The long awaited sequel to the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender premiered on Nickelodeon last weekend. Officially titled The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra, the new series got off to a powerful start with a premiere that is every bit as beautiful, entertaining, and rewarding as the original. Here are some reasons we think you should give it a try.
1. The Benderverse: A Wonderful, Fully Realized Fictional World
Legend of Korra is written and produced by Avatar: The Last Airbender creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, and is set in the same universe as the original series, an indeterminate Asian land that is split into four distinct tribes representing water, fire, earth, and air. DiMartino and Konietzko provide an impressive amount of detail in painting the Bender society; along with their history and traditions, each tribe has distinctive clothing, hairstyles, and styles of movement. Certain individuals are born to be “benders,” and exhibit supernatural powers over their particular element. Like Aang in The Last Airbender, 17-year-old Korra is this generation’s Avatar, an extraordinary young talent who has the potential to bend all four elements. Her quest to master her last element brings her to Republic City to be trained by Aang’s son, the master airbender Tenzin.
2. You Don’t Need to See the First Series to Enjoy Korra
3. It’s Not Just for Kids
Of course, there are still adorable furry creatures, plenty of colorful action, and enough goofy laughs to satisfy the young ‘uns … like Avatar, Korra manages to appeal to all ages. Unfortunately, there are many viewers who won’t give the show a chance simply because of its appearance. My own lack of interest in animé kept me from watching the original series for months until my children (and several older friends) convinced me that it was worth it, and I’m so glad they did. They were right – it’s nothing like Pokemon!
4. The Acting and Characters are Top Notch
The cast of Legend of Korra is … well, legendary. Janet Varney (Entourage), an established television actress performing her first voice role, does an excellent job as the headstrong Korra. Aang’s son Tenzin, Korra’s long-suffering airbending teacher, is portrayed with warmth and wisdom by veteran actor J.K. Simmons (Spider-Man, Juno). David Faustino (Married With Children) and P.J. Byrne (Final Destination 5) also create distinctive characters as brothers Mako and Bolin, and creepy nemesis Amon is played with appropriate menace by accomplished voice actor Steve Blum (Cowboy Bebop). Even such relatively minor characters as Tenzin’s children are played by top quality actors; his eldest daughter Jinora is voiced by Kiernan Shipka, who does a phenomenal job as Sally Draper on Mad Men.
5. It Will Make You Forget All About the Dreadful Live Action Film
The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra airs Saturdays at 11 AM ET/PT on Nickelodeon.