Geeks logo

'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Is Underrated

by Evy E 4 years ago in tv
Report Story

This show is underrated for so many reasons. It may be marketed as a kids show, but it's something that even adults can enjoy. Warning, contains some spoilers.

Avatar: The Last Airbender was a show on Nickelodeon. As a kid, watching this show was just a way to pass time. But after watching the show multiple times as I grew older, I realized, thanks to the show, I learned many things and grew a interest in things as well. It's kind of like watching an old Disney movie for the first time in years, and then hearing a joke that didn't cross your mind as kid, but as the adult makes sense.

The Word “Avatar”

Left: A painting of the Hindu term of Avatar. Right: Avatar Aang controlling all four elements in the Avatar state.

The Avatar is a concept in Hinduism that means "descent" and refers to the material appearance or incarnation of a deity on Earth. The relative verb "alight, to make one's appearance," is sometimes used to refer to any guru or revered human being. In the show, the Avatar is reincarnated into each nation of the world; in the order of fire, air, water and earth. The Avatar is the only person in that can control and manipulate all four elements, unlike everyone else who can control only one or no elements. The Avatar is seen as a hero—a problem solver of the world's huge problem and the ultimate guru. Each Avatar goes through training to master each element or bending. For instance, Aang (the Avatar in the show) is an Airbender, raised by air nomads and trained in the way of airbending. Then he went to the northern water tribe to learn waterbending, earth kingdom for earthbending, and fire nation for firebending. The Avatar is seen as the ultimate guru due to that he/she can talk and seek wisdom from his/she past lives. The past lives can give the current Avatar advice on how to deal with any issue, and can help in battle. Since each Avatar masters each element, in battle the current Avatar can perform different techniques if in the Avatar state. Making the Avatar a guru in a way. Most avatars in hindisum are depicted in battle, fighting forces of evil. In Avatar the last airbender, most Avatars are known for fighting evil in the name of harmony. For example, Aang's main goal in the series is learn all the elements and stop the fire lord before it's too late.

Real Cultural Influence

Top left) Water tribe and people of the Inuit Tribe. Top right) FIre Nation and Cambodian fashion

Bottom left) Earth Kingdom and Qing & Ming Dynasty fashion. Bottom Left) Air Nomads and Tibetan monks.

Everything from government to events in history were inspired by many different cultures. Making each nation have a its own culture.

Water Tribe - inspired by Inuit, Native Amercian, and Mongolian tribes. Both of the water tribes are located at the North and South Pole surrounded by ice and snow. The water tribe are run by chefs with the main defense waterbending, inspired by T'ai chi ch'uan or Tai Chi. In the Northern Tribe, Most waterbenders (soldiers) are men, but the women use their bending ability to heal (most of the information about the water tribe is seen in season one). Like the Native American and Inuit tribes, the belief of spirits is huge. The origin of the first waterbenders was the moon and how the moon pushed and pulled the tides.

Earth Kingdom - inspired by Korea and the early dynasties of China and Japan. The Earth Kingdom is run by constitutional monarchs in Ba Sing Se (translates to "Impenetrable City") and it is the capital of the Earth Kingdom and was inspired by Constantinople and the forbidden city in China. Most people are the Earth Kingdom are Earthbenders, inspired by Hung Gar (a style of Kung fu described as "heavily rooted stances and strong kicks and punches that evoke the mass and power of earth"). The origin of earthbending is people learning from huge badgermoles (Avatar is a world filled with hybrid animals, a bagdermole is a mix of a badger and a mole).

Fire Nation- inspired by Japan, south-east Asia, China, and Germany. The Fire Nation is run in an Autocratic absolute monarchy fashion. They started the hundred-year war after Firelord Sozin used a comet (that comes every 100 years) to wipe out the air nomads (firebenders are most powerful during the day and summer as the sun is out. The comet gave the firebenders the power of 1000 suns). The Fire nation's terrain was inspired by Iceland. Most people in the Fire Nation are firebenders, inspired by the Northern Shaolin style of kung fu. The original firebenders were the dragons.

Air Nomads- inspired by India, Tibet, and Nepal. The Air Nomads have four temples located at each corner of the world (northern and southern temples were run by male monks, while the eastern and western temples were run by female monks). Even though the air Nomads were Nomads, there was a council of elders for each temple. They were very spiritual and were vegetarian. Every single person of the Air Nomads were airbenders. Airbending is based on Ba Gua or "circle walking." The original airbenders were the sky bison (a huge flying bison with a mix of manatee). Airbenders who have attained a level of mastery in the article airbending are marked with arrow tattoos, based on the arrows of the sky bison.

Real Adult Topics

All of these are from season 3

Most kids shows have a message like "tell the truth" or "stealing is wrong." But Avatar is different. It explains ADULT and VERY COMPLEX concepts, vocabulary, and messages (there are several, but I'm naming the big ones).

War from both sides—the Fire Nation invaded the other nations because a previous Firelord wanted to expand his nation. Even the Avatar during that period told him it was a bad idea. But after the death of Avatar Roku, Firelord Sozin invaded the other nations. The Fire nation's main goal was to expand and bring the other nations up to the industrial revolution. On the other side, people outside the Fire Nation found that the Fire Nation was invading their land was only for expansion and resources. Throughout the series, we find piece by piece why the war is happening on both sides.

Death of a parent—Katara, and Sokka are from the southern water tribe. The Fire Nation sent the southern raiders to the southern tribe to "exterminate" any waterbenders from fighting the Fire Nation. Katara (a Waterbender) was only a little girl when this happened. Kya (Katara and Sokka's Mom) was confronted by the leader and straight up lied to his face and said she was the last waterbender. She was killed by the leader. After that Katara has become very motherly and protective. In the episode "the southern raiders," we learn that Katara has always held a grudge against the man who killed her mother. She keeps her mother betrothal necklace (water tribe tradition, similar to the real world concept of engagement rings) to feel closer to her mother. It shows the major impact of what happens to a child when one parent dies at a young age.

Impact of war on family—Chief Hakoda ( husband to Kya and father of Sokka and Katara) left the southern water tribe, along with the other men in the tribe to fight in the hundred year war. Katara and Sokka were left to take care of the tribe. In season three episode 1, we find that Katara has been holding feelings about her father going to war (especially right after her mom died). She was angry and asked the question "did you even care about us?"

Her father responded, "You and your brother are my entire world. I thought about you every day I was gone, and every night when I went to sleep, I would lie awake missing you so much, it would ache." I don't have a parent in the military, but I bet a younger kid asking their parent why they left is one of the hardest questions for a military parent.

Genocide—Yes, I said Genocide. Most kids don't learn about the term genocide till middle school. But it explains perfectly the concept of genocide. After the Council of monks told Aang he was the Avatar, he took his flying bison and left. While in a huge storm, the Avatar state froze him in a huge ball of ice preserving him for 100 years. As I stated earlier the Avatar cycle goes water, Earth, Fire, and Air. Now Avatar Roku was born in the Fire Nation. So Firelord Sozin knew that the next Avatar would be an Air Nomad. He waited 12 years for the comet to come to wipe out every last Airbender alive. But he missed Aang because he was frozen underwater in a giant ice ball 100 years later, when Aang gets found by Katara and Sokka. When they asked him about knowledge of the war, he knew nothing. Katara tried to say things have changed in the last 100 years, but Aang said the only way to get to an air temple is by flying bison. It wasn't until he saw his master's skeleton he knew he was the last one. The entire Airbender genocide was inspired by Japan's surprise invasions of Guam, Burma, Borneo, Malaya, and the Philippines.

Girl power is real in this show.

All the females of Avatar

The creators wanted to include strong female characters for the females in their demographic. Each of the female characters have inspired girls (and boys) through out the series.

Ty Lee—Left her home of six identical sisters to join the circus. She is just so positive and filled with positivity. She is a chi blocker (chi is the energy that flows through the body and gives a bender the ability to bend) and very acrobatic.

Mai—for 14 years she was an only child.She started to get bored and tought herself how to throw knives and darts

Azula—Zuko's younger sister. Princess of the fire Nation. Azula has been a firebending prodigy since she was little. Her Fire is so deadly it's blue. Azula is determined to find the Avatar after her brother failed. She is determined, strong willed, and also crazy

Avatar Kyoshi—The previous Avatar before Roku. Avatar Kyoshi was an Avatar who believed only justice can bring peace, no matter what the cost is. She broke off a part of the Earth Kingdom (using the Avatar state) to create Kyoshi island. To honor Kyoshi, the people created a huge statue and had their all warriors train and dress like her. Kyoshi was a skilled warrior and well-versed in the art of tessenjutsu, wielding a pair of golden metallic war fans with great skill and dexterity.

Kyoshi warriors—An all female group of warriors ( non-benders) trained in the art of tessenjutsu ( fighting with fans).The Kyoshi Warriors dressed in adorned metal headdresses and heavily armored green kimonos and wore face paint while on duty. This uniform was designed to resemble the attire that Avatar Kyoshi wore during her life, as well as her face paint that was meant to intimidate opponents. Both Avatar Kyoshi and the Kyoshi warriors are inspired by samurais and geshias.

Katara- one of the main characters of the show and fan favorite. Katara is the last waterbender in the southern tribe. So eager to learn real waterbending (she had to figure it out on her own), she traveled to the northern water tribe with Aang and Sokka to find a master. In the northern tribe women are forbidden to learn waterbending. All women waterbenders were tought to use their bending to heal. Katara even fought the waterbending master of the northern tribe. After Katara's necklace came off, Master Paku realized that he made that necklace for her Grand Grand ( Katara's grandmother). Grand Grand left the northern tribe and went to the southern tribe due to the sexist ways of the north. After that Master Paku realized that she was worthy of being a water bending master (many more examples of Katara being an inspiration but this one was the main one).

Toph—Toph was born blind and an earthbender. Her parents are in the upper class, so private tutors, private lessons, primp and proper, and totally sheltered. At night she would head to earth rumble six and compete as the "Blind Bandit" and was undefeated. After Aang was captured by the owner of the arena, she went and fought and showed how powerful she is. She didn't let her not being able to see get in the way of being the best Earth bender in the world ( I mean she did invent metal bending). She uses the vibrations to "see" everything. She is so special that the creator used a mix of Hung Gar and Praying Mantis-style of kung fu for her fighting.


About the author

Evy E

You know I'm just your average femme, Gay, Disney nerd, history nerd, Broadway nerd, Lovatic, hair stylist, make up enthusiast, Gemini sun guy that everyone knows and loves! (Don't forget to share!)

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2022 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.