Avatar: The Last Airbender is an animated television show that aired on Nickelodeon in the mid 2000’s. It is one of the best TV shows ever made. It is now available to watch on Netflix in the U.S, and everyone should watch it. It’s like a combination of the best elements of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, plus a bunch of other things thrown in for good measure. It has something for everyone, and is worthwhile for audiences of all ages.
We’ll first discuss what the show is about. If you’d prefer to skip that part, scroll ahead to our discussion about why this show is so incredible.
What it’s about
Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA for short) takes place in a fantasy world. It is a world where some people have magical abilities (think Force users in Star Wars) called Bending. These abilities are inherited genetically. They each center around 1 of 4 elements: Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. When you have one of these abilities, you can control these elements with your mind. If you are an Airbender, for example, you can move air around and manipulate air currents. You can blow gusts at your enemies. You can control updrafts while flying on a glider. Waterbenders can throw water around like a whip, or even turn it to ice. Of course, this is just the beginning. The show is very imaginative in its use of these powers.
In this fictional world, there are 4 main countries, each based on one of these 4 elements. Throughout history, these nations have been in conflict with one another. But there is one person whose sole responsibility is to maintain peace and balance in the world. He or she is called the Avatar. Only the Avatar has the power to wield all 4 elements of magic. There is always a person with the powers of the Avatar on the planet at any given point. When one dies, another is born.
In the show, the Fire Nation has attacked the other countries. They are trying to take over the entire planet. The Avatar that is alive when this occurs is a young boy, named Aang. He flees from the fight. Through an accident, he is trapped and frozen for 100 years. When he wakes up, the whole world has changed. The Fire Nation has subjugated most of the world and he must find a way to set things right.
Why it’s great
ATLA is a grand, sweeping tale, but it is told in a concise manner. It is a globetrotting adventure. It is action-packed and thrilling, but it balances this with complex characters and meaningful relationships. It has deep and thought-provoking themes. It also manages to make its audience feel very powerful emotions at times.
The characters are really what makes this show so special. They are 3-dimensional. They have histories. They have motivations. They have trauma. They make mistakes. Time is taken to really develop them. You will grow to love so many of these characters. You will most probably grow a special affection for one named Uncle Iroh. He is the uncle to one of the primary antagonists in the show. He is nothing short of the greatest father-figure in fiction. If there was ever a fictional character to look to as a role model of fatherhood, it’s him.
ATLA appears to be a silly kid’s show at first glance, and it is entirely appropriate for kids to watch. Yet, it is so much more than this. It explores many themes that are worth time to ponder. To name a few, it addresses (in a family friendly manner) grief, neglect, love, loss, romance, inner peace, abuse, genocide, murder, devotion, and responsibility. It is especially good for children to watch with parents, as it can be a great starting point to discuss any of these issues. It is also highly valuable for adults to spend time thinking about these issues and how their lives are affected by them.
The show is beautifully animated. It is made with great love for the crafts of animation and illustration. The music is excellent. The voice actors manage to bring a great deal of humanity to the roles. The writing is of the highest quality.
Finally, the show is perfectly paced. It is 3 seasons, by design. It tells exactly the story it set out to tell. It wasn’t cut short. It didn’t drag on at all after the story was concluded.
Avatar: The Last Airbender does not have many flaws. But I must warn you when you start watching about one thing. It may not grab you right at the start. It might take a few episodes. I personally felt very iffy about it until I watched the 12th episode, “The Storm.” After that, I was completely hooked and could not stop watching it. The show starts off a bit slow. It really takes its time introducing you to the world and its characters. But stick with it. I promise you’ll be glad you did.
ATLA is one of the greatest TV shows ever made. It is a thoughtful, emotional, and exciting show that is well worth your time. I hope you’ll binge it!
If you have any questions about the show, ask them below and we’ll do our best to answer them. If you’ve seen the show yourself, let us know what you think!