Avatar: The Last Airbender Creator Dishes On the Show's Anime Homages

Avatar: The Last Airbender has found a whole new audience in the last few years thanks to its re-debut on streaming services like Paramount+, and when it comes to all of the homages to anime seen in the series, one of the creators behind it all dished on their approach to blending those influences into their work! The franchise is currently in the works on its biggest revival yet with the formation of Avatar Studios in order to come out with multiple projects (including feature films) that will take the original series in a whole new direction in the future

With Avatar Studios now hard at work on the franchise's new animated movie and much more, series co-creator Bryan Konietzko sat down with the studio for a very special interview in which the creator opened up about the influence anime has had on the original series. Noting that it's an homage, Konietzko emphasized that they didn't want to copy what they thought worked, but use it to make an authentic new kind of experience. 

Avatar: The Last Airbender's Anime Influences

"We wanted to create a story that we hoped would have a shelf life," Konietzko began when explaining their initial approach to Avatar: The Last Airbender's story. "You're not just being entertained and distracted for 22 minutes. Let's not have that reset button. Let's let the characters grow. Let's have an arc...But when we're talking about deep, long form storytelling, we didn't create that. It was something we as Western viewers, we were just craving that." Continuing further, Konietzko explained that anime's been running long arcs for a long time. 

"If you were watching anime, that was just normal. If you were only exposed to American animation at that time, yeah, that probably felt pretty fresh," Konietzko continued. "That's probably why we had a lot of adult viewers, and people who weren't even usually into animation." As for how the co-creator sees its influences, Avatar was approached as an homage, "I've always described Avatar as an homage, a love letter to Japanese anime."

"But we were always conscious that we weren't trying to pass it off as a counterfeit, Konietzko continued. "I didn't want to just copy what we were seeing and what we thought was cool. How could we make something from the heart that was authentic, but was also wearing our inspiration on our sleeve?" And if fans' reaction to this were anything to go by, they definitely found the balance that anime fans were fans of. 

How do you feel about all of Avatar: The Last Airbender's anime influences? Let us know all of your thoughts about it in the comments! You can even reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!