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The Co-Creators Of Avatar: The Last Airbender See Themselves In Two Of The Show's Main Characters

"Avatar: The Last Airbender," created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, aired its series finale back in July 2008. Despite this, the series maintains a dedicated following to this day, and some consider "Avatar: The Last Airbender" the best animated show ever.

The animated series takes place in a world where people can manipulate the elements, but only one person can bend all four elements: the Avatar. Their mission is to maintain harmony between the four nations. Because of this, when the Avatar dies, they are reincarnated into a different nation based on the cycle of the elements; however, in the original series, the Avatar — Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen) – does not die. Aang vanishes, so the cycle does not continue, and a war proceeds. Season 1 picks up a century after Aang's disappearance, and siblings Katara (Mae Whitman) and Sokka (Jack DeSena) stumble upon an iceberg containing his unconscious body. As the Avatar, Aang must learn to bend all four elements and end the war.

While there are many reasons why this series is beloved, there's one factor that most fans agree makes the show so incredible: the characters. Aang, Katara, Sokka, and co. are all flawed yet compelling, three-dimensional characters, and their development over three seasons is remarkable and relatable. Even the co-creators of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" deeply relate to the show's main characters.

Avatar co-creators see themselves in Aang and Zuko

In June 2021, Nickelodeon launched a rewatch podcast for "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and "Avatar: The Legend of Korra," which was called "Braving the Elements." The podcast is hosted by Janet Varney and Dante Basco, the voice actors of Korra and Zuko respectively. On the podcast, the hosts rewatch the series and discuss the episodes' themes, animation, and characters. They are also often joined by other cast and crew members.

On one particular episode, Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino appeared on the podcast to discuss the show's development, offering insightful looks into how the series was made. In the middle of the episode, Basco shared his realization that DiMartino is similar to Aang while Konietzko is more like Zuko, which the pair thoughtfully confirmed. "Mike is like a peaceful, mellow [Airbender] — perfectly round head," Konietzko said. "I am definitely much more fiery and passionate and driven in a sort of self-destructive way sometimes, but we balance each other out."

Along with being relatable, what makes the characters of "Avatar: The Last Airbenders" stand out is how they are continuously growing. In 2015, Hypable asked the show's co-creators about the character creation process and when they're satisfied with a character's completion; however, Konietzko never saw their characters as complete. Instead, they're ever-changing. "In the type of storytelling we do, they are always evolving, growing, making mistakes, and learning," Konietzko said. "I think we know characters are ready to fit in a story when we know what it is they want and why." This approach to character work has paid off immensely, leading to characters anyone can relate to, even the show's co-creators.