Anime-Style: Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra

The Legend of Korra

Anime-Style shows that aren’t made in Japan are a trend in American animation. Avatar the Last Airbender and its currently airing spin off series The Legend of Korra, look, feel, and act like anime shows. With the success of these shows, which are hailed within the general anime community, I hope to see more anime-style shows in coming years. There are several reasons that these AtLA (Avatar the Last Airbender) and LoK (The Legend of Korra) break away from the typical ‘American cartoon mold’, so here is the 5-point rundown.

1)      Art Style

Suffice it to say, the most obvious of the reasons that AtLA and LoK come off as being anime-style is that the art is similar.  Here are two sub-examples to help illustrate the point.

Breathtaking Backdrops:

AtLA and LoK compared to Attack on Titian.

Western Air Temple from AtLA

Western Air Temple from AtLA

A bridge in Republic City from LoK

A bridge in Republic City from LoK

Overview from Attack on Titan

Overview from Attack on Titan

Realistic Portrayal of the Elderly:

Compared to  iconic anime movie Howl’s Moving Castle by Miyazaki.

Uncle Iroh from AtLA

Uncle Iroh from AtLA

Tenzin from LoK

Tenzin from LoK

Sophie from Howl's Moving Castle

Sophie from Howl’s Moving Castle

2)      Martial Arts

Not every anime has martial arts, but a notable number do, and an asian, though not specifically Japanese style is shown in the ‘bending’ of the elements in AtLA and LoK. In this video we can clearly see the martial arts influence in the series:

3)      Spirits

The view on spirit beings in Avatar and Korra is an interesting interpretation, one that is based on a division between the human and spirit worlds. It isn’t uncommon for anime to use this spiritual division of worlds as the basis for which magical occurrences will begin. Bleach predicates most of its concept upon on the idea of a separate spirit world and human spirits turning into monsters call Hollows.

Koh the Face Stealer, a spirit from AtLA

Koh the Face Stealer, a spirit from AtLA

Concept art of a Spirit from LoK

Concept art of a Spirit from LoK

Hollow from Bleach

Hollow from Bleach

4)      Strong Female Characters

More female lead characters, and stronger female characters have been seen in recent years in American animation, such as the trend in Disney to improve the independence and toughness of the Disney Princesses. However, magically powerful female characters have been popular in anime for much longer, in fact it is a running joke that Tuxedo Mask from Sailor Moon is only good for distracting the villain, giving pep-talks, and being the love interest. Anyway, given the anime influence it make sense that Avatar and Korra would have powerful female characters as well.

Toph Bei Fong from AtLA

Toph Bei Fong from AtLA

Title character Korra from LoK

Title character Korra from LoK

5)      The ‘misguided villain’

Rather than having a villain who is clear-cut evil without really going into it, like a lot of American cartoons, AtLA and LoK have villains who wind up having understandable or even pitiable pasts which explain their misguided views. In anime its pretty common that one of the most beloved characters would be the villain.

Prince Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender

Prince Zuko from Avatar the Last Airbender

Amon from Legend of Korra

Amon from Legend of Korra

 

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