10 Out of 10 Out of 10 Stars – We Love It!
By Staff Media Critic, PK
As someone who’s usually hard to impress, it’s not everyday a show will make me sit up and go “wow!”. However I was really blown away by the continuation of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender series by Michael Dante DiMartino & Bryan Konietzko, with the sequel The Legend of Korra. The Last Airbender was Nickelodeon’s break out hit that not only raised story telling to a new level in American animation, but showed that Japan isn’t the only country that can produce award winning anime. The Last Airbender focused on an Pre-Industrialized Asian inspired world, where many people could control the elements through forms of martial arts, called bending. You had Water Bending (North & South Water Nation Tribes), Air Bending (Air Nation), Fire Bending (Fire Nation), and Earth Bending (Earth Nation); with the lead character Aang, being the last surviving Airbender in the world due to a century long world war waged by the Fire Nation.
The adventures focused on characters coming together to help Aang in his quest to right the wrongs of the Fire-Nation’s atrocities and stop the war, through toppling the dictatorship of the Fire-lord Ozai. The legendary Avatar is the only bender alive that has the power to control all four elements at once, where benders are normally constrained to one element. The Avatar is reincarnated into a new body as he or she passes on, Aang was the next in the cycle being that the previous Avatar was a Firebender, the new one must be an Airbender. Aang struggled in his adventures as the Airbenders were pacifists and didn’t believe in violent revolt, which lead to a very impressive, creative, and smartly written storyline that has won the hearts of viewers world wide. The Legend of Korra, which takes place approximately twenty years after Avatar Aang’s passing, features Korra the next incarnation of the Avatar, a 17 year-old water-tribe girl who must master all four elements to stop a new evil rising in the world.
Through Korra’s eyes we see how Aang’s world has grown and begun to embrace technology, putting them in a 1920’s-1930’s era Japan with a touch of Steampunk. Aang and his decedent’s have constructed Republic City, a shining example of how all four nations can live in peace. Much to Korra’s shock and dismay, this symbol of hope has fallen into disarray, being infested with bender run street gangs and a growing movement of anti-benders who are embracing technologically advanced weapons to use against those who they claim are oppressing them. Korra struggles to master her mystical Avatar powers as some look down on her as being obsolete in a world moving forward with innovative technology, she also faces her inner demons as she fights to cope with her violent tendencies. I’ve seen some early reviews already, and I know some fans are booing this significant advancement in the Avatar storyline, but after getting to watch the first episode I have to say that this is a very natural evolution of the story.
Like many fans of the first series, I feared that this sequel may end up a stinker and I was proven wrong on every single level. The Legend of Korra continues the Avatar story with the same beautiful animation, engaging characters, and humor we as fans fell in love with the first time around. Letting us share the journey of a new avatar who must overcome personal struggles and other obstacles that some of us face in real life, although I wish we had in real life the extreme bender sports that Korra’s world offers. I agree that it’s hard to judge a series by it’s pilot episode alone, but it’s pretty hard to ignore the amazing quality of what I saw. Some shows start out struggling, but The Legend of Korra bolts out of the starting-gate with grace and style, and we can only hope that it can keep up this momentum for the rest of the run of the series.
The Legend of Korra debuts on Nickelodeon on April 14, 2012 – Check local listings for exact show times.