The summer of last year has been saved by one of the best cartoons of all time. The release of Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix couldn’t have come at a better time, as both old and new fans are enthralled by Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph’s epic quest to defeat the Fire Lord. Safe to say, you can still catch this amazing cartoon on Netflix!
The animated series, which chronicles the exploits of the reincarnated master with the capacity to psychically move air, water, fire, and Earth in order to bring balance to the planet and was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko for Nickelodeon, initially ran from 2005 to 2008.
The mature-for-kids action program, which featured a range of Asian combat, design, and philosophical inspirations, challenged preconceived assumptions (and fate itself) with intelligence, sensitivity, and beauty. And its resurgence in popularity confirms its stature as a classic despite its youth.
A fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender recently released their artwork, which included drawings of some of the key characters in the Studio Ghibli style. Avatar: The Last Airbender follows Aang, the titular last Airbender, on his journey throughout the world to master the four elements and restore balance to the planet. While Studio Ghibli is a Japanese animation studio best known for films including My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle.
Avatar was clearly influenced by Studio Ghibli because both films feature elements of environmentalism, spirituality, and whimsy in their design. The acquisition of Avatar by Netflix, which will release the series and its spinoff, The Legend of Korra, on its streaming site, as well as the news of a live-action adaptation starring Daniel Dae Kim as Firelord Ozai, has reignited interest in the franchise. Studio Ghibli is also working on a new feature titled How Do You Live?, which will be directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the studio’s president and master storyteller.
The major characters Aang, Katara, Zuko, and Toph are shown in new fan art by @theminchodan in the Studio Ghibli style, with distinctive huge, marvelous eyes, pink cheeks, and extremely small mouths. The post also includes secondary characters Azula and Princess Yue. One of Katara and Zuko’s drawings evokes memories of Howl’s Moving Castle, with the primary characters Howl and Sophie appearing in the artwork. Here are a few of them:
The upcoming Avatar live-action version will have an all-Asian cast, including Dallas Liu, who played Zuko in Pen15. This is a deliberate move by Netflix to avoid accusations of cultural appropriation thrown against the original series’ white producers, who were accused of utilizing East Asian culture and spirituality as a jumping-off point for its world-building. This criticism can be linked indirectly to the fact that it was inspired by Studio Ghibli, whose sense of scale and whimsy can be sensed in Avatar’s presentation.
Studio Ghibli is one of the most well-known and influential studios in the world, with films that stand as some of the most consistently well-crafted works of art in history. From video games to comics to animation to any modern fantasy story, the visuals and tones can be seen everywhere.
Avatar is only one of many projects to draw inspiration from the studio, and with a live-action remake on the way, it’ll undoubtedly introduce that inspiration to a whole new generation of viewers, but with a much more conscious and respectful understanding of where it came from.