Avatar: The Last Airbender (A:TLA) is easily one of the best US-created animated shows in the last ten years, and not just because I consider it a great example of Asian-inspired steampunk (though it helps). In terms of steam-worthiness, A:TLA not only creates what Asian steampunk could look like, but it places its steampunk technology within a cultural and political setting that speaks about technological development’s relationship with empire-building and the ramifications of global warfare.
Pretty complex for a children’s show that aired on Nickelodeon. But its depth of storytelling, detailed world-building, and strong characterization attests to its wild popularity across all age groups.
There are other assessments of the world of Avatar: the Last Airbender (A:TLA)–particularly Jha Goh’s article on “Kyriarchy in Avatar: The Last Airbender – Perpetuating & Challenging Oppression & Imperialism” and the Tor.com roundtable re-watch–so I highly suggest you go to them for a more highly detailed reading of the series as a whole. So instead, I’ll answer the question: Why do I think steampunks should watch Avatar: The Last Airbender? Warning: spoilers for the series after the jump.