Avatar: The Last Airbender

Opinion: 'Avatar: the Last Airbender' is the best children's ...

Where to begin with the show, Avatar: The Last Airbender? When I was little my family and I would watch this show to no end. Then, after many years apart, this show appeared back on Netflix and I must say, it is amazing. I would say this show from 2005 was way before its time in many aspects. The writing, character development, villains, and overall plot of the show was very interesting and exhilarating.

One part that I absolutely love is female empowerment. Remember this show came out over 15 years ago when most TV shows and movies did not include the most feminist characters. Different than shows and movies today, the female involvement was not pushed or forced rather than just written to be strong leads. Characters like Toph also inspired young me, as she was blind but in my opinion, on the most powerful characters in the entire series. Each of the different women brought different things to the table but really showed me that, hey I can be just as or more powerful than anyone else.

Another aspect that needs to be talked about is the plot. This story about a young boy who was frozen in ice for 100 years to wake up and find out a war has been going on for 100 years and was partially his fault. Being the avatar, master of all 4 four elements, he meets some friends who help him on his journey while facing many challenges. Seeing the change in the duration of year was pretty spectacular. These young kids turned out stopping a war against a crazy fire lord. Episode after episode we see a group of 4 kids overthrowing corrupt governments left and right. For a kids show it was very deep. The writers introduced some real world problems to young and old viewers. The ideas of governments that aren’t what they seem took up almost half a season of the show. Along with passing by starving people and large groups of refugees as a result of the war. For a kids show, they were not afraid to include real issues and problems many face.

Lastly, I’m going to talk about my personal favorite part of the show, the villains. In my personal opinion, many of the villains were simply misunderstood. For the siblings Zuko and Azula we get to see why their actions came to be. Being in a royal family with an abusive father and mother who was forced away. Azula was a prodigy firebender, that in my opinion the most powerful fire bender in the entire show. Along with Zuko who is also powerful but not up there with Azula. During this show, we get to see the character arc of Zuko as he finally puts his wants behind him and joins the avatar and his friends in joining the fight against the fire lord. Sadly for Azula this is not the case, she goes insane while trying to be perfect to please her father.

This show is a must watch for anyone in any age group. There is something in this show for everyone. The writers hit gold when producing this show. Also, some appearances from some of my favorite actors such as Mark Hamill make an appearance throughout the show. If I had to score this show it would definitely be a 11/10 for me.

-Lilly G.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian

Whether you are casually entertained by the Star Wars franchise or a rabid fan, Disney Plus’ The Mandalorian is a truly fun escape from the humdrum of life since Covid 19.    This Disney Plus series, which now has completed two seasons, takes place after Return of the Jedi and before The Force Awakens in the Star Wars universe.  For those, like me, who thrives on Star Wars lore, the exact year is 9 ABY (After the Battle of Yavin).  During this time the empire has been mostly destroyed and the New Republic has taken over the galaxy and is attempting to bring stability and peace, though corruption lurks behind every turn.  The series follows a bounty hunter who seems to have no affiliation with either the Empire or The Republic.  His aim is to make money for his clan who live in the shadows to avoid conflict with the outside world.  As season one unfolds, a disturbing and sinister connection between the Mandalorian race and the Jedi is revealed that intertwines and blurs the lines of good versus evil.  This blurring of lines persists through both seasons and is inherent to the exciting plot twists within each episode and at the conclusion of each season.  The central story is based around the bounty hunter who sacrifices his position as a bounty hunter to save a child he was meant to deliver to the hands of the Empire.  Instead, he listens to his inner voice and makes it his mission to protect and return “the child” to his people.  This proves a dangerous and challenging odyssey that carries the pair across the Star Wars Universe.  They face sinister and sometimes familiar characters along the way and are often forced to fight their way out of what seems like near-impossible situations.  Along the way, more and more is revealed about “the child” and the unexpected and surprising man who is called Mandalorian.

The Mandalorian (TV Series 2019– ) - IMDb

The mastermind behind The Mandalorian is none other than, Jon Favreau.  Favreau is a director, actor, producer, and screenwriter.  He directed the wildly popular Christmas comedy, Elf.  Additionally, he is the creative genius behind the Iron Man franchise among many other popular films.  Favreau has been quoted as saying that The Mandalorian is meant to “hearkened back to the Westerns and samurai films that had originally influenced Lucas.”  Favreau is referencing George Lucas the original creator of Star Wars. The world Lucas imagined in the original Star Wars movie has been capturing the imagination of audiences since its release in 1977.  Jon Favreau includes himself as one who was fascinated by Star Wars lore and he has built on that in The Mandalorian, staying true to Star Wars roots but adding his own take.  With the expanded format of a TV show,  Favreau has been able to take a deep dive into the Star Wars expanded universe and draw from Star Wars spin-offs including The Clone Wars and the video game, Star Wars Battlefront.  However, there is enough character development, revelations, cliff-hanger, and adventure that even audience members new to Star Wars can enjoy the fun.  Favreau has said that, with this show, he wanted to create a “good party” for the Star Wars audience.  He has done just that.  Grab your family, your best friend, and your lightsaber and join in.  “This is the way.”

-Johnson D.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams

Book Cover, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, 1947 | Objects  | Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

A Streetcar Named Desire is a tragic play written by Tennessee Williams. It is centered around Blanche DuBois, a fragile thirty year old woman who is detached from reality. After being fired from her previous job as a schoolteacher and losing her home, Blanche decides to go and stay with her younger sister, Stella Kowalski. Stella Kowalski lives with her Polish husband, Stanley Kowalski, a plain and straightforward man. Despite falling out of touch with her sister, Blanche arrives with her large trunk at the Kowalski household.

The title of this play is very crucial to its message and illustrates its entire plot. In the beginning, Blanche recounts her journey to her sister’s house. First, Blanche rode a streetcar named Desire. Then, she took a a streetcar named Cemeteries, which took her to a street called Elysian Fields. Elysian Fields is the land of the dead in Greek mythology. This entire journey symbolizes Blanche’s life and her fear of death. At first, Blanche allows her sexual desires to overcome her and ruin her life. As a result, she is evicted from her childhood home, and lastly, she is taken to an asylum and ostracized completely from society.

Throughout this entire play, we watch as Blanche DuBois gradually becomes completely out of touch with reality. Because of her adherence to lies, fibs, and illusions, she clashes with Stanley. Stanley is a grounded and vicious man who represents the vital force, the strength which animates all living creatures. Everything that he does, he does with extreme passion; he loves passionately, treats Blanche cruelly, and is extremity loyal to his friends.

In the end, after Blanche’s depressing and indecent past is revealed to Stella and Stanley, they decide to send Blanche to an insane asylum. The final moments of this play are heart wrenching and painful. As a broken, depressed, and insane Blanche pleads for her sister to save her, she is lead to the asylum like a prisoner.

Despite its tragic finale, this play discusses very important themes such as death, illusions, and sexuality. Overall, this was an extremely intriguing and deep play that I would recommend to anyone who does not mind a sad ending and loves to explore complex themes.

-Yvette C.

A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Star Wars- Revenge of the Sith review

Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, is set three years after the onset of the Clone Wars. Jedi are spread throughout the galaxy, commanding their individual clone legions against the Separatists’ battle droids. The High Council dispatches Obi-Wan to hunt down General Grievous, the cyborg-Kaleesh leader of the Separatist army. Meanwhile, Anakin begins to suffer from nightmares depicting Padme’s death in childbirth. Afraid of losing her, Skywalker is tasked to spy on the Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, who is secretly the master of orchestrating the Clone Wars, Sith Lord Darth Sidious. Following an assassination attempt by Jedi Master Mace Windu, Palpatine manipulates Anakin into turning to the dark side of the Force, anointing him as his apprentice, Darth Vader.

RotS is my favorite Star Wars movie (definitely not cuz of Obi-Wan), but for its significant impact on the Star Wars fanbase. The movie covers Anakin’s fall to the dark side as well as Order 66, the galaxy-wide and years-long genocide of the Jedi Order. I find it completely normal that I can recite the entire script of the movie as well as remembering every meme format 🙂

-Bree K.

Revenge of the Sith is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Being able to fit in if you have branded clothes or that new car is a misconception. There are many tropes that even people who claim not to judge fall into. Juniors capture the truth behind most teenagers’ lives. It’s not as exciting and daring as most movies portray where you have the classic high school hierarchy. No QueenB, strapping jock, and that nerdy dork who nobody is friends with.

The protagonist, Lea, is a 17-year-old girl who struggles with a new move and all the feelings that come with it. Her situation is unique because she feels that her family is a charity case for others to pick at and use to feel better about themselves. Even her close friend Whitney says that there is a constant judgment on her even though she’s extremely rich.

While this isn’t a dark depressing read, it hit closer to home more than I thought it would. It was refreshing to read something more relatable where not everything works out. Lea doesn’t get the boy, there are fights with friends and family drama (On a more realistic level). An oddly satisfying end didn’t feel like a tear-jerker or a heart-wrenching cliffhanger. I recommend this for a quick easy read that’ll make you feel more insightful at the end.

-Coralie D.

Juniors by Kaui Hart Hemmings is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Avatar the Last Airbender: TV show review

When I heard Avatar the Last Airbender (ATLA) was added to Netflix I was ecstatic. Like so many other teens, I had watched the show as a little kid and loved it. So obviously, I had to watch it again.

Watching it again as a teenager, I realized that the show was even better than I remembered. It was so original and progressive. As it well it was quite refreshing with its childish comics instead of dark humor or drama. There are so many references to issues that one would not think would be in a children’s TV show. It is these references that really make the show stand out. For example, there is the idea that the fire nation ( the big enemy in the show) is constantly making new technological advance weapons, using them for mass destruction and with them destroying nature. This sound familiar? This very idea was happening when the show created and is still a problem now. These are ideas that as a teenager, I can more fully understand and is a reason why I strongly suggest other teens to rewatch the show.

This show is centered around the idea that the fire nation is trying to take over all the other nation: Earth, Water, and Air. They had already wiped out the air nation and are trying to take over everything else. There are four characters that are trying to stop this, the Avatar Aang, the Water Bender Katara, Sokka a warrior, and the Earth Bender Toph. The avatar is supposed to be a special person who has control over all four elements, fire earth water and air. They are the one supposed to save the world. Throughout the entire show you follow these characters, watching them grow.

I loved this show and would recommend it to everyone. It is perfect for binging, watching slowly, watching with a family, or taking a break from the stress of the pandemic. As well, the nostalgia it brings might bring you makes the show better

-Ava G.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See is an educating, eye-opening novel about two sisters, Pearl and May, whose unbreakable bond is put to the test as they leave their war-torn home of Shanghai, China, and immigrate to the United States.

In 1937 Shanghai, which Pearl refers to as the Paris of Asia, the sisters are accustomed to a luxurious life of wealth and extravagance. Pearl and May even pose as ‘beautiful girls’ for calendars and magazine advertisements, defying what it means to be a traditional Chinese young woman, much to their mother’s dismay. One night, as Pearl and May are getting ready for an evening of fun and partying, they receive terrible news from their parents: their father has gambled away their wealth.

Consequently, their father sells the girls as brides to a man by the name of Mr. Louie, who is journeying with his wife and two sons to America to find opportunity. Pearl and May do everything they can to avoid leaving with Mr. Louie and his sons, Sam and Vern, and even miss the boat they are supposed to be traveling on. The girls realize this was the wrong decision, however, as more bombs fall on Shanghai and the second Sino-Japanese war continues to ensue. Pearl, May, and their mother flee Shanghai to Hong Kong in hopes they can catch a ship to San Francisco. Unfortunately, before they are able to board the ship, their mother dies, and Pearl and May are forced to be strong enough to endure the long journey by themselves.

When Pearl and May finally arrive in America, they encounter Angel Island, an immigration station, where they are interviewed vigorously by government officials to see if they are spies. Pearl and May stay at Angel Island for a significant amount of time, and eventually, Pearl realizes May has been answering the questions in her interviews incorrectly. When Pearl asks her why she has been doing this, May tells her she is pregnant. This news shocks Pearl and she knows she must protect her sister and stall their time on Angel Island so she can have her baby in America. Pearl and May decide that Pearl should take the baby, Joy, as her own child. Once they leave Angel Island, Pearl and May head to Chinatown to find their new family. Almost immediately upon their arrival, Pearl and May begin to work at Mr. Louie’s shops and formulate a plan to earn enough money so that they can run away and start their own, independent life. These plans change quickly, though, when Pearl and May discover that Sam is a paper son, and the only legitimate son of Mr. Louie is Vern.

After hearing this news, Pearl and May decide not to run away and realize their new family is trying their best to build a new, successful life in Los Angeles, and they need all the help they can get. As Joy continues to grow, the conflict between Pearl and May starts to form. This conflict only deepens when Pearl gets pregnant and loses her baby, realizing she will never be able to have children. The United States’ suspicion of the Communist movement in China also adds to this familial controversy, and as Joy grows older, she begins to fall in love with communist ideals. Joy’s suspicious activities result in the government finding out her father is a paper son, and she flees the country out of guilt. Pearl plans to follow after her, and the book ends with her plan to go save her daughter. 

-Adriana A.

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

One of Us is Lying is about four high school seniors, who are all quite stereotypical people in a high school, the jock, Cooper Clay, the prom queen, Addy Prentiss,  the “nerd”, Bronwyn Rojas, and the delinquent, Nate Macauley. However, when the four of them meet in an unfair detention, along with Simon Kelleher, the self-proclaimed “omniscient narrator” and person in charge of the gossip app named “About That”, which talks about the school’s gossip, although only using initials. 

However, the detention quickly turns into a crime scene when Simon dies due to a peanut allergy, with all the epi-pens in the nurse’s office mysteriously gone. All four of them are later questioned, when the police find that Simon had drunk a large amount of peanut oil prior to his death. They all deny knowing anything, though. Later, all four students are separately called to the police station and told that before his death, Simon had queued up a post which details each of their secrets- Cooper used steroids for his baseball performance, Bronwyn stole tests, Nate is dealt drugs, which violates his parole, and that Addy had cheated on her boyfriend. With the police putting pressure on them, and more and more media coverage, the four of them band together and take the investigation upon themselves. 

The novel is very interesting, and I thought that there were many plot twists and it’s quite fun to try to piece together the mystery as more and more information is revealed. It’s also enjoyable to see the different characters grow as people, seeing Addy become her own person, and see Nate and Bronwyn grow closer together. I definitely recommend One of Us is Lying for those who enjoy murder mysteries and those who enjoy piecing together different pieces of information throughout the book.

-Kelsie W.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Pokemon Conquest Game Review

Pokemon Conquest is a Pokemon spin-off game, a game that uses different gameplay mechanics from the normal games that were released during the 5th generation. The game is effectively a tactical role playing game which functions similarly to a chess board. Conquest is generally a different experience compared to the average Pokemon games since it also draws from traditional Japanese lore and designs. 

One thing that draws players in is the unique gameplay and visual design compared to the normal games. The grid based battle system and large map makes gameplay and battling a fresh experience and the different moves of each pokemon allows for hundreds of different ways to play. The game also includes traditional japanese influences which spice up the game as it is something that is less commonly seen in western games. The game also still maintains many things about what makes pokemon great in the pokemon themselves and how they interact and battle with others.

While the game is solid overall, there still are many issues with the game as a whole. One major complaint is the post game after the main story. While the main story is still hours of content, much of what happens after the main story is effectively the same thing but from the perspectives of different characters. This devalues the game for me as not having much to look forward to after is a disappointment given the potential of a game like this. Another complaint is the general access and pool of pokemon. The way pokemon level up and their upwards potential is based on the characters as well, meaning that each character is limited to a specific pokemon which and inhibit the potential of teambuilding and gameplay as you would need to obtain hard to get characters just to use 1 singular pokemon at the maximum potential.

Overall, I would rate the game a 7/10. I would recommend it if you enjoy rpg games and Pokemon, although the many fundamental issues and inherent lack of a post game make it hard to justify over the other great games out there. 

-Benjamin L.

NBA Rankings Prediction

Hall of Famer Jerry West, designer Alan Siegel and the drama behind the NBA  logo

With the start of the 2020-2021 NBA Season, I have some thoughts about where the 30 teams rank in the playoff picture. 

Starting in the Eastern Conference, the Brooklyn Nets have built a solid team, with 2-time NBA MVP Steve Nash as their coach. They have championship experience with Kevin Durant, a 2-time NBA champion, and with Kyrie Irving, A 2016 NBA champion. Also, they just picked up James Harden from the Houston Rockets from a trade where they sent Caris Levert, Jarrett Allen, Taurean Prince, and a lot of future first-round picks. With arguably the best big 3 in the NBA, will the Nets be able to win the title this year? I think they have a great chance. 

With back to back disappointing performances in the NBA Playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks are looking to get to the NBA Finals this year and compete for a championship. Giannis Antekounmpo, the reigning MVP has been unstoppable for 2 years in a row now, but the struggle continues. With Jrue Holiday and Giannis as their cornerstones, will the Bucks rebuild or will the 3rd time be the charm? I rank the Milwaukee Bucks as the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference. 

Taking the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference will likely be the Boston Celtics. This Celtic team is filled with young rising stars in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. With an experienced player in Kemba Walker, the Celtics have a big three that can make some noise in the East. I love how Jayson Tatum has been able to lead this team and I think the future is bright for the Celtics. 

The  Toronto Raptors,  the 2018-2019 NBA Champions, have taken a hard hit ever since losing Kawhi Leonard to the LA Clippers in 2019. But, they have found a way to regroup with their leadership in Kyle Lowry and their young core in Fred Vanvleet and OG Anunoby. However, in the 2019-2020 season, they impressed and proved haters wrong by snagging the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference. However, with the Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks reloading, it will be harder for them to compete without a true superstar. I can see them earning the 4th seed in the Eastern Conference. 

I feel that the Miami Heat will take the 5th seed in the East. Even though they were able to beat Milwaukee and Boston in the Playoffs in the 2019-2020 NBA season, they are a very inconsistent team and I just can’t see Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo leading this team to a 1-4 seed in the Eastern Conference. 

The Philadelphia 76ers will take the 6th seed in the Eastern Conference. With a lethal duo in Joel Embid and Ben Simmons, along with Tobias Harris, the 76ers are nothing short of special. But, because of how many good teams there are in the Eastern Conference, the Philadelphia 76ers fall in their positioning. They suffer a lot of injuries with Ben Simmons and Joel Embid and that might be their biggest issue for the season. 


Barely getting into the Playoffs and grabbing the 7th seed is the Washington Wizards. With a new duo in Westbrook and Beal, the Wizards have prepared for the bright lights. But with 2 players who used to be leaders on their team, I question their team chemistry. Also, they don’t have as much depth in their lineup as the teams listed above them. 

The 8th seed in the East will be the Atlanta Hawks. Trae Young, one of the future’s brightest young stars is ready to lead his team to the Playoffs. With the additions of Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Hawks will be able to score with Trae off the court. Along with John Collins and Clint Capela, the returning pieces for the Hawks, I see them sneaking into the Playoffs with the 8th seed. 

The Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons, Charlotte Hornets, and Orlando Magic will all miss the Playoffs.


The Western Conference has a stronger balance of teams. Many teams are great, while others are not as talented. 

The Los Angeles Lakers, the defending champs are back and hungry. With the pick-ups of Dennis Schroder, the reigning 6th man of the year in Montrezl Harrell, Marc Gasol, and Wesley Matthews, the Lakers have reloaded! Coming off an amazing season where Anthony Davis was the runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year and where Lebron James was the runner-up for the Most Valuable Player Award, I feel like they will be able to repeat with the help of their new additions. I have them earning the first seed in the West.

The Los Angeles Clippers. Yes, the team that blew a 3-1 lead last season. Paul George is remembered for struggling in the playoffs… and hitting the side of the backboard in Game 7. Kawhi Leonard is also remembered for choking. With a bad reputation heading into the season, you know that Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are going to be back for more. With new additions in Serge Ibaka, one of Kawhi’s former teammates, the Clippers are going to be able to put up a fight in the West and battle the Lakers for the Western Conference Championship. I have them at the 2nd spot in the West. 

With young and coming teams in Denver, Dallas, Phoenix, Golden State, and Utah. But, I have Denver grabbing the 3rd seed. With their outstanding team play and hustle, along with their young stars in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, this team doesn’t disappoint when you watch them play. I think that Denver can make some noise in the West, and maybe even return to the Western Conference Finals. 

At the 4th seed in the West, I think the Mavericks can grab this spot. With a young rising star in Luka Doncic who is expected to win the NBA MVP award this season at the lead position, the Dallas Mavericks are an upcoming team that has shown us in previous years that they can win. If they can get Kristaps Porzingis healthy, I think this team can get 50 wins this season. 

CJ McCollum, Damian Lillard, and Carmelo Anthony lead a bright and talented team in Portland. The 3 point shooting ability of their whole starting line-up including Jusuf Nurkic, their center,  makes them super hard to guard. They can score from inside the paint, mid-range, and from the three-point line. If the Portland Trailblazers can avoid injuries this season, I think that they will be a solid team in the West. The only issue that I think they might encounter throughout the season is their defense. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, and the rest of the Trailblazers are mostly an offensive team. Their addition of Robert Covington may help them, but only time will tell how good their defense is. I see Portland grabbing the 5th seed. 

Chris Paul and Devin Booker form a dynamic duo. With the basketball IQ and passing that Chris Paul possesses combined with the scoring ability of young star Devin Booker, and with young talent on the roster in Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton, the Phoenix Suns will be dangerous. I don’t think this team will be able to compete for a title because the team is mostly made of young players. Even though they have Chris Paul, an experienced NBA player, I don’t think one player’s experience is enough for a team to be able to win a championship. I think they will be able to win enough games to get the 6th seed in the West. 

Will the Utah Jazz be able to compete for a title? I don’t know. But, what I do know is that Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert are scary to play against. With the athletic dunks from Mitchell and the defense from Gobert, as well as the shooting from Joe Ingles and Bogdanovic, the Jazz can attack from everywhere. I think that the Jazz still have some time until they can become contenders, but I think that they can make a statement in the league that they will be around for a long time. 

Grabbing the 8th seed and barely making the playoffs will be the Golden State Warriors. With leadership and championship experience from Stephen Curry, the Warriors will be guided very well. An issue for this team is that they do not have team chemistry. With a lot of the Warriors that won 3 championships in the last 6 years gone, and Klay Thompson, a superstar shooter and defender, the Warriors need to find a way to make it work. I think this team will sneak into the playoffs and struggle this season. 

I don’t see the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Sacramento Kings, and Minnesota Timberwolves making the playoffs, but I think there is a lot of room to improve. Just because I don’t think these teams won’t make the playoffs doesn’t mean that they are not going to, but this is only my opinion. 

These are only my predictions after watching these teams play. If you have different ideas, I would love to hear them in the comments. 

-Mert A.