Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle
|"Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle"|
Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle is the series finale for the Nickelodeon's television series Avatar: The Last Airbender. It was directed by Ethan Spaulding, Giancarlo Volpe, and Joaquim Dos Santos, and written by Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, and Aaron Ehasz. Though intended to be split into three parts, the finale aired as a two-hour four-part movie on 19 July 2008. Prior to the week of 14–19 July, no episodes had been shown since 30 November 2007. The Saturday airing of Sozin's Comet acted as a climax to a week of ten new episodes that concluded Avatar's third season.
The finale focuses on series protagonist Aang's non-violent personality and his reluctance to kill Fire Lord Ozai. The finale also follows the exploits of many of Aang's friends and allies, including Sokka, Toph and Suki's struggle to destroy a Fire Nation airship armada, Zuko and Katara's battle against Zuko's sister Azula, and Iroh, King Bumi, and the Order of the White Lotus' attempt to reconquer Ba Sing Se.
Sozin's Comet received positive reception from critics and fans alike. The initial showing averaged 5.6 million viewers, a 195% increase in ratings compared with ratings from mid-July 2007. The premiere of episodes 52–61 (episodes 12–21 of Book 3: Fire throughout the week of Sozin's Comet's release received over 19 million views, of which 5.6 million were from the premiere of Sozin's Comet. At the 2008 Annie Awards, the director of the third part of Sozin's Comet (Episode 20 – Sozin's Comet, Part 3: "Into the Inferno") won an award for "Best Directing in an Animated Television Production".
Part 1: The Phoenix King
Aang suddenly abandons his Firebending lesson with Zuko to have a beach party with his friends, causing Zuko to attack him in his frustration. Aang explains he plans to challenge Fire Lord Ozai only after Sozin's Comet and its enhancement of Firebending have come and gone, due to his own self-perceived lack of Firebending skills at the moment. When Zuko tells the group Ozai plans to use the comet's power to burn down the Earth Kingdom, Aang resolves to face him before the comet arrives. The entire group advises Aang to kill Ozai, but Aang refuses to kill him due to his pacifistic nature and non-violent upbringing.
That night, Aang sleepwalks to a forest not to be found in the morning. After the group fails to locate him, Zuko takes them to June, a tracker who might be able to locate Aang, using his smell. Meanwhile, Fire Lord Ozai proclaims himself to be ruler of the world, under the title "Phoenix King", and declares Azula to be the new Fire Lord, setting off to burn the world and rebuild it under his New Order.
Part 2: The Old Masters
Zuko's tracker, June, is unable to locate Aang, but does find Zuko's uncle, Iroh. He and several other characters (Pakku,[Notes 1] Jeong Jeong,[Notes 2] King Bumi[Notes 3] and Piandao[Notes 4]) are part of an otherwise non-aligned group known as the "Order of the White Lotus", which plans to liberate the Earth Kingdom capital, Ba Sing Se, from Fire Nation rule. Zuko and Katara decide to fight Azula in the Fire Nation capital while Sokka, Toph, and Suki attempt to destroy the airship fleet of Ozai.
Meanwhile, Aang awakens on a floating island. Frustrated with his inability to find a way to defeat Ozai without killing him, he asks four of his past lives for advice.[Notes 5] Unsatisfied with their answers, he asks the island for help. The island, which is actually a giant "lion-turtle", provides Aang with the power of energybending and leaves him on the Earth Kingdom shores.
Part 3: Into the Inferno
The Comet appears in the sky, and Azula's coronation takes place. Azula banishes nearly all of her subjects (including her Dai Li[Notes 6] agents) in fear of betrayal. Her paranoia and loneliness begin to drive her insane. Before she is crowned, Zuko and Katara arrive. Zuko accepts Azula's challenge of an Agni Kai,[Notes 7] because he feels that something is wrong with Azula and he does not want Katara injured. Just as Zuko is on the verge of defeating Azula, she shoots a bolt of lightning at Katara instead of Zuko. Zuko intercepts the lightning, preventing Katara from getting hurt, but injures himself after he fails to correctly redirect the lightning.
Meanwhile, Sokka, Toph, and Suki hijack a Fire Nation airship, and use it to destroy many others, effectively stopping Ozai's plan of incinerating the Earth Kingdom. In Ba Sing Se, the Order of the White Lotus, led by Iroh, lay siege to the Fire Nation forces within the city, with the sole intention of re-conquering it in the name of the Earth Kingdom. Aang reappears and begins to duel the Fire Lord. However, when Aang successfully redirects lightning he purposely misses Ozai to avoid killing him. Because of his pacifism, Ozai begins to gain the advantage.
Part 4: Avatar Aang
Zuko lies on the ground twitching as Katara and Azula fight. After several minutes of running, Katara freezes Azula and chains her to the ground. After doing it, Katara revives Zuko.
After a fierce battle, Ozai slams Aang into a rock inadvertently releasing his locked seventh chakra and enters the Avatar State. With the power of his past lives, Aang overwhelms Ozai. Although Ozai is subdued, Aang refuses to kill him; instead, he locks Ozai down with earth. He realizes what the lion-turtle had meant and uses Energybending to strip Ozai of his Firebending powers, ending his ability to wage war. Afterwards, Aang raises and lowers nearby water to undo the damages that the Fire Nation caused.
The Order of the White Lotus liberates Ba Sing Se in the name of the Earth King. During his coronation, Zuko promises to aid the world in the postwar reconstruction. Sometime after the ceremony, Zuko visits Ozai's prison and demands he tell him the location of the banished Ursa, Zuko's mother. A final scene depicts the main cast gathered in Iroh's new tea shop, the Jasmine Dragon. Aang and Katara kiss passionately upon the shop balcony as the series ends.
Co-creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko wrote the majority of the finale; DiMartino wrote parts one, three, and four, and Konietzko assisted with parts three and four. Aaron Ehasz, a frequent writer for the series, wrote part two. Ethan Spaulding directed part one (The Phoenix King), Giancarlo Volpe directed part two (The Old Masters), and Joaquim Dos Santos directed parts three and four (Into the Inferno + Avatar Aang). Dos Santos was nominated for an Annie Award for his directing of part three, "Into the Inferno". Although Sozin's Comet was originally written as a three-part story, the creators noticed that the length had grown beyond what they had predicted from the initial script. To avoid pacing issues, they split the final part in two, adding several scenes to fill the remaining time.
Although Avatar is not considered anime because of its American origin, Tasha Robinson of the SciFi Channel observed that "Avatar blurs the line between anime and (USA) domestic cartoons until it becomes irrelevant." An IGN reviewer commented that Sozin's Comet "had that classic anime-look that I've always loved to see when watching old anime movies. The story through the animation was perfectly done." The special's music was written and composed by "The Track Team", led by Jeremy Zuckerman. However, unlike past episodes, a music track produced by a live orchestra was used, rather than one in midi format.
During the San Diego Comic-con, it was announced that a reunion between Zuko and his mother, Ursa had been arranged, and made into a storyboard. However, it was dropped just before the finale was finished, as requested by show co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino.
The cast of Sozin's Comet includes all of the key characters from season three. Protagonists Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph are voiced by Zach Tyler Eisen, Mae Whitman, Jack DeSena, and Jessie Flower respectively. Iroh is voiced by Greg Baldwin[Notes 8] and Zuko is voiced by Dante Basco. Grey DeLisle and Mark Hamill voice the two antagonists, Azula and Fire Lord Ozai, respectively. The co-creators also lend their voices to two minor characters in the third part, "Into the Inferno".
Avatar: The Last Airbender borrows extensively from East Asian art to create its fictional universe. Four "bending" arts exist in the universe; they are based on different styles and variations of Chinese martial arts: Baguazhang for Airbending, Hung Gar and Southern Praying Mantis for Earthbending, Northern Shaolin for Firebending, and Tai Chi for Waterbending. Additionally, series borrows heavily from the Taoist concept of balance and order. The Avatar, an incarnation of a divine being, is supposed to maintain the world's order.
Nickelodeon originally broadcasted Sozin's Comet from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm EST on 19 July 2008. Just ten days later, on 29 July, the "Book 3: Fire – Volume 4" DVD was released, which contained the four episodes as well as episodes 56 and 57 (episodes 16 & 17 of third season), audio commentary from the series' co-creators, cast, and crew, and a comic book.
Sozin's Comet received many positive critical reviews; Ed Liu of Toon Zone stated that it made Avatar "one of the finest animated television series ever made", and IGN stating that this "film" deserved an Academy Award. Toon Zone praised the skill of the animation directors in designing the sweeping movements of the battle scenes, as well as the slower scenes, "including one moving reconciliation and the quiet coda that ties off many of the remaining loose ends of the series". IGN reviewer Tory Ireland Mell wrote that she would "put it in the top ten films of all time". She also praised the artistic skill of the designers, stating that the "whole dark tone was gorgeous to look at", especially the "art of the Lion Turtle". She thought that Sozin's Comet lacked plot holes, as well as unnecessary plot devices, stating that the "story moved and kept us moving right along with it from beginning to end". She gave Sozin's Comet a 10 out of 10 "Masterful" rating.
Sozin's Comet has received its share of criticism as well. Reviewers commented about the difficulty in understanding the voice of a new character: the Lion Turtle. The Lion Turtle was designed by Bryan Konietzko and character designer Jae Woo Kim. Bryan Konietzko disliked how the Lion Turtle turned out; he felt that the art was not up to standards of the original design he had received. CraveOnline felt that because "the series was for children, the writers were at a loss of ideas to work around the murder angle," and the decision not to kill the Fire Lord introduced "so many convenient plot twists [that] set us up for a humongous deus ex machina that allows the Fire Lord to be thwarted without dying".
The premiere of Sozin's Comet averaged 5.6 million viewers, 195% more viewers than Nickelodeon had received in mid-July 2007. During the week of 14 July 2008, it ranked as the most-viewed program for the under-14 demographic. The premiere of episodes 52–61 (episodes 12–21 of third season) throughout the week of Sozin's Comet's release received a total of 19 million views, and Avatar reached Nielsen's list of Top 20 Cable Results for the week ending 20 June 2008 four times. It also appeared on iTunes' top ten list of best-selling television episodes during that same week. Sozin's Comet's popularity affected online media as well; "Rise of the Phoenix King", a Nick.com online game based on Sozin's Comet, generated almost 815,000 game plays within three days. A video game loosely based on the third season, Avatar: The Last Airbender - Into the Inferno, was released on 13 October 2008.
Joaquim Dos Santos won the "Best Directing in an Animated Television Production" caption in the 2008 Annie Awards for his directing in "Into the Inferno". Additionally, music editor and composer Jeremy Zuckerman and the sound editing team were nominated a Golden Reel award for "Best Sound Editing in a Television Animation" for their work in "Avatar Aang".
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- The first Katara's Waterbending master
- The first Aang's Firebending master
- An old friend of Aang
- The Sokka's swordmaster
- He asked Avatar Roku (Fire Nation), Avatar Kyoshi (Earth Kingdom), Avatar Kuruk (Water Tribe) and Avatar Yangchen (Air Nomads)
- Their first leader was Long Feng
- A firebender's duel
- Greg Baldwin replaced Mako Iwamatsu