Cartoon Review–Avatar: The Last Airbender

Hello again, and welcome to another cartoon review! This time I will be reviewing Avatar: The Last Airbender. The show was produced by Nickelodeon Animation Studios. It can be streamed on a number of services, including, Roku Channel, Paramount+, Youtube, Google Play Movies & TV,  Apple TV, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix. There are a total of three seasons. The genres this show is classified under are action, adventure, fantasy, and comedy-drama.  Let’s dig into the plot.

To give some background, the show is set in a world where the people are divided into four nations, which are based on the four elements. The Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. Some of the people in these regions are known as benders. Benders have the ability to move and manipulate the elements corresponding to the region they live in. The motions they use in order to use their bending were based on the Chinese martial arts. The person known as the Avatar is the only person who can bend all four of the elements.  

The Avatar’s duty is to maintain the peace between the four nations, and the Avatar also acts as a mediator between humans and spirits. When the Avatar dies, the Avatar spirit is reincarnated in a new body, who will be born to parents in the next nation in an order known as the Avatar cycle: Fire, Air, Water and Earth. As is the tradition, the Avatar starts to learn and master all four elements. Only then will they be able to take care of their responsibilities. The Avatar can enter a mindset known as “the Avatar State,” in which they temporarily gain the skills and knowledge of all the past Avatar incarnations. Although this is when the Avatar is most powerful, if the Avatar died while in the Avatar State, the reincarnation cycle would end and the Avatar would never be reborn again.

The Avatar in the generation of the show is named Aang. Aang is an Air Nomad and is the youngest airbending master. A century ago, Aang, afraid of his responsibilities of being the Avatar, fled from his home and was forced into the ocean by a storm. He encased himself in an iceberg near the South Pole. Shortly after, Fire Lord Sozin, the ruler of the Fire Nation, launched a world war to expand his nation’s empire. Knowing that the Avatar must be an Air Nomad, because of the Avatar Cycle, he carried out a genocide against the Air Nomads with the help of a comet enhancing firebenders’ power. One hundred years later (the time the show takes place) Katara and Sokka, teenagers of the Southern Water Tribe, accidentally discover Aang and revive him.

Aang is with Appa almost the entire show. Appa is a Sky Bison. He is the only known living sky flat-tailed flying bison (a species of animal that can fly naturally) since Sky Bison were wiped out, along with the air nomads, during the war. Appa is known to be the animal spirit guide of Aang. He’s a very cute and loveable addition to the show. 

Moving on to the actual show, the first season is all about Aang traveling with Katara and Sokka to the Northern Water Tribe so that he can learn waterbending and prepare to defeat the Fire Nation. Although there’s an obstacle, Prince Zuko, the banished son of the current Fire Lord Ozai, tracks them. He’s accompanied by his uncle Iroh, hoping to capture the Avatar to restore his honor. Aang is also chased by Zhao, a Fire Nation admiral aspiring to win Ozai’s favor. When his navy attacks the Northern Water Tribe, Zhao kills the Moon Spirit. This causes Yue, the princess of the tribe, to sacrifice her life to revive it, and Aang drives off the enemy fleet by going into the Avatar State.

In the second season, Aang learns earthbending from Toph Beifong, a blind twelve-year-old earthbending prodigy. Zuko and Iroh, now fugitives from the Fire Lord, become refugees in the Earth Kingdom, and eventually settle in its capital, Ba Sing Se. Both groups are pursued by Azula, Zuko’s younger sister and a firebending prodigy. Aang’s group travels to Ba Sing Se to seek the Earth King’s support for an attack on the Fire Nation timed to an upcoming solar eclipse, during which firebenders will be powerless. Azula, with the help of Ty Lee and Mai, brings the capital under Fire Nation control, and Zuko sides with them. Aang is mortally wounded by Azula during battle, but he is revived by Katara, who can both waterbend and heal.

In the third season, Aang and his friends invade the Fire Nation capital during the solar eclipse, but are forced to retreat. Zuko abandons the Fire Nation to join Aang and teach him firebending. Aang, who was raised by monks and taught to respect all life, struggles with the fact that he may have to kill Ozai to end the war. When Sozin’s comet returns, Aang confronts Ozai and uses the Avatar State to take Ozai’s firebending ability. Meanwhile, Aang’s friends take back Ba Sing Se, destroy the Fire Nation airship fleet, and capture Azula. Zuko is crowned the new Fire Lord and the war comes to an end.

So that concludes the plot and background of the show! I would give the show five stars, but I may just be biased since it’s my favorite show right now. I’ve watched it three times now, and I’d still watch it again! But goodbye for now! Happy cartooning, I’ll see you next issue!