April 24, 2024

10 Animated Shows to Watch After Avatar: The Last Airbender

Avatar: The last airbender is a tough act to follow, but luckily if you’re watching the series for the first time, you can see a sequel The Legend of Korra will be waiting for you immediately afterwards. However, if you’ve already finished both, you may still be longing for a character-focused, plot-heavy, fantasy action animated series to fill the void in your heart. What comes next?

Many people would see anime as the natural next step, but if you’re not quite ready to dive into the anime pool and you’re hungry for serialized animation for all ages that isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of the medium and take deeper tackle themes, then here are 10 shows you need to watch.


Samurai Jack

A samurai fights an evil demon god

Image: Cartoon Network

Where to watch: Max

Samurai Jack pushed the boundaries of what action for all ages could look like. (There’s a reason he mostly fought robots in the first four seasons: no blood!) Genndy Tartakovsky’s sci-fi action series follows a samurai who, after being banished to the distant future, must defeat an evil demon to to return home. The fight sequences are great and the animation is great. The show returned in 2017 to complete a final (darker and adult-oriented) season.

Teen Titans

Beast, Starfire, Robin, Raven and Cyborg are sitting on the couch in their headquarters watching TV

Image: Warner Media

Where to watch: Max

Teen Titans did as much as ATLA in bringing anime sensibilities to a young American audience, especially when it comes to its distinct visual style. Based (loosely) on the DC superhero team of the same name, Teen Titans follows a group of five teenage superheroes as they battle super-powered villains to protect their home. It starts off light, with episodic shenanigans and plenty of jokes, but eventually builds to some incredibly epic battles and powerful character moments.

Young Justice

DC Universe Young Justice Season 3

Image: DC Entertainment

Where to watch: Max

One of the most compelling elements of Young Justice is how it addresses the implications of a world full of superheroes. Each season builds on the foundations of its universe. What starts as a simple team of young heroes carrying out secret missions turns into an elaborate interrogation of the place of masked vigilantes in the world. It is a lot, but please ATLA And Korrait does not shy away from harder themes.

Voltron: Legendary Defender

End scene of Voltron Season 6, with the paladins

Image: Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

From the animation studio behind it The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender was the first indication that serialized animation had found a home on streaming services. It may be a reboot of a toyetic franchise, but it’s a worthy sci-fi epic, a story that “takes the time to make you care about the characters and the travesties happening around them,” as our review of season 2 said.

The Dragon Prince

Callum in the trailer for The Dragon Prince

Image: Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

Of ATLA writer Aaron Ehasz in charge, The Dragon Prince is the most natural successor to Avatar. It’s a more traditional European medieval fantasy world than that of Avatar, but there are a lot of details in the world building that make it unique, especially when it comes to the magic system. There are some silly moments, but it still manages to tackle heavy themes of war and prejudice as the young human heroes venture into a magical world.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Glimmer, Adora and Bow prepare for battle in She-ra

Image: DreamWorks Animation/Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

ND Stevenson’s take on She-Ra turns the heroine from a simple He-Man spin-off into something more complex. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power breaks down the chosen story and gives compelling and developed relationships to all the characters (particularly Catra and Adora). It deftly balances heavier moments with lighter moments of character interaction. It’s the fantastic gay magical girl show of our dreams.

Kipo and the Age of the Wonder Beasts

mandu, kipo, wolf, benson and dave are all hanging out

Image: DreamWorks Animation/Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

If your very specific favorite part of ATLA were the funky hybrid animals, then you are in for a treat Kipo and the Age of the Wonder Beasts. It takes place in a world where humanity is forced underground after a bunch of animal hybrids gain consciousness. It’s a brightly colored, boldly visual post-apocalyptic world, with some very crazy set pieces and characters. And like Aang, Kipo is determined to find peaceful solutions in a world that constantly pushes her to do otherwise.

Maya and the Three

GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL as THE JAGUAR TRIPLETS and ZOE SALDAÑA as PRINCESS MAYA in MAYA AND THE THREE.

Image: Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

Cultural specificity meets great action in Maya and the Three. Creators and husband-wife team Jorge Gutiérrez and Sandra Equihua weave an epic tale in this limited miniseries, which follows a warrior princess in a Mesoamerican-inspired fantasy world who recruits three warriors to help her defeat the gods. It’s got some really cool fight sequences, some great world-building, and a story that feels like a gut punch in the best way.

The Owl House

friendship and luz dancing against the light of the moon

Image: Disney

Where to watch: Disney Plus

Disney Channel rarely does serialized animation, but when it does it right, it does it Good. The Owl House starts off a bit episodic, as a plucky teenager named Luz finds herself transported to a world of witches and demons. But it builds to a more overarching plot, one that is super character driven and sees many rivals become allies. There’s a reason why one character is the “Gen Z Zuko!” There’s also a really cool magic system and overall lovely world to explore. Disney may have failed The Owl House with a shortened season 3 order, but it still shines.

Arcane

Vi (Hailee Steinfeld) in Arcane

Image: Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

I was about on the fence Arcane since technically it’s not a show for all ages. But while it gets a bit grimmer about the violence, it never explicitly matures. It’s a bit of an ensemble show, in which a whole web of characters – from street children to scientists to political ambassadors – become entangled in the escalating tensions between classes. Yes, it is one League of Legends show, but you don’t have to know anything about it Competition to be swept up in the steampunk action and tragedy of two sisters torn apart.

Honorable mention: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Alphone Elric and his brother Edward, the 'Fullmetal Alchemist'.

Image: Bones/Crunchyroll

Where to watch: Crunchyroll, Hulu

Okay, I know I didn’t say anime on this list, but the ATLAUnpleasant-FMAB pipeline is a very real phenomenon and I would be remiss not to include the masterpiece that is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. If you’re a big one Avatar fan who has yet to make the jump to anime Full metal alchemist is the perfect to jump.

It follows a young, gifted alchemist named Edward Elric as he searches for the philosopher’s stone to return his younger brother, Alphonse, to his body, which he lost years ago in an attempt to resurrect their mother. But along the way, Edward and Alphonse discover a dark corruption in their country that they must stop. It has everything wonderful about it ATLA – cool powers, great fight sequences, compelling characters, fascinating world-building – but also interrogates the idea that sometimes, after doing terrible things, you have to make amends.

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