Legend of Korra
Episode 1: Welcome to Republic City
Episode 2: A Leaf in the Wind
The long rumored sequel to Avatar the Last Airbender has finally arrived! Legend of Korra premiered April 14th on Nickelodeon with the first two episodes- “Welcome to Republic City” and “Leaf in the Wind”- aired back to back as a special. Legend of Korra is not a true sequel, but more of a spin off, taking place 70 years after the original series ended with the majority of the cast being new. It is set to run for 26 episodes divided up into two seasons.
“Welcome to Republic City” sets up the setting and introduces the main plot and characters while “A Leaf in the Wind” delves more into the characters themselves. Republic City, the central hub of the new kingdom, greatly reminds me of 1920’s Chicago. Even the music played during the city scenes is reminiscent of that era. For die hard fans expecting the older setting, they should prepare themselves for a shock, as Legend of Korra takes place in a time of fledging technology. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a hint of steampunk later down the road. Republic City is also the center of a developing conflict between Benders and Non-Benders and we see how the view of Bending has changed since the end of the last series.
The writing of this series thus far is just as good as the previous, sharing the same perfect blend of humor and seriousness that its predecessor had. Without giving too much away, it is also showing the same potential for subtle character and plot development that drew me into the original series in my adult years. Avatar: the Last Airbender was a series that I always encouraged parents to watch with their children. Shows geared toward kids these days often don’t include anything the parents can appreciate, but Legend of Korra has the humor to draw in the kiddies and will hopefully have the deeper plots to keep the adults watching with their children.
In terms of aesthetics, Legend of Korra took out all the stops. The animation is gorgeous and very fluid with all the scenes expertly set out. The combat scenes in particular stuck out to me. Being a fan of old school anime series, I can’t help but compare the level of detail and timing to Cowboy BeBop– a show that executed their fight scenes with the grace of a well choreographed ballet. A lot of thought was also put into the scenery; the detail put into Republic City is beyond stunning. I plan to reserve a copy of the artbook as soon as it becomes available! The creators also got more bold with the music as well. Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn return as the show’s composers, but while the music of Avatar: the Last Airbender didn’t have me craving for a soundtrack until the end of season three, Legend of Korra has me wanting one now. The music is richer with more and variety than it had in Avatar the Last Airbender.
I did my best to avoid rumors and spoilers online, but it was near impossible to avoid one in particular. I don’t know about other fans, but my biggest concern was when I heard that the new avatar was going to be a ‘strong willed female.’ In theory, this is excellent; Avatar: the Last Airbender didn’t have many strong females. Katara was a good character, but more often filled the role of mother figure rather than warrior. The stronger women featured in the old series were minor characters or not introduced right away- so having a strong gal in the lead is wonderful. But more often than not, these females are badly written stereotypes that the female viewer cannot relate to. Thankfully, though, Legend of Korra has not fallen into this trap. Yes, Korra is a hot head, brash, and reckless, but her actions have consequences and her personality- so far- is proving to be as a much a weakness as a strength- especially in her attempts to learn airbending. Much of Korra’s personality can be contrasted with that of her predecessor, Aang. Age is obviously a big difference- Korra is 17, while Aang was only 11. Aang thought like an Airbender; often he would approach a problem from different angles all while trying peaceful approaches. Korra attacks problems head on and physically. Of all the bending types, Airbending is the most defensive in nature, while Korra’s style is offensive. Even her physical traits-Korra’s build is very athletic- emphasize her more physical nature. I can see her struggles to learn airbending being a conflict for this season and I hope the writers continue to pursue this angle.
So all in all, the series premiere of Legend of Korra was massive success. For introducing a female lead the promises to be interesting and creating an environment rife with potential, Episodes 1 and 2 of Legend of Korra receives 5 out of 5 wagons.