Avatar: The Last Airbender, the series, is finally making its way to Netflix tomorrow, May 15. For those who are not aware, Netflix has recently gained streaming rights to the original series and has began production on a new live-action series adaption of the original as well. In honor of its return to streaming, I figured now was a great time to review probably the greatest animated show (possibly the greatest fantasy show) to ever come out of America.
The world of Avatar is an incredible fantasy world that’s primary magic system is surrounded by benders, people who can “bend” one of the four elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Air). Each of these elements and their benders are the basis for the culture and politics of each of the four main territories (Earth Kingdom, Water Tribe, Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads). Each of these elements also have their own bending style that is directly tied to a real world martial arts style that bring an emphasis on the differences of each element and the temperament of those who wield them. There is one individual, however, that can learn and master all four elements and that is the Avatar.
The story of this series takes place 100 years after the Fire Nation declared war on the world and through those years the Avatar was missing. Two members of the Southern Water Tribe, come across him, sealed away in an iceberg, and he is a child airbender named Aang. From here Aang and his new friends must travel the world to defeat the Fire Nation and restore peace to the world.
This series is filled with equal parts heart and fast paced action, and tackles so many themes and plot points that are rarely seen in children’s television. That said, the complex problems in this incredible story are presented in such a way that is suitable and digestible for the youngest of children while also having subtle nuances that bring out the darker aspects for adults to sink their teeth into.
There are only one or two episodes in the entire series that I would consider below average, and other than these, this show is near flawless. Between the fun characters that you will quickly fall in love with, the amazing plot and character arcs, and the inventive magic system and world, you will not be disappointed.