Sunday, April 22, 2012

The New Avatar

This has nothing to do with that Cameron movie of the same name. Instead, The Legend of Korra is Nickelodeon animated series is set in the world of the much cooler Avatar: The Last Airbender (the animated series, not the Shyamalan film). If you haven’t seen it read this, and then come back.

The Legend of Korra is set seventy years after the end of the original series. Korra, the headstrong young avatar, runs away from the domain of the Southern Water Tribe to get trained in airbending by Master Tenzin. She arrives in Republic City, capital of the United Republic of Nations, rather unprepared for the fast-paced city life. She immediately runs afoul of anti-bender “Equalists”, gangsters, and the police--and that’s just in the first episode.

The Legend of Korra has the elements of the original series: the Asian-flavored fantasy world, distinctive elemental magics based on different martial arts styles, and the crazy portmanteau animals, but adds some new stuff. Republic City has a more advanced technology like zeppelins, cars (with roofs like Chinese palanquins), and radio. The shift to a fantasy urban environment also adds some interesting social wrinkles: a professional sport version of bending, criminal organizations, anti-bending revolutionaries, and the avatar in an age of mass-media.

So far, the series seems just as well-done as the original, with attention to detail, interesting characters, and serial storytelling. The post-Industrial Revolution fantasy world is a rarirty in game settings (rarer than in fiction even) and this is an interesting example of how it can be done without going strongly Steampunk (though that term was used in some of the promo material, Republic City is more Pulp era than Victorian) or magitech.


migellito said...

really excited for this now!

Chris C. said...

Cool -- this has me intrigued. Enough to go back and put Avatar: The Last Airbender (which I've not seen) into my Netflix queue.

Jeffrywith1e said...

I was semi excited about this, thinking- there's no way they could continue the series with the previous level of excellence. No way they could top it.

I've seen two episodes now...

I. Love. This. Show.

so far.

Anonymous said...

I have only seen the first episode so far, which I quite enjoyed. The Avatar team seems on the ball for this new series.

Theodric the Obscure said...

I was a little disappointed that the world seemed to have developed so much in a mere 70 years, and so had lost my enthusiasm for the second Avatar series, but the first two episodes have effectively gotten all of my enthusiasm back. It shows every sign of being another awesome series.