The Legend of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender are two popular shows that have been airing for over a decade. Both shows take place in the same world, but they’re not the same show. This article discusses how these two very different shows share similar themes and the importance of representation.
Avatar is a popular American animated television series that has been aired on Nickelodeon since 2005. The show was created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, and stars the title character Aang, a young boy who must master the four elements in order to end an ongoing war between humans and spirits.
With a great sense of world-building and sophisticated, lifelike characters, Avatar is one of the most highly acclaimed animated shows of all time. It’s impossible to dispute that Avatar’s popularity is due in part to the world it creates, which is inspired by Asian cultures, and the aesthetic it employs, which is strongly influenced by Japanese animation. The aesthetics, battle scenes, character clichés, and general culture of Avatar all contribute to its appeal as an anime, but are Avatar: The Last Air Bender and The Legend of Korra really anime?
Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are not anime, despite having comparable narrative themes and visual styles. The animation style is a mix of Western and Japanese. It isn’t called anime since it isn’t made in Japan or utilizes the Japanese style of animation entirely.
While Avatar’s art style and tone are similar to anime, describing to anything as anime-only based on its graphic style and tone is incorrect. Aside from the visual, The Last Airbender and its sequel, Korra, have some of the most interesting stories for a children’s animated series. Being a big fan of Avatar and a huge fan of Anime programs, you should stay here because I’m going to clarify and answer whether Avatar is an anime and other perplexing issues on the same subject.
What Counts as an Anime?
Anime is a Japanese word for both hand-drawn and computer-generated animation, according to Wikipedia. Anime is a general word that refers to any animated works, regardless of style or place of origin. However, outside of Japan and in English, the word “anime” is a slang term for Japanese animation and only applies to Japanese animation.
Anime is a diverse medium with its own set of production methods that have developed in response to new technology. It’s a blend of graphic design, character development, cinematography, and other cutting-edge techniques. Anime production puts a higher focus on location detail and the use of “camera effects” such as panning, zooming, and angle views than Western animation.
In his book Anime: A History, Jonathan Clements, an anime historian, admits that the issue may get more challenging at times due to the traditions that the world has learned to identify with. To make this argument more accessible and less academic, define anime as Japanese animated works produced at anime studios and showing certain traditions and characteristics connected with the anime style.
Physical features are notoriously exaggerated in anime art. In general, the physical features of the characters may be used to distinguish an anime from a cartoon. Characters in anime and manga feature “large eyes, long hair, and elongated limbs,” as well as “dramatically created speech bubbles, speed lines, and onomatopoeic, exclamatory typography” (anime comics).
Cartoons, on the other hand, are more realistic and include elements from daily life. Several cartoons exhibit remarkable human resemblances. Cartoon characters, on the other hand, are caricatures and often stray from reality.
Adult animated comedy (such as American Dad or Rick and Morty) and children’s programs are often used to categorize cartoons (such as Phineas and Ferb or Micky Mouse Club House). While anime has a far wider variety of genres, such as romance, action, and drama, to name a few. Western culture has a strong impact on cartoons, with the bulk of them concentrating solely on the lives of Americans.
Cartoons generally have a larger budget for production, while anime typically has a much lower budget, resulting in much more restricted animation.
Characters in anime often have different facial expressions than their counterparts in western animation. For example, shame or stress may cause a big sweat drop (which has become one of the most widely recognized motifs of conventional anime). Characters that are surprised or startled make a “facial error,” exhibiting an exaggerated expression. An angry character’s forehead may have a “vein” or “stress mark” impression, with lines that resemble bulging veins.
Occasionally, enraged women may appear out of nowhere with a mallet and hit another character, mainly for comic effect. To indicate enthusiasm, male characters often acquire a bloody nose in the presence of their female love interests. Characters may create a “akanbe” face by pulling one eyelid down with a finger to show the red underside in order to taunt someone childishly.
Anime is not a subgenre of animation.
True, Avatar has many anime elements… but not all anime. Avatar, like other anime series, has a magical system, choreographed anime-style battle scenes, unique antagonists, and coming-of-age themes, with protagonists seeking to better their world and themselves.
However, an equal number of anime works are devoid of the aforementioned characteristics. Fantasy anime, especially those promoted as shnen, are often linked with these tropes. Although a shnen is designed for a young male audience, it is not always viewed by this group.
This is the default anime style for some, because to the popularity of shows like Fullmetal Alchemist, One Piece, and Naruto. Anime, on the other hand, isn’t only for fantasy shnen coming-of-age stories. Certain works with a slice of life sensibility convey simple tales that might easily be translated to a different media.
Other, a horror film, depicts current small-town views in darker, more muted tones. Adult works with a harsher, more realistic animation style, such as Death Note, which lack fanciful magic or coordinated combat, are nevertheless classified as “anime” since they meet the previously mentioned criteria for works produced in Japan.
This contributes to the uncertainty about whether Avatar is an anime or not. It’s impossible to say that the series makes deliberate use of Japanese animation clichés. Rather than categorically declaring Avatar to be an anime just because it was inspired by them, it may be more fascinating to investigate which anime it was impacted by.
Given the lack of a comprehensive list of anime traits, it’s difficult to claim that any work was influenced by anime in general. This isn’t correct.
Anime is a business.
Films like Spirited Away or Princess Mononoke, which are fantasy anime, may provide insight on Japanese culture at a certain moment in time or as it develops. This, however, is far from their only emphasis. While Kuroshitsuji (also known as Black Butler) has many anime clichés, especially its complex villains, the anime is set in Victorian England and is inspired by gothic traditions.
This in no way qualifies them as anime protagonists. We can no longer conceive about anime only in terms of Japanese influences and distribution methods (for example, the increasing number of anime Netflix originals). They are, however, still created in Japanese anime studios, mostly by Japanese artists, and are originally voiced in Japanese, thus their identity as anime remains unassailable.
While anime stereotypes have an impact on Avatar, being inspired by something does not mean becoming that thing. The Nations, which are reminiscent of South and East Asian civilizations, have a visual aesthetic that is akin to anime.
However, much as non-Japanese cultures have an influence on anime, Asian cultures have an impact on Western animation on occasion. This isn’t necessarily a problem as long as it’s done respectfully and with the necessary research.
However, presuming a Western, mainly Anglophone work as an anime just because it seems to be one without thoroughly analyzing all of these qualities is to ignore the nuances and complex history of Japanese animation.
Why do some people believe Avatar is an anime?
Naturally, the “Is it an anime?” debate may easily degenerate into a fanboy brawl. Fans of The Last Airbender and Korra, on the other hand, cannot deny that many aspects of the show are reminiscent of Western animation. This leads to a lot of confusion, and it’s one of the reasons why so many people think Avatar is anime. This has been ascribed to the following:
Perceptions of Culture
Avatar was heavily influenced by Asian culture. The show’s producers clearly took influence from a number of South and East Asian cultures to develop the various Nations, but they aren’t specific about whose civilizations they reference.
Many viewers, for example, have seen parallels between the Earth Kingdom and Chinese culture, as well as the Fire Nation and South Asian culture. The show makes no effort to hide this reality, and it is committed to accurately portraying Asian culture. To put it another way, Avatar is an animated program with a strong Asian influence.
Many people in the West think Avatar follows the same pattern as anime since anime is usually linked with Japanese culture.
Components of the Story
Avatar-style battle choreography may be seen in a number of popular shounen anime. Not to mention, Avatar follows a protagonist through the trials and tribulations of a hazardous journey. Along the journey, Aang and Korra pick up new talents and meet new friends. It’s a coming-of-age story, to put it simply.
To go even further, one might draw similarities between the way Avatar villains are depicted and how music helps to set the tone for certain circumstances. A recap and a beach episode are also included. It’s quite easy to categorize Avatar as an anime!
Animations and Character Designs
Anyone who has seen an episode of Avatar will recognize the show’s unique “Westernized” character designs right away. However, observant viewers will notice that Aang and his gang’s character designs and animation techniques are similar to those of another famous anime, FLCL.
Despite its short six-episode run, the majority of viewers were captivated by FLCL’s slice-of-life storyline and thrilling action. FLCL influenced Avatar’s animation and character design to some extent, according to developers Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. Avatar director Giancarlo Volpe also claimed that the crew was forced to watch FLCL during the production of the program.
The Characteristics of Series
Another factor to consider is the series’ serial format. The vast majority of cartoons made in the West are episodic, with each episode creating its own story arc. This characteristic may be found in popular shows like Jhony Bravo, the Flintstones, Justice League, Teen Titans, and the majority of others.
Avatar, on the other hand, has a journey, a build-up to the climactic battle, and it takes commitment to fully understand what is going on in the series as a whole, with the introduction of a plethora of secondary characters and arcs that function as allusions later in the series.
The serial structure of this animation has led to it being mistaken for an anime. Certain episodes, such as the Secret Tunnel and the Serpent’s Pass, retain their episodic nature. While it has a significant anime influence, it retains its cartoonish quality.
Is there an anime version of Avatar: The Last Airbender?
Despite the fact that it has many similarities with anime, Avatar: The Last Airbender is not an anime. It has all of the elements of a single story: action and art, character development, and travel. Anime, on the other hand, is a business as well as an art form.
Insiders in the animation business did not create Avatar The Last Airbender. It looks to be one, and it functions similarly, but it isn’t. Parasite, on the other hand, is not a Hollywood picture; it is produced by a different studio. In the case of Avatar: The Last Airbender, it’s the same.
Nickelodeon’s Avatar The Last Airbender is a fantastic animated series. While anime has a significant effect, it should not be confused for one. At the absolute least, it should be referred to as an honorary anime.
If ATLA’s live-action series for Netflix is a hit, it may open the way for more Asian media in the United States. This series has the potential to boost societal acceptance of the medium.
In some respects, it might be seen as a springboard for programs that are similar to it (i.e. Shounen). In just 61 episodes, Avatar achieves a tremendous lot, and it is well-deserving of all the plaudits it has earned over the years.
The narrative framework of Avatar The Last Airbender is comparable to that of popular anime, although the two series are accessible on different platforms. Despite the fact that it is not anime, it will always be remembered as a watershed moment in Western animation.
Is Avatar: The Legend Of Korra an animated series or a film?
Avatar: The Legend Of Korra is not an anime since it was mostly produced in the United States. It is not drawn in a traditional manner, and it was not created in Japan in order to be classified as anime. Despite having anime characteristics, the show was developed in the Nickolodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, California.
Their lack of poetic discourse and metaphorical language is also a disqualifier. Avatar falls short or underperforms in each of these categories. Second, since anime is created in Japan, it must be spoken in that language. Avatar The Legend Of Korra, on the other hand, was not voiced in Japanese, but in English. The Japanese dub isn’t even available for the show.
Due to the way some views have polluted the anime waters, viewers must grasp the distinction between true anime and “affected programs.” This was evident in a recent Netflix documentary called Enter The Anime, which was a big letdown for anime fans like myself.
While it is not a genuine depiction of anime, Konietzko, one of the show’s creators, agrees that it attempted to reflect anime aesthetics and culture:
“Even the Avatar universe isn’t one-dimensional. He goes on to say, “It’s extremely multicultural.” “We’re two white American guys, but there’s no way to portray the whole Avatar universe with just one person. It’s a story about various cultures coexisting, and the beauty and sorrow that results from it. It’s simply about a planet that is attempting to establish equilibrium and coexist. That is, after all, our default attitude.”
Is referring to Avatar: The Legend Of Korra as an anime always incorrect? Those in the Japanese animation industry may be better prepared to assess whether such conduct is disrespectful to Japanese culture.
But what about others who find the word “cartoon” offensive? Although the word has been used in the past to refer to works other than what we currently consider animated films and television programs, such as newspaper comics, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it. There’s also the problem of the word “cartoon” being used disparagingly to describe less developed works. Despite the fact that many of these advanced works originate in Japan, some people continue to refer to complex, sophisticated animated works as “anime.”
Avatar is a great series, in my view, that takes influence from anime works, many of which are also good. It is not, however, an anime since it is a Nickelodeon production and Nickelodeon is an animation company.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is an American animated television series created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. It follows the adventures of Aang, a young boy who must master the four elements in order to defeat the Fire Lord Ozai. Reference: is avatar: the last airbender japanese.
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