The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Legend of Korra

First, let me talk a little bit about "Avatar: The Last Airbender." There are very few animated series that I would use the word "masterpiece" to describe. I could count them on one hand, actually. But "Avatar" was easily one of them. Brilliant, almost flawless, breathtaking in it's scope. The series has been a pop culture phenomenon for several years now, and it's legacy even managed to remain untarnished after M. Night Shyamalan's 2010 cinematic abortion. Needless to say, the distant spin-off, "Legend of Korra" had a lot to live up to. Two episodes in, I feel I can safely say that it's doing just that. 

The animation industry has changed a lot over the last several years. The big studios seem less willing to take chances on something original. That's why most of the action-dramas seem to be adaptations of comic books staring marquee characters. While, I suppose one can hardly call "Legend of Korra" original, it still has it's roots in a property created for television animation, not an adaptation of a comic book or a twenty-two minute toy commercial. It's also refreshing to see a sequel series instead of reboot, as we have been seeing a lot lately. I remember some were taking me to task for trashing the atrocious 2011 "ThunderCats" series, and I stand by every word I said about that insult to anyone's intelligence... but I think those people were starved for an animated epic. I was too, and this is the show we've all been waiting for.

We're only two episodes in, and the show doesn't officially start for another few weeks. But in two episodes, we were introduced to our protagonist, her supporting cast, her world, and the seeds of conflict. Seventy years have passed since Sozin's Comet came. Aang has passed away, Sokka has passed away. Katara is still alive and is now "Gran Gran" to Tenzin's (her son with Aang) children. Toph is unaccounted for, but her daughter is the chief of police in Republic City. No word on whether Fire Lord Zuko is still among the living or not. But, this show isn't about them, and while nods to them and hints are fun, they're just gravy. The meat of the series is Korra and the new cast... and so far, that meat is a porterhouse.

At first glance, the villains and conflict may not seem as exciting as the Fire Nation and their hundred year war on the world, but the Equalists, a movement of normal humans who want to rid the world of benders feels like a natural outgrowth of the world as we saw it. Their leader, the masked Amon has the potential to be terrifying. We'll see where this goes.

I have no complaints about these first two episodes. Everything was perfect. Even Tenzin's young children were actually funny and not annoying. That's hard to do, since most kids on television fall into the category of annoying.

You don't need to know "Avatar the Last Airbender" inside and out to enjoy this series. Obviously the experience is enhanced if you are familiar with the previous show, but as I said before, it's just gravy. And ultimately, that's what all sequels or spin-offs should do.

It's an A+ show so far, and I expect a long, prosperous run for it. Hopefully, and especially with 90's nostalgia starting, it will open the door for another distant sequel by showing that there is a market and audience for this sort of thing, as opposed to a simple reboot. Time will tell, but I am hopeful.


  1. I've been meaning to get into Avatar for the last (**counts**) six years.

    Dang, time flies. Maybe this new series will finally be the incentive that'll get me watching . . .

    **Checks Amazon** I don't see a complete series set, so I might just settle for buying the three 'books' ;)

  2. I take it you saw this on Korra Nation Greg? I tried watch it there, but I'm a little confused as to how to sign in.

    At any rate, I can't wait for this to air on TV. I personally like Thundercats, but with it taking the show 12 episodes just to get to Tygra and Cheetara finally have some form of characterization, I'm starting to understand what you meant about it before.

    Thankfully, Korra should be enough to properly alleviate people's fixes for animated epics. :)

    1. I did watch it on Korra Nation. I think it was only available for the weekend though, as a limited time sneak-peak. But, if you do want to see it... it's "available."

      But I'm really enjoying it so far. Can't wait for the third episode.

      As for ThunderCats. I always said it had beautiful animation, boarding, direction, and great voice acting. But the writing isn't there. I haven't watched it since episode six, but based on what little I've heard, it has not improved.

  3. Well, there is one great thing about the most recent episode I can tell you about at least; they re-introduced Monkian and Jackleman (as Addicus and Kaynar respectively), and I got to say they did do a great job reimagining them as actual threats. Time will tell how the rest of the series does; but I hope it pulls itself together in the near future.

  4. Hey Greg, are you still planning to do episode reviews of A:EMH when it starts back up? Can't wait for the season premiere this Sunday.

    1. That's the plan. I'm sure I'll enjoy the first fourteen episodes of the season very much.

  5. Looks like I'm having an interesting "conversation" on TZ about Thundercats. <_>