Wednesday, July 07, 2021

'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Isn't Anime, But is a 'Love Letter' to the Art Style, Reveal Show's Co-Creators

Avatar: The Last Airbender boasts a very different style of animation from the other Nickelodeon series that debuted in the early 2000s, something that’s resulted in quite a few viewers referring to it as an “anime.” However, while the tale of Aang of his friends does pay homage to Japanese animation, it’s not the same thing, something series creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko clarified during a recent appearance on Nickelodeon’s Avatar: Braving the Elements podcast.

Speaking about the show’s animation style, DiMartino emphasized that the pair wanted to showcase their love of anime, but not duplicate it. “We wanted to do a love letter to anime, not just copy it,” DiMartino said. “In some ways I know it would have looked better if I had just copied stuff, but I was trying to do our little crummy version.”

Konietzko added that they hoped to introduce some of what makes Japanese amination so successful into American animation by implementing “a little bit of this magic into an American show.”

Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko on the cultural influences of Avatar: The Last Airbender

During their discussion, DiMartino and Konietzko also spoke about the responsibility of creating a series heavily inspired by Asian culture, especially with two white men at the helm. Recent conversations surrounding inclusion and diversity have prompted creators to look more closely at how they’re approaching stories (and whether they’re the ones who should be telling them), but DiMartino said the two tried to be conscientious of the cultures that influenced their work even before that was the case.

"We just naturally want to respect people and cultures. Part of the reason we created [Avatar: The Last Airbender] was admiration of [Hayao] Miyazaki’s films and Asian culture. So, it came out of a love and appreciation of it. It was just natural to try to honor it as best we could."

The creators don’t deny they’ve made some “missteps,” however. “Now we’re obviously even more aware and more conscious to do it right,” DiMartino said.

"Even the Avatar world isn’t monolithic. It is very multicultural. We are two white American dudes, but there isn’t one person who could represent the entire Avatar world. It’s very much about these different cultures coexisting, and the beauty and the pain that comes out of that. It’s just about a world that’s trying to find balance and trying to coexist. That’s our default attitudes anyway."

They’ll certainly get the opportunity to “do it right” now that the newly formed Avatar Studios is going to expand the universe through more films and television series. Hopefully, their efforts will include finding a more diverse lineup of creatives to help write and produce the new projects. And all that is separate and apart from Netflix’s own live-action remake of the show, which DiMartino and Konietzko were both attached to before leaving. Whatever happens, it’s an exciting time to be a Last Airbender fan.

Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra on Paramount+ and Netflix!

Listen to the brand new podcast, Avatar: Braving the Elements!:

Subscribe to the NEW official Avatar: The Last Airbender YouTube channel!:

Original source: Winter Is Coming.

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