‘Legend of Korra’ bends viewers back to original ‘Airbender’

Avatar: The Legend of Korra: Book Three” gives existing fans plenty of what they already enjoy, a more polished gem of stylistic storytelling amidst increasingly compelling world building.

Korra incorporates more elements of the original Avatar: The Last Airbender series, such as traveling across the world. It cuts out most of Airbender’s filler material, and replaces it with longer story arcs and greater plot momentum.

As such, it rewards consistent viewing and is more punishing for newcomers and perennial viewers with each passing episode. Thankfully, Book Three episodes are available to legally stream online, after some mixed messages from Nickelodeon.

They stopped broadcasting the show mid-season and made the show online-only, which in the future may allow the writers more creative freedom from the child-friendly cable network.

Book Three openes with the ramifications of Korra’s decision at the end of Book Two. In short, the people of Republic City were irate about the disruptive new residents, which sets the stage for a tense season. Villains are introduced with unique variations on the common bending abilities, such as the earth bender who specializes in magma manipulation.

Animation and fight choreography improves the already high bar set by previous seasons, and incorporates more unique character fighting styles and bending abilities.

The fight sequence in Zaofu is one of this season’s highlights, which further distances it from other american action cartoons such as anything with Teen Titans or Ben 10 in the title. Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn returns to compose more original yet thematically consistent background music, with a particularly excellent theme for the anarchist group Red Lotus.

As previous seasons centered on Korra overcoming fears, such as losing her bending abilities and balancing light with dark, this season deals with increasingly mature situations as the main characters age. Romance is thankfully relegated to background filler, unlike previous seasons and so many other shows where love takes center stage. Villains are given character depth and realistic motivations, unlike the majority of cartoons stocked with flat, one-note plot point antagonists.

Best of all, this season moves the most toward reconciling the avatar concept with reality and questioning whether avatars should be the world’s sole problem solver unlike the near-omniscient heroes of similar shows.

In an interview with IGN, co-creator Bryan Konietzko said, “Mike and I have always been interested in not cartoonish ideas of good and evil. We like our good characters to be very human and flawed, and make poor choices. Maybe be misinformed about things. Gives them a place to grow.”

“Avatar: The Legend of Korra: Book Three” ended with many foreboding developments, which left us eagerly awaiting the next season. With any luck, it should arrive next year. Until then, we will all have to just eagerly await its arrival and try not to go insane with all our questions.