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
AVATAR: the last airbender poster art by Orenji--kun
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

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). The plot concerns Katara and her older brother Sokka, who discover a boy frozen in polar ice. This boy, Aang, is the latest incarnation of the Avatar, who possesses the unique ability to bend all four elements. The three children embark on a journey across the world to stop the imperial expansion of the Fire Nation and bring peace to the four nations.

The Last Airbender a live-action adaptation of the series's first season, was released in 2010. That same year, The Legend of Korra, a sequel series to ATLA, was announced.

Canon

ATLA is set in a 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. Within each nation lives certain individuals known as "benders" (waterbenders, earthbenders, firebenders and airbenders), who have the ability to telekinetically manipulate and control their nation's element using martial arts. This world is tied to a parallel spirit world.

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 the sky bison, a six-legged flying buffalo, is Aang's steed and companion. Aang's other animal companion is a flying lemur named Momo. Appa has been much fandom; plush stuffed animals based on Appa and Momo were released as official merchandise.

Major Characters

Fandom

Ships

Almost all of the pairings in this fandom are referred to in portmanteau format. Hence, Zutara refers to the Zuko/Katara relationship and shippers who support it.

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]

Due to the similarities of Sokka and Suki's names, many fans on the TV.com forums struggled to make an acceptable portmanteau ship name and settled on calling the ship "George". This was in limited use on other Avatar fansites who preferred to just call it "Sukka".

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 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

Avatar fan fiction writers and readers have a large presence on FanFiction.Net; ATLA was the site's 24th largest fandom as of January 2015, with over 39.1 thousand fics at the time (which has grown to over 44.4 thousand fics as of 1 November 2020),[3] and it has the highest volume of fic within the Cartoon category. As of October 2017, ATLA had the tenth highest volume of fic among cartoon fandoms of Archive of Our Own (AO3), ranking just below its own sequel, The Legend of Korra.[4]

There are a number of Avatar-focused clubs on DeviantArt:

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,[5] or the fan and storyboard artist Rufftoon, who also put up samples of her official Avatar work alongside with her unofficial fanart.[6]

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,[7] voice actor Dante Basco,[8] and martial arts consultant Sifu Kisu.[9] 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 had 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:

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", the series finale, which had not yet aired at the time.

Avatar fans 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.

2020 Renaissance

During the Covid-19 quarantine in 2020, Avatar returned to Netflix, which allowed for a popular resurgence in the fandom, including on TikTok. On Archive of Our Own in 2020, Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the site's most active fandoms and one of its fastest-growing "big" fandoms, with more than 50% of related works having been published or updated that year.[10] The Tumblr portion of the renaissance had a heavy Zuko focus and preferred Zukka to the old wars of Zutara vs Kataang.[11]

Netflix also announced they were adaptating a new live-action series, which many fans have hoped to be more faithful to the original series than the 2010 film.

Fan Works

Fan Fiction

"Avatar Aang: An Annotated Bibliography" FFN archive by The Big Rocky EyeDate: 24 Feb 2008–16 Dec 2010Length: 21 028 wordsGenre: Humor
A documentation futurefic.
"The Siege of the South" FFN, AO3 FFN archive by Lavanya SixDate: 14 Nov 2009Length: 11 177 wordsStatus: CompleteGenre: Drama
Oneshot. An AU in which Aang is released from the iceberg sixty-five years prior to canon.
"Between Humanity and Savagery" FFN, AO3 FFN archive by Shadow WassersonDate: 6 Jan 2012Length: 1 418 wordsStatus: CompleteGenre: Drama
Oneshot ficlet. Jeong Jeong and Hama.

Fan Comics

Water Tribe LiveJournal, DeviantArt by rufftoonDate: 2007Status: CompleteGenre: Drama
An AU story following Admiral Zhao after the events of Book One: Water.

Fan Vids

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. ^ toastystats (destinationtoast). [Fandom stats] The biggest fandoms on AO3 vs. FFN published to Archive of Our Own on 18 January 2015.
  4. ^ toastystats (destinationtoast). [Fandom stats] Popular anime & cartoons on AO3 published to Archive of Our Own on 18 October 2017. (Accessed November 2020.)
  5. ^ "Giancarlo Volpe's DeviantArt page". 
  6. ^ "Rufftoon's DeviantArt page". 
  7. ^ "Brian Konietzko's Tumblr". 
  8. ^ "Dante Basco's Tumblr". 
  9. ^ "Sifu Kisu's Tumblr". 
  10. ^ toastystats (destinationtoast). "[Fandom stats] AO3 in 2020" published to Archive of Our Own on 1 November 2020. (Accessed November 2020.)
  11. ^ Avatar Renaissance Things by lizard-business