You remember that part in Book 2 Episode 5 when that foaming mouth guy on Kyoshi Island had this completely over-the-top freak out when he thought the Avatar returned to the island? Well, I have no shame in saying that is pretty much the exact portrayal of the sheer joy that struck me during last year’s SD Comic Con coverage when we were given a first glance at the next chapter in the Avatar universe. Avatar The Legend of Korra. It’s surprising how much a single concept photo and a plot premise can fully rejuvenate an entire fan base after a whole two-year absence. At this point, any new information Nickelodeon hands out will be like dropping bread into a pond of swarming Turtle Ducks, and I’ll be right in the fray of it all. With that, some new information has just come in this last week, including our first official look at the face of our new protagonist.
For those of you who aren’t yet aware of the premise, Legend of Korra will take place approximately 70 years after the events of The Last Airbender. Korra, the new Avatar born of the Southern Water Tribe, is roughly 16-17 years old and has already mastered three of the four elements; Water, Earth, and Fire. Co-Creator Bryan Konietzko has referred to Korra as “The Anti-Aang.” She is very hot headed, extremely brash and independent, and ready to take on the world with an “in your face” attitude. Her search for a teacher of the last remaining element, Air, brings her to Republic City, a vast utopia bustling with steam-punk technology and open markets where people of all nations across the world can coexist. Yet all is not perfect. Crime rates in Republic City are rising, and a new Anti-bender society has come to power. Can Korra fight against these odds, find Tenzin, the son of her past life (Aang), and master the last element in time? Yeah sure, probably, but the more pressing question has always been ‘how’.
Last week, Speakeasy had an interview with the show creators and executives in which they were given the names of eight major characters and the cast that will play them:
Janet Varney as KORRA
Kiernan Shipka as JINORA
Daniel Dae Kim as HIROSHI SATO
David Faustino as MAKO
Sheychelle Gabriel as ASAMI
Lance Hendrickson as LIEUTENANT
P.J. Byrne as BOLIN
JK Simmons as TENZIN
Unfortunately I’m not extremely familiar with many members of the cast (or even the characters for that matter), so as of now, it just looks like a bunch of names. However, here is what I do know. Varney, Shipka, Faustino, and Byrne are mostly TV stars who have all performed in a handful of shows, mostly live-action. Varney in particular falls into my category of “Actresses-I-could-have-sworn-I’ve-seen-before-but-can’t-remember-where-exactly.”
Judging by how young Shipka is, I am guessing her character, Jinora, will more than likely be a little girl (Korra’s little sister or close relative seems to be the best bet, seeing how close their names are).
Faustino’s character, Mako, I’m guessing is Fire Nation. More than likely, it is a character made in honor of the late Mako, who played the voice of Uncle Iroh in Books One and Two before he passed away from cancer.
Byrne’s character, Bolin, I’m guessing is Earth Kingdom. Just because.
Daniel Dae Kim, who is probably most well known as Jim Kwon in Lost, previously cameoed in the original Avatar series as General Fong in Book 2 Ep. 1. Remember him? His new character, Hiroshi Sato, has the unique distinction of having a last name, something that has been quite rare in Avatar (In the original series, Toph Bei-Fong was the only one).
Sheychelle Gabriel, many of you might recognize, is the girl who played Princess Yue in Mr. Shyamalan’s epic disaster of a live action adaptation. (Granted, I was pretty lenient on it in my review, but that’s mainly because everyone else had pretty much torn it apart already.) Regardless, I think we all should agree not to hate Asami just because of that, because, let’s be honest with ourselves, she wasn’t what was wrong with that movie.
Hendrickson has been around for quite some time and has done a little of everything in this business. Given his background in huge action films like Alien and Predator, and voice work for games like Mass Effect, him playing a Lieutenant should work just fine.
Then there is J.K. Simmons as Tenzin. I fully understand that Simmons is a very versatile actor and has done a lot of different roles, but I can’t for the life of me get this one version of him out of my head.
And that’s not all. Dante Basco, (the voice of Zuko) and Dee Bradley Baker (the voice of Appa, Momo, every other animal, and about a dozen side characters including Chong) have both stated via Twitter that they are playing new characters as well. They have not disclosed any information on who they are playing or if they are in any way related to the characters they played in the original series. In fact very little information involving any of the original “Gaang” has surfaced, with Co-Creators Mike and Bryan insisting that “they’ll appear in various ways perhaps,” and “there is definitely a link to the old series.” Well, seeing as it is 70 years in the future, there really are only two options. Either A.) They’re dead and will appear via flashbacks, or B.) They are still around, just really old. The only original character we can know about for sure is Aang. Clearly he’s passed away, because he’d have to be for Korra to exist. Reasons behind his early death in his 60’s, in comparison to many other Avatar’s before him (Kyoshi living to be well over 200) has stemmed from the amount of life force he burnt out being trapped in suspended movement in the iceberg for so long. However being the past Avatar, it is very likely that Aang will appear before Korra in spirit form, much like Roku did for him. Now THAT, I can assure you, will be something to see.
Expect many changes. Unlike the past in which Avatar had a team of writers, The Legend of Korra will be strictly written by the creators themselves, Mike and Bryan. Now, I for one greatly enjoyed the influence Tim Hedrick, John O’Brian, and many of the others had on the influence of Avatar’s story, yet the creators are insistent on making this story much more tight and leaner than before, so it’s perfectly understandable. Mike and Bryan have both taken into account that the demographic that watched Avatar has grown up since it started in 2005, and as such, they want their new series to reflect that with characters more in their late teens rather than early teens and for the plots themselves to grow in maturity, while still retaining the fun and spirit of the show’s roots.
The original plan was to have a short 12-episode mini-series, but very recently, it’s been confirmed that Nickelodeon just purchased the rights to make 14 more, which would put the show at the average length of any practical anime. (Samurai 7 was 26 episodes long, and Gurren Lagann was 27)
As of now, the first 12 episodes have been written, the dialogue recorded, and the Animation Studios in Korea are all hard at work putting the show together as we speak. Unfortunately, much of this new information comes with the double-edge sword of now knowing that my preference to see this show premiere before the end of this year is probably not going to happen. Yet, as a proud member of the Earth Kingdom, the element of substance, I am persistent and enduring. As such, I shall exercise my patience to the best of my ability. After all, it’s not like the ending of Book 2 where they made us wait on a cliffhanger for nine whole months. So with that, stay tuned for Legend of Korra to premier on Nickelodeon in 2012.
Kudos to Mudron for such wonderful Avatar fan art.
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