Appa. A flying, air-bending, sky bison with a strong liking for melons who is also a total badass, ninja thug at combat. Of course, he has helped save Team Avatar several times during the series. But why do we love him so very much?
He’s furry, friendly, and ferocious.
Appa isn’t quite a literal ninja, but with his powerful, fan-like tail, he has air-bended enemies in a fashion that would probably leave most regular people with a healthy respect for large mammals as he swooped up the fire-bender-fighting good-loving Team Avatar and flew them away to safety. During that dark and terrible time of Appa’s kidnapping, the viewers get some beautiful back story on Aang and Appa’s friendship as Aang curls up to cry about the loss of his friend. If you didn’t cry with him, there is a good chance that you might be heartless,as I’m sure I nearly die of sadness every time I watch it. But during this time, we also get to see more of “angry Aang,” the one who is not a pacifist monk as he loses control of his avatar powers and causes some serious damage to both, people and property. This is exactly why you don’t fuck with someone’s sky bison. The grief of Appa’s loss rocks all true lovers of Avatar so that we all felt that loss deep in our empty, black souls. But naturally, Appa does not go down without a good fight, and that is one of the things we love about him. He likes beach parties but will also suit up to go to war beside you.
His funny fights with the little lemur, Momo.
Of course, the best one is only part of a re-occurring nightmare that Aang suffers from as the time creeps up on him to face the Fire Lord, but it does bear a strong resemblance to the basic personalities of both, Appa and Momo who already have a somewhat combative, though loving, relationship. But since they are both plant-eating animals, they also fight over food (which is often scarce during their long travels). It must be appreciated that their squabble over a melon also serves as an opportunity for Aang to practice his peace-making abilities, one of the jobs he has been tasked with in his unasked-for position as the Avatar.
His total loyalty and dedication to Aang.
Aang and Appa would do absolutely anything for each other. Many people don’t know what that kind of friendship is like, but, they prove time and time again that friendship is the sort of thing that will get you through absolutely anything. Appa is that friend that we all wish we had: the one who fights your battles at your side, defends you at all costs, and carries you (quite literally, in this case), when need be. I think it is pretty safe to say that Aang and the gang would not have been able to complete their mission of Aang’s mastering the other 3 elements and defeating the Fire Lord without Appa as their primary mode of transportation.
Appa’s sweet temperament.
How many animals do you know who would just willing lay still for bath time? Giving you ample opportunity to scrub their bellies at a leisurely pace and clean the gunk from in-between their toes? I, for one, have never had any such pet. Not even when I had a dog three centuries ago, and for anyone who’s ever bathed a cat, you probably both came away from the ordeal with some physical and emotional trauma knowing that this would not be the last bath to be had.
But besides that, Appa actually plays with children, allowing them to slide down his back and off his tail, among other games. Of course, any animal that is probably the size of a whale that is tame enough to wear a seat and carry people for long periods of time, has to, at the very least be obedient, and you’d think, submissive. Throughout the course of this show, you definitely learn that though Aang and Appa have a mutual respect for each other, Appa is a spirited creature with a loveable personality all his own.
He’s an excellent judge of character. Any real fan of The Last Air-Bender can probably give you an overly detailed synopsis, that will naturally become more like something that doesn’t quite qualify as a summary because as they recall the story, the sheer excitement of getting pulled into the world of air, earth, fire, and water-benders gets you hot and flustered. So naturally, you will remember when Zuko (for the goddamn 30th time) decides he’s not going to be bad anymore and rescues Appa from the secret, underground prison of the Dai Li causing Appa to change his mind about Zuko’s evilness. Why is this important? Because Appa’s seeming acceptance of and friendliness towards Zuko helps to persuade Aang that maybe, Zuko has finally seen the light of good and escaped the darkness of his lunatic, violent, and death-loving family.
He can fucking fly.
This might seem a little bit obvious at this point because anyone who has watched Avatar for five minutes knows that Appa can fly, but let’s not pretend that that isn’t still cool as hell. Plus, within the context of this TV series, it’s extra cool because his flight is attributed to air-bending and not some vague, magical, bullshit that gets written into the storyline for maximum convenience. Of course, the downside of that is Appa has to expend a lot of energy to carry Team Avatar, which becomes a total issue in a couple of episodes (one in which he falls asleep from fatigue), making his ability to fly not only awe-inspiring, but a lot more realistic within the context of this beautifully written series.