Share “‘Avatar' finding wide appeal

‘Avatar' finding wide appeal
Fantasy epic to have a place on many holiday wish lists

By Matthew Price Published: November 10, 2006
An effortless prodigy in the air with the ability to soar on the currents or create gusting winds, Aang is on a quest to master the four elements and bring peace to the world. The young hero stars on television, in a video game, and is in action figure aisles across the land as a hot toy for Christmas. Aang — also known as Avatar, the last airbender — has caught the imagination of young and old with a hit show on Nickelodeon that is fast becoming a modern epic.

After being frozen in ice for 100 years, along with his flying bison, Appa, Aang was released by Katara and Sokka, a teen sister and brother of the water tribe. They've had to grow up fast, since during Aang's absence, the Fire Nation attacked the other three tribes, seeking global domination.

"He's lost for 100 years, and he comes back to a world that's pretty war-torn," show co-creator Bryan Konietzko said. "We really wanted Aang to be a breath of fresh air from a time when things were more peaceful and more optimistic."

Now, Katara and Sokka journey with Aang as he attempts to master all of the elements and fulfill his destiny as the Avatar, the one who can bring peace to all tribes.

"The idea was that Aang was exactly what this world needed," Konietzko said.

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" came out of a desire to create an epic show based in an Eastern style, show co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino said.

"We wanted to base (Avatar) on Asian culture and kung-fu and Eastern religion and thought," DiMartino said.

At the time, Nickelodeon was seeking a legends and lore show. Traditional legendary epic shows revolve around wizards or magic, such as "Harry Potter" or "Lord of the Rings."

"Mike and I love those properties, but we really wanted something that was a little bit more natural," Konietzko said. "We were really into (director Hayao) Miyazaki and anime and Hong Kong action films, and in our personal lives, doing a lot of yoga."

DiMartino and Konietzko decided they wanted the magic to be more physical, and the wizards to be practitioners of a more physical art.

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