Friday, April 6, 2012

The Legend of Korra: All Fears Dispelled

Ages ago, back on my original blog, I wrote about my initial excitement for The Legend of Korra, the followup to the Avatar: the Last Airbender cartoon. Now, the first two episodes of The Legend of Korra have been made available online, for free, in high definition! If you have not seen them yet, then I guarantee you that you have something better to do than reading my ramblings. Go get the episodes!

If you have already seen the episodes, you can tell that everything that made Avatar: the Last Airbender so great has returned. The Legend of Korra has the same focus on creating believable,  complex characters, the beautiful art, the amazing martial arts fight scenes, the spot-on voicework, and the copious imagination that went into the original show.

Avatar: the Last Airbender is probably my favorite TV series ever, and I'm looking forward to seeing the adventure continue with a new cast and setting. Korra, Mako, and Bolin are in their late teens, making them older than the original Team Avatar. That makes sense to me, as the fans of the original show are now older. Just as Harry Potter 'grew up' along with its fans, the Legend of Korra is a little more 'grown up' than Avatar: the Last Airbender.

The creators of the show clearly understood the fans' enthusiasm for the love triangle of Katara+Aang/Zuko, since Korra is treated to a choice between two love interests right from the start. Bolin is a likable and charming ladykiller, while Mako is a brooding jerk. As an added bonus, they're brothers, which is guaranteed to heighten the competition between the two. Fellow Avatar fans I've talked to suspect that Mako will triumph in the end, and I'm inclined to agree. The Katara/Zuko fans will finally, sort of, have their day. Personally, I like all three characters so far, and I just hope that nobody's too crushed by the way things play out.

My favorite character so far is Tenzin. I was surprised at this, since he's the wise mentor of the show, and that role usually exists to move the plot along and to serve as a foil to the main character. Tenzin, for all his wisdom and strictness, has a warmth and joy to him that reminds me of his father, Aang. I think the moment that sealed it was when Korra won the probending match and Tenzin cheered for a moment before collecting himself. Then Korra and Tenzin both apologized for the way they had behaved, which allowed the audience to feel the depth of their relationship.

There are still several characters who have yet to be introduced, and I can't wait to meet them. I'm especially intrigued at the idea of seeing characters who are related to the original cast in some way, such as Katara and Aang's other children.

I am also excited to see more of Republic City. I love the idea of bustling cities full of different kinds of people. Whether it's Sigil, New Crobuzon, Ankh-Morpork, London Below, King City, or another SF city, I love that feeling that you get where you can turn a corner and find yourself in a bustling market, a dangerous tavern, an imposing temple, or something you never expected. I tried to capture some of that in my Berk setting, which still needs a lot of work. I think that Republic City will serve as an excellent backdrop to the story of Korra. It's the happy medium between Middle Earth and Shadowrun: modern enough to cause tension with traditional ways of life, without being so modern as to make bending redundant.

I'm sure that's enough breathless enthusiasm for now. I hope you all tune in and join me in Republic City!


  1. I also love Tenzin. I think he has that mentoring wisdom, but he's also human beneath it, as we see when he gets embarrassed/frustrated ("don't bring my mother into this!"), or in the developing relationship he has with Korra, based on their gradually improving mutual understanding and respect.

    I'm not sure I like either of the brothers. Honestly, I hope Korra won't 'choose' between them; she can follow her dreams without tying herself down. Then again, I'll support any choice she makes, though I'm worried she'll get her heart broken!

    I was worried from the beginning, and I admit I'm still a little hurt that all of my old favorite characters are either dead or very old. I also worried about modernizing the setting. I watched the first two episodes, and I'm going nuts from the anticipation and eagerness for a third. I'm completely sold! The updated setting really stresses the need for balance in a society, where the hectic city is contrasted against the more serene and thoughtful ways of the benders. What a great way of handling that theme, and it really speaks to our times!

    Can't wait!

  2. And we didn't even mention Chief Lin Beifong! Toph's daughter is tough and every bit as acerbic as her mother could be. The moment when Korra is leaving the prison and they exchange their "I'll be watching you" gestures had me in stitches. Their faces and body language were priceless! One of the best-animated and expressive sequences of the episodes, done completely without dialogue. You learn so much about both characters from that, and I just loved Chief Beifong's reaction.

  3. We barely got a chance to meet Chief Beifong, but I'm looking forward to seeing more of her.

    "Lin! You look as radiant as ever!"
    "Cut the garbage, Tenzin!"