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On February 21, 2005, Nickelodeon premiered a series that would change the course of all Gen Z and millennial childhoods forever. It may be easy to convince ardent fans that “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is a contender for the greatest show of all time, but others who are unacquainted might simply brush it off as a silly kids show. And the latter assumption isn’t necessarily wrong, either. The show’s brilliance lies in how it can be easily enjoyed by children, as well as full-grown adults who become aware of the show’s profundity with time. Perhaps the stark, real-world parallels to the effects of war and imperialism might’ve gone over our heads back then, but we could still enjoy the characters’ witty dialogue and the adorable otter penguins and turtle ducks. Undoubtedly, the new things that you notice in every subsequent rewatch will ensure that it hits home every single time.

Lots of people debate over whether or not “Avatar” is an anime. Technically, it’s not, since anime refers to an animation style originating in Japan. While “Avatar” is an American show, it does draw heavily from East and South Asian influences, specifically Chinese culture, Indian culture and various indigenous cultures around the world. In the ATLA universe, children and adults can manipulate the Earth’s four elements through a practice called “bending,” executed through moves reminiscent of Chinese martial arts.

The story follows the journey of Aang, an airbender who is also the next “Avatar” in a centuries-long succession of beings who possessed the power to wield all four elements, keeping the world in harmony and acting as a bridge between the human and spirit world. The boy, along with his group of friends, flying bison and monkey lemur, embark on a mission to save the world from being taken over by a tyrannical Fire Nation overlord.

The show features immaculate world-building, character development, and universal motifs that positions it on the same playing field as a show like “Game of Thrones.” It is also home to arguably one of the most profound and recognizable redemption arcs in television history (and no, it’s not the Cabbage Merchant overcoming the loss of his precious vegetables). Every viewer can find a bit of themselves in each character, from the perpetual playfulness of Aang to the pragmatic nature of Katara, the gradual maturity of Sokka or the perseverance to win despite disadvantages that Toph possesses. By the end of the series, we feel as though we’ve lived a whole life through each character’s eyes, and getting through it all without shedding a tear would be a feat.

The saga doesn’t end with just “Avatar,” as the series expanded to the sequel “The Legend of Korra” in 2012 and is also set to release a live-action show in 2023. Fingers crossed that it’s not the dumpster fire that was M. Night Shyamalan’s film rendition… hopefully lessons have been learned from that. While we wait in anticipation, let’s gaze at some of these gorgeous “Avatar” tattoos that blew us away even more than Aang’s impenetrable air blasts.