Appa is a fictional character on the Nickelodeon animated television series Avatar: The Last Airbender. In the show, Appa is the only known living Sky Bison, a race of animals that can naturally fly. He is voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.
Creation and conception
In a flashback on Appa's Lost Days
, Appa's herd flies down to an Air Nomad Temple where Aang and other young Airbenders are waiting. Aang brings Appa an apple as a sign of friendship, which Appa accepts, sealing their bond as well as giving Appa his name, after the word apple.
According to an interview with the artists involved with creating Avatar, found on the Avatar Season One Box Set, Appa's design was based on the Catbus from the movie My Neighbor Totoro as they found it difficult to create a six-legged mammal.
The show's creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, have described Appa's appearance as a cross between a buffalo and a manatee. Appa, like all flying bison, is covered in thick white fur with brown arrow markings that is remarked to be extremely itchy
and is known to shed at the end of winter.
The arrows on the flying bison's backs have inspired the tattoos that Airbenders receive as a sign of their mastery. In recent episodes, he also wears a suit of leather and metal armor during battle that was crafted for him by Sokka.
Aang and Appa's first meeting is seen during a flashback sequence in Appa's Lost Days.
It is tradition with Air Nomads that each young Airbender is given a flying bison calf once they come of age to be the Airbender's life-long animal companion.
Almost immediately, the two became friends and would remain close, Appa being the one thing from Aang's home that Aang took with him when he fled the Southern Air Temple.
In fact, their bond is so deep they appear to share some form of energy bond, as revealed by Guru Pathik.
Appa was stuck in suspended animation along with Aang for 100 years until their discovery by Katara and Sokka.
Since then, Appa has been the group's main form of transportation in their quest, as well as occasionally assisting in battle.
In "The Library" Appa was a consistent part of the group throughout the series until his capture by the Sandbenders.
However, Appa has been returned to group as of the Season 2 episode Lake Laogai.
Appa became lost for a short while, when the group was traveling in the Earth Kingdom
. He was kidnapped by Sandbenders in the middle of the vast Si Wong desert, while Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Momo were trapped in a vast underground library. It is later revealed that he was eventually sold to a Fire Nation
circus where an animal tamer attempted to make him part of the show.
Appa later escaped and journeyed throughout the Earth Kingdom
until he encountered the Kyoshi Island Warriors
, who attempted to heal the various wounds he had sustained in his travels and escort him back to Aang.
Appa was forced to leave after an attack by Azula
and her allies, ushered away by Suki while the warriors tried to delay the three Fire Nation women.
On his journey he encountered Guru Pathik at the Eastern Air Temple
. The Guru was able to tell Appa of Aang's location by reading his energy.
Consequently, Appa flew to Ba Sing Se, where he was captured by Long Feng.
Appa was kept in a secret location at Lake Laogai until his rescue by Zuko, who was initially planning on utilizing him to capture the Avatar. Appa eventually returns to the main group in the last scenes of Lake Laogai.
Journey into the Fire Nation
Appa still accompanies Aang and his group even after they enter the Fire Nation. However, in order to make sure that he does not give away Aang's identity when flying, Aang covers Appa with clouds as a disguise while in flight.
At the Western Air Temple, he was among the first members of the group to accept Zuko as Aang's firebending teacher, as he is still grateful for Zuko freeing him in Ba Sing Se. He flew Aang and Zuko to the Sun Warrior Temple in order to learn the origin of firebending.
He also flew Zuko and Katara to the Southern Raiders ship, so Katara could confront the murderer of her mother.
In the two-hour finale, when Aang and Momo disappear, Sokka believes he ate Momo, though this being entirely untrue. After the search for Aang failed and with the comet and impending war fast approaching, the group was forced to divide their efforts to prevent the Fire Nation from wiping out the Earth Kingdom. Appa flew Zuko and Katara to the Fire Nation capital where they fought and defeated Azula before she could assume leadership of the throne. Afterward, Appa is last seen outside of Iroh's tea shop in Ba Sing Se listening to Iroh play a horn.
Appa has been shown to be afraid of fire because of the sadistic ringmaster at the circus always whipping him with a fire whip. He also trusts those who have been nice to him, such as all of the group he travels with. He trusts Zuko after he frees Appa from captivity. He can become quite temperamental towards anyone who he thinks is a threat to himself or his friends, especially Aang. Conversely, he has demonstrated an unrestrained affection towards those that he likes, often licking anyone he deems a friend. Appa also has a fear of going underground or in small tunnels, evidenced by his claustrophobic
panic in "The Cave of Two Lovers
Appa possesses the ability to fly, hence the name Sky Bison. He utilizes his Airbending for this purpose; his tail appears to be the main driving force behind his bending but has shown to also be able to accomplish it with his mouth. Due to his size and mass, it takes a lot of energy for him to stay aloft. As a result, Appa cannot fly for an extended time and periodically requires stopping and resting. He has also shown to be a fairly adept swimmer as well, although he is more frequently seen flying or walking than swimming. Despite the tranquility related to his personality as well as his species, Appa has shown himself to be very capable of fighting when necessary. With his bending, Appa can create powerful gusts of air with just a flick of his tail and can gain advantage over his opponent by hovering. Being a bison, he is also naturally capable of brute strength and endurance. The best demonstration of this was in "Bato of the Water Tribe
" where he endured multiple strikes from a Shirshu
tongue before finally succumbing to the paralyzing venom, and "Appa's Lost Days
" where he fought a rather large boarcupine, and was impaled by many painful quills. During larger battles, Appa serves as a mount for Aang. Appa and Aang are usually integral in large conflicts because their enemies rarely had effective counters to Appa's strength and maneuverability in the air. Only in the "Day of the Black Sun
" was Appa's air supremacy truly challenged. During that episode, Sokka outfitted Appa with battle armor, serving to make Appa an even stronger force to be reckoned with.