Avatar – The Anime That Isn’t Quite Anime…Right?

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I seem to be one of the very few people who hear or read the word “Avatar” and instantly think about one of the two the hit TV series’ “The Last Airbender” or “The Legend of Korra” instead of the James Cameron blockbuster of the same name, something I assume most others think of when they hear that word. Both series’, created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, follow the journey of the current Avatar as they travel the four nations bringing peace to all they meet and eventually doing their best to save the known world and all of its inhabitants both physically and spiritually from some sort of all-engulfing evil. The Avatar franchise has made countless fans from all corners of the globe because of its beautiful and vibrant colours, fluid animation and some of the deepest storylines to ever come out of a cartoon supposedly targeted towards a young audience.

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The series creators gain a lot of inspiration from Japanese animation or “Anime”, as all the kids are calling it these days, and they have proven to be the masters of bring Anime themes and styles over to the West to make it their own, the funny thing is that they succeeded in doing that almost instantly with “The Last Airbender” and have continued to prove it to audiences with ‘The Legend Of Korra“, the funnier thing is that despite how well it fits into the genre a fair few Anime fans out there do NOT consider it to be Anime. I’ve thought about this a fair bit for a while now and I still can’t come down to an exact answer as to why this is so, is it simply because it isn’t Japanese-made? Osamu Tezuka, who you should all know as a legend in the industry, took a lot of inspiration from Walt Disney and all of his works, does that then make Mangas like “Dororo” any less of a Manga? Does it make “Kimba The White Lion” any less of an Anime?

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Look, I’m not here to give a one-sided argument, I can also see why it wouldn’t be considered an Anime; it cannot do some particular things better than traditional Anime can, it is NOT Japanese made so I can see where culture plays a part and I can also see how some fans look at the series as nothing but a “wannabe Anime” , even though I don’t like it I sure as heck can understand it. What I really want is to know what all of YOU think, voice your opinion on the matter by heading to the comments section below as well as on our Twitter page (@capsulecomputer) and on our Facebook page (click here). Avatar – The Anime That Isn’t Quite Anime…Right? Help us decide.

  • vinoneil

    By the very loose (and Japanese) definition of Anime as animation, Avatar is an anime. By the definition of many within the fandom, it is no more an anime than RWBY is an anime. Yes, I’m aware of the influences of Disney on Japanese anime but at the same time, the cultural ideals and values that are ever-present in Japanese anime are not always to be found in these Japanese-inspired animated features. Many decades of unique cultural and historical influence has made Japanese anime what it is today as it has indelibly impacted the Japanese world view. This view is very foreign to the Western, and most notably U.S. American, worldview. At the risk of over-generalising, the western audience wants “macho” alpha male type characters. They have no patience for a “wimpy” character like Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion. Of course, centuries of greater value placed on extroverted characteristics have shaped the thinking of the Western audience. Shinji’s reserved and shy nature and internal monologue holds no interest for such an audience. This is just one of the ways in which anime differs from western cartoons.

    • Frank Inglese

      Once again, another very good point. The way you’ve described Western cartoons and Western media in general is actually spot on! That’s another reason why I found Avatar to be more Anime than Western Cartoon. Aang could only Air Bend yet he has been told since birth that he must master every single bending discipline, at times it even got too hard for him and the title of the Avatar really put a serious weight on his shoulders. I like that you brought up shinji Ikari because it’s annoying yet staple characters like him that make Anime what it is. When a character doubts himself/herself and those around them yet overcomes it for the greater good, you know you’ve got yourself a good story, a very Anime story and one that the team behind Avatar seem to be able to do well. History and culture plays a big part, I agree with you totally, that’s just another reason as to why Avatar should be placed in the “Anime” category. The men behind the series have clearly researched and learnt a lot about Asian history. It’s not just the overall aesthetic theme of the series that takes from the culture, it is lessons of honour, respect and peace that also come with the series. Like I said, very good point. Thank you for your comment. 🙂

  • thecrows2332

    Personally, i wouldnt class Avatar as an anime but i can see why people. Cartoons just focus on the main characters and follow them for 1 episode, then next episode theyre doing something else. Avatar follows the story till it finishes and the books/arcs is a good argument why it could be called an anime.

    • Frank Inglese

      Very good point. You see, the way I see it is that it’s inspired enough by Anime and executed well enough to the point where, in some cases, it actually is more of an Anime than some Anime yet with Nickelodeon backing the entire franchise I can why it simply slots into another Western Cartoon. Thanks for your comment 🙂

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