“Avatar: The Last Aribender” first aired in 2005, and the Avatar franchise ended with its second TV series “Legend of Korra” in 2014. But after “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was released on Netflix during the first few months of quarantine, “Avatar” quickly became one of the most talked about TV shows. Old fans who loved it back in 2005 and a new generation of fans who experienced it for the first time contributed to the comeback of the series. Recently, rumors have spread that the Avatar franchise may be expanding to another live action movie and even a YouTube series.
The 2005 Nickelodeon series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is set in a world divided into four nations: The Water Tribe, Earth Empire, Air Nomads, and Fire Nation. Each nation has benders who could manipulate the element in which their nation is named after. The four nations lived in peace until the Fire Nation sought to rule the world. Knowing that the Avatar, who could master all four elements, was the only one who could stop them, they wiped out the Air Nation (where the Avatar was said to be). A hundred years later, a pair of Water Tribe siblings named Katara and Sokka found Aang, the last airbender, trapped in an iceberg. As the long-lost Avatar, Aang must learn to master all four elements and defeat the Fire Lord to restore the peace before it’s too late.
I’ll admit that when my little brothers started watching the show during the height of the “Avatar” rehype, I was skeptical. I pegged it for a little kids’ show and wasn’t very interested in starting. But after being begged to watch it by friends and family, I just had to see what all the excitement was about. I didn’t know what to expect, but it definitely wasn’t a newfound obsession with “Avatar”.
Even though it was originally released in 2005, it is the perfect show for a time like this. With a perfect combination of action and charisma, the show is endlessly entertaining, wholesome, uplifting, and ridiculously funny. You will immediately fall in love with every character you meet, and the world building done by the writers is Tolkien-level brilliant.
Something “Avatar” does really well is writing dynamic characters that don’t match typical TV archetypes. Toph is probably my favorite, mainly because she is the perfect example of an original character. Toph is a tough, short-tempered twelve year-old girl who was born blind. What I love the most about her character is that the writers didn’t make her blindness her personality and showed that it didn’t stand in the way of her being one of the greatest earth benders in history. You’ll even find yourself sympathizing with the seemingly heartless and angsty Prince Zuko, the exiled son of the Fire Lord who is on a mission to capture the Avatar.
However, the thing about the show that truly surprised me was the maturity in the messages they conveyed in each episode. Google may claim the show has a 6-11 year old demographic, but I think the show carries relevant themes that everyone of all ages should hear and take to heart. As you watch the show, you learn that “Hope is something you give yourself” (Iroh); “When we hit our lowest point, we are open to change” (Aang); “Things you think are separate and different are actually one and the same” (Guru Pathik); “Forgiveness is the first step you have to take to begin healing” (Aang); and so much more.
“Avatar” is definitely not just a kids’ show; in fact, it’s something that everyone of all ages can enjoy and learn from. So grab some jasmine tea (but not any hot leaf juice) and get ready to defeat the Fire Lord!