Review: The Legend of Korra (Book 1) (2012) My Reviews 10 JAN 2013

I am a huge fan of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko’s 2005 to 2008 Avatar: The Last Airbender animated series, one of the most engaging, character-driven, and laden with political and human nature commentary shows to come out of the USA for a long while.

Pleasingly, I’m just as thrilled with the big follow-up, 2012’s The Legend of Korra, which continues the story of the four nations and the art of elemental bending, but this time shunting us forward into a new steampunk frontier, complete with a fiesty and hot-headed new Avatar: Korra.

The Legend of Korra tells the story of the current Avatar who mastered three of the four elements back when she was still just a toddler. However, her fierce will and impatience makes it difficult for her to learn air bending, the result of which sees her travelling to Republic City, the capital of the United Republic of Nations, a state that emerged after the end of the war that occurred in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

There under the guidance of Tenzin, the youngest child of Aang and Katara, Korra is hoping to learn the bending of the final element that will lead to her fulfilment of the Avatar role. However, Republic City comes with a lot of distractions, both in terms of boys and pro-bending – neither of which is helping her all that much.

Unfortunately, things aren’t going to remain uncomplicated for very long though. In addition to the triads and the rest of the seedy underbelly of this rapidly modernizing city, comes a very different type of danger – masses of ordinary people led by the masked man Amon, who has the ability to take away benders’ abilities, all in the name of bringing about an equal society for all!

A lot of the charm and naivety from the original Avatar series is lost in this outing, the result of which are two very different shows. The first was definitely aimed towards the younger viewer, but with enough depth to enthrall and entertain the older, whilst the Legend of Korra is most definitely pitched at just a slightly older audience, tackling a wide variety of very relevant socio-political concerns and other more mature themes in the process.

Nevertheless, the show never stops being fun, and is jam-packed with action, humour, drama and plenty of twists!

Of course bending takes a front row seat once again, and the choreography of the fight scenes is simply breathtaking. In fact, the visuals as a whole are just sublime, combining rich and detailed background work with fluid and well-designed character animations.

In the same vein, the show sounds just as good as it looks, with a talented cast of voice actors filling the boots of their respective characters with both ease and skill, competently backed up by a superb soundtrack and musical score.

The first book which consists of twelve episodes tells a fantastic story, which wraps up neatly by the end of the final episode and does a brilliant job of introducing this new world to the viewer and then whetting their appetites, before finally leaving them gasping for more.

Well, well worth tracking down then.

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.