the case! >V<
We then cut back to Aang, chasing down Haabi, who has Sokka in one of it’s hands. As they chase, and Aang gets close to grabbing Sokka’s hand, Haabi disappears and Aang eats dirt by landing hard of the, well, the dirt, while being overshadowed by this bear statue!? I wonder if that has anything to do with it? Anyways, Aang wakes from his dirt nap, again, ashamed of his failure.
Back to Iroh, who, along with some guards, are riding these Ostrich-horse looking things which I must say, I want one! ^_^ In a very good question Iroh, asks where his being taken to, finding out it’s Ba Sing Se, the main capital of the Earth Kingdom, which I saw in Book 3 of Korra. Being having great, seems to be an overstatement, but this was before then soo, maybe it is!? ¬_¬ We learn from this scene of Iroh’s past, and the reason of maybe why he’s the man he is now, one of the guards state that he “laid siege to it for 600 days”, and yet it did not fall to the firenation. Iroh admits this to be true, that he was indeed defeated, and with another overlooked part of Irohs lines was, “I’m still tired”, I wonder if this has any significance? And with that, Iroh falls off the Ostrich-horse, leaving a sandal behind for his nephew to find.
Cutting back to Aang, wandering up the path, to Katara’s worrying for both her brother and Aang, we and Aang that he’s in transparent and in the spirit -- ah, I was wondering when the title would come into it? I really did like this scene where the contradiction of what the old man says come to fruition which, luckily for him, was hidden, otherwise maybe this bit of comfort could’ve been completely destroyed, also it lead nicely into the next scene when Aangs realize he’s in the spirit world.
We then cut to Sherlock Zuko (no, that sounds silly), finding Iroh's (I assume) stinky sandal. I got to say, the animation of the facial expressions are brilliant and do a fantastic job in showing, other than telling their emotion - which happens in Anime quite a bit.With Zuko Holmes (that’s better), hot on his uncles trail, we then cut to a close-up of Katara, sleeping, kneeled (impressive) while Aang promises to figure it all out...by sitting on his butt and doing nothing…? Appa enters loudly into the scene, wanting to know where Aang is? And with another promise of Moonpeaches, this time given by Katara, they head off, to, wherever!? ¬_¬ “Avatar Roku, how can I talk to you?!” And with that question, flies in the answer in the shape of a, DRAGON!!! O_O ...Er...AWESOME!!! Aang, in an attempt to fly away, eats the dirt, aaagain, realizes he can’t Airbend in the spirit world.
After the commercial cut-in, we continue on with dragon, AWESOME, *cough*, getting closer and closer to the screen, i.e. getting closer to Aang, no I would say, the way this dragon moves, is just simply wonderful, so fluid and majestic. It really looks like the motion of a real-life dragon (if they existed)! As the dragon show Aang a vision after touching his forehead with one of it’s feelers, we get an epic shot of Roku, riding this Dragon - which I learned later was named ‘Fang’. In this epicness Aang jumps on the dragons neck, back, I dunno...and is flown off to see Roku.
Cutting to Iroh, we get this section of the scene where he sees Aang, riding the dragon in the air, but brushes it off with the next section. I think this episodes play with me! ¬_¬ Anyways, we then go to Iroh asking for his shackle to be tightened, it’s for his joints. I think this was to slow down the men, other than to escape. But it isn’t really specified -- as Iroh is escaping we then tangle with the next scene as we cut to Aang, arriving at some temple. Flying through this section of the ceiling to the room with a statue of Roku in it. Confused by this, Fang shows Aang (not at all confusing) the next vision: a comet! But Aang can only chat with the previous Avatar on the Winters Solstice, which finally enough is today (Friday 19th of Dec), or when am writing this anyway! >V< Honestly, this episodes animation is just amazing in this episode, just fabulous stuff from the Nick Animation Crew, who I believe did the animation for this before the formation of Studio Mir.
Flying on Fangs back, neck, Aang flies away from the crescent island -- cut to, you guessed it, Iroh, rolling down a hill. But is stopped in his rolling by the soldiers, they discuss that they should put a stop his dangerous power as a Firebender, which is a bit of a jump, but does make some reasonable amount of sense…
We then cut to Appa, they were a lot of cuts in this episode weren’t they? With Appa flying over head, who?! Oh you guessed right again, Zuko Holmes. But in a great character developement way, he keeps going after his uncle, showing his loyalty to his family and men, rather than going after the Avatar, who is missing in action anyway, so maybe a good idea not to follow.
Flying back into his body, Aang awakes from his sitting meditation while being sat upon a statue of a bear. Putting one add one together, Aang and me realize, or atleast I think he does, that the statue, is the spirit, Haabai! Back at the village, Aang returns with the sunset and another cut…
...To Uncle Iroh, await for his hand to crushed by the earthbenders, or is he? And the *BANG*, Zuko the detective turns to the fighter, Zuko, the badass! With him and his Uncle kicking the earthbenders asses - I loved this scene, eventho it’s the villains, am still rooting for them which is just the strength of this episode, the writing. It’s so tight in acknowledging these relationships and flushes them out as much as possible. Creating a legitimate feel of family! Also, again the animation is fantastic here, the motion again, especially of one of the earthbenders who are fighting Zuko, just great stuff all around!
At the village, again, Aang has more of an understanding of what he’s up against, and awaits Haabai. As the dragon did with him, Aang touches it’s forehead, and we get the beginning scene of the Acon recurring again. Very clever, and that’s what I’m getting from this series a very clever. Sokka’s free and some of the other villagers are too, thanking the Heros, they help by giving the Gang some supplies. And then, the bombshell, Aang explains the comet, and where he can talk to Roku about it, on a crescent island in, the Fire Nation, DUN DUN DAAAARGH!!! O_O
This episode was just simply, awesome-sauce, the animation was amazing, the story well told, the relatability of Aang is becoming more apparent in the editing style which doesn’t hinder the story telling or any aspect of the characters. So, I give it strong 4 out of 5 Stars, this is what I'm talking about, set-ups, world growth, character development. They were some hindrances in the editing which detracted at times from what was happening, but I think that was only more noticeable the second time watching this episode.
I hope you enjoyed the review, and please, leave me a comment of you experience when YOU first watched this episode! >V<
Thanks again & Happy Holidays ^_^
The next review, which is part two of Winters Solstice, will be the last until the 29th of December.