Saturday, April 28, 2012

Preview: Avatar - The Legend of Korra

 This series takes place 70 years after Avantar: The Last Airbender and follows the new Avatar, a 17 year-old girl from the southern water tribe called Korra. Already being able to ben air, fire and water, she goes to the center of the modern world, Republic City, in order to learn airbending. Republic City a metropolis created by Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko to be a place where people from all the world, benders or not, can live in harmony. But Korra learns that Republic City is plagued by crime and an antibender revolution. Under the supervision of Aangs son, Tenzin, Korra starts to learn airbending while getting into a lot of trouble and entering a professional competition of a bending sport.

For those who don't now, bending is a skill that allows the benders to control one of the four elements (air, earth, fire and water) through martial arts moves. An earth bender can lift and shoot huge rocks from the ground. Only the avatar can bend the 4 elements. There's more, like secondary elementos (ice for water and lightning for fire) and other stuff, but the show explains most of it.

Republic City is a mix of the New York from the early 20th century (with a Liberty Statue-like statue of Aang) with a traditional chinese city. So we have skyscrappers, bridges and all that, but with oriental designs and details, like those traditional chinese roofs. There are also cars, zeppelins and radios. Many found the leap in technology strange, since it's been only 70 years since the medieval Last Airbender, but bending gives them possibilities we didn't have. The Fire Nation in the Last Airbender had balloons and steam powered machines...

Korra has outstanding fights. The choreography is excellent and each bending uses a different kung fu style. But one of the changes in society in 70 years was the creation of pro-bending, a professional sport in which two teams composed of a fire, an earth and a water benders (airbenders are rare, because of facts shown in the first series) and the goal is to force every member of the other team leave the ring through it's back, which is open. This sport introduces modern martial arts techniques and then we have more than just traditional kung fu.

The animation is excellent and they don't simplify the characters or the backgroud to make it easier. In fact, the characters use the background during the fights. The mechanical design is also very good. The character design is good and it's nice to see that they even give body expressions to the characters, which you almost can see in anime.

The plot might be interesting. The whole antibending revolution reminds me of the themes shown in X-Men. People without powers fear the people with powers. And Korra, as the guardian fo balance and harmony, can't just crush them.

Speaking of Korra, she's a cooler avatar than Aang. Aang was childish, foolish and had no self-confidence. Korra is confident and strong. And she is funny. Tenzin is a very serious man and tries to be patient, but he suffers with Korra's stubborness and rebelliousness. Bolin is Korra's pro-bending teammate. He's a clumsy and a bit foolish. Mako, Bolin's brother and teammate is the antisocial and brooding type that many find cool. I don't.

Voice acting is good, which is more than I expected from an US cast. But the kid's voices are bad. The soundtrack is very good, a mixture of jazz and tradicional chinese music.

The Legend of Korra is a very promissing series and those that don't watch it "because it wants to be anime but it isn't" will lose an awesome show.

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