Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA) is about the world being divided into four regions: the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads, each named after the natural element it represents (water, earth, fire, and air.) All regions used to live in harmony until the Fire Nation attacked in an attempt to wipe out all benders, (those who can maneuver their respective element), and rise to become the most powerful nation. Only the avatar can master all four elements making him/her the most powerful bender. However, when the Fire Nation attacked, the avatar disappeared. One hundred years pass until Katar and Sokka from the Southern Water Tribe discover an Airbender named Aang- or the long lost avatar. Aang must master all four elements and save the world from the Fire Nation.
ATLA has something for everyone. It highlights themes such as friendship, imperialism, immigration, feminism, genocide, class division, and family dysfunction. Each episode is action-packed and filled with wisdom. The animation is impeccable for the time this show was produced (not to mention Zuko and Azula’s final Agni Kai). The soundtrack is simply amazing. It helps the story flow. You feel like you’re sucked into the ATLA universe and you’re embarking on the adventure alongside Aang and his friends.
Despite the Fire Nation being painted as “the bad guys,” not everyone from there was evil. There were numerous people apart of the Fire Nation who were kind and treated others well. In contrast, not everyone from the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes were “the good guys.” There were good people and bad people in each nation that Aang and his friends encountered. This showed that people should be judged based on their character not where they are from, which is only one essential life lesson brought to us by ATLA.
Along with all the serious themes that take place, this show is also quite hilarious. All of the characters range from 12-16 years old and the show does a good job of reminding us that these are quite young children who are immature and still have a lot to learn. It’s not one of those overly serious teen dramas, these kids think and act like kids which makes ATLA that much more enjoyable and relatable. While the show centers around Aang being the avatar, each character grows so much throughout the show and becomes stronger in their own way receiving the spotlight that they deserve. In other words, it doesn’t feel like “The Aang Show” because you’re not only watching it for him, you watch it for all of the characters’ adventures and journeys- even Momo and Appa! You won’t even mind when Aang isn’t in an episode or only appears for a few minutes.
I highly regret not watching this show sooner. I’m thankful for Netflix uploading all of the episodes in order making it easier to follow the story and appreciate it. The show is relatively short, there are only three seasons with about twenty episodes per season. In one way that’s good because it’s not one of those shows that drag on for too long causing audiences to lose interest over bad storylines and poor character development. Each episode is meaningful, entertaining, and leaves you wanting more- even the fillers! However, having such a short show is bad because you go on all these adventures with these characters and become so attached to them that once you watch that last episode, you’re filled with sadness and wish it didn’t come to an end so soon. You’ll yearn for more of Aang’s childishness, Katara’s endearingness, Sokka’s sarcastic humor, Toph’s sassy remarks, Zuko’s perseverance, and of course, Uncle Iroh’s wisdom.
Please do yourself a favor and watch this show!