Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ Review: Netflix Has Seemingly Found the Formula for a Great Live-Action Adaptation of an Animated Series!

Netflix's Avatar: The Last Airbender Review: Netflix Has Seemingly Found the Formula for a Great Live-Action Adaptation of an Animated Series!

Remember when Netflix started off its series of live-action adaptations of animated works with Cowboy Bebop? The series wasn’t bad, as we have written, but it wasn’t even close to the original, and everyone thought that it was a done deal and that no one could properly adapt an animated work in a live-action format. This was especially troublesome for One Piece fans, as the popular anime was next in line for an adaptation. But, surprisingly, due to various reasons, One Piece became a hit and we can confirm that it is, indeed, a great series. And while it seemed that Netflix had finally found the right formula, we still needed some more evidence.

On February 22, 2024, the long-awaited live-action adaptation of the popular Avatar: The Last Airbender series finally premiered with the eight-episode first season. The series adapted the initial stories of the popular animated series and regardless of the final result, most fans were actually eager to see what Netflix has done with the series. In this review, we are going to give you our impressions and tell you whether Netflix continued on the path set by One Piece, or whether the latter adaptation was just a lucky strike on their part.

Now, most of you will know that Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the most popular animated series of the 2000s and that it became a pillar of Western popular culture. And while Avatar was not an anime series, the style was very similar so many fans in the West still consider it to be an anime, which – regardless of the faultiness of that conclusion – means that the adaptation standards were high and that Netflix had a lot of work to do. So, how did it all play out? Did the adaptation fulfill its purpose? We can say it did!


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Story-wise, the live-action adaptation doesn’t really change much. Sure, due to the different nature of a live-action series when compared to an animated one, some concessions had to be made, but the narrative flow is identical, and fans of the animated series will see a lot of familiar scenes and dialogues. Netflix’s writers did not intervene too much in the story, and that is definitely a good thing for two reasons. First, the story of Avatar is well known, and fans would certainly have been angry had Netflix changed some important elements. Secondly, Avatar already has a good enough and compelling story, so changing it wouldn’t make much sense.

The actors who play the characters are also great, and the casting department did a truly great job in finding the actors to portray the heroes of the show. The animated characters had a life of their own, which is why we cannot compare them completely (the laws of animation simply work differently than those of a live-action work, and Netflix did great by acknowledging that, thus avoiding the mistake of making the live-action characters cartoony, which they should never be), we have to say that Gordon Cormier mesmerized us completely as Aang and that we’re looking forward to seeing more of him.

But it’s not just Cormier – his friends (played by Dallas Liue, Kiawentiio, and Ian Ousley) – are also amazing, and we also got the pleasure of seeing veteran actor Paul Sun-Hyung Lee as Uncle Iroh, which was great. The main characters function differently than the Straw Hats in Netflix’s One Piece, but the atmosphere and the bonds between them are very similar, so we can confirm that Netflix successfully repeated a great formula here. As for Ozai, the villain, we have to say that Daniel Dae Kim was more than compelling in his role.

As for the production-related aspects, we have to say that Netflix did a pretty good job. The production design was great, the make-up and costumes felt authentic, and the CGI was as natural as you’d expect it to be. Here, we can also say that Netflix did a good job in building on what they had done with One Piece, which gave us a visual delight.

All in all, Avatar: The Last Airbender is a brilliant and exciting adaptation of the original animated series. It is not quite like the original, of course, but it gets as close to the charm of the original series while remaining original at the same time. It seems, indeed, that Netflix has found the formula for adapting anime and animated works and if they continue like this, we’ll be looking forward to more live-action adaptations in the future.

Score: 9/10

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