Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Legend Of Korra Unblocked Premiere Wows Fans And Newcomers Alike

On March 14, Nickelodeon launched, a site and multi-social network campaign in hopes of hyping up the much anticipated premiere of The Legend Of Korra, which is set to debut a month later on television. The campaign, coupled with sneak peaks of clips on the official Nickelodeon site, was a ridiculous success and amassed well over 100,000 Tweets, Likes and Faves across each of the respective social networks by the end of March 21. On March 24, as thanks to the commitment of its fans, unlocked the premiere online several weeks before the TV premiere, which is still scheduled for April 14.

The premiere was given a 9/10 by sites like and, after personally watching it myself, I might have to say those impressive scores are even a bit on the low side. As a long-time fan of Avatar The Last Airbender, having been hooked since I saw the series premiere on YTV years ago, I and countless other fans have been aching for more of Aang since the series ended back in 2008. Over the course of a few years, we would be teased at conventions with news of several such continuations.

First, it was announced that there would be a series of minisodes – a series of shorts that would act as an epilogue “Book 4” designed to tie up the unresolved plotlines of the series finale. Then, it was announced that there would be three animated TV specials of an hour each, in short, a six-episode fourth season. Eventually, this was changed to two direct-to-DVD animated movies. The first would serve as a direct sequel to Book 3, which was why it ended with Zuko demanding to know what happened to his mother, but fans never learning the truth. The second film was to show how the Avatar cycle could continue by having Aang find a boy named Tenzin, who was supposed to be the first Airbender in 100 years.

Later still, it was announced that both movies would be scrapped and instead replaced with a single movie that “involves a girl named Korra.” Finally, this too, was scrapped. Months later, it was announced that a 13-episode series called The Legend Of Korra was in the works. Not too long afterward, this changed when Lauren Montgomery, who directed several of the DC animated movies such as Superman/Batman Apocalypse, was brought on to be lead director for the second half of the season and all of season two. That’s right, it’s an ongoing series!

So yeah, there was lots of waiting, is what I’m basically getting at (made even longer by them deciding at the last second to postpone it from November 2011 to April 2012). However, it was definitely well worth the wait. The Legend Of Korra sneak peek premiere is ridiculously amazing! The animation has made some huge advancements since the previous series and none of the tone is missing, either. It’s the perfect mix of comedy, action, character and wonder that you’ve come to know and love.

It’s also completely independent of the first series, despite being a spinoff and also so firmly rooted in the exact same world and mythos. Just read the dialogue for the opening intro:

Earth. Fire. Air. Water. When I was a boy, my father, Avatar Aang, told me the story of how he and his friends heroically ended the Hundred Year War. Avatar Aang and Firelord Zuko transformed the Fire Nation colonies into the United Republic Of Nations, a society where benders and non-benders from all over the world could live and thrive together in peace and harmony. They named the capitol of this great land “Republic City.” Avatar Aang accomplished many remarkable things in his life, but sadly, his time in this world came to an end. And like the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the Avatar began anew.

That never-made movie about Tenzin I mentioned earlier? It was made redundant by changing things so that he’s Aang and Katara’s son. Their kids and grandkids are the world’s new Airbenders. The opening intro makes it so that you never need to have seen the first series in order to enjoy this one. You’ll love it all the more if you have, especially at moments like when Katara’s granddaughter asks what happened to Zuko’s mother, but Katara gets interrupted before getting the chance to answer. While Nickelodeon is definitely a bunch of teases for this, I give them kudos for making a main character named Mako, as it’s a nod to the deceased voice actor who played the unforgettable Uncle Iroh of the first series.

Also mentioned in the opening is the founding of Republic City and The United Republic of Nations. This is being explored in Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise, which is a trilogy of graphic novels set one year after the first series ended. Its story involves the displacement of Fire Nation colonists in the process of returning territories to the Earth Kingdom that were seized during the Hundred Year War. The first part is out (and well worth reading if you’re a fan of the original series and/or want some back-story to the new one), with the next one arriving in June.

There really are only two things wrong with the new series thus far, both of which are quite forgivable. One is that her animal companion, a Polar Beardog, is named “Naga.” The naga in Greek mythology is a horrible creature of evil, so the name just doesn’t match such a lovable and loyal creature as the companion animal that Korra rides on. The other fault, which may be rectified over the course of the series, is an analog of the Merchant of Cabbage. I seriously hope to see some steampunk-inspired cabbage carts accidentally getting trashed over and over in the future.