A sequel to Konietzko and DiMartino's previous series Avatar: The Last Airbender , which aired from to , the series is animated in a style strongly influenced by anime with most of the animation being done by Studio Mir of South Korea and some by Pierrot Co. As with its predecessor, the series is set in a fictional universe in which some people can manipulate, or "bend", the elements of water, earth, fire, or air. Only one person, the "Avatar," can bend all four elements, and is responsible for maintaining balance in the world.
The series follows Avatar Korra , the female reincarnation of Aang from the previous series, as she faces political and spiritual unrest in a modernizing world. Byrne , J.
The Legend of Korra ran for 52 episodes, separated into four seasons "books". The series has been continued as a comics series. It has been praised for its writing and production values. The series was also praised for addressing sociopolitical issues such as social unrest and terrorism , as well as for going beyond the established boundaries of youth entertainment with respect to issues of race , gender and sexual orientation.
The Legend of Korra was initially conceived as a twelve-episode miniseries. Nickelodeon declined the creators' pitch for an Avatar: The Last Airbender follow-up animated movie based on what then became the three-part comics The Promise , The Search and The Rift , choosing instead to expand Korra to 26 episodes.
These episodes are grouped into four separate seasons "Books" composed of twelve to fourteen episodes "Chapters" each, with each season telling a stand-alone story. Beginning with episode 9 of season 3, new episodes were first distributed through the Internet rather than broadcast. The Legend of Korra concluded with the fourth season. The Legend of Korra is set in the fictional world of Avatar: The Last Airbender , 70 years after the events of that series.
The distinguishing element of the series is "bending", the ability of some people to telekinetically manipulate the classical element associated with their nation water , earth , fire , or air. Bending is carried out by spiritual and physical exercises, portrayed as similar to Chinese martial arts. As a result of a genocide in the series's backstory , there is only one living family of airbenders at the time of the series. Only one person, the " Avatar ", can bend all four elements. Cyclically reincarnating among the world's four nations, the Avatar maintains peace and balance in the world.
The first season is mostly set in Republic City, the capital of the United Republic of Nations, a new multicultural sovereign state founded by Avatar Aang after the end of The Last Airbender. The s-inspired metropolis is described as "if Manhattan had happened in Asia" by the series' creators,  and its residents are united by their passion for "pro-bending", a spectator sport in which two teams composed of an earthbender, waterbender, and firebender throw each other out of a ring using bending techniques.
Rapid technological growth has displaced the spirituality of bending, and what was considered a renowned martial art in Avatar: The Last Airbender is now commonplace, with benders in Republic City using their abilities to commit crime, compete in spectator sports, and fulfill everyday jobs.
She enters the pro-bending league, and befriends the brothers Bolin and Mako , as well as Asami Sato , heiress to Future Industries, a leading engineering corporation. The ambitious politician Tarrlok enlists Korra to fight the anti-bender uprising of the "Equalists", led by the masked Amon, who strips benders of their abilities.
Korra and her friends, aided by police chief Lin Beifong and United Forces General Iroh, unmask Amon as a bloodbender and Tarrlok's brother, ending the Equalists' coup. A spiritual meeting with her predecessor Aang allows Korra to realize her powers and to restore the bending abilities of Amon's victims. The second season, Book Two: Spirits , begins six months later, with dark spirits terrorizing the seas.
Korra turns to her spirit-attuned uncle Unalaq, chief of the Northern Water Tribe, for tutelage, and opens the polar portals to the Spirit World at his direction. Unalaq then seizes power in the Southern Water Tribe by force, starting a civil war in which he is opposed by his brother, Korra's father, Tonraq. Seeking allies against Unalaq, Korra experiences the life of the first Avatar, Wan, who fused his soul with the spirit of light, Raava, to imprison her opponent, the spirit of darkness, Vaatu. Aided by his twin children Eska and Desna, Unalaq frees Vaatu during the Harmonic Convergence, a decamillennial alignment of planets, and unites with him to become a dark Avatar.
Korra then fuses with Raava again but the link to the previous Avatars has been permanently severed. Korra decides to leave the spirit portals open, allowing a new coexistence of spirits and humans.
The third season, Book Three: Change , begins two weeks later with nonbenders all over the world obtaining airbending powers as a result of the Harmonic Convergence. As Tenzin, Korra, and her friends recruit them to re-establish the extinct Air Nomads, the newly airbending criminal Zaheer escapes his prison, frees his allies Ghazan, Ming-Hua, and P'Li, and attempts to kidnap the Avatar. This fails thanks to the help of Suyin Beifong, Lin's previously estranged sister. In the final confrontation, Zaheer's comrades are killed and he is defeated by a giant cyclone led by Jinora.
Two weeks later, a weakened, wheelchair-bound Korra watches as Jinora is anointed an airbending master, and Tenzin rededicates the Air Nomads to service to the world. The final season, Book Four: Balance , is set three years later. Korra slowly recovers from the injuries incurred in the fight with Zaheer, traveling the world alone and haunted by fear.
Meanwhile, Suyin's former head of security, Kuvira, reunites the fractured Earth Kingdom with the metalbenders loyal to her, and refuses to release power to the unpopular heir to the throne, Prince Wu. At the head of her new, totalitarian "Earth Empire", Kuvira seizes Suyin's city of Zaofu and sets her sights on the United Republic, which she claims for her nation.
With Toph Beifong 's help, Korra frees herself of the remnants of Zaheer's poison, but after losing a duel to Kuvira at Zaofu, she allows Zaheer to help her overcome her fears and fully reconnect with her Avatar Spirit , Raava. When Kuvira attacks Republic City with a giant mecha carrying a spirit-powered superweapon, it takes all the efforts of Korra and her friends, including the inventor Varrick and his assistant Zhu Li, to stop the colossus. Only after Korra saves her from the blast wave that Kuvira's weapon discharges when it's destroyed, blowing open a third portal to the Spirit World and destroying much of the city, does she concede defeat.
The series ends with the prospect of democracy for the former Earth Kingdom, and with Korra and Asami leaving together for a vacation in the Spirit World. Korra Janet Varney is the series' year-old "headstrong and rebellious" protagonist,  and Aang's reincarnation as the Avatar. Her transformation "from brash warrior to a spiritual being", according to DiMartino, is a principal theme of the series. The series focuses on Korra and her friends, sometimes called "Team Avatar": the bending brothers Mako and Bolin and the non-bender Asami.
Mako David Faustino , the older brother, is a firebender described as "dark and brooding"   The character was named after Mako Iwamatsu , the voice actor for Iroh in the original series. His younger brother Bolin P. Byrne is an earthbender described as lighthearted, humorous, and "always [having] a lady on his arm". The other main characters are the airbending master Tenzin, one of Aang's grown children J. Jinora is calm and an avid reader. She is an airbender and joins the main cast since season 2;   Ikki is described as "fun, crazy, and a fast talker";  Meelo is hyperactive; and Rohan is born during the third-to-last episode of Book One; Republic City police chief Lin Beifong Mindy Sterling and Korra's animal friends Naga and Pabu both Dee Bradley Baker , the voice of a number of animals including Appa and Momo in the original series.
Pabu was inspired by Futa , a famous standing Japanese red panda. The romantic interests of Korra and her companions are less in the foreground than in Avatar , and feature mainly in the first two seasons. By the end of the season, Mako has broken up with Asami and entered a relationship with Korra. This ends around the end of Book Two, during which Bolin suffers from an abusive relationship with the waterbender Eska. In the fourth season, Bolin dates the airbender Opal, while Asami and Korra become closer friends.
The series' final scene indicates a romantic connection between them. Book One: Air features two main adversaries for Korra: the Equalists' masked leader Amon Steve Blum who has the power to remove a person's bending-powers,   and the ambitious, charismatic politician Tarrlok Dee Bradley Baker , who resorts to increasingly repressive methods against the Equalists. Spencer Garrett joined the cast as the voice for Raiko, the president of the United Republic. Korra is also supported by General Iroh Dante Basco , who voiced Zuko in the original series , a member of the United Forces who is described as "a swashbuckling hero-type guy".
Set six months after the events of the first season, Book Two: Spirits sees Mako as a police officer, Asami in charge of Future Industries, and Bolin leading a new pro-bending team with little success.
New airbenders are also introduced in the season including the young thief Kai Skyler Brigmann and Suyin's daughter Opal Alyson Stoner , both of Earth Kingdom origins and the love interests of Jinora and Bolin respectively.
Jim Meskimen voices a Republic City merchant and later airbender named Daw, as well as Suyin's husband, the architect Baatar. Philece Sampler voices the aged Toph Beifong , another returning character from Avatar whose young adult version was voiced by Kate Higgins in Books 1 and 3.
The art design of Republic City, described as "if Manhattan had happened in Asia," was inspired by the s and incorporates influences from American and European architecture from that time period.
The design for the metalbending police force is based on s New York City police uniforms, crossed with samurai armor. The fighting styles employed by characters in the original show Avatar: The Last Airbender were derived from different distinct styles of Chinese martial arts.
The pro-bending sport introduced in the series was inspired by mixed martial arts MMA tournaments. MMA fighters Jeremy Humphries and Mac Danzig were credited with "providing a lot of the moves you'll see in the Probending arena," and Steve Harada and Jake Huang provided the stylized flips and acrobatics of "tricking" to the series' fighting style. To illustrate the length of the production process about 10 to 12 months per episode  and the overlap of the various phases, Konietzko wrote in July that their team was already developing the storyboards for the first episode of Book 4 while the last episodes of Book 2 were not yet finished.
It was originally due for release in October The premiere was eventually delayed to April 14, According to animation director Yoo Jae-myung, Nickelodeon was initially reluctant to approve the series and suspended production because, unlike in almost all American animated series, the protagonist was a girl. The creators eventually persuaded the channel's executives to change their mind. Konietzko related that in test screenings , boys said that Korra being a girl did not matter to them: "They just said she was awesome.
The creators wrote all of the episodes of the first season themselves, omitting " filler episodes" to allow for a concise story. The second season, Book Two: Spirits , premiered on September 13, and concluded on November 22, It consists of fourteen episodes. Animation work was done by the South Korean animation studio Studio Mir as well as the Japanese animation studio Pierrot. Pierrot was eventually called in to fill the void and animate Book 2. Yoo feared that, if Book 2 failed, Studio Mir and Korean animators would have their reputations tarnished for Pierrot's failures.
Consequently, Studio Mir accepted the offer and worked alongside Pierrot. The third season, Book Three: Change , aired its first three episodes on June 27, , soon after some episodes were leaked online.
Episodes nine to thirteen were streamed online, rather than being broadcast as a television program. Book Four: Balance , the final season, was produced in parallel to the previous two seasons. The crew, at one point, worked on approximately 30 episodes at the same time: post-production for season 2, production for season 3 and pre-production for season 4.
After Nickelodeon cut the season's budget by the amount required for one episode, DiMartino and Konietzko decided to include a clip show , which reuses previously produced animation, as episode 8 "Remembrances" instead of dismissing many of the creative staff. Concerning the development of the much-discussed final scene intended to show the friends Korra and Asami becoming a romantic couple, Bryan Konietzko explained that at first he and DiMartino did not give the idea much weight, assuming they would not be able to get approval for portraying their relationship.
But during the production of the finale they decided to test that assumption, approached the network and found them supportive up to a certain limit. They decided to change the final scene from Korra and Asami only holding hands to also facing each other in a pose referencing the marriage scene a few minutes prior. The Legend of Korra was produced mainly as traditional animation , with most frames drawn on paper in South Korea by the animators at Studio Mir and scanned for digital processing. Each episode comprises about 15, drawings. While The Legend of Korra was produced in the United States and therefore not a work of Japanese animation " anime " in the strict sense, The Escapist magazine argued that the series is so strongly influenced by anime that it would otherwise easily be classified as such: its protagonists a superpowered heroine, her group of talented, supporting friends, a near-impervious villain who wants to reshape the world , its themes family, friendship, romance, fear, and death and the quality of its voice acting as well as the visual style are similar to those of leading anime series such as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood , Bleach or Trigun.
The series mostly abstains from using the visual tropes characteristic of anime, but does occasionally use exaggerated facial expressions to highlight emotions for comic effect.