Avatar: The Last Airbender has been seeing a lot of “new” lately; new movies, new merch, a new studio, and, now, an entirely new art style. A brand new chibi art-styled Avatar: The Last Airbender comic, simply titled Avatar: The Last Airbender — Chibi, is on its way!
Despite the series originally airing over sixteen years ago, Avatar: The Last Airbender has recently seen a massive resurgence in popularity. The universe has been kept alive by its dedicated fandom, as well as multiple ongoing comic series that has continued on both the adventures of Aang and Korra. The comics have also allowed for deeper exploration of other characters, such as the upcoming Suki Alone comic that will focus around…. well… Suki of course, or insights such as the origin of Zuko’s Blue Spirit Mask. While the comics have acted as a direct continuation of both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, this new comic is taking a bit of a different approach visually, breaking away from the series traditional art style.
The art style of “chibi” derives from the word itself as chibi is Japanese slang for something short. Over time it has become to represent a specific type of Japanese caricature, a style in which the characters are short, chubby, and over-exaggerated, all in a very cute manner. The style is quite common in manga and anime as a way to quickly represent a goofy emotion – while it has also developed into media that feature the style exclusively rather than as just a one-off emotional representation. A good frame of reference for the average person might be something along the lines of Hello Kitty. The style has exploded in popularity, amongst children and adults alike, though the style is mainly used to target a younger audience, which happens to be the exact case here with this new Avatar: The Last Airbender — Chibi series.
With the series being more than 15 years old, and the new Avatar Studio at Nickelodeon proving the franchise is far from over, it makes a ton of sense for the brand to create something aimed at a younger audience. This comic will serve as a starting point to introduce a whole new generation to the world of Avatar, and also gives old-time fans that may now have children a perfect way to bring their young ones into the fandom. While at first glance this may be for children, and that is most definitely its main aim, there is still fun to be found for even the oldest of fans through simply spending more time with the characters.
The new series is being written by Kelly Leigh Miller, who is working alongside artist Diana Sim and Avatar series writer Tim Hedrick. The team is set to create new adventures for the Aang Gaang aimed to bring a younger audience into the Avatar universe with simple, quick tales that introduce them to the cast that started it all. The first story is titled Avatar: The Last Airbender — Chibi Vol. 1: Aang’s Unfreezing Day, and focuses around the idea that while frozen in the ice for one hundred years, Aang totally forgot his birthday. This first issue of the series will follow Katara, Sokka, Toph, and Zuko as they plan a surprise party for Aang to celebrate a new “birthday,” the anniversary of the day which he was discovered and unfrozen!
Clearly, the silly stories are set to expand the characters of the world without affecting the overall cannon too much, making it a perfect entry for newcomers while ensuring hardcore fans that may skip the more child-friendly comics don’t miss out on too much (though still providing enough fun extra content they may not want to miss out). The first issue of Avatar: The Last Airbender — Chibi will be hitting comic stores on September 7th, 2021.