A is for Avatar: The Last Airbender
To start off the April 2017 AtoZ Challenge, let’s look at the dragons in the animated tv series Avatar: The Last Airbender.
A description from the amazingly detailed Avatar Wiki about the show reads:
Avatar: The Last Airbender, also known as Avatar: The Legend of Aang in PAL regions, is an Emmy award-winning American animated television series that aired for three seasons on Nickelodeon and the Nicktoons Network.
Avatar’s setting is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The show drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, making it a mixture of what were previously traditionally separate categories of Japanese anime and Western domestic cartoons.
The series’ popularity spawned a sequel series, titled The Legend of Korra, which takes place seventy years after the original series.
The Dragon page on the Avatar Wiki describes the interesting design of the dragons and their combination of Asian and Western features:
Dragons in the World of Avatar are heavily influenced by the depiction of dragons in traditional Chinese culture. The long serpentine body, whiskers, fin-like ears, wild looking eyes, canine snout, and the position and proportions of the horns and legs suggest this particular oriental influence. However, other Asian cultural influences are present as, for example, the dragons in the series have four toes; this is a typically Korean trait.
In Chinese and a significant proportion of Asian mythology, dragons are traditionally portrayed as a chimerical mix of lizards, camels, goats, and bats, among other animals; however, their image seems to have been refined in adaptation for animation and for the Western audience.
The ability to breathe fire and the presence of wings are characteristics more common in European dragons, but they are included in the dragons of the Avatar universe as it is such an integral aspect of the western idea of dragons, and also for the fact that they are the primal benders for the art of firebending, whereas oriental dragons were more closely associated with water.
In the middle of the final season of the show, Book 3: Fire, Episode 13, titled “The Firebending Masters,” Aang meets these dragons in person when he and his Fire Nation companion Zuko learn the Dragon Dance technique in order to learn the true meaning of firebending. Screenshots ((1) and (2)) from the episode are featured above from the fansite Piandao.org, and the Dragon Dance itself is shown here in a shortened clip created by YouTuber Miki Esco:
As I mentioned in my theme post, I’m interested in sharing arwork from multiple artists and genres for each letter of this challenge, so next up is a deviantartist from Italy named Enne, posting as Nko-ennekappao, who created this adorable Avatar – Chibi Zuko sculpture showing Zuko with the red dragon:
Next up is one side of a homemade game table called Pai Sho Table: Fire created by American deviantartist Mari, posting as queenmari. Again from the Avatar Wiki, “Pai Sho (牌數) is a two-player game that is popular throughout the World of Avatar, … played on a large, circular board split with twelve sections and divided into an 18×18 grid of colored squares. Round tiles are used as pieces, with each tile having a different image.” The Wiki goes on to explain that the Avatar creators “made up Pai Sho without thinking out all of the rules. The actual rules were thought out by the people of Nickelodeon when they designed an online game of Pai Sho for fans to play.”
Here is a look at the rest of the rest of this table from queenmari’s gallery.
And finally, the eponymous Avatar of the series is a special character, the only person born into each generation that has the ability to master the art of bending each of the four elements. Before Aang, the Avatar was a man named Roku from the Fire Nation, and here is a beautiful image of him riding his dragon mount Fang, titled atla: Avatar Roku by Australian deviantartist Iman A.
So that is it for my first post of this year’s AtoZ Challenge! I hope you found it interesting, and I hope you come back for B on Monday! Thanks for reading, and of course, stay creative!
Screenshot from Avatar: The Last Airbender (1) from Piandao.org
Screenshot from Avatar: The Last Airbender (2) from Piandao.org
Zuko and Aang Dancing Dragon video by Miki Esco
Avatar – Chibi Zuko sculpture by Nko-ennekappao
Pai Sho Table: Fire, Overall, Air, and Earth by queenmari
atla: Avatar Roku by Iman A.