In the early 2000s, it is argued that we were living in the golden age of TV. With shows like "Breaking Bad" and "The Wire," The TV series format has evolved to bear characters and storylines that transcend reality itself. The Nickelodeon of old produced some of its most successful animated cartoon series between 2005 and 2008 (Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Cat-Dog etc.).
However, nothing could compare to the success of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," which I consider to be the best animated series... ever.
Created by Michael Dante Dimartino and Bryan Konietzko, "The Last Airbender" tells the story of a twelve-year-old name Aang, the airbending protagonist who is deemed "The Avatar." The Avatar has the ability, when in the Avatar state, to possess all four bending elements (Air, Water, Fire, and Earth), while only temporarily. Aang is accompanied by three other characters; siblings Katara and Sokka from the Southern Water Tribe, and Toph from the earth kingdom.
Aang also has two other animal companions in Momo, a Flying Lemur, and Appa, a Flying Bison. During the duration of Seasons 1 and 2, The Fire Prince Zuko is constantly hunting the avatar, looking for redemption and honor after being banished from the fire nation.
Each character has their own unique arc.
What makes "Avatar: The Last Airbender" so incredible is the individual journeys and maturation of each of the main characters. Through each episode and season, we slowly see each character grow into not only incredible warriors and benders, but incredible people as well.
Prince Zuko is the best example of this, as he evolves from cold-hearted fire bender to kind-hearted teacher and friend to Aang. Zuko's arc, in my opinion, is one of the best redemption arcs of any animated series.
Basics of elements are explained and believable
“Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished. One hundred years later, my brother and I discovered the new Avatar…”
It’s a simple, effective setup. It may not be as catchy as “mobster who has a stressful suburban family life” or “dying chemistry teacher who decides to start cooking meth,” but it establishes a structure that is appealing to fantasy fans but is also comprehensible to those who ultimately won’t care about the lore but will need to understand how everything fits together.
The world of "The Last Airbender" is divided into four nations: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. Each nation’s culture matches the characteristics of its associated element. Air nomads live in the clouds, untethered to earthly possessions. Citizens of the Fire nation tend to be passionate and war-like. The Earth Kingdom’s people are stoic and enduring, and so on. A certain percentage of all people are “benders,” able to practice a martial art that allows them to manipulate either air, water, fire, or earth.
The nations used to live in a peaceful balance, guided by a powerful guardian called The Avatar. The Avatar alone has the power to bend all four elements, and each time he or she dies, they are reincarnated in a new body and must be trained to become the Avatar once more.
A century ago, the Avatar went missing just as the Fire Nation incited a war of conquest against the other three nations. Fire Nation armies wiped out the air nomads – surely one of the darkest turns in this children’s tale – and began to systematically destroy the southern water tribe as well.
The northern water tribe forsook its southern counterpart and retreated behind their icy walls. The Earth Nation has resisted the Fire Nation for decades, but lately, the war hasn’t been going their way.
So if you haven't seen this classic before, you can watch all of Season 1 on kissanime.