Animé and Toons
The Legend of Korra (2012)
By Hervé St-Louis
June 30, 2022 - 22:39
Studios: Ginormous Madman, Nickelodeon Animation Studios
Writer(s): Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Joshua Hamilton, Tim Hedrick, Katie Mattila
Starring: Janet Varney, Jeff Bennett, Dee Bradley Baker, P.J. Byrne, David Faustino, J.K. Simmons, Seychelle Gabriel
Directed by: Ian Graham, Colin Heck, Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki Hyun Ryu, Melchior Zwyer, Michael Dante DiMartino
Produced by: Michael Dante DiMartino, Joaquim Dos Santos, Bryan Konietzko
Distributors: Nickelodeon Network, Paramount Home Entertainment
Korra is the next avatar, already wielding water, fire, and earth bending, is hidden a council of elders for fear of an attack against her. But young Korra seeks to discover the world and decides to move to Republic City against the wishes of her mentor, Tenzin, the son of Ang, the previous avatar. Her adventures will lead her to meet many friends and allies, but also life-threatening villains who want to stop the water bender from achieving her life purpose of being the defender of the world, and the bridge between the spirit and the physical world. Losing access to the past reservoir of knowledge of previous avatars, Korra must find the strength to rebuild her identity as the avatar, but can she?
A sequel to the much more popular and comedic Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra attempted to recreate success with this mystical Asian-inspired universe once more, but for many the series failed. I was entertained by the series and enjoyed the geopolitical spin used throughout. At times when I expected the series’ runners to ignore that Republic City and Zaofu, the metal-bending city-state on Earth Kingdom land. What I disliked was the neat villain of the season story arc format that ran and to some extent limited the stories. One knew that by the end of the season, the writers would have to put the toys back in the chest, so that another season could start. At the very least, they often broke the toys before putting them back in the box for the next season.
The theme of being literally broken was a major one for Korra who had to go through rehab after a major defeat in season three against Zaheer, an airbender who can fly. The format of the series meant that the going on of several secondary characters were mixed in with the life of Korra. The series, much like the preceding one, is obsessed with pairing every character romantically to another. This gets tiring as it feels like we’re watching a soap opera instead of an action-adventure series.
World-building is an important part of this series and here, more prominent than in the Last Airbender. However, the design of the mock 1920s Republic City was not as inspired as it could be when compared to say, The Royal Space Force movie which went much further, design-wise. The animation is animé inspired and well-animated with a touch of Western flavour contrasting pure Japanese cartoons. The effects and action are good, but as usual, I find the 3D animation a bit odd and not as well-integrated in the 2D toon flats.
Korra’s ending opens the conclusion to a lesbian pairing with fellow supporting character Asami. It did come out of nowhere and was not foreshadowed enough. It was left open-enough that maybe they will not be a couple. I found that this changed the series’ tone and how it will be remembered. That concluding scene is how The Legend of Korra will be remembered from now on, even though that aspect of the series was not important throughout the series.
Sequences such as the flashback of the first avatar and scenes in the spirit world were far more important overall but will be less remembered than the queer ending of The legend of Korra. There was no important character arc where a supporting character like Prince Zuko in the preceding series. There were too many characters with their own developmental storylines and not enough breathing room to deeply explore these characters, like happened in The Last Airbender. Here the various supporting characters had roles to play to advance the plot driven narrative, unlike the character-driven Avatar: The Last Airbender.
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