In Depth

Nickelodeon: ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’

Nickelodeon was recognized with a Peabody Award for the anime-influenced children’s show “Avatar: The Last Air Bender.”

“We were totally surprised,” said Michael Dante DiMartino, who co-created the series with Bryan Konietzko. “I never imagined ‘Avatar’ would receive such a high honor, and I’m very proud of all the talented, hard-working people who came together to make a show of very high quality.”

The series follows the adventures of protagonist Aang and his friends, who must save the world by defeating the Fire Lord and ending the destructive war with the Fire Nation.

Mr. Konietzko said he is really looking forward to going to New York for the Peabody presentation with his partner. However, there is a catch: “Nickelodeon was very generous in getting us out there to receive the award, but we were told that only one of us is allowed to speak. … I guess we’ll flip a coin or play some ping-pong to decide.”

However they decide, they’ll do it respectfully and with honor, because that’s the essence of “Avatar.”

“A big part of the Avatar world and the characters who inhabit it has to do with respect,” said Mr. DiMartino. He thinks that was one reason the Peabody committee honored the series. “We don’t just think of the show as your typical cartoon. To us, the characters and their problems, relationships and goals have real significance. The reason so many fans are so passionate about the show is that they see parts of their personalities in the characters and are able to relate to them.

“Also, the biggest theme in ‘Avatar’ is that of finding balance, both between nations and within oneself,” Mr. DiMartino added. “This is a universal struggle that every nation and every person in the world deals with on a daily basis.”

Nickelodeon’s viewers have embraced the “Avatar” adventures and made the show a hit for Nick.

“Luckily for us, it seems like kids of varying ages, all over the world, have really found the universe to be a compelling one,” said Mr. Konietzko. “Mike and I are deeply touched by all of the energy that fans put into expressing their love for the show.”