Avatar: The Last Airbender co-creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino have revealed that Dave Filoni help inspire the show in a big way.
Avatar: The Last Airbender co-creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino have revealed that Star Wars: The Clone Wars creator Dave Filoni was partially responsible for the creation of the show. Filoni worked as a director on the first season of Avatar before moving on to other projects, having met Konietzko and DiMartino while working in animation in the late 1990s. However, it seems that Filoni’s impact on the world of Avatar goes back even farther than his work on the original show.
It’s no secret that Avatar is heavily inspired by Japanese anime, particularly the films of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. The show’s animation style and many of its narrative elements pull directly from anime, and Avatar and The Legend of Korra both employed Korean animation studios during their production. According to Konietzko and DiMartino, however, that anime influence might not have been as strong if not for Filoni.
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Speaking recently on Nickelodeon’s Avatar: Braving the Elements podcast, the creators discussed their early days working in animation in Los Angeles and the process by which they created Avatar. Konietzko explained that he was a huge fan of anime growing up, but that he fell off it as a young adult due to some series’ more violent and misogynistic tendencies. Filoni helped him get back into anime, however, helping lead to the creation of Avatar. Read Konietzko’s full quote below.
“My own relationship with anime was like, there was stuff that really blew me away when I was younger, and then in college I just saw a bunch of stuff that I saw that was just really misogynistic and like, gratuitously violent, for no reason, and especially when those two were paired I was like, ‘I have no interest in this stuff. None.’ I’d just go watch an early ‘90s Jet Li kung fu movie instead or something. But it was working on [Invader] Zim, and Dave Filoni introducing us, kind of reintroducing me to Miyazaki stuff. I had seen stuff as a kid, didn’t know who made it, and then Filoni turned us onto that, and then it was like seeing Cowboy Bebop and FLCL and just going, ‘oh.’ And I’m someone who’s always looking at the top of the mountain, how can I get up there, you know? And that mountain being not success, it’s being a creative, you know this thing, how do we get up there, and I’m looking up there, and Cowboy Bebop and FLCL are way up the mountain, and I’m like, we’re down here.”
It’s likely that, working in animation in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Konietzko and DiMartino would have eventually come across Miyazaki’s work even without Filoni’s help, but it’s fun to learn some more about how Avatar came to be. All three have gone on to do incredible things in the field of modern animation, with Filoni’s Clone Wars now seen as some of the best Star Wars media ever made. It’s a shame that Filoni left Airbender after just one season, but his contributions at Lucasfilm certainly make up for what he could have continued to make at Nickelodeon.
Konietzko and DiMartino’s new Avatar Studios are currently working on a number of different projects set in the Avatar universe, which the creators have said will all embrace different visual and narrative styles. That could mean even more of the duo’s shared love of classic anime will enter into Avatar in the future, fleshing out the world of the franchise in new and stylish ways. Without the intervention of Filoni, however, it sounds like Avatar: The Last Airbender may not have been quite the same.
Source: Avatar: Braving the Elements
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