(Welcome to The Quarantine Stream, a new series where the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.)

The SeriesAvatar: The Last Airbender

Where You Can Stream It: Netflix

The Pitch: “Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.” So begins the beloved Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender. Set in a fantasy world where people have the ability to manipulate the elements through a technique called “bending,” Avatar: The Last Airbender follows 12-year-old Aang, an airbender and the latest reincarnation of the Avatar, the lone person with the ability to control all four elements. Discovered frozen in the ice by two siblings from the Southern Water Tribe, Katara and Sokka, Aang finds out that he has been missing for 100 years, during which time the Fire Nation has waged a violent war against the other nations. Now it’s Aang’s duty to master the other three elements and stop the Fire Nation before it conquers the world.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: Many essays have been written about the rich world-building and the tremendous character work of Avatar: The Last Airbender (including some by yours truly). But what I want to talk about is how this animated children’s show sensitively handles the deep wounds and everlasting consequences of war.

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best avatar the last airbender episodes

Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when Avatar: The Last Airbender went off the air. The superb Nickelodeon animated series left a massive hole in many fans’ lives, and even more so when it became increasingly harder to stream the series. But finally, after so many long years, Avatar: The Last Airbender is back on U.S. Netflix.

It’s fitting that the epic anime-inspired fantasy series would hit Netflix on the 15th anniversary of Avatar: The Last Airbender. So to celebrate the arrival of Avatar: The Last Airbender on this, the 15th of May, on the 15th anniversary of the show’s premiere, here are the 15 best episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Spoilers ahead for Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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avatar the last airbender netflix us

Avatar: The Last Airbender is hitting U.S. Netflix next month, after the beloved Nickelodeon series had been available on the streamer in other regions for years. But it was only a matter of time before Avatar: The Last Airbender returned to Netflix in the U.S., with the streamer developing a live-action remake of the series from original creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.

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avatar the last airbender turning point

When Avatar: The Last Airbender debuted on Nickelodeon in 2005, there were no signs to indicate it was anything other than a silly kid’s cartoon beyond its richly imaginative world and the painstaking research that went into preserving the east and southeast Asian cultural influences. It was goofy, wacky, with a broad humor and even broader characters that were easy to categorize: the mother figure, the kid, the comic relief. The low-stakes adventures that the main trio went on were often neatly wrapped up in a bow by the end of the first episode, despite the looming presence of the great evil represented by the conquering Fire Nation.

But then, everything changed.

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avatar the last airbender steelbook

Long ago, Nickelodeon debuted a little animated series called Avatar: The Last Airbender. And everything changed. Avatar: The Last Airbender debuted in 2005 and quickly captured the imaginations of audiences with its richly inventive world, compelling characters, and a classic story of a fight between good and evil. Created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartinoAvatar: The Last Airbender drew its influences from anime, Chinese martial arts, and East and Southeast Asian imagery, resulting in one of the most striking animated series on the air. But it was its lovable, complex characters that kept audiences tuning in, as Konietzko and DiMartino proved that their little kids’ show could have some of the best character writing on TV.

Now, on its 15th anniversary, Avatar: The Last Airbender is back to save the world with its first ever Blu-ray SteelBook collection. The Avatar The Last Airbender SteelBook, which contains all three seasons and a slew of special features and new artwork, arrives today.

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star wars the rise of skywalker kylo ren redemption

A reluctant hero faces off against a looming evil empire that has taken over the world. A heroine that comes from an unassuming village rises to become one of the most powerful figures in the fight against evil. A villain with a facial scar wrestles with the forces of light and dark at war inside of him. But enough about Avatar: The Last Airbender

The similarities between the masterful Nickelodeon animated show and Star Wars are apparent — both draw from classic hero’s journeys and high-fantasy archetypes, with an undercurrent of east Asian mysticism. Another major element they share are dashing villains-turned-antiheroes. One of the driving narratives of Star Wars has been the question of redemption, especially in the new trilogy defined by the conflict between our champion of light, Rey (Daisy Ridley), and the villain she believes can be redeemed, Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). In Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, we see the culmination of the Skywalker Saga and the big question of whether the soul of Kylo Ren, born Ben Solo to Han Solo and Leia Organa before he was tempted by the Dark Side by Snoke, could be saved. And that answer ends up being immensely unsatisfactory and a major example of the failings of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

Spoilers for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker (and some of Avatar: The Last Airbender) are below.

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avatar the last airbender season 4

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a perfect TV series, full stop. No “perfect TV series for an animated show” or “perfect TV series for kids.” For three seasons, Avatar: The Last Airbender delivered a rich, thematically complex, gorgeously animated story about a young boy who is charged with saving the world from an oppressive, conquering empire. It’s a simple, and familiar, tale but the characters were so vibrant and the storytelling so tight that Avatar: The Last Airbender deserves its place as one of the best TV shows of all time. Then, the live-action movie happened and ruined its legacy — apparently in more ways than one.

Not only did M. Night Shyamalan‘s whitewashed disaster put people off ever watching the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, according to former head writer Aaron Ehasz, it also aided in scrapping a potential fourth season of the show. Now that is a worse crime than that one Earth-bending scene.

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reasons to watch the dragon prince

You seldom see a review of The Dragon Prince that doesn’t refer to its spiritual predecessor Avatar: The Last Airbender. You might recognize the name of Aaron Ehasz, the head writer of Avatar, as one of the creators of The Dragon Prince. Even Jack De Sena, the voice of our boomerang-wielding Sokka, leads as Prince Callum.

Many of the hallmarks between these two shows overlap. These two children’s animated shows are worlds apart yet close in resemblance. Let’s dive into the shared motifs of The Dragon Prince and Avatar: The Last Airbender and why they’re proof that you should watch the Netflix fantasy series, whose second season arrived today.

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avatar the last airbender live-action series

Eight years after M. Night Shyamalan desecrated Avatar: The Last Airbender with his feature film that won’t be named, Netflix has announced a second attempt to adapt the matchless Nickelodeon animated series as a live-action show. But wait — before you freak out and go into the Avatar State, there’s a silver lining to this seemingly ill-advised project.

Original creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are on board to oversee the Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action series, which will “reimagine” the beloved Nickelodeon series. But even with DiMartino and Konietzko on board, can they fulfill the fans’ biblical expectations for a series that will likely require a biblical scale and budget? After Netflix has teamed up with several other Avatar: The Last Airbender alums to great success, maybe this might actually be a match made in heaven.

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the dragon prince

Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the greatest animated series of all time, if not the greatest. So it’s always an exciting prospect when one of the talented writers behind that beloved Nickelodeon show is working on something new. Because you know it will be something fantastic.

Which makes a team-up between Netflix and Avatar: The Last Airbender head writer Aaron Ehasz sound doubly fantastic. The streaming service has announced that it will release an all-new animated series called The Dragon Prince, a fantasy series co-created by Ehasz and Uncharted game director Justin Richmond.

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