Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Adults Watching Children's Animation

Inspired by the resurgence of Avatar: the Last Airbender (and soon the Legend of Korra), there seems to be a pretty big subset of adults/teenagers watching more and more children’s TV (particularly animation) entirely of their own accord. What is the benefit of this, and why do we keep coming back to them? What do these shows have to offer us as adults vs as children? Who are they made for, really? And what, if anything, are the downsides?

  • As an adult who watches animation, let me say this is a great topic. For me, it's about nostalgia and relaxation, mostly. I do notice though, that as an adult, I think more deeply about certain characters and themes than I did as a kid. Hey Arnold is a great example; it's a kids' show on the surface, but wasn't afraid to go dark and deep several times. – Stephanie M. 4 years ago
  • I think this a great subject. I've written on this topic while in College. And while cartoons in the western countries are typically targeted at children, animation originally wasn't intened for kids. It was often used for satire or comedy. Often talking about mature subjects like race, war, and class struggles. But Cartoons were really expsenvie to make. So talking about politics wasn't popular, due to it alienating a portion of the cartoonist audience. It wasn't until Hanana Barbera and Walt Disney built their cartoon empires around using their cartoon character's as marketing pieces to sell merchandise. That's when we started seeing a shift in how cartoons were used/viewed. It became popular to target kids cause you could sell toys, cerals and other products. Cartoons studio's often partnered with advertising/toy compannies. I think you consider looking at markerting for this topic as it completely changed the landscape of cartoons, for better and worse. As cartoons couldn't survive without it, but this is also the reason we don't see many cartoons marketed at adults. (Looking at the Simpsons as well would be a good idea, since it was one of the few adult cartoons to see success.) – Blackcat130 4 years ago
  • First off I love this subject, and secondly I feel if art is great it shouldn't matter who watches it. There is some very obvious entertainment made for children out there, but I believe "Avatar" has something to offer everyone. The series has dialogue that children will find amusing, but the animation, creativity, stories, and character development are still a wonder today. It's great that these can inspire people and they should want to come back to it, as well as show them to people who didn't gain the same experience they had. The only downsides to this (at least to myself) is what do you hope to get out of the show? If you watch these shows or movies simply because you are afraid of change, then I suggest it's high time to cleanse your pallet and experience something new, but if this is simply your source for creative vision than I see no issue with wanting to return to find something you never noticed before. – thepriceofpayne 4 years ago
  • I'm as fascinated and absorbed as anyone else by the so-called "dark" stories (whether in literature, TV, film or games), with complex characters, complicated moral dilemmas, and lots of grey morality. However, I still find myself most strongly and instinctually drawn to those stories which carry a note of hope. This is not to say that animation (or any media in general) targeted at children can be devoid of complex characters, of course. But media that is not specifically targeted at children can fall into the trap of showcasing explicit violence (esp. physical/sexual) just for the sake of it/ for cementing the "darkness" of the atmosphere. There is a very thin line where this is necessary for the storytelling/genre or just plain distasteful/ for shock value. In my opinion, children's animation can depict a lot of these same themes, without the gratuitous violence. Implications of the grand scheme of things can be powerful enough. Not only that, animation as a medium has so much storytelling potential in how the medium itself can be manipulated as per needs of the story to be told: everything from the colour to the artstyle to the fluidity and versatility of animation. Maybe this is why I personally am averse to the rather off-putting/bland art and character design of certain popular adult-targeted cartoons. Yes, there is an element of escapism to me watching the lighter-hearted yet meaningful stories. But real life is gritty enough, and while I welcome the complexity that comes with experience of the world, so different from the black-and-white views of our childhood, it doesn't hurt to watch media that appeals to the purest parts of us, untouched by cynicism. – Malavika 3 years ago
  • I don't think there's anything wrong with adults watching animated films. Adults need just as much, if not more, a break from the real world – CoastalUndertoe 3 years ago
  • You could examine the My Little Pony Fandom with the Bronies. – J.D. Jankowski 3 years ago

Avatar: The Last Airbender and War

Avatar: The Last Airbender is at its core a story about war. It features the Fire Nation on an imperialistic crusade expanding it’s power and trying to take over the world. Through Aang, our main character, we see many different people and how this war has affected them. Analyse the effect of war in the Avatar universe and whether or not Avatar: The Last Airbender is anti-imperialism/anti-war.

  • To help with this idea, someone might want to reference Yamamoto Tsnunetomo's "Hagakure" and Sun Tzu's "Art of War." Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko build so much from Eastern culture. Also, consider how good characters echo Dalai Lama names: Tenzin and Gyatso. This type of discussion should balance Western and Eastern concepts of war (and peace). – Michael J. Berntsen 9 years ago
  • I would suggest trying to draw connections between tactics that each of the Four Nations use to conflicts in history and each battles to real-life battles. – Xander95 9 years ago