The Many Ways Avatar: the Last Airbender Remembers Love For Anime

There’s a good reason that many people mistake Avatar: the Last Airbender for an anime, and it’s not just the stylized character designs and facial expressions (though those are a big part of it). In the past ten years, a number of Western cartoons have emerged that emulate those aspects of anime, but more often than not, they ultimately have more in common with other Western cartoons than Japanese ones. That isn’t true of Avatar—the series shows its influences proudly, and without a doubt, those influences are mostly anime.

Unfortunately I didn't take screenshots and don't have the episodes, so I couldn't get shots for all of the scenes I'll mention. Instead, Toph.

Much like Teen Titans before it, which put a heavy layer of anime visual style over a Western comic book storytelling style (and arguably overdid it), the style of animation in Avatar is clearly influenced by FLCL. This is especially true in terms of facial expression, as Aang is known to break out a number of Naota’s unique facial masterpieces with pressing accuracy. Having seen FLCL at least 15 times, it was easy for me to pick out a lot of moments that emulated it. For some specific examples:

—There’s a scene in Avatar wherein Aang emulates the scene from episode five of FLCL when Naota is yelling at Mamimi on top of the giant hand. (Wish I’d written down the episode number; maybe a diehard fan will know and share it in the comments~)

—In the neighborhood of episode thirty-four or thirty-five of Avatar, Sokka plays out the scene from FLCL episode two wherein Haruko and Naota have a hyperactive dialog reflected in Canti’s TV-screen face. The scene in Avatar uses the same fish-eye perspective (just for the purpose of emulating this scene, which I love), and Sokka teleports around the room in the same way Haruko does.

My favorite referential scene in the show wasn’t specifically an FLCL reference, but an homage to my favorite animator—who also animated my favorite scenes in FLCL and later directed Gurren Lagann and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt—Imaishi Hiroyuki. This scene comes from episode eleven when the second of the feuding tribes is giving their story of how the feud began. The scene is done in Imaishi’s fast, frame-skipping style, with the heavily vibrant, contrasting colors that he’s best known for from Dead Leaves (which I’m betting is what the team would’ve watched to get the inspiration for that scene.) This segment was so uniquely Imaishi that I spent half an hour trying to figure out if he’d worked on the show, but it doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s just an incredibly spot-on homage.

But GAINAX people aren’t the only ones Avatar draws from. I couldn’t help but think of Avatar as “Nickelodeon’s version of a BONES anime” (albeit the one it reminded of most, FMA: Brotherhood, came out later), and I caught a couple of FullMetal Alchemist references in the show.

The biggest one is an excellent dramatic scene in episode thirty-one that happens to also exist in episode twenty-two of Fullmetal Alchemist. In the original, Edward Elric is doused in the liquid of an incomplete philosopher’s stone and explodes with power. His body starts glowing bright blue and the building around him is being destroyed by the power. Maria Ross ignores the danger and embraces Ed, calming him back down.

Perhaps as an afterthought to the fact that Aang’s Avatar State happens to glow bright blue and unleash a lot of destructive power, the scene was recreated when Aang found out that sand-bending bandits had sold Appa off to traders. Aang goes ballistic, achieves Avatar State, and wrecks a bunch of nearby stuff. Katara walks through his powers and embraces him just like Maria Ross did, and Aang finally calms down.

(I remember seeing a minor reference in the next episode as well, but I can’t remember what it was. This and part of the show where a lot of FLCL homages were clustered together in a few episodes lead me to think that someone on the staff had been rewatching those shows around the time they made those episodes.)

There are other minor anime details, but I don’t want to get into everything because some of it could truly be coincidence. (For instance, the collars on the Fire Kingdom official uniforms looked a lot like the collars on Zeon uniforms from Mobile Suit Gundam—but then uniforms only ever look so many ways.) Some general anime stylings such as fanservice (to the extent Nickelodeon allows) and mandatory beach episodes also showed up.

Having grown up with them and having friends and brothers that watch them, I see a decent number of Western cartoons, but even the ones that pull off a decent over-arching plot or load themselves with Japanese-looking style don’t really capture my interest. Avatar is the first Western cartoon that I liked just as much as one of my favorite anime, and all this remembering love for the medium gives me a good idea of why.

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72 Responses to The Many Ways Avatar: the Last Airbender Remembers Love For Anime

  1. lolikappa says:

    Mike and Bryan, creators of Avatar, have quite openly said that all their animators were required to watch FLCL before doing any work for Avatar. Because that is just how they roll.


    • >>required

      I fucking love this XD

    • karry says:

      At least they didnt draw from the recent Gainax shit. I shudder to think that every animation from now on would look to Panty & Stalking for inspiration.

      • I think if an American cartoon were made to be like Panty and Stocking, no one would notice, considering how that show was so highly influenced by Western cartoons, and how easily it could meld into Adult Swim’s programming.

      • Chan says:

        I think that there are actually quite a few American shows that are just like Panty and Stocking on air on tv. If Panty and Stocking got licensed and aired on tv in America then no one would be able to tell the difference between it and an American late night cartoon. To them it’d be another Robot Chicken, South Park, Family Guy or whatever comedy cartoon series.

        • dan says:

          But there’s still the cue for animation style. P&S has significantly better angles and fluid movements than any of those cartoons.

  2. glothelegend says:

    Avatar is one of my favorite animated shows ever. I can’t remember the scenes that had anime related subject matter, but I remember almost every other episode (it seemed like) I was noticing something else that reminded me heavily of a specific anime scene. That’s one of the reasons why I loved it. The other reason was because the story was amazing, and the animation was smooth as…….well it was smooth anyway. Can’t wait for the next Avatar series to come out. It’s probably my most anticipated anything right now.

    • More importantly than just being smooth, the fight choreography and direction was absolutely top-knotch. I’m also very interested in what the sequel will be like, and especially whether not it’ll be in HD hehehe.

  3. Pterobat says:

    I tend to look more at the characters, writing, and story when interpreting a series, and give them priority even over the visuals, though I appreciate good art as much as the next viewer.

    And you know, I love anime, but it’s struck me as just one of the many inspirations behind Avatar, and not its main driving force nor its reason for being. What I’m seeing instead is a fantasy setup familiar to many cultures (heroes on a quest, preparing for war, etc.), but with a pan-Asian influence, rather than just being “Japanese”. It feels a lot more like an epic fantasy novel translated to the small screen, rather than an anime title.

    In addition, the characters and character interactions just seem so very western that it would be hard for me to even mistake Avatar as anime, even going into it sight unseen. That, and any attempt to draw a series in “anime style”, even if it is as competently produced as Avatar’s visuals…always feels a little off, a little tilted askew, so again I couldn’t mistake it for anime. “Anime Style”, maybe, but not anime.

    I love Avatar: TLA, and I love anime, but I find it very easy to separate the two. A work may show its influences, but ultimately it is up to the work itself to stand or fall on its own.

    • I disagree. For me, everything felt anime-like. The story structure specifically felt like most of the adventure anime I’ve seen. I like comparing it to FMA Brotherhood because they’re both long and beautifully set up, but it reminded me of a lot of 90s and early-00’s adventure anime I’ve seen, like Scrapped Princess or Eureka Seven (both Bones anime, hence my comparison of Avatar to Bones anime) or even Samurai Champloo (I forgot to mention that I saw some homages to SamChamp as well). The specific way that it’s structured in episodic adventures that play along the continuing plot is something I’m very used to from anime.

      I completely disagree about the characters, which were the most anime aspect of the show to me. Yes, they interacted in a Western way because they’re speaking English and are written by English-speakers for English-speakers, so that only makes sense. But the structure of character relationships was right out of anime. Most especially, Zuko, the rival character who eventually becomes a good guy, handled the same way it is in every shounen manga ever. (I kept referring to Zuko as “Vageta” for most of the show.) The structure of relationships was primed for the shipping fodder that anime is known for (though this pretty much happens in any work), and there were a lot of episodes that seemed like “Avatar taking on this anime trope.”

      The part that reminded me of anime most was how the show plunged into character backstories and relationships to explain their various psychosis, especially in the beach episode (already a take on an anime trope) wherein the teen baddies all had a group discussions about their pasts and how those lead to who they are now. The way it was handled felt really anime to me.

      As for designs, anime covers such a broad spectrum of looks that if you just showed me an image from Avatar and I was completely clueless and you told me it was an anime, I’d probably believe you. Aang looks enough like a regular shounen protagonist that I’d have no problem believing him as one, and when I saw how the cast was multi-cultural, I’d assume it was an anime pulling a multi-cultural attempt, not a Western cartoon, as I’ve seen it done before.

      As I implied above, the way I enjoyed Avatar is the exact same as the way I enjoy anime. I’m tempted to actually list it on my favorite anime page even lol.

      • Pterobat says:

        Yes, but how much of this is an anime thing first and foremost, and how much of it is a product of universal storytelling? It might be easy to view these tropes through an anime lens, but that doesn’t make them only anime tropes.

        When it comes to defining Avatar: TLA as “anime” or not, though, it’s never been open to question for me. It wasn’t made for a Japanese audience, so it’s not anime. It’s a great show that draws influence from anime, but it’s not anime.

        • I feel like you’re really splitting hairs at that point. It’s not like “anime” even means something different from “animation,” i.e. cartoons, as far as the word itself. If we make a perfect segregation that anime by definition means “from Japan” then no, Avatar isn’t anime, but that definition has nothing to do with the nature of the show itself. So whether or not it’s anime by that definition really has nothing to do with the points I’m making here.

          • Pterobat says:

            Aren’t you trying to say that Avatar is like anime in more ways than just being drawn in a vague “anime style”, because some of its tropes, imagery, and storylines remind you of similar things you’ve seen in anime?

            I’m saying that, personally, I can’t make that leap and view so much of the bedrock of the series’ writing content as being inspired by anime.

            The debate over Avatar as a “honorary anime” baffles me, given the way that fans tend to define the term “anime”. Either we’re sticking with the regional Japanese definition, in which case the debate is moot since it’s all cartoons, or we’re sticking with the strict “Japanese-product” redefinition, in which Avatar simply does not qualify by virtue of being American.

            Is it possible for a series to borrow so much exclusively from anime that it could shatter the second definition? IMO, no. Avatar isn’t it, because as I said, so much of it doesn’t seem exclusive to anime. Avatar is simply a Good Show, and the writers have a love of anime, and are influenced by it, but that is not the whole picture.

            I can’t see Avatar as being almost totally the product of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s experience with anime…a work is always the product of more than a single body of influences, and I prefer to categorize things based on region of manufacture rather than content. It’s too much of a worm-can to do otherwise.

  4. kadian1364 says:

    Like lolikappa said, the fact that the entire animation team was made to watch FLCL informs just how directly Avatar was influenced by at least one anime.

    However it’s important to recognize how Avatar retains distinctly western traits, such as the character archetypes, its comic sensibilities, episodic structure, and even the style of animation (generally favoring frame rate fluidity over artistic key frames). Of course the setting borrows themes and philosophies not just from Japan but from many historical asian cultures. And gaguri’s video in the previous post even showcases the different martial art styles the bending techniques take inspiration from.

    The failure of other western cartoons and comics that emulate anime/manga visual style is that they are empty merely shadows of other creators without forging an identity of their own. Avatar has an unmistakable soul at its core, one that emerges from the world design, story, and characters, and wraps them together into one unforgettable experience. The Last Airbender is a true melding of the best of East and West.

    • As I said just above, I found the character archetypes and especially the episode structure to be the epitome of adventure anime. I also think it’s silly to say that the show favoring frame rate fluidity makes it not anime-like—there are more than enough anime that feature the same fluidity as Avatar, and nothing in Avatar made me feel that it was handled any differently from many of the anime I’ve seen. You have to remember that just because Avatar’s main inspiration is anime doesn’t mean it’s *every anime.* The anime it brought to mind the most, those made by Bones, feature the same fluidity of action that Avatar does, the same design and animation sense, and a lot of them, the same structure. Similarly, pulling its themes from other cultures doesn’t make it less anime-influenced because anime also pulls themes from other cultures. There are plenty of anime that use those same methods of pulling from real martial arts styles of many different cultures.

      All I’m really saying is that except for its nature as an American cartoon on Nickelodeon, there’s nothing about it that I couldn’t see coming from an anime.

  5. Tama says:

    I really love this show, well.. awesome plot, action and fight scene ^_^
    just like dragon ball, too bad hollywood & shyamalan ruin this masterpiece with his poor adaptation

    • The thing that bugs me the most is that supposedly Shyamalan watched the show with his family after his daughter loved it, and he was really into it, wanting to do the adaption. So it’s like, if you liked it, how the hell can you fuck it up so bad? I’d like to hear his daughter’s opinion on the film XD

      Of course, regardless of being a fan, I had a feeling it was going to be a huge steaming pile of shit as soon as his name was attached to it because he’s one of the worst fucking directors around.

  6. Reid says:

    Ghost, this post makes me think it’s high time we got one dealing with the Western cartoon that obviously remembers the most love for mecha anime, “Sym-bionic Titan.”

    • Read carefully. 21stcenturydigitalboy wrote this post. I’m not a fan of this show though by o means do I think badly of it.

      • Reid says:

        Oh I know you didn’t write this post. I was just suggesting that you bring your analytical abilities to bear on “Titan”, is all. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you should. It’s a good, good show.

        By the way, 21stcenturydigitalboy, you did a great job with this post! “Airbender” is a terrific show and I’m glad it got some attention here on WRL!

  7. fathomlessblue says:

    I read Glo’s post on the show a few months back and decided to give it a whirl. I’d definitely rank it along with Simoun as one of the best anime’s I’ve seen in the past few years, and yes, I am counting it as one; balls to where the show was actually conceived, it ticks enough of the boxes as far as I’m concerned. The only part of Avatar which felt particularly western was the script itself, and that’s by no means a bad thing. I never thought I’d find a contender for The Mysterious Cities of Gold as the best kids cartoon, but we might have a tie after all!

    I also noticed a few nods to other anime, including a few fma examples myself. The FLCL references went over my head though, which probably means it’s about time that I watched it again.

    Also I wish other anime take notes from Avatar over how to do a recap episode. The play episode near the end of the show’s run was probably the funniest thing I’ve seen; period. Now that’s how you do self-referential comedy.

    • Simoun is a show that did flash in my mind a few times, being another amazing adventure series~

      My favorite part about the play episode was how it lampooned the show’s fear of showing death by having the characters comment on what appeared to be deaths in the play. (“Did Jet just… die?” Me: Good fucking question!)

      • Curuniel says:

        Omg. Ember Island Players. Definitely one of my favourite episodes of anything ever! Avatar went meta, and did it hilariously, and we got to see characters’ reactions to it. It’s like seeing them read fanfiction…

  8. Chan says:

    I love this series, which is why I refuse to see the movie. Everything about it was just awesome. When I want recommend series to people to watch this is one of the first ones I mention, because I know that the person who watches it will end up liking it. It truly remembers love in the best way possible good job 21stcenturydigitalboy. Interesting thing about this show is that its quite feminist not only in its messages, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it.

    • Thanks! And yeah, I’m glad it didn’t have to dwell on girls vs. boys too much. When it first showed up, I was worried we’d see Sokka stubbornly continue to doubt the power of women, but after getting his ass handed to him by the Kyoshi gals, he settled the hell down with that, which was one of the first signs for me that I was going to see some great character development.

      • Chan says:

        You what’s even better about that is that they rarely use girls vs. boys with girls winning in unrealistic situations in order to justify feminism. Instead they show that gender isn’t the be all end all. What’s even better is every character was not only unique but they also had their own personalities, and they were quite complex.

        For instance Aang he’s like any normal hyperactive 12 year old, but he has a great responsibility to take and not only that but the world he’s used to is gone, so he’s also a fish out of water, of all the characters during the Book Three he was the one that was the most awkward when they reached the fire nation.

        • Aang was definitely well-written. I loved that he could be a total dick when he was upset or didn’t get his way and wasn’t just a good guy because he was a good guy, but based his actions purely on his personal value system.

          • Chan says:

            As was Katara Imean very few shows can pull off a strong female who has to deal with sexism without giving her an holier than thou attitude in that area, while still still making her motherly, feminine, and mature, but still a normal 14 year old.

            The only problem with Avatar the last airbender is that there should be a 4th book Air, because they definitely have enough material to work with.

  9. Besides having people recommend anime to me all the time, the other thing I get asked to watch more than anything else is Avatar. Your post gives a bit more credence towards my slight desire to watch. A good story, action and a healthy respect for anime are things that keep me on the cusp of trying this.

    • I would never have watched Avatar if a friend of mine hadn’t asked whether I’d watch it if he bought the DVDs. I had no intent of going out of my way to watch it, even though I’d heard many good things about it. I was very glad that I decided to eventually watch it.

      I have very little trust for anyone comparing anything to anime, because they’re usually looking at it in a pretty shallow way, and I can always tell the difference. Avatar is the closest I think an American cartoon has ever come not just to being an anime, but to being a top-grade anime.

      • Curuniel says:

        It’s a pity animated series don’t get that much respect, overall, in “the west” (I always hesitate to use that term). Avatar deserves it. It’s even more of a pity that for a lot of people, their first introduction to to the show is going to be through that travesty of a film…

  10. Matt Wells says:

    Great article. Looking back, that scene really DOES look like a spot on redition of Imaishi’s style, kudos to the Korean animators for that. Avatar will be required viewing for my children when they grow up. Sadly, of the handful of “anime influenced” shows made in the West, Avatar is easily the best of the bunch. Teen Titans oscillated between a decent, serious show and wacky, chibi style comedy antics; like you noted, they overplayed that aspect, and the show never really felt like it had a coherent tone between the two.

    Its no bad show by any means, but it comes across as a series of two sides which never completely gel with one another into a single whole. The few shining great episodes amongst the average majority there were act as a testament to how great it truly could have been, if the creators had tried a bit harder. Still, It’s probably the only Western cartoon to imitate the super-deformed comedy style and NOT want to make me gouge out my own eyes. With those two out of the way, the remaining “anime styled” Western shows are disheartingly poor in content or quality.

    Transformers Animated is the most recent show in this vein to my mind, and that was a pretty likeable series. It arguably qualifies as Anime; the animation was done by Studio 40C, and the recent Japanese dub had a new opening performed by JAM Project! As for the rest, there’s the half-decent East Meets West parody series “Kappa Mikey!”, also by Nickelodeon, and a whole stable of French made cartoons that borrow the anime aesthetic style: Totally Spies, Marvin Mystery, and Galactic High. Typical Saturday Morning forgettable fluff, though my sister and I harbour an odd nostalgia for Totally Spies.

    The only others I can remember would arguably be Ben 10, though the artstyle there is only tangenitly similar to that of Anime. And as far as quality, Ben 10 and its myriad sequels are SORELY lacking.

    • I was a fan of Teen Titans when it was around pretty much because of its similarity to anime, but it was always “similarity to anime.” I think Teen Titans lost me precisely because it was just combining those elements with a regular Western-cartoon plot, and there’s a good reason I don’t watch Western cartoons, lol. TT had interesting characters and some arcs had interesting stories, but I always felt it was at its worst when taking itself seriously, and the best episodes were the ones where they really went wild, like the ones with the British villain playing acid-trip mind games with the cast.

      Transformers Animated, in terms of design, gels right in with Studio 4C’s catalog, although it’s oddly not a very good-looking show in action, which is both unexpected from the studio and from being for a Western audience.

      LOL Totally Spies is exactly what I was referring to with the anime style just sort of slapped onto an otherwise 100% American cartoon, which to me is a bit surreal seeing it now and thinking “these girls are somehow not moe” XD

      • Matt Wells says:

        In defence of my 10 year old self, Totally Spies had three teenage girls commiting epsionage and kicking ass, all the while in latex catsuits. There’s no part of that sentence the average heterosexual male cannot resist.

        And the Mad Mod episodes of Teen Titans were always a delight. A visual and comedic riot, capably helped by Malcolm McDowell’s excellent vocal performance.

        The thing to differentiate in Western Animation is cartoons that visually borrow the proto-typical visual style of anime, which I’ve listed; and shows which in part and elements have been INSPIRED by anime, which covers a far broader range of series.

        Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls exemplify in my mind western cartoons where the staff have been inspired and influenced by anime, but don’t feel the need to slap the common tropes of anime on to appeal to Kids, as was the case with Totally Spies. Avatar is in my mind a perfect compromise between eastern and western approaches to animation style and storytelling, but that’s just my two cents.

        Thanks for replying! Love your blog!

        • I’m glad you love my blog, even though I’m not sure if you mean my blog or ghostlightning’s! (I’m just a guest-writer, my personal blog is linked in my name.)

          I think I was 13 when Totally Spies was out, and I won’t deny that I was attracted to the characters, but it wasn’t reason enough for me to watch anything girly on a regular basis (I hated girly shows growing up.)

          Anything by Genndy Tartakovsky definitely shows influence from anime and he’s a brilliant director to boot. I think Samurai Jack is unique enough to defy even being compared to animation from any country, because its influences and style cover such a broad spectrum.

          • Matt Wells says:

            Don’t worry, I DID mean your blog. Unlike some who replied to this article, I did read the author paragrpah. And Samurai Jack really is a remarkable piece of work, we’re unlikely to ever see anything that will rival it for sheer experiemntal genius.

            It’s wide range of influences reflects Jack himself: A medieval Samurai trained by every master of every nation on earth, trapped in a bizarre alternate future where different cultures and time periods have blended together seamlessly.

          • Glad you like my blog then!

            Last night I was excited to see Samurai Jack on the guide for Boomerang, having had this conversation, but it was a fake out because Boomerang’s schedule is always fucked up *le sigh*

  11. Sekou says:

    Another great article Ghost.

    While I was more than aware Avatar was influenced by anime, I didn’t know the specific series the creators drew inspiration from. Thank you for making the connections.

    I can’t wait for the sequel series next year.

  12. SquareSphere says:

    The series definitely pays a lot of homage to anime elements, though for me the best thing that came out of it was Azula. One of the best characters ever. Does she have contemporary anime counter part? For the most part I don’t like how japanese anime start female characters off as strong only to make them weak and helpless by the end of series that need rescuing from the main character.

    • The biggest disappointment in Avatar for me was that it didn’t properly conclude Azula’s character arc (she got left out of the resolution completely! What the fuck!?) Her sadist personality was a lot of fun and I loved that in the third book they grounded it in real psychological issues so that she wasn’t jut “lol crazy bitch.” Her breakdown in the last few episodes was stunning, and the way she got locked up by Katara in the final battle was *the* best way to end that fight I could’ve ever dreamed of. Very powerful moment. BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO HER AFTER THAT?!

      EDIT: Looked it up:

      >>According to the official Nick website, Azula has been sent to a mental health facility on an island where she receives constant care and supervision.<<

      Still disappointing that we didn't get to see it.

      • Stormshrug says:

        Nice post. Avatar is definitely very much in the business of remembering love. It’s got all sorts of wonderful little things hidden in the nooks and crannies if you take the time to look. It also *loves* subtle foreshadowing and early cameos – check out the Season 1 episode “The Storm,” for instance, with the events of season 2 and 3 in mind. It’s kind of crazy.

        There is supposedly some kind of graphic novel continuation of the original adventure in the works for 2012 to fill in some of the gaps, or so sayeth TVtropes, anyway.

        I’m very excited for Korra, naturally.

        • Thanks to you I spent like 2 hours reading Avatar TVtropes pages last night (barely even cracked the whole) and *almost* started reading fanfics! I was too scared to go through with that, though lol. I do want to find all those supplementary texts, though.

    • Matt Wells says:

      The only anime character who warrents a valid comparison with Azula is Katijeena Loos from Victory Gundam. She’s a main villain who’s Azula’s age, similarly talented and skilled in her own universe, and an expert manipulator. Like Azula, she is utterly broken by the events of the series, left hopelessly mentally crippled.

      Unlike Azula, she comes across as a rant by the creator as everything he thinks of as wrong with women, and she wants to rape show’s 13 year old protagonist. Sad to say, but no real female villains in anime or western media can rival Azula for her sheer complex villainy, or offer such a strong chracter arc while still remaining unsympathetic. She really is something of a one off.

      • Matt Wells says:

        In reply to SquareSphere above me there.

      • Actually, I think Liang Qi from CANAAN is an excellent comparison to Azula.

        Liang thinks of herself as elite and special, and is obsessed with her “older sister” Alphard, wanting to be the perfect soldier for her. Sort of like Zuko/Azula’s parents, Alphard isn’t really interested in Liang Qi, obsessed with her desire to kill Canaan, and that desire makes Liang Qi extremely jealous. Liang Qi develops an overwhelming desire to murder Canaan just for taking the attention that she wants from Alphard.

        Liang Qi has an assistant-like guy named Cummings who’s in love with her and obeys her commands, but she treats him like absolute shit, making sure he knows that she cares about Alphard and not about him. She’s a brutal sadist, loving to torment her subordinates and ferociously murder her opponents.

        Towards the end of the series, she has one of the greatest batshit-insane mental breakdowns in anime history, by which even Azula’s pales in comparison.

        • Matt Wells says:

          Sorry, I meant to say of the Anime series I know of in my post above, not definitively state that there are no charcters similar to Azula. Answering his question only from the perspective of mecha series didn’t help my case, and neither does the minor amount of anime series I’ve seen.

          I’ve never seen CANAAN Digitalboy, just heard its name mentioned once or twice. Would you reccomend it? I’m always on the lookout for good shows.

  13. gaguri says:


    another influence i can think of is mushroom crazy episode where they hallucinate, possibly reference to mushroomsamba in bebop/shamploo.

    also, some paranoia agent vibes at the final episode with azula imo

    i suppose one could argue that, in an ideal world, the creators would have preferred animation much more like FLCL animated by veteran Japanese studios, imagine Hiroyuki animated bending battle (drools) but maybe the budget only allowed them the Korean animation studio, although the result is still excellent.

  14. Curuniel says:

    I LOVE Avatar and you’re right, I love it for the same reasons I love certain anime. For a Nickelodeon cartoon it exhibits impressive and highly enjoyable character development, and I think it manages to handles a lot of cheesey growing up themes very well. The visual references from anime aren’t so try-hard as to overpower the show’s own merits, either.

    As mentioned above the animation is pretty and the fight scenes are awesome. Both for attention to detail (the different bending styles being based on different martial arts styles, etc) and creativity. This is one of those shows I recommend to almost anyone, regardless of their taste (there are a few anime in that category too, FMA has long been one).

  15. Max says:

    ATLA was kind of my gateway-drug animated series that made me fall in love with anime (well, that, the Ghibli movies and One Piece :D). I guess I couldn’t have had a better one :). Still has a special place my heart and I hope the Korra spin-off turns out awesome :).

    Oh, and wonderful post! Great reason to rewatch ATLA and look for those influences now that I’ve watched all those animes. Imho FLCL should be required watching for anyone working in the animation industry. For the great animation and camerawork alone, everytime an anime lets its camera dance like FLCL I cheer :D. Love your blog by the way, its one of a kind! ❤

    • Thanks a bunch! I agree re: FLCL, that show does things with animation that weren’t done before and have hardly been tried since. What I’ve heard in the commentary about how much technical effort went into making the manga scenes from the first and last episodes blows me away. Obviously, not every show needs to take away from FLCL, since I imagine a hard sci-fi series like Ghost in the Shell wouldn’t have much to do with that style, but it’s still something that should be seen just to see that animation can happen in such a way.

  16. ankino says:

    The show is awesome! It’s my favorite! Thanks for the article! I enjoyed reading it! Cheers!

  17. johnny says:

    I love the show. It is the best seen in the last year! Thanks for the info!

  18. Tom J says:

    Great show. I just love the entire show. Thanks for the article, enjoyed reading it!

  19. rayden says:

    The anime it is incredible. I can’t imagine the world without anime! Thanks for the article!

  20. Jane Lane says:

    I just love the anime. I am an anime lover since i was born and never stopped from watching it!

  21. Michael! says:

    Avatar-The Last Airbender it is a great movie and it sees in it a lot from the anime. Who loves the anime, it is loving the movie, especially 3D!

  22. Billy says:

    I am an anime lover since i had bought a notebook 3 years ago. But never saw something like aang or the movie! The anime was outrageous but the movie was criminal!.

  23. MitzaSergiu says:

    The many ways that the anime and movie gets along it is crazy! The anime indeed it is scifi action but seeing the movie in 3D in the local cinema it is indeed as crazy as jumping with a car over a cliff! Thanks for the reminder for what do we love anime!

  24. ray says:

    Great series with the last airbender! I will watch it again, from the beginning!

  25. bogdan says:

    The anime Avatar! The last airbender it is a great scene for all anime lovers! It is incredible in all it is doing! I am a lover of anime action, so i love it a lot!Thanks for the article!

  26. Matt Wells says:

    What the Hell’s up with all the spam posts?! We’re being invaded over here! Has this site been compromised?

    • Matt Wells says:

      Ah nevermind, its just the Nickelodeon site trying to entice people to its games section. Not sure why they ended up here, but at least they shouldn’t be back.

  27. kosse says:

    makes sense, u know the creators had started that b4 they even touched avatar, they made their team watch all of FLCL

  28. Pingback: The Dere Family: How Often (If Ever) Does 2-D Etymology Go “Awry?” | Things in the Fridge

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