Avatar the Last Airbender influences Gen Z

by Dylan Lee

Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Kora have hit close to home for many Gen Z viewers, and have many important lessons.

Avatar the Last Airbender aired on Nickelodeon in 2005 to 2008, and Legend of Korra, a spinoff series, later aired in 2012 to 2014. 

The Avatar universe is made of four nations: Water, Earth, Fire, and Air. Each of these nations has one type of bending and some are born with the ability to control an element. The Avatar controls all four elements and keeps peace between the four nations. Avatar the Last Airbender follows Aang the Avatar, Katara a water bender, her brother Sokka, Toph an earth bender, and Zuko a fire bender in their battles against an oppressive government. It depicts the story of their journey, as Aang must learn to master all four elements to free the air, water, and earth nations from the fire nation’s tyrannical rule.

Legend of Korra describes the next generation of benders, where Korra is a reincarnation of Aang. The story follows Korra and her friends through their quest to govern the world that was handed to them.

The characters of Avatar the Last Airbender are ages twelve to fifteen, as the show is aimed towards younger kids. It revolves around issues many kids face, such as balancing responsibilities with fun, ageism, and even dealing with complex feelings such as guilt and abuse. 

Legend of Korra, on the other hand, was made primarily for teenage viewers. The story of Korra and her friends as teenagers is focused on self-discovery, making change, and battling with mental health.

There are several reasons why these shows are so interesting. First, the universe is largely inspired by different Asian cultures, representing and celebrating them throughout the programs. Second, the plots highlight the differences between people, but their ability to unite together and find similarities. It also handles many difficult topics in a consumable way, such as PTSD, fascism, racism, police brutality, and the education system. Legend of Korra is also one of the first TV shows oriented to youth which includes main characters who identify as LGBTQ+. The story includes kids who cope with abuse and learn to value themselves.

Avatar the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra hit very close to home for much of Gen Z as they grapple with social injustices and mental health issues during coronavirus. Both stories can motivate young people to begin taking action to change the world and fight for what they believe in. 

The release of Avatar the Last Airbender and Legend of Kora on Netflix has revamped their popularity, allowing a whole new generation to experience the magic of this universe and learn the important lessons depicted that many millennials learned during the shows’ initial release. The meaning behind both series connects to the experiences of teenagers and teaches lessons many could use in today’s social climate.

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