In my experience, sequels can make or break a franchise. This is as true in anime as it is in any other form of media. A sequel done wrong can be spell the end of even the most successful series However, when a fallow-up is done correctly it can turn a great series into a franchise worthy of being called a masterpiece. Thus in many ways a sequel must maintain a delicate balance between the concepts that made the original series great and new stories and unique characters to allow the series to stand alone. Such a delicate mix is rare indeed, but Nickelodeon’s Avatar: the Legend of Korra is a prime example of such a piece honed to perfection.
While I am well aware that this series is technically considered an anime I am reviewing it as such. Avatar: the Legend of Korra is highly stylized and matches many tenants of the anime style. Also, the depth of its story and the development of both primary and secondary characters puts traditional anime like Sword Art Online to shame. Given the aforementioned criteria I believe it is worthy of a full-fledged critiquing. Ergo, my first review of 2015 is Avatar: the Legend of Korra.
The story of Legend of Korra is divided into four unique but interconnected seasons referred to as books. The first entitled Book One : Air fallows the prescient set forth in Avatar: the Last Air bender wherein the titular character must learn to wield the titular element. Far from a return to form however Korra’s training isn’t as much of a key element being overshadowed by her exploits as a professional bender. But the significance of her training is emphasized when she loses the majority of her bending at the hands of the equalist movement Amon only to regain them by learning energy bending from the previous Avatar Aang and quickly defeat Amon.
This season sets the precedent the rest of the series. Korra must always overcome some form of deeply distressing trauma starting from the loss of her bending abilities and acceptance of her limitations to the loss of her previous selves forcing her to become more spiritual develop a sense of self. Later, the change she caused by defeating the Dark Avatar and the spirit Vatu has a duality reviving the Air nation while simultaneously contributing to her defeat by Zaheer Finally after her crippling defeat she has to overcome a sort of post-traumatic stress in order to reaffirm her sense of self in order to reassume her role.
The Avatar franchise has always offered a plethora of unique and dynamic characters each having a compelling back-story and deeply personal motivations One of the most compelling examples of this trait within the Legend of Korra is Genora who evolves throughout the series starting from training alongside Korra to eventually becoming an air-bending master. While there are many characters worthy of note I am unable to go into detail on them all. However the individual characters are only part of the experience. Indeed the connections between each character are what makes Legend of Korra a masterpiece.
Now to address the proverbial elephant in the room. As most fans know the paring of Korra and Asami has been endorsed as cannon. There is evidence as far back as Asami’s introduction with awkwardness in relation with Mako and subsequent intimate friendship with Avatar Korra is proof of romantic tensions between the two. The most compelling evidence of this is found in Book Four, wherein Korra and Asami engage in private correspondence without unbeknownst to the rest of Team Avatar Given tis evidence I conclude that the development is within the letters we didn’t see and thus the canonization of Korra x Asami is indeed valid.
Avatar; the Legend of Korra is heavily stylized given its American roots. It’s setting is influenced by a fusion Chinese mythology and steampunk elements that give the world a life all its own. That said I feel as if the story limited itself by confining the action to Republic City. I would have actually liked to see the impact of the Fire Nation’s defeat. But that seems to have been omitted for the peacetime unity storyline. The world being what it is, I would have enjoyed seeing the far-reaching effects of world unity though it is well-crafted nonetheless.
The sound design of Avatar; the Legend of Korra is immaculate. Each voice matches every character adding a unique aspect of self to each person. Stellar vocal performance is only a drop in the bucket compared to the epic score throughout the series. When combined, these elements coalesce into a thing of beauty that evokes a variety of emotions ranging from euphoria to depression. Overall, this sound design is near perfection and should serve as a benchmark for anime as a whole.
Avatar; the Legend of Korra should be at the top of any anime fan’s watch-list. I would recommend the series to people who are new to anime and veteran watches alike. But don’t take my word for it. The series is available on Netflix for those of you wo want to stream it. For those who wish to purchase the series can be found on Amazon or Wal-Mart.