Avatar: The Last Airbender (Avatar: The Legend of Aang in some regions) is an American animated television series that aired for three seasons (referred to as “books” in each episode’s title card) on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. Avatar: The Last Airbender is set in an Asiatic-like world in which some people are able to manipulate the classical elements by use of psychokinetic variants of Chinese martial arts, known as “bending”. The show combines the styles of anime and American cartoons, and relies on the imagery of various East Asian, Inuit, Southeast Asian, South Asian, and New World societies. Therefore, whether or not the series can be considered as an anime work is often discussed.
The series follows the adventures of protagonist twelve-year-old Aang and his friends, who must bring peace and unity to the world by ending the Fire Lord’s war against the other three nations. The pilot episode first aired on February 21, 2005, and the series concluded with a widely praised two-hour episode on July 19, 2008. The show is obtainable from various sources, including DVD, the iTunes Store, the Zune Marketplace, the Xbox Live Marketplace, the PlayStation Store, Netflix, Amazon Video, and the Nicktoons Network.
Throughout its run, Avatar: The Last Airbender was universally acclaimed by audiences and critics alike. Praises went to the art direction, humor, cultural references, characters, and themes. It was also commercially successful, garnering 5.6 million viewers on its best-rated showing and receiving high ratings in the Nicktoons lineup, even outside of its 6- to 11-year-old demographic. The series has been nominated for and won awards from the Annie Awards, the Genesis Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award and a Peabody Award, among others. The first season’s success prompted Nickelodeon to order second and third seasons.
In other media, the series has spawned a critically panned, but financially successful, live-action film, titled The Last Airbender, directed by M. Night Shyamalan; scaled action figures; a trading card game; three video games; stuffed animals distributed by Paramount Parks and two Lego sets. An art book was also released in mid-2010. A sequel series, The Legend of Korra, aired from 2012 to 2014.