Avatar: The Last Airbender was a Nickelodeon series that ran for three seasons, starting in 2005. It was praised for being both a strong action series and for containing a compelling story and characters, who all possessed their own personalities and arcs. That series reached its very fitting end in 2008, but the plans for a continuation in some way has been in the making for some time. Finally, at this year’s San Diego Comic Con, the creative team behind The Last Airbender spent time explaining the new continuation of the series, The Legend of Korra, and premiered a first look at the new season. Inside the confines of a packed room, excitement peaked, as the various members of the panels laid out tons of new information about this hotly anticipated new chapter of the series. Note: there will be no talk of the Shyamalan live-action film disaster, and we all know why.
Taking place on Saturday, during Comic Con, the panel for this exclusive sneak peak was held in one of the larger rooms in the Convention Center, once you take away both Hall H and Ballroom 20, the largest of all the presentation rooms. While it may not have seemed to be the biggest draw compared to other highly anticipated panels, the amount of energy in the room suggested otherwise, as the panel was packed with devoted fans of the series. Here is how Comic Con’s program described this presentation:
Finally! Nickelodeon: The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra: Exclusive First Look— Creator team Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, co-executive producer Joaquim Dos Santos, supervising producer Ki-Hyun Ryu, and composing team Ben Wynn and Jeremy Zuckerman give an exclusive sneak peek at the continuation of this element-bending saga. Moderated by Megan Casey, executive in charge for Nickelodeon.
Once all of the panel participants were on stage and the cheering died down, the announcement of a first look at the trailer for the new season (posted at the bottom) only caused cheering to start back up immediately. The trailer played and everyone was ecstatic over the new footage. Here are some of the noticeable details I found in the trailer shown: Korra is a female character and the main focus of this new season. She has a number of new enemies to face, friends to help her, and animals to aid her in her travels (including a polar bear dog). The animation looks great and is noticeably presented in HD and in widescreen, a format not previously seen in the series. The action shown is well choreographed, riveting in the small moments seen, and connected by the wonderful score, which looks to be right in line with the first three seasons. There also seems to be an added level of CG to the series, in order to push the scope of the series even further. Finally, the reveal of a masked nemesis closes the trailer.
The thing that had me most excited about all of this was the animation style. In the original series, the one thing that has held me back from loving The Last Airbender more than I already did was the limits of its animation and the lack of a more ambitious handle on the visual style of the show. While I loved how the series portrayed its action, among other visual elements, I always wished more could have been done. With Legend of Korra, it looks like all of these issues will be addressed, as the series has now broken away from the 4:3 TV aspect ratio and entered the realm of the widescreen format, with HD level animation to boot. Add to that a more ambitious looking handle of the fight choreography and where the “camera” is within the space, as we follow the action. It looks like the creative team is truly planning on delivering a very solid level of animation to further push the boundaries of a Nickelodeon cartoon, which already stepped on the toes of many very good anime series.
Following the trailer, the crew got down to business, by describing the basic elements of the new season. They were aided by a slideshow, which contained concept art for the series. Many of the concept art pieces featured all of the various new characters, which the panelists described. Based on all of this, some semblance of the plot of the series can be explained. Set 70 years after the childhood adventures of Avatar Aang ended, the new season will focus on a female character, named Korra, who is next in line to become the Avatar, the being who will bring balance and piece to the world. Korra is skilled at all bending abilities, except for airbending. She will have to travel to a new location in an effort to learn airbending from Aang’s descendents. While Korra seeks knowledge for the sake of good, there are still groups of anti-benders, known as the equalists, who are bent on creating anarchy. The season will mainly be set in a city known as the United Republic, a steam-punk style metropolis, where people of all nations live together. A lot of the look of what was shown has a very jazzy, 1920s Shanghai feel. The audience inside the room were incredibly receptive to all of this news and the level of positive response was quite stunning.
I was a huge fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender and am really looking forward to additional seasons set in this world, with new adventures to become involved in. While no release date was officially stated as of yet, sometime in 2012 seems to be the best we can hope for as of now. In the meantime, one can only hope for more information being revealed and additional footage slowly making its way onto the internet. The Legend of Korra is so far shaping up to be a great companion season to an already fantastic show and as long as the same great amount of care first applied to the series remains present, things should looking just fine for the future of the series.
The Last Airbender: The Legend of Korra Trailer: