Monday, July 22, 2013

The Legend of Korra - Book 2

The Legend of Korra is a great show. Have you seen it? I love it. I'm a fan. Fun, funny, and cool, with great characters, including some very strong female characters--which is a real bonus. The design is pretty distinctive; it's a kind of steampunky (but not really) meets 1920s Jazz Shanghai meets 50's American futurism. Sorta. It's good, and the animation is top-notch.


The story is a little more complex...

The Legend of Korra is, hmmm... it's not a sequel, really... it's more like a continuation of the first series (which you don't need to see in order to enjoy this series), called Avatar: The Last Airbender. Please note: This had absolutely nothing to do with that horrible and bombastic snooze-fest, bore-a-thon fart of a movie about the stupid Blue Cat People featuring the script from Dances with Wolves. They are NOT affiliated. You might also recall having maybe heard about a movie called Avatar: The Last Airbender by famous cinematic one-trick-pony M. Night Shyamalan, if so... forget about it! Right now! Wipe it from your memory! It does not exist! Should someone claim otherwise, destroy them!

But I digress...

So anyway, the world of Avatar is a world of four nations: The North and South Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. It's based off the Four Elements, did'ja notice that? Yeah? Good. In each one of these groups there are people who can manipulate their respective elements, the Water Tribe can manipulate water, the Fire Nation manipulates fire--you get the idea. These people are called Benders and they use their skills for all kinds of things, but mostly for ass-kicking kung-fu. Also, at some point in their history it was decided that the population of each nation will only ever wear a specific color. For instance: The people of the Earth Kingdom only wear green. The show doesn't provide an in-show explanation as to why, so I sometimes wonder about the poor Earth Kingdom guy out there who really likes Red... Anyway, it's the job of the Avatar to maintain the delicate balance between what is basically four extremely territorial and xenophobic gangs of mutant kung-fu superheroes. The Avatar's kung-fu is strongest, they are the lone person who can manipulate all four elements. In every generation a new Avatar is reborn, much like the Dalai Lama, if he were to shot streams of fire and icicles while flying on a tornado and hurling boulders like they were softballs, I mean, more than usual, that is...


The first series centers around a young boy named Aang, a brand new Avatar who vanishes one day. Soon after, the Fire Nation launches a massive attack and without the Avatar to restore the balance, the world is soon plunged into horror and war. In an attempt to kill Aang, the Fire Lord slaughters all of the Air Nomads. The Fire Nation takes over. All hope is lost. 100 years later, Aang is found frozen in ice. He is the Last Airbender alive (hence the title) and an untrained Avatar lost in an unfamiliar and dark world. Over the course of the show's three seasons, you follow him and his friends in a quest to defeat the Fire Lord, all while Aang trains to master the four elements. It's good. Funny. Great action. And three seasons telling one story with a beginning, middle, and an ending? That's unheard of. Plus, I'm not only continually impressed by the ingenuity of how the Bending abilities are used, but by the depth and complexity of the characters in general. It's a surprisingly complex and well-written show, not just for a cartoon either, but for TV in general. It's good stuff.

But we were talking about Korra...


The Legend of Korra is set 70 years after the last series and Korra is the new Avatar. She's pretty kick-ass, but she has been born into a more balanced and advanced world. The war is long over, so what is the Avatar's role now? Republic City is the new center of the world, it's where people of all the Nations live in harmony, but it's there that she runs into the Equalist Movement. There is a rising tide of anger among the Non-Benders of the city, claims of oppression against those who can't Bend by those who can. The movement is led by a dark figure named Amon, a mysterious and charismatic man who can somehow take a person's Bending ability from them permanently.


He's pretty scary. And maybe the best part of the show too. Why? Because his claims are not quite untrue. And Korra is often pretty naive to that fact. How should she deal with this? Amon is bad news, but if his message isn't quite wrong...? It's just another layer of complexity in an already well-written and surprisingly sophisticated show. All the humor and tragedy and awesome action is still there, the crazily imaginative world-building bits too. It's all-around a great show. Lots of fun. It also tells a whole story in one single season, which is a bonus, and it is now out there and available for purchase, so seek it out. I assume they did this because they knew they were way too awesome to ever exist past one season, a sad, but smart move unfortunately... usually...

Except here's the teaser trailer for the second season! WOOO! Let's watch!



It doesn't tell you much, it's just a teaser, but it does look awesome.

Totally sweet!
Jon

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