Avatar: The Last Airbender (Avatar: The Legend of Aang in Europe) is an American animated television series that aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. The series was created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who served as executive producers along with Aaron Ehasz. Avatar: The Last Airbender is set in an Asian-influenced world wherein some are able to manipulate the classical elements by use of psychokinetic variants of Chinese martial arts known as “bending.” The show combined the styles of anime and American cartoons, and relied for imagery upon various East-Asian, Inuit, Indian and South-American societies.
The series follows the adventures of protagonist Aang and his friends, who must bring peace to the world by ending the Fire Lord’s war against the other nations. The pilot episode first aired on February 21, 2005 and the series concluded with a widely praised two-hour episode on July 19, 2008. The show is obtainable from various sources, including DVD, the iTunes Store, the Zune Marketplace, the Xbox Live Marketplace, the PlayStation Store, Netflix Instant Play, and the Nicktoons Network.
Avatar: The Last Airbender was popular with both audiences and critics, garnering 5.6 million viewers on its best-rated showing and receiving high ratings in the Nicktoons lineup, even outside its 6–11-year-old demographic. Avatar: The Last Airbender has been nominated for and won awards from the Annual Annie Awards, the Genesis Awards, the primetime Emmy awards and a Peabody Award among others. The first season’s success prompted Nickelodeon to order second and third seasons. In other media, the series has spawned a live-action film, titled The Last Airbender, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, scaled action figures, a trading card game, three video games based on the first, second, and third seasons, stuffed animals distributed by Paramount Parks, and two LEGO sets. An art book was also released in mid-2010. Furthermore, the president of Nickelodeon announced on July 21, 2010 that a sequel would be produced. The Legend of Korra premiered on April 14, 2012.
Avatar: The Last Airbender takes place in a world home to humans, fantastic animals, and spirits. Human civilization is divided into four nations: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. Each nation has a distinct society, wherein people known as Benders have the ability to manipulate the element of their nation using the physical motions of martial arts. The show’s creators based each bending style on an existing martial art, leading to clear visual and physical differences in the techniques used by Waterbenders (T’ai chi ch’uan), Earthbenders (Hung Ga kung fu, for the most part), Firebenders (Northern Shaolin kung fu) and Airbenders (Baguazhang).
At any given time, there is only one person in the world capable of bending all four elements – the Avatar. The Avatar is the spirit of the world reincarnated in human form. When an Avatar dies, this spirit is reincarnated into the next nation in the Avatar Cycle, according to the implied correspondence of seasons to the nations’ cultures (Winter/Water Tribe; Spring/Earth Kingdom; Summer/Fire Nation; and Autumn/Air Nomads) and must master each bending art in seasonal order, starting with their native element. Additionally, the Avatar possesses an ability called the Avatar State, which briefly endows it with the knowledge and abilities of all past Avatars as a self-triggering defense mechanism, which can be made subject to the will of the user by extensive trial and training. If an Avatar is killed in the Avatar State, the reincarnation cycle is broken, and the Avatar identity will cease to exist. Through the ages, the succeeding Avatars have served to keep a relative equality among the nations; whereas in the story’s mythology, the Avatar connects the material to the spiritual world, and vice versa.
Learn more about the concepts, principles and symbolism behind the subliminals found in this television series: