the-legend-of-korra

The above image is a promo shot showing the new main character and avatar for a follow-up series to Avatar: The Last Airbender. It depicts Korra, evidently from the Southern Water Tribe, who is the new Avatar and must learn airbending from Master Tenzin, the son of Aang and Katara from the previous series. In the show, the action centers on a sprawling metropolis called Republic City which is multicultural, rampant with crime, and experiencing the throes of an anti-bending movement.

For fans of the original series, that sounds pretty fucking interesting huh? The original producers are back and are also saying that the show will focus on mature themes and might be a bit more sophisticated than the original. They say they aren’t trying to skew older, but we’ll see. The idea of an anti-bending revolution is kind of dark, after all, and will probably reflect real-life issues of intolerance, prejudice, and uprising. It also sounds a bit X-Men, especially if the bending community is forced underground.

From what I can gather from the name and some snippets on the internets, Republic City is independent from the Four Nations, so I guess some kind of city-state. I like the idea of the avatar as an urban crimefighter and it also seems like technology has been developed in the 70 years of peace (I’m assuming!) since Fire Lord Ozai was defeated by Aang. I like the idea of a more genial steampunk style being spread around the world, probably by the Fire Nation who seemed to have more non-bending technology than anyone else. I hope we see some neat bending-tech though, revisiting the episodes that take place in Ba Sing Se whets the appetite for inventive uses of bending. Maybe Toph has taught more people to metalbend?

So after Shymalan’s misguided adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender put a bad taste in my mouth, I began re-watching the series which I’d first seen back in 2008.  It is every bit as good as its reputation, even on a second run. I’ve told a lot of people to watch the show and I’m going to repeat that sentiment now.

There’s really no excuse, guys. Yeah, I know it’s a Nickelodeon cartoon but hasn’t Pixar proven that animation doesn’t necessarily have to equal unpalatable for adults? I mean, even if you don’t like anime or Miyazaki movies, I think we’re way past the era of dismissing animation as unsophisticated or kids’ stuff. Avatar: The Last Airbender was definitely meant for kids, but unlike most programming for kids, it did bother to present a consistent and finite storyline in which there is personal growth, sophisticated psychological exploration, etc. The issues are easy for kids and adults to relate to, and so is the character-generated humor which ranges from punchy sarcasm to visual gags, slapstick, and anime-style exaggerated expressions.

So it’s funny, well-written, has great characters that grow and change, an epic storyline, a fully-realized and unusual fantasy world, etc. What the fuck more can you want?

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