‘Avatar’ sequel series drops on Netflix, fans rejoice

‘The Legend of Korra’ reaches streaming service’s ‘Top 10’ list since release Friday

Benjamin Haylett, Arts & Leisure Editor

Like many kids who grew up in the 2000s, I was endlessly obsessed with a very particular cartoon on Nickelodeon. I am of course talking about “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”
The anime-inspired children’s show captured the imagination of an entire generation by pitting a group of preteens against a tyrannical government hell-bent on world domination. I’m sure I don’t have to explain more about the plot as I assume many of you know how the story goes, but for the uninitiated, a young boy named Aang is known as the Avatar.
Being the Avatar means that he is able to “bend” or control all four elements of the world, those being water, earth, fire and air. Aang narrowly escapes the genocide of his people, the airbenders, and is frozen in a block of ice for 100 years while a war between the entire world and the Fire Nation wages in his absence.
Aang is found by a brother and sister, named Sokka and Katara, and over the course of three seasons, they travel the world together, making new friends and helping all the people that they meet along the way.

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” is available on Netflix, much to the enjoyment of fans worldwide. (TMDB.com)

While this show was massively popular back in the day, there has been a recent revival of its popularity in the past couple of months since it was added to Netflix. While the addition of brand new fans that have become obsessed has angered many longtime fans, I have fully embraced the amount of memes and new love the show is getting. At the same time I have been hearing about the show nonstop on social media, there is a very vocal minority of people defending the show’s sequel series “The Legend of Korra.”
I had never seen an episode of the show in my life, and since it was added to Netflix Friday, which just so happens to be my birthday, I decided to give it a shot. And I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised with how much I like the show. As of right now, I am one season in and very excited to continue watching the series. “The Legend of Korra takes place 70 years after the events of “Avatar,” and follows a group of teenagers as they try to maintain the balance that Avatar Aang was able to create in the world.
When an Avatar dies, they are reincarnated, and that reincarnation becomes the new Avatar. That new Avatar is a girl named Korra, and over the course of the first season, we the audience get to see her grow not in her knowledge of the elements as we watched Aang, but more as a spiritual leader in a world that looks like it may not need the Avatar anymore.
The story of the first season is certainly more adult in nature than any season of “Avatar.” While “Avatar” focuses mostly on the idea of “saving the world,” “Korra” is more preoccupied with the politics and bureaucracy of Republic City, where the show mainly takes place.
In the current climate of political unrest in this country, “Korra” makes a very poignant commentary about how oppressed groups and society may want to rebel and how that can be dealt with, either positively or negatively. While this is definitely interesting to watch and think about, I find the more simplistic nature of “Avatar’s” main conflict more entertaining overall.
The art style of “Korra” is something that stood out as very interesting to me. The fact that the show was made much later than its predecessor is very obvious when looking at the complexity of shots that are able to be pulled off. CGI is utilized much more frequently here, and with that comes the freedom to do much more with the sets that the traditionally animated characters inhabit.
While we’re on the topic of the sets and backgrounds, I find “The Legend of Korra’s” art style to be the biggest departure from the original series, as it is much more painterly. It has very obvious brush strokes and some of the finer details are much more impressionistic than that of the original series, something that I find very interesting, but I do think I prefer the original realism of “Avatar.”
Something that I have zero quibbles about is the quality of the voice acting and casting choices, as they were both done with expert precision. At no point does anything that the actors are saying come across as forced or cheesy, as it sometimes could be in “Avatar.”
I think the stand out performance has to be J.K. Simmons as Tenzin, Aang’s son and Korra’s airbending mentor. While he has one of the most recognizable voices in the business, he assumes this air of regalness in his performance that makes his character one of the most fleshed out and interesting of the series.
I’m going to be completely honest here. If I had to choose between watching all four seasons of “Korra” and getting a fourth season of “Avatar,” as was the plan before the terrible film adaptation was put into production, I would choose the new season of “Avatar” 10 times out of 10.
The original show had a certain amount of charm to it that “Korra” just doesn’t seem to grasp, but for better or worse, we got a passable successor to the hit show.
I certainly enjoyed the first season and will continue to watch the other three, so if you have 20 minutes to spare in a day, I would seriously recommend giving the show a shot, especially if you’re trying to get more fantastical Avatar action in your life.

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