Aang is one of the strongest characters in the Avatar series, but some of his abilities and bodily quirks are easy to forget.
Aang, a high-spirited hero and perky protagonist, makes it easy for us to forget that he’s the strongest character in the Avatar series. Although he was frozen in an iceberg for 100 years, his chronological age of 112 is neither reflected in his personality nor his appearance. Aang’s carefree exterior is a natural extension of his young biological age, which makes his responsibilities as the Avatar all the more difficult, and his body one of the more unique in the series’ world.
Here are some fascinating facts you may have forgotten about Avatar Aang’s appearance and abilities.
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Aang’s character design and body were inspired by Eastern traditions
Avatar creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko used concepts from Buddhism and Taoism when designing Aang’s character. This is made apparent not only through his outward appearance but his internal anatomy also. Eastern influences can also be seen in his outfit. His orange, loose-fitting clothing is somewhat in-line with the way that Buddhist monks dress.
With regards to his internal makeup, the Avatar relies on the idea of chi, as evidenced by the Air Nomad tattoos that run across his body along these chi paths. Aang is also a vegetarian, which runs in parallel with Taoist religious orders promoting a vegetarian diet.
Aang uses spiritual projection to enter the spirit world, and more
As the Avatar, Aang is a very spiritual person and can connect with his past lives, the Spirit World, and sense chi. The Avatar is said to be the bridge between the mortal and spirit world and accordingly, Aang has projected himself into the spirit world on many occasions. He does this using spiritual projection.
Spiritual projection is a unique airbending technique that requires one to have a high level of spirituality. Essentially, Aang can separate from his body by meditating, finding his inner spiritual connection, and entering the spirit world. An example of Aang using this technique is in “The Siege of the North,” where he spiritually projects himself into the Spirit World through meditation. In the Spirit World, he comes face-to-face with Koh the Face Stealer — a very old and knowledgeable spirit that can steal the face of any person that shows emotion. Spiritual projection differs from Avatar Korra’s variation on the form, which is called astral projection. Spiritual projection, in the words of Jinora, is a complex airbending technique, whereas astral projection is an energybending technique.
Aang has also used it to connect with his past lives, like Avatar Roku, his immediate predecessor, who is most often shown in the spiritual spotlight throughout the original series. In the Avatar state, Aang can connect with other spirits, such as when he submerged himself in water and joined with the Ocean Spirit to acquire powerful waterbending strong enough to destroy the Fire Nation’s fleet.
Aang’s energbending vastly improved over time
Energybending is the practice of bending another person’s life energy — a form that predates the four elemental bending styles. The ability to bend energy was passed down to Aang by the lion turtle and, in his final battle with Ozai, Aang used energybending to take away the Fire Lord’s bending.
Many decades later, Aang’s energybending greatly improved. In the sequel series, The Legend of Korra, we see a flashback in which Aang takes away the bending of a bloodbending crime lord, Yakone, with relative ease. In this scene, we initially see Aang struggling against Yakone’s power in a courtroom setting. The bloodbender is able to restrict his movement quite easily, with the Avatar losing consciousness after being launched into a set of stairs. Using his Avatar state to recover, though, Aang eventually catches up to the criminal, and once again uses his Avatar state to escape the control of Yakone’s illegal bending.
Upon escaping its grasp, Aang quickly captures the convict using earthbending and takes no chances — immediately taking away his bending. His improved and efficient energybending meant that his opponent lost his abilities almost instantly.
Aang was once the youngest airbending master ever
Even during his childhood at the Air Temple, Aang was a very skilled bender. Having received his blue arrow tattoos at the age of 12, Aang became the youngest airbending master ever (though his granddaughter would later surpass him by becoming the youngest master at the age of 11). In the original series’ present, Aang (and the technical age of 112) makes good use of his talent to become proficient in using all four elements in just one year.
Aang died young as a side-effect of being frozen for 100 years
Being frozen for 100 years took a big toll on Aang’s body, leading to his early demise. For the duration that he spent frozen in an iceberg, Aang was in a constant Avatar state, which drained a lot of his life energy. This is unfortunate as many of his predecessors reached what we’d consider as ‘old age’, with Avatar Roku dying at 70 and Avatar Kyoshi at the ripe old age of 230. Yes, you heard that right: 230.
Aang would eventually reach the relatively young age of 66 before passing away, though his legacy and accomplishments will never be forgotten by the people of his world. Korra, an exponent of peace and the most recent incarnation of the Avatar, continues to reinforce Aang’s legacy in The Legend of Korra. In the sequel series, Aang helps Korra learn energybending, proving that even in death, he is a mentor. Viewers of the show themselves can learn much from Aang’s willingness to negotiate in the face of conflict and his respect for all living forms of life, including his enemies.
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