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Nicktoons premiered ‘The Legend of Korra’ (2012), the animated sequel series to the beloved cartoon ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ (2005), on April 14. The series takes place 70 years in the future from the time of Avatar Airbender Aang and his gang of friends who saved the world from the wrath of Firelord Ozai. Sadly, most of the characters except Katara have passed away but they each have family to carry on in their place.
The Avatar is “the physical embodiment of the world’s spirit” and is capable of bending all four elements: water, air, earth, and fire. In the first episode, “Welcome to Republic City,” we find out the new Avatar is named Korra (Janet Varney), a Waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe.
However, where Aang was a cheerful, carefree young man, Korra is high strung and impatient. Her bending skills are excellent, but she lacks restraint and does not think ahead while fighting. Having learned water, fire, and earth already, Korra is set to be taught her final element, air, by Tenzin (J.K.Simmons), the son of Aang and Katara.
However, when Tenzin visits her home he informs her that he has been called back to Republic City: a settlement several miles away where benders and non-benders live in an urban setting. Upset, Korra follows Tenzin to Republic City and is blown away by the technology, rules, and the corruption she sees on the streets.
She stops a group of men trying to extort a poor shop owner and gets herself arrested by Chief Bei Fong (Mindy Sterling), the daughter of famous Earthbender Toph, one of Aang’s friends who helped save the world years prior. Tenzin bails her out and demands that she return to her home. Korra argues that Republic City needs her help to get rid of the crime and Tenzin reluctantly agrees to train her just outside of the city limits.
In the second episode, “A Leaf in the Wind,” Korra has begun training with Tenzin to learn how to airbend. It requires a lot of meditation and patience, which Korra hates because she is passionate and loves fighting.
Friction arises between her and Tenzin because she wants to continue exploring the city but he refuses to let her go until she has learned her lessons. After hearing a radio broadcast of a probending match, where benders compete in a tournament to knock each other off a platform using their bending, Korra sneaks off to Republic City to watch a match.
She meets Bolin (P.J. Byrne), an Earthbender, and his brother Mako (David Faustino), a Firebender, and both are a popular probending team called the Fire Ferrets. Bolin is cheerful and flirtatious, inviting her to watch the match from great seats, but Mako is serious and brooding.
Mako assumes she is just another one of Bolin’s fangirls, but when Korra reveals she is the Avatar he acts a little less cold around her. The Fire Ferret’s third team member quits just before the match that would put them in the championship and Korra volunteers to take his place, much to Bolin’s delight and Mako’s disapproval.
Tenzin overhears of her appearance in the ring and shows up, demanding that she go home, but she refuses. She struggles through the matches, but then remembers the training Tenzin gave her and helps Mako and Bolin win the tournament. Tenzin is impressed by her bending abilities and apologizes for being so hard on her and she apologizes for losing her temper with him.
‘The Legend of Korra’ stands up well to its predecessor. ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ has been celebrated for its excellent storytelling, wonderful spread of characters, beautiful cultural inspirations, gorgeous animation, and top-notch voice acting. ‘Korra’ is no different. The new time period provides many interesting opportunities for Korra and her friends to explore as well as new threats to test their fortitude.
Whereas the villain in ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ was Firelord Ozai, the villain in ‘Korra’ is Amon (Steve Blum), the leader of the anti-bending movement. So far, he has only been shown in promos for future episodes and is implied to want to take over Republic City to wipe out all the benders, providing a very real threat to Korra and everyone she cares about.
In just two episodes, ‘Korra’ has already proven it has the ability to go the distance. The characters are introduced well and have their own distinct styles to them. They carry the familiar air of the characters we loved in ‘Avatar’—Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, Zuko, Appa, and Momo—but make their own mark in the world the generation before them made.
‘The Legend of Korra’ comes on Saturdays at 11am EST. If you loved ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’, or if you love great stories in general, make sure to tune in.
Image Courtesy of The Legend of Korra