‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Continued Relevance


Nesha Adler-Eldridge, Writer

     Avatar the Last Airbender (also known as ATLA) is a fifteen year old iconic TV show created by Nickelodeon Studios, about two siblings who find the missing Avatar and with him go on many journeys and adventures. Premiering in the year 2005, ATLA has since been shared to the platform Netflix because of its large popularity and success throughout the years.

      The story takes place in a world ruled by four nations that each represent one of the four elements; fire, water, air, and earth. Some people possess the ability to ‘bend’ an element depending on what their relatives had/have. Each bending type is inspired by a specific style of Chinese martial art and is related to having ‘chi.’

     Although, there is one spirit that reincarnates into humans giving the person the ability to bend all four elements. The person possessing these abilities is called the Avatar. However, once the person dies, the power reincarnates to another person creating ‘The Avatar Cycle’. The Avatar is usually thought of as a heroic figure to the nations and is supposed to protect and bring peace to the four nations.  The time period that ATLA takes place in is not specified but fans have deduced that it took place in the early 1850’s based on the technology that was shown throughout the series.

(Spoiler Alert!)

     Avatar: The Last Airbender begins with two water tribe siblings named Sokka and Katara. They discover a mysterious airbending boy named Aang and his flying bison; Appa, in a large iceberg. They become friends with the boy and soon learn that he is the Avatar. After reuniting with the world, Aang discovers that he had been frozen in the ice for one-hundred years and that a war had taken place in his absence. After discovering Aang’s true identity, Sokka and Katara decide to travel with him to the South Pole so that Aang and Katara, who is a water bender, can find a water bending teacher. As they travel on the flying bison, the viewers continue to meet new characters along the way and watch as the current protagonists develop. 

     On their journey, they visit many places like the Southern Air Temple where Aang learns that his fellow air nomads had been wiped out by the fire nation. Shocked and heart-broken, Aang continues to travel with Sokka and Katara in order to return balance to the world. On their journey they repeatedly come across the fire nation prince named Zuko, and his uncle Iroh. Zuko had been banished from his kingdom and was determined to capture the Avatar in order to restore his honor to his father. 

     As the first season comes to an end, they make it to the South Pole and find a waterbending master that teaches Aang and Katara waterbending. Aang defeats a war against the fire nation with the help of spiritual encounters, fighting alongside the North Pole’s waterbenders. While everything is happening, small romances begin to form between Aang and Katara as well as between Sokka and the water tribe princess, who ends up dying as she was somewhat cursed to turn into the moon and does.

    As the second season starts, the group goes on a quest to find Aang, an earthbending teacher. They end up recruiting a blind girl named Toph as an earthbending teacher for Aang. Toph has the special ability to see with her earthbending; she feels the vibrations of movement with her feet. Once Toph joins them, many more events such as getting trapped in a desert, visiting a great earth kingdom city as well as a rekindled romance between Sokka and a Kyoshi warrior they met named Suki takes place. They go to the earth kingdom’s cite; Ba Sing Se, to deliver information that will help defeat the fire nation. But they soon learn that the city has been brainwashed by their government to think that there is no war taking place. They battle in Ba Sing Se and Aang ends up getting severely injured.

    As each episode builds on each other, they continue to face many conflicts that each teach important life lessons.  When season three starts, Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph disguise themselves as firenation citizens. After much planning of their invasion of the fire nation on “The Day of Black Sun” they attempt to invade the firenation’s headquarters but discover that the fire nation was ahead of them and had evacuated. This event takes place in an ongoing four episodes. 

     Zuko, who had reunited with his role as the prince of the fire nation, realized his conjuring had been on the wrong side and that he must help the Avatar defeat his father. After a few failed attempts at joining the Avatar and his friends, Zuko finally gained their trust and taught Aang firebending. Aang participates in a thrilling battle with Firelord Ozai and gains victory by using the skills a dragon-turtle gave him, and took away Ozai’s bending abilities. The intimate friends rejoice in their victory and reunite the four nations.

          After ATLA made such a huge hit in the industry, attracting millions of views on each episode, it became a comic strip that shared more stories that took place after the show’s last season ended. This fantasy/action/comedy-drama based film was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and written by Aaron Ehasz. The show is one of the only anime-like animations produced in America alongside some others like Pokémon and, ATLAs continuing show, “The Legend of Korra.” The series consists of three seasons (Books); ‘Water’ ‘Earth’ and ‘Fire’ that each have around twenty episodes (chapters) lasting about twenty minutes each. 

     The process of making this show was quite difficult according to Tor.com in “Interview: Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konieztzko, Creators of the Original Televised Avatar: The Last Airbender” by Jordan Hamessley and Matt London, “The writing process was a long, multi-year journey, so it’s hard to sum it up in a few sentences…We all worked on each story together, fleshing out the beats, working on rewrites, etc. It was a very collaborative story process.” says Michael. The hard work put into the series helped make it the well-known story that it is.

     The show bases itself around many different parts of Asian cultures in order to form the perfect mix of ideas for the characters, fashions, and themes. This show’s  unique sense of creativity is what continues to attract fans from around the world.http://This is a GREAT article. I can tell you put a lot of work into it. The main thing I think you should focus on is modifying a few of your sentences and explaining how it’s still relevant. Connect the content to it’s viewers and say what they learned. Besides that, this is really impressive. And be careful what you summarize. Great work.