See the Pencil Tests for Avatar: the Last Airbender’s Best Fight Scene

Aang and Zuko.  (Image: Nickelodeon)
Aang and Zuko. (Image: Nickelodeon)

You’ve seen it in HD. You’ve seen the fan version. Now see the unfinished version. Which is, honestly, still stunning.

Thanks to Nickelodeon’s Twitter, you can now see a sharply edited sequence of the original pencil tests for one of the climactic moments of Avatar: the Last Airbender, the Agni Kai fight between Zuko and Azula. And, perhaps surprising no one who’s seen the actual animation, it’s stunning. These original pencils are raw, kinetic, and emotive.

Now, the editing here makes the animation move fantastically, granted, but even in stills you can see such power in these drawings. It’s Avatar’s style at its most mature, equal parts shonen and wuxia, and you can see that from this early on in the process. This video has me fantasizing about owning one of these drawings. Even the least detailed ones are incredible.

If you’re on Avatar fan, now is a banner time, honestly. You can watch Avatar and Korra on Netflix now, a new Toph graphic novel is coming, the Netflix series is — actually let’s not discuss the Netflix series. But the rest is good.