No, Avatar: The Last Airbender is NOT an anime! this is why (2023)

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a remarkable animated series with strong world building and deep, believable character development. Compared to other western animation works, which tended to focus more on funny and humorous narratives and were episodic in nature,Avatar took his time developing his storyline.

He created a memorable magical system and popular characters as well as nuanced villains. The series, which spans from 2005 to 2008, is considered by many to be one of the greatest animated films of all time...but some don't call it thatAvatar a "cartoon" or even an "animation".


It's hard to deny that a lot of itAvatar's success lies in its world inspired by Asian cultures and its style heavily influenced by Japanese anime. The art, fight sequences, character tropes and general culture ofAvatar: The Last Airbender means many people mistake the series for anime. But is looking like anime the same as being like one?

Here's a breakdown of why to callAvatar: The Last Airbender an anime can be uncritical depending on the context.

Is Avatar: The Last Airbender an anime or a cartoon? What is an anime?

A simple Wikipedia definition of anime is "hand-drawn and computer-drawn animation originating in Japan". InThe Anime Encyclopedia by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy, the shortest definition of anime is "anime refers to the animation of Japan" (2006 edition, page 30).

(Video) Avatar the Last Airbender Is NOT An Anime... LET'S FIGHT.

Inanimated; A scholar of anime history, Jonathan Clements, acknowledges that the case can sometimes be more complicated because of all the conventions the world is bound by.

But in order to keep this discussion accessible and not overly academically loaded, for the purposes of this discussion, it should be safe to consider anime as Japanese animated works made in anime studios, with a number of conventions and features normally associated with connected to the anime style.


Avatar: The Last Airbender has this signature style to a greater degree than most western animation. However, since it's an American series rather than a Japanese one, it can't fit comfortably into the simplest possible definition of anime.

(Video) Why Avatar: The Last Airbender Is Definitely An Anime

However, Western audiences still refer to Avatar as anime. Some might even argue that since the Japanese often use the word "anime" for most cartoons, regardless of their origin, there shouldn't be a problem if non-Japanese fans do the same.

But should Western audiences do something just because non-Westerners are doing it too? Since there are general, non-geographically loaded terms like "animation" and "cartoon," why not use them for western works? when callingAvatar and anime might not be the worst possible form of cultural appropriation, the case is still quite complicated.

Is Avatar: The Last Airbender an anime or a cartoon? Anime is not a genre

That's rightAvatar: The Last Airbender deliberately and openly borrows many of the elements we associate with anime... but not all anime. The magic system, battle sequences choreographed in anime-like style, bizarre villains, and coming-of-age themes with characters bent on becoming stronger and bettering their world and themselves are elements that make Avatar shares with many anime series. .

But there are so many anime works that don't have such elements. These tropes are primarily associated with fantasy anime, particularly those marketed as shōnen. A shōnen is aimed at a young male audience, although it is not necessarily viewed exclusively by this demographic.


Of course, for some, this is the default anime aesthetic due to the popularity of series likeFullmetal-Alchemist,a piece andHowever, Naruto's coming-of-age fantasy tales of shōnen are far from the only stories told by anime. There are pieces with a bit of life that tell simple stories that could have been told in any other medium.

(Video) The Last Airbender Film: How it Disrespected a Great Series (Avatar Video Essay)

Horror works likeAnother shows contemporary footage of small communities in darker, more subdued tones. The Realistic Adult works with a darker, more grounded animation style thanDeath Note without whimsical magic or choreographed fights are still called "anime" because they fit the definition discussed above: animated works in Japan.

This complicates the question of whetherAvatar is an anime even further. There's no denying that the series intentionally uses elements more commonly found in Japanese anime. But instead of just saying thatAvatar is an anime because it was influenced by them, it might also be useful to consider: which anime? It's difficult to claim that any work is influenced by anime as a whole, as there isn't an all-encompassing feature list for anime. The industry is more diverse than that.

Is Avatar: The Last Airbender an anime or a cartoon? Anime as an Industry

Fantasy anime movies likeChihiro's Journey to the Magic LandPrincess Mononoke can provide an insight into Japanese culture at a specific point in history or history. But that's far from his only topic.Kuroshitsuji (akaBlackButler), for example, may have certain tropes that we associate with anime, particularly in its complex villains, but the anime is set in Victorian England and draws on Gothic traditions.

That doesn't make it an anime. Western influences and distribution methods (like the growing number of anime originals on Netflix) mean that we can no longer view anime in Japanese terms alone. But they're still created in Japanese anime studios, mostly by Japanese artists, and originally voiced in Japanese, so we don't have to question whether they're anime.


WhileIn fact, Avatar is influenced by anime tropes, being influenced by something is not the same as being something. The art can be very similar to anime, with the nations reflecting South and East Asian cultures.

(Video) Is Avatar: The Last Airbender Anime? | Idea Channel | PBS Digital Studios

But since anime is influenced by non-Japanese cultures, Western animation can occasionally be influenced by Asian cultures. This isn't necessarily a problem as long as it's done respectfully and with the necessary research.

But to automatically consider a Western, mainly Anglophone anime because it looks like it without at least considering all of these points is to ignore the nuances and complex story of Japanese anime.

So it's always wrong to callAvatar: The Last Airbender, an anime? Those who work in the Japanese anime industry may be better qualified to explain if this is disrespectful to Japanese culture.

But what about those who won't settle for the word "caricature"? There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the word, but it has historically been used for works other than what we currently think of as animated films and series, such as: B. Comics in newspapers. There is an idea that "cartoons" is being used incorrectly as a derogatory term to refer to less mature works. Of course, that shouldn't be the case, but some people still think that complex and fancy animated works are "anime" because a lot of these fancy works come from Japan.

How I see itAvatar is a great series borrowing works from anime, many of which are also great. But it's still a work of Nickelodeon, and Nickelodeon is an animation studio. While I understand where those who call Avatar an anime are coming from, you can't go wrong by calling it an "animation".


(Video) Every Time Avatar Went Totally Anime 🌸 | Avatar: The Last Airbender

Related:Earwig and the Witch release date, trailer, book and everything you need to know about the Studio Ghibli film for HBO Max


1. Why You Still Remember Avatar The Last Airbender So Well
2. Avatar The Last Airbender IS an Anime! (and I can prove it)
3. Scenes Avatar Didn’t Show You
4. Avatar is an Anime. F*** You. Fight Me.
(Mother's Basement)
5. Avatar The Last Airbender Is Not An Anime
(Yonko Korbox)
6. Netflix’s Avatar Live Action Leaked Scene
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Domingo Moore

Last Updated: 01/29/2023

Views: 6616

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (53 voted)

Reviews: 92% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Domingo Moore

Birthday: 1997-05-20

Address: 6485 Kohler Route, Antonioton, VT 77375-0299

Phone: +3213869077934

Job: Sales Analyst

Hobby: Kayaking, Roller skating, Cabaret, Rugby, Homebrewing, Creative writing, amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Domingo Moore, I am a attractive, gorgeous, funny, jolly, spotless, nice, fantastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.