Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Just by hearing these four words, odds are you know what I’m talking about: the intro to the animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
The “Avatar” series is set in a world pulling influences from Asian and Indigenous culture. The characters can manipulate one of the four elements with a form of Chinese martial arts known as “bending.” The Avatar is the sole person who can bend all four elements, and it is their duty to maintain the peace between the four nations, the spiritual world, and the physical world in the series. The series tells the story of Avatar Aang, a 12-year-old boy and the last survivor of the Air Nomad Nation, and his journey with his friends in a fight against the imperialism of the Fire Nation.
First airing in 2005, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is a show that continues to influence pop culture. Junior Aidan Gibson grew up watching “Avatar” with his older sister. “I would just watch it like any other normal cartoon like on the weekends and stuff, but ‘Avatar’ we always had a particular affinity for because it’s just so well done” he said.
Junior Aubrey Walker noted that “Avatar” discusses big ideas such as “imperialism, war, feminism, [and] xenophobia” in a way that’s understandable to a younger audience. “If you were to watch it with an adult [when you were younger] they can explain it in a kid-friendly way to slowly introduce the kid to these big concepts,” Aubrey said.
According to Animation Insider, “Avatar” was the “highest rated animated television series in its demographic” during its initial years. Following the first series, “Avatar” producers Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, and Aaron Ehasz released a series within the same universe: “The Legend of Korra”. Fifteen years after its original release, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was put on Netflix, and the show surged. Within its first week on Netflix, “Avatar” was in the No. 1 spot in the US, and the show ranked the most popular TV show or movie on Netflix for the week of May 14.
Aubrey, like Aidan, grew up watching the show after school on Nickelodeon. “It would just be something that came on that I really enjoyed and I really ended up loving the characters,” she said. However, once released on Netflix over quarantine, Aubrey “became obsessed with it again.”
With the recent resurangane of the “Avatar” Fandom, producers DiMartino and Konietzko made a very exciting announcement for “Avatar” fans on Feb. 24: the creation of an “Avatar” Studio that will produce original content in the Avatarverse. Hearing the news, Aidan initially thought it was a joke. After finding out it was actually going to take place, he said “It [felt] unreal.” He continued, “It’s been literally over a decade since the original series came out and we’re approaching seven years since [‘The Legend of Korra’] ended.”
Aubrey thinks it’s going to be “cool especially because the whole gen alpha is going to be able to watch it and experience the ‘Avatar’ for the first time.” She continued, “we’re going to be able to experience it for the first time again [as well].”
In an Entertainment Weekly article, producers Koneitzko and DiMartino released a statement expressing their excitement for the new projects to come. “Even after [19 years] there are still many stories and time periods in Aang’s world that we are eager to bring to life,” they said. “We can’t wait to build the great teams and productions to make all of this fantasy a reality.”