Nickelodeon did the near impossible in the early aughts, it released an animated show for ‘tweens with the heart and soul of the very best of anime that appealed to people of all ages. Avatar: The Last Airbender followed the travels of Aang, the reluctant avatar who must master bending (read: magic/martial art) of all four elements.. except Aang could only bend one of the four elements. Through three seasons Aang would come to terms with the responsibilities he would face, making new friends, learning to bend the other elements and of course save his world from total war.
Creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko researched different martial arts to represent the different element bending. They modelled each of the four nations on Asian cultures: Water (Inuit), Air (Tibetan), Earth (Chinese) and Fire (Japanese). But most importantly they created characters that were believable in a story that was as touching as it was entertaining. Aang’s journey ranks right next to Luke’s and Frodo’s.
Now after four years we get a new Airbender tale. This story focuses on the new avatar Korra, a young water tribe girl. Korra’s world in the trailer is much different from Aang’s. DiMartino and Konietzko had stated that the new series would be set in an Earth kingdom city and have a much more steampunk feel. Looking at the trailer, it seems to have a more dieselpunk setting… it has cars!!! I’m getting a Full Metal Alchemist or Final Fantasy VII vibe from the setting. Korra needs to master air bending, but her journey seems to be more internal. Not that Aang didn’t have to deal with confidence and self-esteem issues, but you get the feeling that the people of the four nations have forgotten what war was like and there are things going on that may not be very advantageous for the current avatar.
The art looks both familiar and better. The animation seems smooth. The trailer does focus quite a bit on comedy, but there is enough bits to discern what the drama will be about. Originally intended to be a 12 episode series, 14 more episodes were ordered as a second season. Nickelodeon should announce the air date this spring.
The Last Airbender: The Legend of Korra