The Legend of Korra
|The Legend of Korra|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||26 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||24 minutes|
|Original run||April 14, 2012 – present|
|Preceded by||Avatar: The Last Airbender (TV series)
Avatar: The Last Airbender (comics)
The Legend of Korra is an American animated drama television series that premiered on the Nickelodeon television network in 2012. It was created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino as a sequel to their series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which aired on Nickelodeon from 2005 to 2008. Several people involved with creating Avatar: The Last Airbender, including designer Joaquim Dos Santos and composers Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn, returned to work on The Legend of Korra.
The series is set in a fictional universe where some people can manipulate, or "bend", the elements of water, earth, fire, or air. Only one person, the "Avatar", can bend all four elements, and is responsible for maintaining balance in the world. The series follows Avatar Korra, the successor of Aang from the previous series, as she faces political and spiritual unrest in a modernizing world.
The series, whose style is strongly influenced by Japanese animation, has been a critical and commercial success. It obtained the highest audience total for an animated series in the United States in 2012. The series was praised by reviewers for its high production values and for addressing difficult sociopolitical issues such as social unrest and terrorism. It was originally conceived as a miniseries consisting of twelve episodes, but it is now set to run for fifty-two episodes separated into four seasons ("books"), each of which tells a separate story.
- 1 Series overview
- 2 Story
- 3 Cast and characters
- 4 Production
- 5 Reception
- 6 Awards
- 7 Media
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The Legend of Korra was initially conceived as a twelve-episode miniseries. Nickelodeon declined the creators' pitch for an Avatar: The Last Airbender follow-up animated movie based on what then became the comic The Search, choosing instead to expand Korra to 26 episodes. The series was expanded further in July 2012 to 52 episodes. These episodes will be grouped into four separate seasons ("books") composed of 12 to 14 episodes ("chapters") each, with each season telling a stand-alone story. The Legend of Korra will conclude with the fourth season.
|Season||Episodes||Originally aired||DVD and Blu-ray release date|
|Season premiere||Season finale||Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|1||Air||12||April 14, 2012||June 23, 2012||July 9, 2013||TBA||September 4, 2013|
|2||Spirits||14||September 13, 2013||November 22, 2013||TBA||TBA||TBA|
The Legend of Korra is set in the fictional world of Avatar: The Last Airbender 70 years after the events of that series. The world is separated into four nations: the (Northern and Southern) Water Tribes, the Air Nomads, the Earth Kingdom, and the Fire Nation. The focus of the series is "bending," the ability of some humans (and animals) to telekinetically manipulate the element associated with their nation (water, earth, fire or air). Bending is carried out using spiritual and physical exercises, which are portrayed in the series as similar to Chinese and other Asian martial arts.
Only one person, the "Avatar", can bend all four elements. Cyclically reincarnating among the world's four nations, the Avatar is responsible for maintaining peace and balance in the world. The Legend of Korra focuses on Avatar Korra, a seventeen-year-old girl from the Southern Water Tribe. At the start of the series, she has already mastered waterbending, earthbending, and firebending, but must complete her training by learning airbending from Tenzin, the youngest child of Aang and Katara.
The series is mostly set in Republic City, the capital of the United Republic of Nations, a state that emerged after the end of the war that occurred in Avatar: The Last Airbender. The metropolis, described as "if Manhattan had happened in Asia" by the series' creators, has become a melting pot for people of all nations. Its residents are united by their passion for "pro-bending," a spectator sport in which two teams composed of one earthbender, waterbender, and firebender try to throw each other out of a ring using bending techniques.
The first season, Book One: Air, sees Korra move from her secluded upbringing at the South Pole to Republic City to learn airbending from Tenzin, Avatar Aang's son. She enters the pro-bending league, and befriends the brothers Bolin and Mako, the latter of whom she eventually falls in love with, as well as Asami Sato, heiress to Future Industries. The ambitious politician Tarrlok enlists Korra to fight the anti-bender uprising of the "Equalists", led by the masked Amon, who strips benders of their abilities. Eventually, exposed as the son of a blood bending crime lord, Tarrlok reveals Amon to be his older brother. Korra and her friends, aided by police chief Lin Beifong and United Forces general Iroh, manage to unmask Amon to end the Equalists' military coup.
The second season, Book Two: Spirits, is set six months later with Korra learning that restless spirits called Dark Spirits have been terrorizing the south seas. Feeling that she can not learn to calm the Dark Spirits through Tenzin, Korra turns to her uncle Unalaq, the Northern Water Tribe chief, for guidance. However, as civil war among the Water Tribe branches erupts from the Northern Tribe's forced occupancy, Korra learns that the exile of her father Tonraq was arranged by Unalaq who is using her to achieve his own agenda which she learns is connected to her most distant past life: a young man named Wan who became the very first Avatar by permanently fusing his own life-force essence with the light spirit, Raava, to defeat her dark counterpart Vaatu, imprison him in the Tree Of Time, and closed the portals to the spirit world for ten thousand years.
Despite Korra and her friends attempting to stop him, Unalaq succeeds in freeing Vaatu from his prison, and merges with him to become the "Dark" Avatar that manages to purge Raava from Korra and destroy the light spirit. However, Korra is able to absorb energy from the Tree Of Time that allows her to fight the Dark Avatar, and with the help of Tenzin's daughter, Jinora, she manages to reclaim the reborn Raava while severing the light spirit's connection to Vaatu, and destroys him with Unalaq killed in the process. After the battle, Korra re-fuses with Raava, but because her connection to her past lives was lost as a result of her brief separation from Raava, Korra keeps the spirit portals open so that humans and spirits can coexist as a new age begins.
Cast and characters
|Main cast and Book 1 recurring cast|
|Janet Varney||David Faustino||P. J. Byrne||Seychelle Gabriel||J. K. Simmons||Mindy Sterling||Dee Bradley Baker||Steve Blum|
|Korra||Mako||Bolin||Asami Sato||Tenzin||Lin Beifong||Naga, Pabu, Oogi, Tarrlok||Amon/Noatak|
Korra (Janet Varney), the series' 17-year-old "headstrong and rebellious" protagonist, and Aang's successor as the Avatar. Her transformation "from brash warrior to a spiritual being", according to DiMartino, is a principal theme of the series. The character was inspired by Bryan Konietzko's "pretty tough" sister, and by female MMA fighters, notably Gina Carano. The series focuses on Korra and her friends: bending brothers Mako and Bolin and non-bender Asami. Older brother Mako (David Faustino) is a firebender that's described as "dark and brooding", having grown up on the streets. The character was named after Mako Iwamatsu, the original voice actor for Iroh in the original series. Younger brother Bolin (P. J. Byrne) is an earthbender who has an opposite personality and is described as lighthearted, humorous, and "always having a lady on his arm". Asami Sato (Seychelle Gabriel) is the only main character who is a non-bender and is the only daughter of the wealthy industrialist Hiroshi Sato. The other main characters are airbender master Tenzin (J. K. Simmons), Republic City police chief Lin Beifong (Mindy Sterling), and animal friends Naga and Pabu (both Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of a number of animals (including Appa and Momo) in the original series). Pabu was inspired by Futa, a famous standing Japanese red panda.
Recurring characters include Tenzin's wife Pema (Maria Bamford) and their children Jinora (Kiernan Shipka), Ikki (Darcy Rose Byrnes), Meelo (Logan Wells), and Rohan. Jinora is calm and an avid reader; Ikki is described as "fun, crazy, and a fast talker"; Meelo is hyperactive; and Rohan is born during the third-to-last episode of Book One. Korra and her friends are supported by Iroh (Dante Basco, the voice actor of Zuko in the original series), a firebender and General of the "United Forces". He is described as "a swashbuckling hero-type guy". He is named after Iroh, Zuko's uncle in the original series.
Book One: Air features two main antagonists: the Equalist movement's mysterious masked leader Amon (Steve Blum) that has the power to remove a person's bending, and Republic City's ambitious, charismatic Councilman and waterbender Tarrlok (Dee Bradley Baker) from the Northern Water Tribe who resorts to increasingly repressive methods. Other recurring Equalist antagonists include second-in-command "Lieutenant" (Lance Henriksen) and self-made founder Hiroshi Sato (Daniel Dae Kim) of Future Industries (a company that makes the "Satomobile", this series' version of the Model-T automobile). Hiroshi's character was inspired by Theodore Roosevelt and by the Japanese industrialists Keita Goto and Iwasaki Yatarō. Both Amon and Tarrlok are eventually revealed to be the sons of mob boss Yakone (Clancy Brown) from Aang's lifetime in Republic City's past.
|Book 2 recurring cast|
|Lisa Edelstein||Aubrey Plaza||James Remar||Steven Yeun|
Book Two: Spirits features Korra's and Tenzin's family, including Tenzin's siblings Kya (Lisa Edelstein) and Bumi (Richard Riehle) Korra's father Tonraq (James Remar), the last two both introduced in the previous season. The season's antagonists are Korra's uncle Unalaq (Adrian LaTourelle), aided by his twin children Desna (Aaron Himelstein) and Eska (Aubrey Plaza), and the dark spirit Vaatu (Jonathan Adams). Book 2 also features John Michael Higgins as the corrupt businessman Varrick, Grey DeLisle as "The Dark Spirit," April Stewart as the light spirit Raava, and Steven Yeun as Wan, the first Avatar. Set six months after the events of the first season, Book Two: Spirits sees Mako as a police officer, Asami in charge of Future Industries, and Bolin leading a new "Fire Ferrets" pro-bending team with little success.
The Legend of Korra was co-created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko at Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, California. To illustrate the length of the production process (about 10 to 12 months per episode) and the overlap of the various phases, Konietzko wrote in July 2013 that their team was already developing the storyboards for the first episode of Book 4 while the last episodes of Book 2 were not yet finished.
Book One: Air
Production of the series was announced at the annual Comic-Con in San Diego on July 22, 2010. It was originally due for release in October 2011. Tentatively titled Avatar: Legend of Korra at the time, it was intended to be a twelve-episode mini series set in the same fictional universe as the original show, but seventy years later. In 2011, the title was changed to The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra, and again in March 2012 to The Legend of Korra. The premiere was eventually delayed to April 14, 2012.
Animation work was mostly done by the South Korean animation studio Studio Mir. According to animation director Yoo Jae-myung, Nickelodeon was initially reluctant to approve the series and suspended production because, unlike in almost all American animated series, the protagonist was a girl. Conventional wisdom, according to Konietzko, had it that "girls will watch shows about boys, but boys won't watch shows about girls". The creators eventually persuaded the channel's executives to change their mind. Konietzko related that in test screenings, boys said that Korra being a girl didn't matter to them: "They just said she was awesome."
The creators wrote all of the episodes of the first season themselves, omitting "filler episodes" to allow for a concise story. Once the series was expanded from its original 12-episode schedule to 26 and then to 52, more writers were brought in so that the creators could focus on design work. Joaquim Dos Santos and Ryu Ki-Hyun, who worked on the animation and design of the original series, also became involved with creating The Legend of Korra, as is storyboarder Ian Graham. Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn, who composed the soundtrack for the original series as "The Track Team," also returned to score The Legend of Korra.
Book Two: Spirits
The second season, Book Two: Spirits, premiered on September 13, 2013 and concluded on November 22, 2013. It consists of fourteen episodes.
Animation work was done by the South Korean animation studio Studio Mir as well as the Japanese animation studio Studio Pierrot. Studio Mir was expected to solely work on Book 2, but executive director Jae-myung Yoo decided that Studio Mir would animate The Boondocks instead because the animation process was less rigorous. Studio Pierrot was eventually called in to fill the void and animate Book 2. According to Jae-myung Yoo, Studio Mir was later contacted and re-asked to animate Book 2. Yoo feared that, if Book 2 failed, Studio Mir and Korean animators would have their reputations tarnished for Studio Pierrot's failures. Consequently, Studio Mir accepted the offer and worked alongside Studio Pierrot.
The Legend of Korra is produced mainly as traditional animation, with most frames drawn on paper in South Korea by the animators at Studio Mir and scanned for digital processing. Each episode comprises about 15,000 drawings. The series makes occasional use of computer-generated imagery for complex scenes, most noticeably in the animations of the pro-bending arena or the Satomobile factory.
While The Legend of Korra is produced in the United States and therefore not a work of Japanese animation ("anime") in the strict sense, The Escapist magazine argued that the series is so strongly influenced by anime that it would otherwise easily be classified as such: Its protagonists (a superpowered heroine, her group of talented, supporting friends, a near-impervious villain who wants to reshape the world), its themes (family, friendship, fear, and death) and the quality of its voice acting as well as the style of its visuals are very similar to those of leading anime series such as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Bleach or Trigun. A notable difference from such series is the absence of lengthy opening and ending sequences set to J-pop songs: to save broadcast time, The Legend of Korra's openings and endings last only a few seconds. The series mostly abstains from using the visual tropes characteristic of anime, but does occasionally use exaggerated facial expressions to highlight emotions for comic effect.
The Legend of Korra is set to music by Jeremy Zuckerman, who already wrote the music for Avatar: The Last Airbender with Benjamin Wynn. For The Legend of Korra, Zuckerman is the sole composer while Wynn is the lead sound designer; the two collaborate with Foley artist Aran Tanchum and showrunner Mike DiMartino on the soundscape of the series.
Konietzko and DiMartino's concept for the score was to blend traditional Chinese music with early jazz. On that basis, Zuckerman composed a score combining elements of Dixieland, traditional Chinese music and Western orchestration. It is performed mainly by a string sextet and various Chinese solo instruments, including a dizi flute, paigu drums, a guqin and a Mongolian matouqin.
The Legend of Korra received critical acclaim. David Hinckley of the New York Daily News wrote that the "visually striking" series is "full of little tricks and nuances that only true fans will notice and savor, but nothing prevents civilians from enjoying it as well." Brian Lowry of Variety felt that the series "represents a bit more ambitious storytelling for older kids, and perhaps a few adults with the geek gene." Prior to the first season's finale, Scott Thill of Wired hailed The Legend of Korra as "the smartest cartoon on TV," able to address adults' spiritual and sociopolitical concerns while presenting an "alternately riveting and hilarious ride packed with fantasy naturalism, steampunk grandeur, kinetic conflicts, sci-fi weaponry and self-aware comedy." In The Atlantic, Julie Beck characterized the series as "some of the highest quality fantasy of our time", appreciating it for combining nuanced social commentary with Avatar: The Last Airbender's "warmth, whimsy, and self-referential wit". According to Forbes, by telling "some of the darkest, most mature stories" ever animated, The Legend of Korra has created a new genre, "the world's first animated television drama".
Several reviewers noted the sociopolitical issues that, unusually for an animated series on a children's channel, run through The Legend of Korra. Thill proposed that the Equalists' cause reflected the recent appearance of the Occupy movement, and DiMartino responded that though the series was written before Occupy Wall Street began, he agreed that the show similarly depicted "a large group of people who felt powerless up against a relatively small group of people in power." Beck wrote that The Legend of Korra used magic to illustrate "the growing pains of a modernizing world seeing the rise of technology and capitalism, and taking halting, jerky steps toward self-governance", while portraying no side of the conflict as entirely flawless. Alyssa Rosenberg praised the show for examining issues of class in an urban setting, and a guest post in her column argued that the struggle between Korra and Amon's Equalists reflected some of the ideas of John Rawls' "luck egalitarianism," praising the show for tackling moral issues of inequality and redistribution.
For the second season, at TV.com, Noel Kirkpatrick commented favorably on how "one of television's best programs" handled the necessary quantity of exposition, and on its introduction of the theme of conflict between spiritualism and secularism. Writing for Vulture, Matt Patches highlighted the loose, handheld-style cinematography – challenging for an animated series – and the "weird, wonderful", wildly imagined spirits fought by Korra; "a Kaiju parade with beasts that mirror velociraptors".
The premiere averaged 4.5 million viewers ranking it as basic cable's number-one kids' show and top animated program for the week with total viewers. The Legend of Korra also ranks as the network's most-watched animated series premiere in three years.
Book One: Air drew an average of 3.8 million viewers per episode. This was the highest audience total for an animated series in the United States in 2012. Book Two: Spirits premiered with 2.6 million viewers. The reduced number of broadcast viewers was thought to have been influenced by the long period between seasons, a change in time slot (Friday evening instead of Saturday morning), the increased availability of digital download services, and generally reduced ratings for the Nickelodeon channel.
The Legend of Korra received two nominations for the 2012 Annie Awards. Bryan Konietzko, Joaquim Dos Santos, Ryu Ki-Hyun, Kim Il Kwang and Kim Jin Sun were nominated in the category of Best Character Design in an Animated Television Production, and the first two episodes were nominated in the category of Best Animated Television Production for Children. The series was also nominated for the "Outstanding Children's Program" award from among the 2012 NAACP Image Awards, which "celebrates the accomplishments of people of color".
IGN editors and readers awarded the series the "IGN People's Choice Award" and the "Best TV Animated Series" award in 2012. The series also took second place (after My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) in a TV.com readers' poll for the "Best Animated Series" of 2012.
|Book 1||2012||IGN's Best of 2012 Awards||Best TV Series||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|Best TV Animated Series||Won|
|IGN People's Choice Award for Best TV Animated Series|
|Best TV Hero||Janet Varney (Korra)||Nominated|
|2013||Annie Awards||Best Animated Television Production for Children||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|Best Character Design in an Animated Television Production||Bryan Konietzko, Joaquim Dos Santos, Ryu Ki-Hyun, Kim Il Kwang and Kim Jin Sun|
|2nd Annual BTVA Voice Acting Awards||Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series|
|Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series — Action/Drama||Janet Varney (Korra)|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Eva Marie Saint (Katara)|
|Best Male Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series — Action/Drama||JK Simmons (Tenzin)||Nominated|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Steve Blum (Amon)||Won|
|Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Dee Bradley Baker (Tarrlok)||Nominated|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Mindy Sterling (Lin Beifong)|
|Daytime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Special Class Animated Program||Joaquim Dos Santos, Tim Yoon, Ki Hyun Ryu, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko|
|Outstanding Directing In An Animated Program||Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki-Hyun Ryu, Andrea Romano|
|Outstanding Casting For An Animated Series Or Special||Shannon Reed, Sarah Noonan, Gene Vassilaros||Won|
|NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Children's Program||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role (Television) - Young Actress||Kiernan Shipka (Jinora)|
|Book 2||2014||Annie Awards||Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Children's Audience||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production||Colin Heck||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production||Angela Sung, William Niu, Christine Bian, Emily Tetri, Frederic Stewart||Won|
|IGN's Best of 2013 Awards||Best TV Animated Series||Won|
The first season (Book One: Air) aired in the United States on Nickelodeon between April 14, 2012 and June 23, 2012, and are available in the United States on the channel's website and through the Hulu Plus service. They were broadcast in other countries on the local Nickelodeon channels beginning in August 2012.
The second season (Book Two: Spirits) began airing on Nickelodeon in the United States on September 13, 2013 and ended on November 22, 2013.
Book One: Air of The Legend of Korra was released on DVD and Blu-ray on July 9, 2013. It contains audio commentary from the creators, cast, and crew. Both versions contain a special feature consisting of a comical interview with the series' characters in puppet form. The Blu-ray version additionally contains audio commentaries for all episodes and an extra called "Series creators' Favorite Scenes: Eight Animatics".
In the United States, The Legend of Korra is also distributed through digital download services such as iTunes or Amazon.com in parallel to its broadcast.
As with Avatar: The Last Airbender, a hardcover art book, The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series (Book One: Air) (ISBN 978-1616551681), details the creation of the series's first 12 episodes. It was published by Dark Horse in August 2013.
In July 2013, Nickelodeon published a free interactive e-book, The Legend of Korra: Enhanced Experience, on iTunes. It contained material such as concept art, character biographies, animatics and storyboards.
- Revolution (ISBN 978-0449815540), adapting episodes one to six, published on 8 January 2013
- Endgame (ISBN 978-0449817346), adapting episodes seven to twelve, published on 23 July 2013
In August 2012, Variety reported that Paramount Animation, a sister company of Nickelodeon, was starting development of several animated movies, with budgets of around US$100 million. According to Variety, a possible candidate for one of the films was The Legend of Korra. Series creator Bryan Konietzko later wrote on his blog that no such movie was in development. In July 2013, he said that he and DiMartino were far too busy working on multiple seasons of the TV series in parallel to consider developing a film adaptation at that time.
In 2013, before the premiere of Book Two: Spirits, Nickelodeon produced Republic City Hustle, three animated short videos that cover part of the life of Mako and Bolin as street hustlers prior to the events of the first season. They are written by Tim Hedrick, one of the writers for Book Two: Spirits, and designed by Evon Freeman.
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- Official website
- The Legend of Korra at the Internet Movie Database
- Studio Mir (Animation Production Studio)