A Newbie's Guide to "Avatar: The Last Airbender"!
"Avatar: The Last Airbender" is finally on Netflix in the U.S., and if you’re anything like me, you’re using some of your extra time in quarantine to relive a bit of your childhood by rewatching all 61 episodes.
But if you didn’t grow up on "Avatar", you’re probably wondering what all of the hype is about. Why are 20-year-olds around the country going crazy over a Nickelodeon kids show? Well, if you are new to the "ATLA" universe, here is a quick rundown of the show and the hype behind it!
"Avatar: The Last Airbender" first aired February 21, 2005, and ended July 19, 2008. The show is about a world divided peacefully into four nations: the Water Tribe, the Air Nomads, the Earth Kingdom, and the Fire Nation. Within these nations are "benders" who embody the power of their nation — water benders control water, air benders control air, earth benders control earth, and fire benders control fire.
Only the Avatar is able to control all four elements in order to maintain peace. Everytime the Avatar dies, they are reincarnated into a new body with the ability to access the thoughts of previous incarnations.
Aang discovers that he is the next Avatar as an Air Nomad child and mysteriously disappears for 100 years. The Fire Nation uses this time of imbalance to conquer other nations and cities. During those 100 years, Aang was frozen in the waters of the Northern Water Tribe. 14-year-old Katara, a water bender, and her 15-year-old brother Sokka, who has no bending powers, discover Aang, alive and still only 12 years old, and go with him on his journey to master all four elements and save the world from the Fire Nation.
When the Fire Nation discovers that Aang is alive and trying to defeat them, it begins its hunt for him, led by disgraced Prince Zuko, who is trying to regain his honour by capturing the Avatar.
If the premise of the show isn’t interesting enough, the level of thought and dedication the writers put into the show is more than enough to make it worth it. Every character is extremely well-developed with a powerful backstory and the show is full of inspiring quotes, especially from Zuko’s uncle and mentor, Iroh.
It is also one of the most emotional shows and has characters many can relate to. Aang is basically an orphan child, having to figure out his life on his own. Katara and Sokka both lost their mother at a young age and their father is off fighting in the war. Zuko has been disowned by his father, leaving him alone, except for his uncle, who is dealing with the trauma of losing his son to the war. Toph, an earth bender who joins the group on their journey, is blind.