The Legend of Korra has been surrounded with anticipation, excitement and scepticism (from a handful of fans). The latter was to be expected, as the new series may take place in the Avatar universe, they are not, though, a sequel, but an entirely new series. Only the presence of Katara and the previous series’ offsprings provides a continuation with the original series. Furthermore, it became clear from the teasers and the posters that Korra would bring a darker, more mature element to Aang’s world.
However, the end result was very gratifying. Korra is set to run for 26 episodes, which offers the creators the possibility to spend time designing the characters and adding aesthetic value to the animation. The love and effort put on the final product can be observed in the little details (the angles used, the manipulation of the characters for comic relief, the use of jazz music, the inclusion of a pregnant character, the distinctive character of the city, a blender of Hong Kong, Shanghai, Manhattan and Vancouver, as the creators describe it). it can also be seen in the extensive action sequences and the variety of backgrounds and characters introduced.
The world of Avatar has also evolved significantly since the time Aang was a young man. In the Republic city, people use technology for transportation, security and entertainment. There is a celebrity culture (as indicated by the appeal of the pro-bending tournament) and elements that indicate the industrial evolution that the world has undergone. Even the bending has evolved, thanks to the creation of a metal-bending police force trained by the late Toph. All these elements clearly demonstrate the creators’ intention to explore new possibilities and push the boundaries in order to create a compelling story that will belong to the Avatar universe, yet feel fresh and intriguing in its own right. It is also comforting to see the air nomads rebuilding their nation which was almost completely destroyed by the Firelord (however, the existence of so many people dressed with the air nomads gowns made me wonder if they were non-bender monks rather than Aang’s descendants and airbenders).
Another very intriguing element is the choice of a teenage girl as the new Avatar – thus, as the new protagonist. First of all, the choice of a teenager allows for the exploration of certain themes that, in the first Avatar, could only be presented during the limited screen time of Prince Zuko (who was a teenager then). The decision for the Avatar to be a woman offers the possibility to construct another strong, not-so-girly role model that will face trials and tribulations both universal and more gender-oriented. However light-headed and cocky Korra may have appeared in the first two episodes, she has great potentials to grow into an appealing character.
It is interesting, nevertheless, that Nickelodeon agreed for the story to take place after the death of Aang. On one hand, it couldn’t be avoided if they wanted to go for a new Avatar (as an avatar is a manifestation of a supreme being and can only occupy one body at a time). They were also quite aware that the series’ fan-base has grown older and would appreciate darker themes. On the other hand, Korra’s existence translates into the death of Aang (and that of many other major characters, due, of course to the time lapse). Regardless of how natural death may be, this is a sensitive topic to address to an audience that is still of a young age and feels intimidated by old age and physical demise. It is to be seen, though, if the creators will decide to go a step forward and address the issue during the series.
The series seems to have a lot of potentials, on the visual and the symbol level – and I am not just talking about the possibility of finally finding out what happened to Zuko’s mom – topic that the creators teased us with during the beginning of the first episode and I sincerely hope it won’t end up a running joke! Aang’s gigantic statue at the Republic City stands for everything Korra needs to fight for and the level of excellent she needs to reach in order to compare to her predecessor. This may be Korra’s story, but Aang will always be there, both challenging her and offering her a helping hand when needed. During the first two episodes, Korra has promised us to be a legend. Time will tell if she lives up to ours and Aang’s expectations, but for now, I am full of good faith.
- avatar: legend of korra (cherylwoo.com)
- Avatar: The Legend of Korra (kssunews.wordpress.com)
- Review: The Legend of Korra (comicbooked.com)
- [SPOILERIFFIC] Recap of the Legend of Korra premiere: Part 1 (blog404.org)
- Man in Black Commentary: Legend of Korra Episode 1 (mibreviews.com)