I actually don’t know what I’ve written more about on this website: Avatar: The Last Airbender, or Attack on Titan. I hold both near and dear to my heart, proclaiming that Attack on Titan is the best under-the-radar show on television, but also openly extolling how the best episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender are some of the greatest episodes in television history, period. But, it got me wondering just why I love both series so much, and then it hit me. It’s the lore!
Now, the lore, or the mythology of each popular series, is no joke. Even though I’ve watched every episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Attack on Titan, I’ve spent even MORE time invested in their universes, becoming engrossed in their histories and backgrounds. And that’s why I want to put them in a vs. battle. So, which series has the best lore? Well, you’re about to find out.
Oh, and MAJOR spoilers for both series up ahead.
Knowing the characters in the current series is great and all, but when it comes to lore, it’s the characters who are mentioned before the story that matter. So, which series has the best past characters?
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s past characters
The awesome thing about Avatar: The Last Airbender is all of the avatars who came before Aang. Sure, Aang showed several times just how powerful he truly was, but knowing that he was standing on the shoulders of giants, like Avatar Yangchen, and Kyoshi, who we learn a lot more about in the two excellent Kyoshi novels, just adds so much more to the lore. In fact, through the books and graphic novels, we actually learn tons more about Aang, and later Korra, through their past lives, making the former avatars a constant presence in both series.
Attack on Titan’s past characters
The interesting thing about Attack on Titan is that the reveals come so piecemeal. At first, we don’t understand the titans at all, but then, we learn how whole families have tried to keep the titan genes within their blood lines, even, in the case of Ymir Fritz, with her daughters being forced to eat her so that they can all inherit the titan gene. (Even the freaking walls, Maria, Rose, and Sheena, were named after the daughters!) In this way, the lore in Attack on Titan is more of a mystery that is uncovered, which I think is really cool.
The Past Characters winner: Attack on Titan
Okay, okay, I’m sure that MANY of you disagree with me, but I really love how we gradually learned how details that seemed really opaque at first were revealed later in Attack on Titan through its past characters, opening up the show in such a major way that it made it much more than a show about giant monsters attacking a city.
Connections To Events Before Each Series
Previous events that helped shape the current story are essential to building lore. So, which series has the best connections?
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Connections to Past Events
Aang is constantly living in the shadows of the former avatars, and it’s because he ran away that his fellow air nomads were the subject of genocide by Fire Lord Sozin. But, the only reason that Sozin even rose to such power was because Avatar Roku didn’t take Sozin, who had been his best friend, seriously in just how destructive he could be, which allowed him to ascend to power and essentially defeat the other nations. This DIRECTLY impacts Aang, and he has to deal with survivor’s guilt throughout the entire series. Deep stuff.
Attack on Titan’s Connections to Past Events
We learn very late in the series that the first titan, Ymir Fritz, suffered in an abusive relationship with King Fritz, who used her to expand upon Eldia. But, this toxic relationship left her in a state where she would exist in a sort of in-between world after she died. It was here that she created the titans. Her connection to all the titans is partially what leads Eren to decide that he—and in turn she—doesn't need to hold onto the past. This decision leads to Eren indulging in his own genocide, The Rumbling. But, this comes super late in the series.
Connections To Events Before The Series Winner: Avatar: The Last Airbender
The fact that the events before Avatar: The Last Airbender affect the entire series (and the follow-up, The Legend of Korra) makes Avatar the clear winner here.
Connections To Events After Each Series
Lore doesn’t just extend backward, but also forward. So, which series has the best connection to events AFTER the series?
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s connections to events after each series
In my article abut how everything wrapped up for major characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender, a lot of the knowledge came from the last few episodes, but some of it came from the Avatar comics stories. Also, we got The Legend of Korra, which I think is a better series than Avatar: The Last Airbender, so there is PLENTY of material that connects to events after the series. Maybe too much, if I’m being honest.
Attack on Titan’s connections to events after each series
I’m actually overjoyed that there will be Part 3 to Attack on Titan’s final season, but it’s mostly because this is likely it for Attack on Titan. As in, no more Attack on Titan ever. Hajime Isayama finished the manga in April of 2021, and as of right now, it doesn’t seem like he wants to reenter that world, so it's doneski. Oh, well.
Connections to events after each series winner: Avatar: The Last Airbender
This section isn’t even fair. Avatar lives on and will continue to live on, with the Avatar: The Last Airbender upcoming animated feature. Clear cut winner in this case, no doubt.
Lore is often extended through outside media (comics, movies, video games...). So, which series has the better outside media?
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s outside media
I already mentioned the comics, both for Avatar: The Last Airbender, but also The Legend of Korra Dark Horse comics, but the Kyoshi (and now Yangchen) novels, plus the video games, just make the world and lore of Avatar feel never-ending. Who knows what other upcoming movies we'll have? I mean, I’m sure most fans would prefer these movies from the original creators to that other, disappointing, The Last Airbender movie.
Attack on Titan’s outside media
Okay, so we have Attack on Titan: Junior High, which doesn’t so much add to the lore as mock it, live-action movies, which actually deviate a bit from the manga, and then we have video games, which just rehash events in the manga and retells the lore instead of adding to it. Hmm.
Outside media winner: Avatar: The Last Airbender
There’s just so much extra stuff! Avatar fans are eating well, while Attack on Titan fans are starving!
In the end, it’s the fans who make some of the best added lore to a series. So, which series has the best fan extensions?
Avatar: The Last Airbender fan extensions
There is no shortage of Avatar fanfiction and artwork out there. In fact, shipping, which is when fans put characters in relationships when they aren't in the original story, is a HUGE part of the Avatar community. So much so, that the creators even made this fan video on some of the artwork that had characters like Zuko shipped with Katara. There are also Avatar fan-made games. Honestly, the fandom for Avatar is huge, and their contribution to extending the universe is massive.
Attack on Titan fan extensions
Everything I said for Avatar applies to Attack on Titan. Shipping, fanfiction, artwork, etc. But, I want to highlight one Attack on Titan fan-made game in particular, because it has a first person option, and I think that’s awesome. So, yeah, the community is completely behind it. But, I think the BIGGEST thing the fans have done was voice their distaste for the original ending of Attack on Titan by creating a new ending in the form of “AoT no Requiem". I mean, if that’s not commitment, then I don’t know what is.
Fan extension winner: Attack on Titan
Thankfully, most Avatar fans didn’t really feel like the Avatar: The Last Airbender ending needed to be changed, so I guess Attack on Titan wins here. But, does winning by losing count? I don’t know.
The overall lore winner: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Even though I LOVE the lore of Attack on Titan, I think it’s pretty clear that Avatar: The Last Airbender wins on sheer volume alone.
But, what do YOU think? Which series, in your mind, has the better lore? For more news on both Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Attack on Titan, make sure to swing by here often!
Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.
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