Avatar: The Last Airbender - Nightmares and Daydreams
Today is February the 25th, 2010.
It’s exactly five years to the day.
Five years since the first two episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender aired on Nickelodeon. My first impression of the series was that “oh, another Japanese anime show that was adapted for America.” And I had no interest in watching any episodes.
In fact, I expected the show to totally bomb and be cancelled after five episodes. I was wrong. It turned out to be this HUGE success and some people were calling Avatar “the greatest cartoon of all time” (At that time I thought absolutely NO cartoon was better than The Fairly Odd Parents.)
But I didn’t get into the series until about the fourth to last episode of the first season aired. And I becoming a fan of Avatar was all thanks to by best friend Jamie. He was an avid cartoon buff even though he wasn’t nerdy at all. One day while we were hanging out. He said “Bro, You HAVE to watch this new show Avatar The Last Airbender, It’s SO good!” So I decided “fuck it” and watched an episode.
It was the “Kings of Omashu” episode. And from that day onward, I was absolutely HOOKED on Avatar. It was like Japanese anime, but was American made. The characters were so interesting, and the plot was just....so fantastic I can’t even describe it. Toph Beifong eventually became my absolute favorite character, followed by Aang. In the four years that Avatar: the Last Airbender was in production, I had watched every episode from its awesome series premiere (The Boy in the Iceberg) to its absolutely epic series finale (Sozin’s Comet PT4 Avatar Aang) I had all of the Avatar video games, and of course, all of the DVDs so I can watch them all the time when I want, where I want. So, yeah, I was a pretty big Avatar fan.
Not anymore though...
Something happened... I experienced something that killed the way I viewed any episode, and the series as a whole. And to this day I will NEVER watch another Avatar episode ever again. Not even Avatar: the Legend of Korra when it eventually comes out. As much as it pains me to write this, I will tell what happened. My home was robbed over the summer while I was on vacation and they burglars stole almost all of my DVD's, including my entire Avatar: the Last Airbender collection.
I was crushed, but I knew something had to be done. I got a new security system for my house, which cost a fortune to put in. I planned to buy replacement DVD's. Only problem was that I was flat out broke. That security system almost cost me my house itself. So now because I didn’t even have enough money for Netflix, I was without Avatar, except when they occasionally aired reruns on Nick. But then, I found something very surprising. When my house was robbed, my entire bed was pulled apart for some reason. And in-between the box spring and the mattress, I found a DVD with magic marker written on it reading ATLA 308.
ATLA obviously stands for Avatar: The Last Airbender. And 308 was the production code for probably the strangest, scariest and funniest episode of Avatar. Nightmares and Daydreams when Aang becomes a neurotic mess when he realizes the invasion of the Fire Nation is in four days, causing him to have two embarrassing dreams where he forgets his pants AND his math test when he goes to defeat Fire Lord Ozai. Then he has a nightmare that was downright creepy, and that scene always freaked me out since I first watched that episode air in 2008. It’s very strange how the DVD supposedly has only one episode.
I had NO idea where it came from, and I assumed it was a discarded disk when I burned some copies of some Avatar DVD's. But when I put into my DVD player, which surprisingly was not stolen, I found it was something totally different. It was a menu with a black screen and only one option in white, blank text. “Nightmares and Daydreams ORIGINAL NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN VERSION” And, with no other choice (literally, the menu was only one button) I pressed the “play” button on my remote.
The episode started off as normal, so I had no idea what made this so-called “never before seen” version so special.
The sequence of events in this episode so far seemed normal.
Aang freaking out that the invasion is in four days, Katara trying to calm him down and of course, Toph’s famous “GO TO SLEEP ALREADY!!” line that always made me laugh. But then... came the scene that used to scare me, the legitimate nightmare scene. And...
It’s going to be hard to describe the absolute bloody terror I saw. It was literally... just... the most gruesome thing I have ever seen, maybe the most gruesome thing ever animated on this planet... the scene was “changed” somehow. Aang fell asleep. And the scene cuts to the nightmare, but this time it was something different. Instead of the normal scene, it cut to an image of the four Air Temples.
The sky was a deep crimson hue and looked like what I would describe the atmosphere in Hell would look like. There was fire coming out of the windows of the Air Temple.
Airbender monks were running for their lives, screaming and crying. Some were covered in blood, some were lying dead in pools of blood. I realized right now, this scene is depicting the Fire Nation’s genocide of the Air Nomads one hundred years ago.
The scene started out with Fire Nation troops invading the Southern Air Temple riding massive flying dragons. Unlike the rest of the series when death is rarely shown and only implied, this scene depicted full-on bloody murder. The Air Nomad monk’s screams were mixed in with stings of different horror movie screams, creating one of the most painful sounds I have ever heard.
This was Hell. Then the nightmare cuts to the Eastern Air Temple which only housed Air Nomad nuns and other female Airbenders. And... It was worse than what I just saw with the Southern Temple. The Fire Nation in the series is shown to be cunning and methodical in their atrocities. In this scene, they were barbaric and animal like. The first thing I saw was the Airbender nun that taught basically introduced Aang to Appa was stabbed multiple times in the stomach by a Fire Nation soldier.
There was blood rushing out of her middle section. Then the nightmare cut to another scene where a Firebender is RAPING an airbender nun! Yes, you heard me correctly. RAPING. And not only that, it was depicted so graphically that... Oh my god, you could literally see every single anatomical body part. At this point, I was in complete shock. I was so tempted to reach over the remote, eject the disk and burn it and/or crush it. But I needed to see what happened next. After the absolutley horrifying, pornographic, and realistic rape scene, I saw something that would haunt me for the rest of my life.
An airbender nun screamed “NOT THE NURSERY!!!”
I assumed the nursery was where all of the airbender babies were being taken care of. The nun walked into the nursery and this bloodcurdling scream pierced my speakers and almost blew up my television.
The images... were of... dead, mutilated infants. Some with their heads removed, some with their arms and legs chopped off. And some with bodies so burned that they didn’t even look like babies. Then, the scene cut to an airbender infant being brutally killed by a Fire Nation soldier. All I could see was the absolute terror in the nun’s eyes... The baby was still crying... and... and... I’m trying not to cry as I type this...The Fire Nation soldier THROWS the crying baby against the wall with almost superhuman force, and it literally exploded. Infant body parts sprayed all over the wall.
After that scene, I proceeded to vomit my brains out all over my room, because I was so horrified and disgusted by that absolutely brutal, bloody, disgusting, and barbaric nightmare sequence... And all I wondered was... what kind of sick, twisted, savage bastards would animate that?
How the hell did Mike and Bryan not see this!? After that horrific scene, the screen went back to an image of all of the Air Temples on fire. Those savage Fire Nation soldiers succeeded with their plan to kill all of the Air Nomads in an effort to destroy the Avatar cycle, except for one. The boy in the iceberg, Avatar Aang.
The scene cut to Aang screaming loudly, waking up all of his friends. “What’s wrong?” A concerned Katara asks. Aang replies...
“The nightmares... they keep getting worse...”
I literally yanked the DVD out of the player, grabbed it and ran outside.
I let out a primal scream “YEEEAAAAAAARRRRGGHHHHHHHH!!!” And like a Frisbee, I launched the DVD so far over my backyard, over the fence, and into the woods.
I wanted that DVD out of my life forever. After weeks and weeks of nightmares about that episode, it then came to light that the episode has psychologically scarred me. And my psychiatrist had told me that the only way to fight it was to never watch another episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender ever again. And I took his advice.
I’ve wanted so badly to tell this story to someone, but no one will believe me. Some will, but others will disregard this as “the biggest viral hoax since suicidemouse.avi.”