Age Range: 9-14 yrs.
Episode length: Approx. 30 minutes
* This review is of the TV series, also see info about the movie based on this series, The Last Airbender - The Movie.
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Overview
The Earth, Air, Water and Fire nations used to live in harmony, until the day that the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, who is a master of all four elements, can offer any hope of bringing peace to the war-torn world now.
In the days when the Fire Nation attacked and the war began, the Avatar disappeared. Since then, a new Avatar has emerged - a 12-year-old Airbender boy named Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen). Torn between his need to help bring peace to the world and his desire to be a regular kid, Aang will need time to learn and prepare, as well as a lot of help from his friends.
Aided by a wise and protective teenage Waterbender named Katara (Mae Whitman), her brother Sokka (Jack DeSena), and other friends he meets along the way, Aang progresses on his perilous path, hoping to fulfill his destiny. His responsibility is heavy, and his enemies are many, but with his command of the elements and the support from his allies, he may be able to bring peace and restore freedom.
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Show Format
Although an American series, Avatar is animated in the style of Japenese anime. The show is set in an Asian-world, building on Asian concepts such as martial arts, elemental magic, chi, reincarnation, and the supernatural.
The show is formatted as an epic story told in a series of books. Each episode of the show is a different chapter, and each season is one book. The show is set to air for three seasons: Book 1: Water, Book 2: Earth, and Book 3: Air. Additional seasons may or may not follow, but Avatar is supposed to meet his fate in a battle with the Fire King at the end of season 3.
Avatar: The Last Airbender - History and Core Philosophical Concepts
The world of Avatar is divided into four nations based upon the four elements. In each nation, certain people called "benders" can use magic and martial arts to manipulate their own element in powerful ways:
- Airbenders: Aang is the last Airbender. When the Fire Nation attacked, they wiped out the entire nation of Air Nomads. Only Aang remained, having been preserved in an iceberg. Airbenders are peaceful, and only use fighting as a last resort. Airbending allows the practitioner to use the air and wind to their advantage.
- Waterbenders: The Waterbenders rely on Chi, the ancient Chinese notion of a vital life force that is inherent in all things. Waterbenders can manipulate water, turning it to ice or controlling it's movement in many ways.
- Earthbenders: The Earthbenders can manipulate the earth, using dirt, rocks, and other ground matter which moves at their will. The Earth Kingdom is quite large, and if the Fire Nation defeats the Earth nation, all hope will be lost.
- Firebenders: They derive their energy from the sun and the earth's core, and the Firebenders harnessed the power of a passing comet when they launched their attack on the other nations. The Firebenders will try to take over the entire world, unless Aang can help the other nations to stop them.
Avatar: The Last Airbender - Guide Review and Note to Parents
Avatar: The Last Airbender has an almost unprecedented intensity and complexity of plotline for a children's animated show. The fantasy series truly takes kids to another world - a spiritual, magical world in which each chapter episode carries the viewer deeper into the compelling saga. Along with the added story and character depth, however, the series also contains a higher level of mature content than some other children's TV shows.
As the show has a martial arts theme, there are many fights - both hand-to-hand battles and fights involving various weapons such as swords and knives. The fighting scenes are animated, and no blood/gore is shown, but some of the scenes are intense and the main characters often find themselves in situations of peril involving armed enemies.
In the process of pressing on with their quest, the pre-teen and teenaged characters are finding out about themselves and exploring relationships with others. In at least one episode, a boy character kisses a girl on the lips.
According to Nickelodeon, the show is most popular among boys ages 9-14. In comparing the series with the alternative television choices of kids in this age group, Avatar: The Last Airbender presents an exciting, suspenseful and interesting show that is relatively clean. However, the greatest concern for parents will be the high level of animated violence and glorification of martial arts fighting. Also, some parents may have reservations about the magical elements of the show.
To get an even better idea of the show's content, parents or guardians can watch a selection of episodes from Avatar: The Last Airbender on Turbo Nick. Also, Nickelodeon is continually releasing new Avatar DVDs.