I really don’t get Nickelodeon. Sure, I used to watch it on purpose when I was a kid and Ren and Stimpy seemed like the funniest thing ever just because there had never been anything like it on the air. But despite the professed love from 90’s kids, nobody has ever made me understand the appeal of Rugrats, Doug, and pretty much every other cartoon they’ve put on the air since. Calling them “childish” is putting it too mildly. Spongebob Squarepants plays like it’s scientifically targeted to kill every last brain cell in your head. And don’t even mention Breadwinners around me.
But then there’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, the American anime that out-anime’d anime. They took the stylish visuals, Asian-themed mythologies and philosophies, great characterizations, and complex plots that make Japanese animation superior to the vast majority of Western kiddie toons and eliminated the chaff of silly tropes like over-the-top powers, crummy pacing in favor of formulaic drawn-out battles, and general perviness in favor of pure quality storytelling and brilliant fast-paced action sequences.
The sequel series, Legend of Korra, has had a rocky road with a lot to live up to, but has more than maintained fan interest. Sure, we may gripe that the title character is kind of unlikable and the overall cast isn’t as strong, but the show delivers the goods more often than not with a mixture of comedy and action fit for both kids and adults, engaging philosophical and political themes, intriguing concepts, and gorgeous animation. It’s still the best thing on Nickelodeon by miles and miles. So why isn’t it on Nickelodeon anymore? Continue Reading »