Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Alternatives to Avatar: the Last Airbender

With Netflix's recent streaming of Avatar: The Last Airbender kicking off yet another fandom scrum, a group of online mutuals and I put together a list of books, films, and shows that scratch that same chinoiserie itch.

Granted, indie readers know that the lists are flooded with xianxia and wuxia translations and East meets West inspired adaptations. Not to mention that, since the Matrix, Hollywood has been kung-fu fighting in a classic Hong Kong style. So this chart is but an introduction to the wild realms of Chinas that never were, but possibly should be.

And for those looking for deeper cuts beyond the list, the classics Journey to the West and The Water Margin are a must. Gamers should check out the Dynasty Warriors series, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and the Suikoden series. And movie buffs should also check out All Men are Brothers and Martial Arts of Shaolin. Although any Venom Mob movie will suffice. Those looking for East and West mashups should consider Dakota Krout's Divine Dungeon and Artorian's Archives series as well as M. H. Johnson's Silver Fox and Western Hero novels.

Aang's martial arts style begs for a mention of 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, however the humor and some of the action does not translate well to Western audiences. Film buffs searching for a Shaolin/Air Tribe should start instead with The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, with its unrivaled training montage.

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