Avatar: The Last Airbender is an amazing series and one of the most popular shows in the world. However, some are people are confused with Avatar: The Last Airbender’s classification.
To help clear things up, our team researched and created an in-depth guide to help you answer the question, “Is Avatar the Last Airbender an anime?”
Avatar: The Last Airbender Is (Not) An Anime
The short answer to the question is no. Avatar: The Last Airbender is not an anime.
Avatar: The Last Airbender has been recognized as a popular anime by some, but it is actually an American animated television series. It is staged in an Asiatic-inspired world that first aired on February 21, 2005, and ended on October 3, 2008 .
Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are the creators and executive producers of the show, along with Aaron Ehasz.
The Nickelodeon show features how the nations lived peacefully until the Fire Nation attacked their lands.
With the help of the four nations, it's now up to an Avatar legend named Aang to go on an adventure time and save the Earth Kingdom and other water tribes in the Avatar universe from the wrath of the Fire Nation.
Why Avatar: The Last Airbender Isn’t Anime
The show and its character designs were created by Bryke and Studio Mir, both American companies . They produced all three seasons, the four elements of the Avatar world, its original soundtrack, and some promotional material like posters.
They also released Avatar on DVD in North America and other countries long ago for the fans, but not in Japan (yet).
It Wasn’t Made & Released In Japan
First and foremost, the main character Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen), was not produced by an anime studio. No Japanese company claimed the rights for this anime (including more serious topics like Republic City and the characters like air nomads), so the sequel series cannot be considered an anime in the strictest sense.
Simply put, this cartoon original series, even its Japanese-like beach episode, was created by a U.S. company and aired on Nickelodeon. The initial inspiration of the characters, up until the third season, was premiered in the U.S. for many fans and has never been released in Japan. More on the best Avatar episodes here.
It Doesn’t Have Japanese Roots
You might have heard that the series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” is an anime that takes some emotional depth and character design from Spirited Away’s Princess Mononoke and other Hong Kong action movies, but this isn’t actually true.
Despite its name and seemingly Japanese origins from the characters, Avatar is not an anime. Rather, eastern philosophies led to the critical acclaim of many big inspirations of the show, and it was created by a team of American animators, writers, and producers.
It Doesn’t Have Japanese Art & Animation Style
The question, “Is Avatar The Last Airbender an anime?” also tackles the discussion of whether the series resembles Japanese animation or Western animation.
Avatar: The Last Airbender drew some inspiration from any of the same art or animation styles as the Martial Arts shows, with a high level of Asian culture, but not specifically Japanese culture.
Although the anime industry creators proved their success with the likes of Dragonball Z and YuYu Hakusho, the potential of the Western cartoons showed when the greatest animated series like Avatar peaked its popularity. Get the best Avatar: Last Airbender gifts here.
It Wasn’t Based on a Manga
Avatar the Last Airbender isn’t based on a manga (and the fans know this). The series does not have any specific records of references from comic books or graphic novels created in Japan, so it makes sense that its related topics aren’t inspired by manga.
Is The Avatar: The Last Airbender A Cartoon?
The Avatar legend is not inspired by an anime, nor is it a cartoon. It's an animated show and a television program presented in a cartoon style.
Avatar has none of these Japanese anime aspects going for it - it's just one long TV show broken up into seasons for easy viewing on DVD or Netflix streaming service. But how many Avatar movies are there?
Can an American make an anime in Japan?
Yes, it turns out that it’s possible, but it’s still pretty rare. Westerners do start creating their own cartoon animation that draws inspiration from manga stories or even just straight translations of popular manga series (like Attack on Titan).
Was Avatar: The Last Airbender released in Japan?
Avatar: The Last Airbender was neither released in Japan nor made in Japan. Its art direction was not based on a manga (a Japanese comic), nor was it produced by one of the studios that have turned anime into an international phenomenon.
Instead, Avatar: The Last Airbender is cocreated and produced in California and aired by Nickelodeon. However, a Korean-based multimedia studio named JM Animation took part in the third Avatar book.
The answer to the million-dollar question, “Is Avatar The Last Airbender an anime?” is no, it is not. As said by cultural consultants, it was made and released in the United States and didn’t have Japanese roots or art style. It also wasn’t based on a manga or another anime at all.
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