Ya gotta have friendsThe animation is a combination of the current style of more action-oriented cartoons, like the Batman series (which I also love) mixed with some Pokemon and a dash of Studio Ghibli. The young eponymous hero Aang's "pet" Appa is especially reminiscent of the great Hayao Miyazaki's cat bus in My Neighbor Totoro. The references, fight scenes and comic relief are all good fun and somehow all work together.
The inimitable catbusWhat I like the best about the show is not only is the twelve year-old hero undeniably cute, but he resourceful and brave. Aang and his friends are constantly thrust into real life and death adventures. Just like Harry Potter. Just like fairy tales. I think it is also great that my six-year old daughter is getting exposed to concepts like the power and nature of the four elements—mixed in with the cute and fuzzy animals and kids who can do some cool martial arts and take care of themselves.
I have to admit that I prefer this SO much more than the tween antics that can be found on Disney or the omnipresent iCarly. But even after the kid has conked out and gone to bed, Grandma and I find ourselves still watching.