The next Avatar is here, and her name is Korra.
There is only one Avatar – one person who brings balance to the world. The Avatar maintains both the balance of nature and the balance of peace between the world’s four nations. Only the Avatar can bend all four elements – water, earth, fire, and air.
Legend of Korra, an American animated TV series, premiered 4/14/12 on Nickelodeon and is the sequel to the hit show Avatar: The Last Airbender which aired from 2005 – 2008.
Legend of Korra takes place in the same Avatar: The Last Airbender mythology /universe, only 70 years later. Technology has advanced to around that of the 1920s. Korra will be darker themed than the original series – “more mature than original, but same sense of fun and adventure”.
Aang has passed away. The current incarnation of the Avatar is Korra, a hotheaded teenager from the Southern Water Tribe, who already knows Waterbending, Firebending, and Earthbending. Korra, on the back of her huge polar bear dog, Naga, travels to Republic City to learn Airbending from Aang and Katara’s son and youngest child, Tenzin. There is an anti-bender revolution happening in the city, led by a masked man, Amon, and his group called the Equalists; the rebel Equalists use lightning-taser-sticks, along with Ty Lee’s chi-blocking skills to attack benders.
Instead of doing a series of “road trip” episodes as in the original Avatar series, the creators based Korra out of one place – Republic City – a steam-punk style, crime-ridden metropolis of benders and non-benders of all nations, founded by Aang and Zuko after the war ended.
The city’s police force are metal benders, led by Toph’s daughter. The most popular sport in the city is “pro-bending”, where a team of benders tries to knock the other team off an arena platform using bending skills; each team consists of 1 firebender, 1 earthbender, and 1 waterbender.
Many of the people involved with the Avatar: The Last Airbender series are returning for Legend of Korra, including the creators and producers of the original Avatar series, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who will be personally writing all the episodes. There will be 26 total episodes – 12 for season 1, 14 for season 2.
Also returning will be Joaquim Dos Santos and Kihyun Ryu (animation and design), Ian Graham (storyboard), Jeremy Zuckerman (soundtrack / score), and Sifu Kisu (fight instructor).
Voice actors for Legend of Korra:
- Korra – Janet Varney
- Naga (polar bear dog) – Dee Bradley Baker
- Tenzin – JK Simmons
- Amon – Steve Blum
- Katara – Eva Marie Saint
- Bolin – P.J. Byrne
- Mako – David Faustino
- Pabu (fire ferret) – Dee Bradley Baker
- Chief Lin Beifong – Mindy Sterling
- Asami – Seychelle Gabriel
- Jinora – Kiernan Shipka
- Hiroshi Sato – Daniel Dae Kim
- Unkown character related to Zuko – Dante Basco
- Amon’s Lieutenant – Lance Henriksen
- On Aang’s early demise: “You gotta keep in mind that he was frozen in a state of suspended animation for 100 years, so he kind of burned up some of his extra Avatar time.” (Konietzko)
- On the new Avatar being female: “It’s not so much about changing because we had Avatar Kyoshi before Aang. We’d established that the Avatar can be male or female and we just thought let’s explore one of those more in depth, because Kyoshi was a popular character with a lot of fans and it seemed like a great opportunity to not retread what we’d done with Aang, who was a great hero, we all loved him, but we really wanted to try something different.” (DiMartino)
- On Korra: “We kind of describe her as a fiery waterbender. She’s very pugnacious. Kind of in your face. We wanted to create a new Avatar that was completely the opposite of Aang. So, whereas Aang was the peaceful, nomadic Airbender guy, she’s very tough, very headstrong, not scared to get into a fight, and kind of picks fights with people too sometimes. So she’s definitely totally the opposite of Aang so it has been kind of fun to write her character and put her in situations that Aang never would have gotten into.” (DiMartino) “It’s refreshing it’s totally different from Aang. But she’s also funny and has a lot of charm and vulnerability because she’s still growing up and trying to figure things out. We worked on that first series for more than six years and we love those characters but it’s great to be working with fresh ones with a new spin on the world.” (Konietzko)
- On Republic City: “The first series was sort of a road show where every episode they were going to some new location. That was another new thing we wanted to do is root it in one big complex location but mainly one place. We were drawing inspiration from Shanghai in the 1920s and 30s and Hong Kong and even Western cities like Manhattan and even location-wise cities like Vancouver, a city that juts out on a peninsula or an island and has these big mountains around it.” (Konietzko)
- On the main villain, Amon: “We have a great villain. He’s kind of an anti-bending revolutionary guy. Very scary dude. And definitely is quite a challenge for Korra.” (DiMartino)
- On whether we will see characters from the original series: “I don’t want to give anything away, but rest assured there’s a definite link between the old series and this one. There is definitely a link to the old series and the old characters” (DiMartino) “Again it’s 70 years later so they’ll appear in various ways perhaps.” (Konietzko)
- On Nickelodeon ordering 12, then 14 more episodes: “When we first starting talking to Nickelodeon about doing a new series in the ‘Avatar’ world, they asked if we could do shorter arcs—more like a show like ‘24’where there’s a specific villain or challenge for that particular season. We’re really happy with that number. It allows us to focus much more closely on each episode and get a lot more craft into it.” (Konietzko)
- On new viewers and old fans: “We want everyone to watch. Definitely fans of the first series will not be disappointed in this one. The tone is a little older, the characters are a little older than the first series—they’re teenagers. Korra is 16 so she’s older than Aang was. So I think maybe some people who weren’t into the first show might find this one and be into it.” (DiMartino)
- On will there be more romance: “I thought Korra was 17 so Mike and I have to get our stories straight. The main characters are in their late teens, we’ve always loved those kind of teen love triangle type stories and there was plenty of that in the original series. We’re definitely getting into it in this series. The difference is these people have cars and motorcycles and things. There’s definitely a different dynamic. I’d say the show is more sophisticated than the original series but it has the same balance of tones we’ve always liked with humor, action, drama, scary stuff and romance.” (Konietzko)
- On a future big screen cartoon version of Avatar: The Last Airbender: “We would love to. I think Mike and I would absolutely love to do feature animation. Either another story, or it if worked out, one in the “Avatar” world. We would be really excited.” (Konietzko)
- On a future big screen animated version of Legend of Korra: “On the original series we did our best to make it cinematic with a big immersive world. And on this series because it’s a tighter stretch of episodes–just 12 episodes–but Mike and I wrote all of them, there’s really no filler. We told almost as much story as the first series packed into these 12. So it’s getting even closer to something cinematic. So yeah, we would love to. We feel like we’re kind of movie guys working in TV. So we’re looking forward to that day when we get to work in that medium.” (Konietzko)
- On what happened to Zuko’s mom: “That question will be answered in some way, but not necessarily in the show. That’s all I’ll say.” (DiMartino)
Some interesting points from the Joaquim Dos Santos, from his April 2012 interview with the Geek News MTV (Joaquim Dos Santos has served as a director, art director, and co-executive producer on both Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra)
- On the new series: “Dos Santos acknowledges that Korra presents a new direction for the Avatar universe. Obviously, there’s the gap in time between the two series that seen the cast of the original replaced with new characters, but more broadly still, the technology and shape of the formerly warring kingdoms has changed tangibly. Bending isn’t exclusively a tool of war any longer and it’s now used by professional athletes. Dos Santos says that this has allowed the show’s writers and artists to explore the benefits and problems of new technology as well as the new social complexities that come out of the end of constant war.”
- On blending MMA and bending powers: “Dos Santos says that the new world of the show has affected the action as well, influencing the styles of martial arts used by the characters, which are no longer kingdom-specific styles, but more blended fighting techniques. “[The fighters] have sort of hybridized all of their styles. So you’ll see a little bit of Western boxing, you’ll see some Muay Thai, you’ll see more straightforward, streamlined attacks that don’t necessarily focus on the flourishes and the bigger movements.” He allows that the action will still keep elements like elaborate flips to keep the action more cinematic.”
- On using real fighters for choreography: “If you’ve watched the fluid, stylish action from The Last Airbender and Korra, would probably won’t be too surprised to learn that both series have employed real martial artists for visual reference when choreographing the series’ fights. Dos Santos says they look to the pros’ movements from the storyboarding process all the way up to the final animation. Fight instructor Sifu Kisu has returned to lend his support to getting the fights looking right in Korra, along with MMA fighters Jeremy Humphries and Mac Danzig, who Dos Santos credits with “providing a lot of the moves you’ll see in the Probending arena.” Meanwhile, Steve Harada and Jake Huang bring along the stylized flips and acrobatics of “tricking” to Korra, which involves dynamic character moves away from the camera”
Some interesting points from the Janet Varney, from her April 2012 interview with the Geek News MTV:
- On Korra’s personality: “Varney describes the teen character as “cool, complicated, stubborn [and] too big for her britches, who also has a really great heart,” pointing to this mix of traits as the reason why the character appeals to the voice actress and why Korra will appeal to viewers as well. For Varney, the appeal of Korra the character is that in many ways, she’ll be a character that viewers can empathize with, from her hot-headedness to her fragility. “What would it be like if you were this young kid who had all of these extraordinary powers? You’ve probably feel a little full of yourself,” she says of her character. To Varney’s mind, it’s this mix of likeability and maybe not-so-likeability that makes Korra appealing to viewers. It’s that mix of adolescent fears, doubt, and stubbornness that make up Korra’s personality and will hopefully resonate with the young viewers—both male and female—meeting her for the first time.”
- On the new series: “The new series maintains the spirit—the heart, according to Varney—of The Last Airbender. One of the virtues of the original series was its ability to juggle multiple tones, from goofy slapstick, to character drama, to sprawling action, and for Varney, The Legend of Korra has been able to respect that legacy.”
Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of my all time favorite anime / cartoon shows. Back in summer 2008, when the finale of Avatar was being shown on Nickelodeon, someone in our family was very ill. We spent that entire summer at home, working towards recovering. There were no vacations, family trips, hiking, biking, camping, no physical stuff. We were stuck at home the whole summer. We started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender together. Nickelodeon was broadcasting the entire series, from “The Boy in the Iceberg”, to “Sozin’s Comet”. We watched and watched. We got to the end of the series, and wanted to watch the beginning. I ordered all 3 dvd sets from Amazon. We watched the series from episode 1 to episode 61, from beginning to end. And we watched it again. The entire series, 3 times that summer. It was THAT good.
We went to M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender live action movie, and were disappointed. Aang never smiled or laughed. Aang and Sokka’s names were pronounced wrong.
Now, Legend of Korra has come out, and we are watching it every Saturday as a family. I have high hopes for the show, as it’s being done by the original creators, producers, animators, fight sequence people, and music composer.
In the back of my mind, though, I have a nagging worry. Long ago I loved another show Star Trek: The Next Generation. Then they came out with a new show, in the same Star Trek universe / mythology, except instead of traveling through space, the new show was to be focused in ONE location. Deep Space Nine. (Sound familiar?) And I hated it. Sure, it had some redeeming moments, but overall, it got boring being in one place. It felt limited. Not exciting. To be truly adventurous, one cannot stay in one place.
Yet, I will trust in the creators of Legend of Korra and watch with high hopes and crossed fingers. Please, be awesome. I know you can.
Watch Legend of Korra
New episodes of Legend of Korra air Saturday mornings at 11:00 AM on Nickelodeon (also in afternoons). Rated Y7 – youth 7 and up, I recommend Legend of Korra for all ages.
Nicktoons Legend of Korra teaser video – worth watching!
Legend of Korra.tv fansite – screenshots and interesting, different art style wallpapers
And lastly, ***spoiler alert***
According to Wikipedia, Aang found a whole herd of Flying Bison after the war. There will also be new species of Flying Lemurs known as Ring Tailed Wing Lemur.
p.s. I will be writing a review of Legend of Korra – should be posted soon.
Awesome news!!! Nickelodeon has ordered 26 more episodes of Korra – Season 2, Books 3 and 4. Total episodes now = 52. Season 1 Book 1, which ended June 23, 2012 averaged 3.8 million viewers.