Review: “The Last Airbender”

A Blend of Action & Humor Became the Favorite of a Generation
A picture of the main cast of Avatar
A picture of the main cast of Avatar
Navigator Games

As a child I recall loving supernatural things. Supernatural things, stories in space, people in unbelievable situations, or incredible beings with unnatural powers all haunted my dreams. It was no wonder I would watch and enjoy “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. As a kid there’s many jokes, storylines, or even actions that went right over my head and I’m sure there were many plot lines and references I missed. I realized this when, as an older viewer, I rewatched the show recently and discovered things that I completely missed as a kid. My rewatch of “Avatar” truly convinced me that this show is the definition of a masterpiece.

A picture depicting the map of Avatar:The Last Airbender (Netflix)

“Avatar: The Last Airbender”, a series that ran from 2005, takes place in a wonderful world of the supernatural. In order to explain the main plot of the story I would have to describe the world that this story takes place in. In the World of ATLA (Avatar : The Last Airbender) people are born with the power to control certain elements of nature. While it’s possible not to have powers at all, it’s very common to have “bending” powers. Typically, when you have the power to bend you can usually only bend one major element, including water, fire, earth, and air. People who wield different elements began to live in different parts of the world. They split into four different nations, Fire nation, Earth nation, Water nation, and Air nation. The two major nations that I’ll cover are Fire nation and Air nation. People that live in the Fire nation are aggressive, with a desire to take over the world. Those who live in the Air nation are called Air Nomads, they are peaceful beings who adopted the mentality of no violence. These contradictory mindsets are key for understanding the motivation for certain characters. Those born with the ability to bend the elements have the very rare chance that you are born with the ability to bend all four elements. If someone can bend all four elements, it means this person is the Avatar. The Avatar is a status that is passed down through generations and is greatly revered as the ultimate symbol of hope. Previous Avatars from older generations can communicate and assist the current avatar, but can not interact with the real world. There can only be one Avatar at a time and as soon as one passes away another one is born. Now that you understand how the ATLA world operates now you’ll have a better understanding of the story.

A picture of the main protagonist of Avatar:The Last Airbender (Netflex)

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” focuses on a young child named Aang, a prodigy airbender, who recently found out he’s this generation’s avatar. He becomes overwhelmed with the sense of responsibility and doesn’t want to accept his new role of being the avatar, so he runs away from his home abandoning his duties. He gets caught in a dangerous water vortex and becomes frozen, making him unable to move. It’s revealed that he is frozen for 100 years. Over the course of the 100 years the fire nation takes over the other nations and gains authority over the world. Other nations attempted to break free of their rule, but with no Avatar to support these nations efforts the fire nation is able to reign supreme. When Aang gets unfrozen he learns about all the atrocities that happened during his time frozen. He’s overwhelmed with guilt for running away and now understands he must take the role of being the avatar. How will he learn to become the Avatar the world needs?

The characters in ATLA are so relatable and viewers will understand the motivation for each character’s actions. The two “main” characters of the show would be Aang and Zuko. Aang is vibrant, peaceful, and an inexperienced avatar who is consistently trying to separate good from bad. Aang during the series events is only 12 years old and still has the mentality of a child so he believes he can solve everything and anything peacefully. Throughout the series events he realizes that sometimes you’ll need violence to stop more violence. The show perfectly shows Aang’s progression as in the beginning of the show he’s joyful, and happy, to the end of the show where he becomes conflicted, uncertain, and doubtful in his own abilities.

Picture of the main group of characters in Avatar:The Last Airbender (Netflix)

Zuko is a hard-edged teenager, motivated by the desire to gain recognition from his father. His father, The firelord of the fire nation, banished Zuko from ever stepping foot in his home again until he found the Avatar. So throughout the story Zuko makes it his mission to bring down the Avatar, but as the story progresses he begins to reveal more of his true self and shows the audience that he was never really an evil person, and more of a misunderstood person. Zuko is just a teenager who wants his fathers recognition, but when he finally receives what he wants it isn’t what he expected it to be. He seems to be an evil person at first attempting to capture the main character but really is misunderstood in a sense. We see how Zuko consistently battles with himself between what is good and what’s bad, which is why he’s a fan favorite among the community.

Picture of Zuko, a character in Avatar:The last Airbender (Nickelodeon)

Michael Dante DiMartino, well known for other series such as “The Legend of Korra”, is the creator of “Avatar; The Last Airbender”. DiMartino was able to tell a beautiful story while still appealing to children all around the world. This is a story that can entertain both children and teenagers alike. There are multiple memorable moments in the series that stick with fans throughout the years. Whether it’s a memorable fight that occurred in the series with beautiful cinematography, or a memorable scene where the story advances heavily. The series draws upon the audience’s feelings whether it’ll be sadness from a character passing, or excitement from a climactic battle. DiMartino was incredibly skillful in creating beautifully emotional scenes throughout the series.
Overall I give this series 5 out of 5 stars. It was truly a masterpiece of animation and storytelling. Avatar was different from other series in the way they were able to perfectly capture multiple emotions throughout the series. Back when I watched this show for the first time as a child I enjoyed it, but not to the magnitude I do now. There were many things I overlooked and didn’t get when I first watched that I picked up on now. In a way DiMartino’s storytelling was ahead of its time making it a series that you can go back to and enjoy multiple times. On the surface Avatar seems like a show that would be “silly” and not serious or not fascinating, but that’s not the case. It really made people fall in love with the avatar franchise. Michael Dante DiMartino’s goal of showing the beautiful and amazing side of animation was successfully performed.

A picture of the creator/main writers of Avatar:The Last Airbender, Michael Dante DiMartino. (Kylila Callaway)
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