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Shown Their Work / Avatar: The Last Airbender

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The creators went to painstaking detail to shape the entire series:


  • This was done very often in regards to the Asian culture behind the show, most prominently with the martial arts from which the Bending arts are derived.
    • Many of the styles of martial arts used by the benders are based on actual styles, and the staff actively took lessons in the various arts in order to get a better feel. The Book 1 Disc One extras have an interview with Sifu Kisu, describing them.
      • Waterbending is Tai Chi.
      • Earthbending is Hung Gar.
      • Firebending is Northern Shaolin Kung Fu.
      • Airbending is Ba Gua, with a hint of Hsing Yi.
      • Toph's Earthbending style, which is unique to her, is Chow Gar Southern Praying Mantis.
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    • In fact, the teacher of the martial arts consultant was very pleased when he saw it.
  • The way the Airbenders recognize the Avatar's new incarnation is by Aang picking specific toys (which belonged to previous Avatars) out of thousands of possibilities - a practice that mirrors one of the actual ways Tibetan monks find the newly-reincarnated Dalai Lama.
  • The Yu Yan Archers favor the Mongolian variation of drawing the bow string.
  • All of the Chinese script in the series says what the characters read. There was an expert in ancient Chinese calligraphy on the staff.
  • In the episode called "The Northern Air Temple", Sokka meets another Mad Scientist type. They are discussing how to prevent the natural gas from leaking and blowing everyone up, since they can't see or smell it. One of them arrives on a solution of putting rotten eggs in with the gas. Although not quite the modern solution, it's pretty close (they use something with a "rotten egg" smell, called Mercaptan). Some of the other inventions also seem to have sound research.
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  • Waterbenders can cut through things with water, similar to water jet cutters in the real world.
  • There's a tumblr devoted to pointing out the ludicrous level of loving detail the show's creators and animators put into even background things. The architecture, the furnishings, the art, the meanings of names, clothing, hairstyles, foods... The night sky in "The Waterbending Master" matches the star map from "The Desert". It's astonishing.
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