Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Much Rejoicing in the House of Diana

Nickelodeon has just announced a sequel series to "Avatar: The Last Airbender".

My reaction was more or less this.

Here's what we know:

The Legend of Korra takes place 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender and follows the adventures of the Avatar after Aang – a passionate, rebellious, and fearless teenaged girl from the Southern Water Tribe named Korra. With three of the four elements under her belt (Earth, Water, and Fire), Korra seeks to master the final element, Air. Her quest leads her to the epicenter of the modern "Avatar" world, Republic City – a metropolis that is fueled by steampunk technology. It is a virtual melting pot where benders and non-benders from all nations live and thrive. However, Korra discovers that Republic City is plagued by crime as well as a growing anti-bending revolution that threatens to rip it apart. Under the tutelage of Aang's son, Tenzin, Korra begins her airbending training while dealing with the dangers at large.

Now, the cynical part of my brain was distressingly quick to point out the many ways this can go wrong: what if the creators fail to meet their own standards? What if the network demands that Korra be Chickified? Oh, they were comfortable enough with Katara, Toph and Azula being progressive female characters, but then, they weren't the titular protagonists. What if the future world of the Four Nations is just a faded xerox of the original? What about the loose ends from the original that couldn't be covered in a 70-year gap (ie: Ursa's fate, to name just one example)? And worst of all, what if this new series takes cues from the Shamayawningalready movies?

And yet... and yet. There's something about this that feels right to me, like it could be another "Batman Beyond" in terms of the relationship between the parent and spin-off series; even based on the preliminary information, Korra sounds like a very different protagonist than her predecessor - she's already most of the way through her training, and I'd never use the words "passionate" or "rebellious" to describe Aang. The fact that the world has moved from medieval to steampunk makes a lot of sense given that the War has been over for a century, and the Fire Nation under Zuko presumably shared its technological advancements with the rest of the world. Even the central conflict is different this time: it's not a war story. Maybe it's what comes after a war story. I don't know... and I can't wait to find out!

So I'm going to be optimistic about this. And overjoyed at the possibility of revisiting one of my favorite stories.