Avatar: The Last Airbender – My 18 Years Late Review

Avatar: The Last Airbender - My 18 Years Late Review

Erika Lewis



Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for Avatar: The Last Airbender. 

On February 21, 2005, Avatar: The Last Airbender started streaming on Nickelodeon. Although that was over 18 years ago, I just barely had a chance to watch it. It took a lot of convincing on my sister’s part for me to check it out. Eventually I decided to swallow my pride and watch the show. Despite my doubt, it was actually a good decision and I really enjoyed the show. 


What is it?

For those who don’t know what Avatar: The Last Airbender is I can quickly explain because at first I also didn’t know. Basically the show is about these four nations (fire, water, air, and earth) who all used to live in harmony. About 100 years before the events of the show the Fire Nation decided that they wanted ultimate power and started a war against the rest of the nations. It was up to the Avatar to stop them. However the avatar suddenly went missing and was gone for 100 years. People had given up hope on him. 

Things changed when two siblings in the water tribe, Katara and Sokka, found a large iceberg with a person trapped inside. When Katara broke the iceberg with water bending, inside they found a 12 year old boy named Aang and his pet flying bison, Appa. Aang is the avatar that had disappeared for 100 years. Now that Aang was free it was now up to him to master all four bending types and stop the leader of the Fire Nation, Fire Lord Ozai. The catch is that he only has until the end of the summer when a comet will pass by and strengthen the fire nation’s powers and they will be able to destroy everyone. 

Before continuing with the summary, let me explain what bending is. Basically certain people are born with the ability to control and manipulate a certain element. Water benders are able to control any type of water that they are able. This leads to them being able to control ice and some can even manipulate blood. Earth Benders are able to control rock and it was suspected that was all they could do for a long time. However, eventually they even learn how to manipulate metal, something that was originally considered impossible. Fire Benders are able to create and control fire; there’s not a lot to that. Air Benders are able to control the air around them. Normally people are only able to bend one type of thing (if they can bend the elements at all) but the avatar is able to master all four elements. 

Anyway, back to the plot. While Aang embarks on his mission he is being tracked down by Zuko, the banished prince of the Fire Nation. He is accompanied by his tea loving uncle, Uncle Iroh. Zuko had been banished from his nation three years prior to the show and he believes that if he can bring the avatar to his father then his honor will be restored. Unfortunately for him, things aren’t as easy as he suspects. 

I could write an entire article about what the show is all about, but that is about the summary for the first season. The other two seasons have their own drama and plots but I’ll mention some important details from them. In season 2, the Gaang (as named by the show and fandom) find Aang an earth bending teacher. The person they find is a 12 year old blind girl named Toph. Despite the fact that she’s blind she is the most powerful earth bender in existence. She’s the one that invents metal bending. In season 2, we’re also introduced to a new villain which is Zuko’s younger sister, Azula, and her two friends, Mai and Ty Lee. 

In season 3, the Gaang finds Aang a fire bending teacher. This teacher is none other than Zuko. You might wonder why the bad guy is helping his enemy but you need to understand that between seasons one and three Zuko underwent some major character development and he found that he would rather stop his father and sister. Once Aang masters all four elements, he is still hesitant to go against Ozia. Since he was born an airbender, he was taught that violence is never the answer. Because of this, Aang wants to find a way to stop Ozai but not kill him. I won’t say whether he figures it out or not, but by the end of season three, he does manage to stop the fire nation and save the world. 


My Review

Now to go over my experience. When I first started watching the show I was unsure whether I would like it or not. I only originally started watching it because I had watched an episode with my sister, thought Toph was cool, and wanted to see more of her. Since she first shows up in season two I had no choice but to watch season one first. I was reluctant but quickly found that I really like not just the plot but all of the characters. I thought that the villains were well written and the relationship with the members of the Gaang were very wholesome. No longer was I just waiting for Toph to appear. I genuinely found myself enjoying all aspects of the show. 

Some of my favorite elements of the show was that it was such a fun world. It had aspects that were similar to normal society, but the twist of there being supernatural abilities was really cool. It was a very well built world. I also really liked the amount of character development that all of the characters had. I would say that all the characters started as very dimensional, but it was cool to see them undergo change. By the end of the show it was super satisfying to see how far they had all come. Not to mention the animation is stunning.

Moving on to some specific scenes I liked in the show. Even from the beginning there was never a time that I thought the show was boring, but there were some scenes that I just loved and that stuck with me. The scene where Princess Yue sacrificed herself and became the moon spirit was beautifully illustrated. The scene where the Painted Lady visited Katara to thank her was probably one of my utmost favorites. And the entire finale was beautifully done. I particularly thought that the whole thing with Azula’s breakdown was amazing. Just watching her slowly deteriorate into madness was really cool and interesting. Also all the scenes with Zuko and Iroh were great. 

Finally I want to talk about some of my favorite characters. Of course I am a huge fan of most, if not all, of the characters but there were some that were my absolute favorites. I really liked Toph especially because her character was much more complex than a young girl who’s blind. Despite that handicap she had the personality of a hotheaded and cocky teenage boy. It was a fun display of character and going against stereotypes. I also really liked Uncle Iroh (but then again everyone who has seen the show liked him). He just had amazing father vibes and I wished that I had someone like him in my life. He was always so understanding of Zuko and despite Zuko having his moments Iroh always cared. The last two characters I want to talk about that I liked might come as a shock. The first is Azula. She’s one of those villains that is so well written and you just love to hate. She was an antagonist that was actually competent. Not to mention that her breakdown added a lot to her character and helped me sympathize with her. The other is Fire Lord Ozai. I don’t know why I like him so much (okay I actually do but we don’t need to talk about it), but I did. He was just another villain that I loved to hate and I thought he was rather interesting. 

I would give the show a 10/10 and if I was given the chance I could talk about Avatar: The Last Airbender forever. Since I can’t in this article, I strongly recommend that you watch it. It’s just lighthearted enough where you don’t finish it and need therapy, but it has just enough depth and emotional moments where it means something and you leave feeling fulfilled. I can definitely see that it’s not for everyone, but don’t pass it up just because it’s a cartoon advertised for children. It’s enjoyable for all ages and people. I promise that if you watch it you won’t regret it. Just because it’s been 18 years doesn’t mean it’s too late to enjoy it.