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DVD Review: Avatar: The Last Airbender - Book 2: Earth, Volume 2

Avatar: The Last Airbender is back! The second DVD release of season two, Avatar: The Last Airbender - Book 2: Earth, Volume 2, is finally here! Of course, if you're like me, you couldn't wait for the DVD and already watched these episodes on TV. Fortunately, they are just as enjoyable the second time around! And for those of you who haven't yet seen this wonderful series, you are seriously missing out. It combines action, adventure, comedy, and drama into a show suited for just about everyone.

When first seeing this series, one might expect it to be anime, a cartoon from Japan... but surprise, surprise... it's actually an American production. Like many anime shows, Avatar: The Last Airbender has a full story arc spanning multiple seasons, so it's not just one of those cartoons that does the whole one-crazy-scheme-per-episode thing. There is a real story here, and it actually progresses as the series goes on. In the first season, Aang finds awakes from stasis to find that he is the last of his kind. He meets friends, learns that he must save the world from being domination by the Fire Kingdom, and begins learning the art of water bending.

When the second season picks up, Aang seems to have become quite adept at water bending, and so it becomes time to move on to mastering the next element: Earth. So Aang and his pals, siblings Katara and Sokka begin the quest to find Aang an Earth Bending instructor. And of course Aang's nemesis, Prince Zuko, still hunts the Avatar, but now a new threat to Aang and company enters the mix... Zuko's sister, Princess Azula. Thankfully, Aang's team picks up a new member, an extremely powerful earth bender named Toph Bei Fong. Oh yeah, and she is only 12 years old... and blind!

The second episode of the disc (Chapter 7) focuses all on Prince Zuko, as he finds himself wandering into a town with little money and no food, only to basically get robbed by Earth nation bullies posing as soldiers. He is taken in by a kind Earth Nation family, and becomes fond of their young boy. By staying with the family, Zuko is able to see first hand some of the hardships which war causes. Overall, a very good experience for the young outcast prince... let's just hope he takes these lessons with him.

Next, the Avatar squad find themselves being chased by a fierce-looking tank-thing. It seems no matter how far they fly, the tank always catches up shortly thereafter... which makes it nearly impossible for the group to get any sleep. Utter exhausted, they find that bickering within the group is pretty much unavoidable. But they're going to have to get past it and clear their heads if they're going to be able to figure out how to give the tank the slip so they can all get some much needed shuteye.

Chapter 9 is the beginning of Aang's earth-bending training. Things are slow going, until Aang reaches one specific test: stand in one spot while a giant boulder is rolled down at him... and don't move! That's when training comes to a complete stop. Aang feels like he just cannot do it... yet when he finds Sokka in a really tight spot, Aang knows he must stand his ground to save his friend. Now if only he could apply that courage to his earth-bending training....

For the final episode on the disc, each member of the group is picking out a mini-vacation. When they meet a scholar in a bar and he mentions his quest for a library that may contain information about the Fire Nation, Sokka's choice for his vacation becomes clear. Unfortunately, finding the place is going to prove difficult, since it's stuck out somewhere deep in the desert and there is no map. Of course, finding it is only the first challenge....

There is no episode shown entirely as an animatic on this disc. Instead, there is an audio commentary by the creators, the cast, and the crew. I have not had a chance to listen yet, but I hope to soon. Anyway, this is a great show for anybody and everybody, not just for kids. It is one of the few cartoons out there that would keep both children and adults entertained. I'm sorry that I initially let this show slip by me, so don't you go and make the same mistake!

Avatar: The Last Airbender - Book 2: Earth, Volume 2 is available starting April 10, 2007, released by Paramount Home Video. The entire first season, Avatar The Last Airbender - The Complete Book 1 Collection, is already out on DVD... now if only I had some money to buy it with....

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