Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Fandom
Name: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Abbreviation(s): ATLA, A:TLA
Creator: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko
Date(s): February 21, 2005 – July 19, 2008
Medium: cartoon
Country of Origin: United States
External Links: official site, wikipedia, IMDB profile
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Avatar: the Last Airbender (also called Avatar: The Legend of Aang) is an American animated series that takes place in a world where four elements (water, air, earth, fire) govern all magic ("bending"). The plot concerns Katara and her older brother Sokka, who discover a boy frozen in polar ice. This boy, Aang, is the last (and lost) Avatar, a title that describes his superior connection to all four bending elements. The three children embark on adventures to stop the imperial expansion of the Fire Nation and bring peace to all the nations on the map.

In 2010, a live action adaptation of the series was made. See The Last Airbender for more information about the film.

In 2010, a sequel series to ATLA was announced. See The Legend of Korra for more information.

Canon

ATLA is set in a world—adjacent to a parallel spirit world—that is home to humans and hybrid animals. Human civilization is divided into four nations, named after the four classical elements: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. Each nation has a distinct society in which select people, known as "benders" (waterbenders, earthbenders, firebenders and airbenders), have the ability to telekinetically manipulate and control their nation's element using martial arts.

See also Avatar: The Last Airbender Fandom Glossary.

A signature feature of the show is its animal species, almost all of which are hybrids of real-world animals, like ostrich-horses and otter-penguins. Appa, Aang's steed and companion, is a sky bison, a six-legged flying buffalo. It is never explained where he gets the six legs from. His other animal companion is a flying lemur named Momo.

Appa is a source of great affection within the fandom, and he and Momo are the only animals from the show who got made into plush stuffed animals.

Characters

Fandom

Ships

Almost all of the pairings in this fandom are referred to in portmanteau format. Hence, Zuko/Katara is called Zutara, and its fans Zutarians. The funny permutations of name-squishes are not to be underestimated.

The creators, often referred to in the fandom by the portmanteau Bryke (Bryan + Mike), have a reputation for actively teasing the shippers. In an Avatar edition of Nick Mag Presents magazine, to help explain ships, they included a heart that said Momo + Appa = Moppa.[1]

See: ships; archive link at The Shipper's Manifesto.

Terminology

In 2019, doubleca5t ("The Guy In The Videos") at Tumblr made a video about "What Your Favorite Avatar Ship Says About You."[2]. Its claims included:

  • Zutara (Zuko/Katara) - Looking back on your childhood, you can pinpoint Avatar: The Last Airbender as the source of your crippling addiction to edgy boys who have trouble talking about their feelings.
  • Tyzula (Ty Lee/Azula) - You were absolutely fucking thrilled when “be gay, do crimes” became the hot new meme
  • Zukaang (Zuko/Aang) - Half of you came here after shipping Draco and Harry, half of you came here after shipping Sasuke and Naruto, all of you are now shipping Deku and Todoroki.

Early Contemporary Fansites and Related History

Distant Horizons was the first Avatar: The Last Airbender fansite. It hosted pixel sprites of the characters made by the website owner, Jade. It was also home to the annual Avatar Pumpkin Carving Competition, which was every October from 2005 until 2017. It also had fairly active forums.

Firebender.com was an early fansite that hosted screenshots. It went defunct and screenshots were transferred to the now defunct Airbender.net.

Avatar Spirit also had active forums, frequent news updates, and high quality screenshots.

DongbuFeng opened later and was home to the From the Spirit World podcast. It had a chatroom, games, and starting around season 3 frequent site events where the site organisers would leak upcoming episode titles. During the title releases, the site would often crash. The site has since shut down, but has a tumblr.

Fan communities

Many Avatar fans are on DeviantArt, so there are a number of clubs:

Some of the artists involved in the production also have DeviantArt pages, for example Giancarlo Volpe who worked as illustrator and director on the series,[3] or the fan and storyboard artist Rufftoon, who also put up samples of their official Avatar work alongside with their unofficial fanart.[4]

Starting in early 2012, several people involved in the production created Tumblr accounts and used them to communicate with fans, for instance co-creator Brian Konietzko,[5] voice actor Dante Basco,[6] and martial arts consultant Sifu Kisu.[7] Avatar fans are very active on Tumblr. Some well-known fannish accounts include:

There are also Avatar communities on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth:

Fanart:

Multimedia & Vids:

Icons:

Crafts:

Cosplay:

Fanfiction:

Stamping:

Fandom RPG

Roleplay forums were also very large in the Avatar fan community, many forums having over a thousand active members during their height. There was a broad network of roleplaying forums that was mostly focused on Proboard sites, but were also on Forumotion and Forumcommunity. Many of these sites decreased in activity after 2010, and while The Legend of Korra might have revitalized some of these communities, many never recovered their userbase or membership.

Some exceptional roleplay forums include:


Season 3 Hiatus and Leaking

Popular fansite DongbuFeng had an inside source at Nickelodeon and would frequently host events on their website where they would release clues to episode titles and have people guess them.

There was an 8 month hiatus in the middle of season 3, from November 2007 until the remainder of the series was aired in a week long event during July 2008.

During this time period, the next 3 episodes aired overseas and were promptly uploaded online.

In April 2008, Nickelodeon released a trailer at NYCC 2008 for the remaining episodes of the series. The trailer played into the then heated shipping wars, and screams of delight or disappointment could be heard in fan recordings of the trailer.

Around May 2008, Nickelodeon released a children's book adaptation of Sozin's Comet, which summarised the series finale, which was not yet released at the time.

Leaking incidents in which fans were involved

Fans of Avatar: the Last Airbender were involved in several incidents of unreleased canon material being published online, most notably the first part of sequel comic Avatar: the Last Airbender - The Promise and parts of the first episode of sequel animated series The Legend of Korra.

Resources


References

  1. Nick Mag Presents, Winter 2006 (September 2006), issue 18, page 40.
  2. Re-uploaded because the original had a typo, July 27, 2019
  3. "Giancarlo Volpe's DeviantArt page". 
  4. "Rufftoon's DeviantArt page". 
  5. "Brian Konietzko's Tumblr". 
  6. "Dante Basco's Tumblr". 
  7. "Sifu Kisu's Tumblr".