The Legend of Korra Masters Heart Bending

God, I’ve missed Avatar. No, not James Cameron’s blue aliens. Rather, that would be Avatar: The Last Airbender, my favorite animated show of all time, and probably in my top ten overall list. The three season arc was a brilliant introduction to a world where people master the elements of fire, water, air and earth, all without the aid of Captain Planet.

Once the show wrapped, I figured it was the last we’d seen of the series, as it was about as conclusory as can be. But now the show’s creators have found a way to bring it back with The Legend of Korra, a sequel set probably close to eighty years later in the same universe.

This weekend brought us new episodes of Game of Thrones and Mad Men, but also our first look at the new Avatar, master of all four elements. Korra is from the southern water tribe, and when we meet her, she’s already a pretty powerful bender. The last Avatar, Aang, spent a season learning each of the three elements that weren’t native to him. Korra already has fire, earth and her native water under her belt, with only air to go.

The show has many tie-ins to the original. Kitara is now old and grey, and had children with Aang once they stopped being prepubescent. We meet her son Tenzin (voiced by JK Simmons!), an airbending master, who is tasked with teaching the impatient Korra the very patient art form.

I love Korra’s character. I love everything about her. Her design is gorgeous, as she’s a tough, spunky, strong female lead, and a bit more grown up than the children of the first series. I like that she’s already mastered most of the elements, and is cocky about her powers where Aang was more unsure. She’s just an all-around great character, and that much can be seen from the first two episodes alone.

There is so much potential in this universe, I hope that they keep doing shows like this indefinitely. Korra is only supposed to be one season of 24 episodes I believe, making it even shorter than the already abridged first series. There doesn’t seem to be some world-ending threat looming right now. Rather, the scope seems a bit smaller, with local troubles like criminal gangs and anti-bending militant groups being the primary sources of unrest, but perhaps it will escalate.

I don’t think the show needs to go overboard with tying things back to the original. Like it’s nice that descendants of the old cast are around, but if this new fire bending athlete kid turns out to be Zuko’s kid, I think we’ve gone over the top. I also wasn’t all that impressed with professional bending as a sport. That was a fun episodes, but flicking wisps of water and fire, and hurling earth discs isn’t exactly the coolest use of the powers, and I thought from the description it was going to be significantly more epic. Rather, the superior scene was Korra’s apprehension of local criminals using bending, and her subsequent chase by police.

In short, I’m thoroughly excited the series is back. It looks phenomenal in HD, and is one of the best animated shows out there. Hard to believe that it’s all the work of Americans, when such concepts like this are normally Asian in origin. Thankfully however, Korra does not need to spend ten episodes powering up before something happens. With a relatively short run, it forces each episode to be jam packed, and it’s usually all quality through and through.

I can’t say this enough, but go watch the original, and join me on Saturdays to watch Korra. What? Going out is overrated.

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  1. Three things: Katara is spelled wrong in the fourth paragraph. Right now there’s two confirmed seasons at twelve episodes a piece, and the show is actually Canadian made, technically speaking.

    All that aside, it’s shaping up to be a great show. I’m greatly looking forward to new episodes.

  2. How is this show Canadian made? I’ll tell you how, it isn’t. You can’t make an awesome show like this with maple syrup and hockey, this show is made of tits, steak, and beer just like America and that’s awesome.

  3. This review nails it. Avatar is the pinnacle of western TV animation in my opinion, and having another series of deep characters, stunning artwork, and beautiful music is nothing short of awesome. My only concern is, as you mentioned, going overboard trying to tie everyone and everything back to the original. This story can stand on its own feet, so let it!

    Can’t wait for Saturday!

  4. “…Korra does not need to spend ten episodes powering up before something happens”

    I’m guessing this is a knock on DBZ lol. It’s okay, although some of the power-ups were pretty epic, they did get tiresome after a while.

  5. @Nickincollege
    I was gonna post ten times with nothing but “AHHHHHHH!!!” across them, but I don’t wanna get banned. Perhaps I could cap this post in that, followed by a “Next time, on Dragon Ball Z!”

    @Johnathan J
    If he said one season of 24 episodes, isn’t that pretty much the same as two seasons of 12. Math. I mean, it’s actually pretty sucky of they have two because there will be a big gap.

    I like tying back to the original, especially regarding Zuko’s mom. Not that I really cared about her, but loose ends need to be tied up.

    I really hope that the anti-bending plot doesn’t become some Avatar version of the X-Men anti-mutant thing. It’s been played out, and all it really does is make the whole thing a bummer. Bending is the unique, sparkly magic of the Avatar world, and having it slandered, outlawed, and forgotten would be a real shame.

  6. @Jason

    “Bending is the unique, sparkly magic of the Avatar world, and having it slandered, outlawed, and forgotten would be a real shame.”

    No it really isn’t. The reason why anti-mutant conflict happened is because it is a natural evolution in a world where a minority of the population have powers that are mysterious and threatening to the people who don’t understand them.

    In the world of Avatar this is even more of a conflict because this is a world bordering the advent of an industrial revolution. Add to that the fact the last great war, roughly equivalent to two world wars was instigated by benders wishing to force their will on all others and you have a political climate rife with anti-bending propaganda.

    In the first series we see the invention of new machinery and 70 years later we are shown a world literally on cusp of a new industrial age. Bending is a type of magic that is naturally being phased out by emerging technology. The Avatar’s fight to protect the ancient art form would result in a more realistic world than the one where you are suggesting where the creators treat bending as something sacred and beyond the realm of natural progression.

    Sorry for the long reply but your suggestion was just ill-thought out.That would leave the story stale, pointless, and redundant and that is what kills a good story, all because a few people feel realism has been “played out.”

  7. Also, trying desperately to tie-in to a previous series would weaken this one. Allow loose ends in the previous story to be answered through the new story without too much exposition, if they even need to be answered at all. I’m glad Katara didn’t get a chance to answer the question about Zuko’s mom because that would make her the worst kind of cameo character.

    Beside the three-part comic tie-in that takes place one year after the The Last Airbender would answer most of these questions but people always want a nicely wrapped up story, even at the stake of good storytelling.

    Plus, all this talk about Mako and Bolin being Zuko’s kids make no sense and is only generated by Mako’s Zuko-like solemnity and brooding. If Zuko was older than Ang in the first series and Ang’s youngest son is in his 50’s then what makes people think the boys could be Zuko’s sons. Conspiracy theorists aren’t even smart enough to suggest maybe they might be his grand kids. Come on, they are in a whole different generation.

    Amon has more a chance of being Zuko or his sister’s son and even that would only make sense if he was a bastard child no one knew about because episode 2 of Korra shows that Tenzin and Lin know each other (and probably had some type of childhood friendship). Meaning all the kids of Team Avatar (which Zuko later joined) would have all grown up together or at the very least be known to one another.

    Again sorry for the rant, but this is one of my favorite animated series and as a prof writer I have yet to be disappointed by the development of the story. I hope the writers take their time and do it right without giving in to the pressure to please a certain audience with a too neat, too disposable storyline.

  8. This show is going to be great, and although I loved the last avatar series, it did seem a little long, not enough action. Since this show is a little shorter, I feel it will have more action in it and less drama. Also, Korra doesn’t need to learn the three other elements, only airbending, which will also make the show shorter. Even though Korra hasn’t really mastered the ones she has now.

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