AVATAR – The Last Airbender

I am not here to talk about the movie. That M. Night Shayamalan abomination will not be discussed accept for me saying here that it was awful. It butchered it’s source material. Completely butchered it. The show and comics deserved so very much more.

AVATAR – The Last Airbender developed a cult following because of it’s beautiful story and incredible universe. The sequel, The Legand of Korra, did justice to AVATAR, with the comics answering some excellent questions from the show. It is very kid based, with some excellent morals and themes woven into the story line.

Firstly, a brief overview. Our hero Aang is a 12 year old boy from the Air Nation (this world is split into 4 nations – Fire Nation, Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom and Air Nomads). Aang is revealed to be the Avatar, who is the master of all, the bringer of peace and can control all 4 elements. Skip 100 years ahead and we find the world to be under siege. The Fire Nation is fighting a 100 year war to destroy the other nations. Aang froze himself in time days before the Fire Nation wiped the Air Nomads from existence. Aang is our last airbender. He undergoes an adventure with various teammates from the other nations in an attempt to master the other elements and end the war.

This is a light hearted family fun show with some excellent messages to discuss.

Lets start with the typical, friendship, family, love, blah blah blah. Aang would not have gotten far without the others. This is even a focal point of an episode. His friends are an integral part of the story. He learns he does not have to face adversity and horror alone. The grief he feels when he finds the remains of his closest mentor rips through his soul. And trust me, when you see that scene, you too will feel it.

There is also an incredibly strong anti-war message. We get to witness the devastation, death and destruction that comes from 100 years of war. Families destroyed, tribes decimated, an entire nation wiped out. We witness the horror that an army leaves in it’s path. The skeletons at the Air Temples, the small remnants of the Southern Water Tribe, the destruction of Earth Kingdom cities. It is a devastating site. Another powerful image is of the Fire Nation capital. A paradise. Brainwashing education where the populace believes that the war is helping the other nations. Where they believe the Air Nation army attacked the Fire army (Air Nomads were monks, they had no army). If this isn’t a metaphor for Nazi Germany then I don’t know what is. It is a reminder, to tell us that the citizens are often oblivious yo their governments crimes. Many German citizens knew nothing of the camps. The German people are not to blame. Just as the Fire Nation citizens are not to blame. Brainwashing is a powerful tool of mind control and manipulation.

Aang is a monk… an Air Nomad. He spent his childhood at a temple learning to live in harmony with the world. The shows message of peace and harmony comes through strongly throughout the episodes and the comics. Aang’s strong connection with the spirit world and his connection to his past lives promotes harmony within oneself and the world. Through these connections, Aang discovers energy bending, which is an ability that allows him to alter the energy within someone. This allows him to end the war with peace instead of bloodshed. This is the core of what and who Aang is. Peace. The most important message promoted throughout the entire AVATAR universe. Even in the face of adversity, with advice from all sides condemning Peace and encouraging him to kill, Aang stands strong and doesn’t sway from his principles. Peace is the answer to everything, as long as you will work for it.

Family, anti-war and peace. Is this what we want our youth to absorb? I think so! This whole world could use a little more peace.

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