Home Arts & Culture Relearning how to master the elements in 2024

Relearning how to master the elements in 2024

Courtesy Netflix

We are now in an era where cable television is slowly being phased out only to be replaced by an abundance of different streaming platforms. With physical media slowly being removed from the shelves, it seems that the future of multimedia consumption will ultimately depend on the number of usernames and passwords you can remember. 

One benefit to being exclusive with an on-demand service is their original content that is made strictly for their viewers and found nowhere else.  

Netflix’s newest series Avatar: The Last Airbender is actually a live-action adaptation of an already very successful animated series that debuted on Nickelodeon in the mid-2000s. Carrying over all the same beloved characters and storylines can be tricky, but fans of the original series can rest assured that this retelling of the Avatar story is in good hands. 

Among this very diverse cast, a rising Ahkwesahsró:non star Kiawenti:io Tarbell shines once more on the silver screen this time as Katara. Coming off her first big role in Beans, released in 2020, it is clear that Kiawenti:io has a bright future in filmmaking while also being a role model for Indigenous youth who aspire to reach for the stars in the same way.

If you were growing up in the early 2000s, it’s safe to say you had the pick of the litter when it came to television, especially if you were a Nickelodeon kid. I do remember quite a few shows that made an impression on me at the time, but Avatar: The Last Airbender was the first show that introduced me to real storytelling and opened my eyes to how exciting world building narratives can be. This element was perfectly translated into the live-action version. 

I am not going to lie, I was very hesitant before starting the first episode as this show had a lot to live up to. But once I was ready, signed into my Netflix account and hit play, I was locked to my couch for the next eight hours binge watching the whole first season. The special effects were stellar, the action was thrilling, and the casting choice proved to be one of the strongest ensembles I’ve seen in years. 

Then there’s the story, Avatar: The Last Airbender introduces us to a fantasy world filled with people called benders who have the ability to manipulate one of the four elements, water, fire, earth, and air. Among them there is one who has the power to control all four elements. 

This person is known as the Avatar, a being whose power is passed down through reincarnation. We first get acquainted with Aang, the current Avatar, being nothing more than an airbender at twelve years old. His life soon takes a swift detour once the fire nation attacks his home and begins their reign to take over the world and rid it of all other benders. The Avatar is seen by many as a messiah-type character, the one who will save them all. Once Aang learns who he is and what is expected of him, he runs away so as to not face his fate. During his escape Aang finds himself trapped in a century-long hibernation state, leaving the world to fall to the fire nation’s order. 

After 100 years Aang is awoken from his slumber and thrown into a much different world. With his new friends Sokka and Katara, he must master the other three elements, fight the fire nation, and finally become what he was destined to become: The Avatar.

One thing that I was especially impressed by was the costumes, makeup, and set design. All three of these components saturate the viewer into this world and help the audience in suspending disbelief. 

While understanding that Avatar: The Last Airbender is intended for a younger audience, what we all can take away from this series is that living up to expectations is fearful. It’s okay to make mistakes and destiny isn’t always what we are told. And the friends we make along the way will only make your voyage easier. 

As a kid, I remember watching the animated series, never thinking that at such a young age this show would plant the seeds that would later aid my own contribution to the world of storytelling. If you missed Avatar: The Last Airbender while it was first being broadcast on your television screen, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon and stream an astonishing coming-of-age story with your children. And maybe they too will be moved the same I was today just as I was when in my childhood.  

news@easterndoor.com

This article was originally published in print on March 1 in issue 33.09 of The Eastern Door.

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