Review: Legend of Korra Book 3

Masterpiece of stunning animation and equally beautiful storytelling

August 26 2014

By Tyler Hall

5/5

Nickelodeon's The Legend of Korra faced quite the challenge this season, now the third in Korra's arc, from a multitude of villains. The show got off to a rough start when prior to the premiere of book three, spanish dubbed versions of episodes four through six appeared online and became readily available to digital pirates. For some reason, at this point Nick seemingly folded and decided to push up the airdate of the premiere all the way from its original August/fall airdate to the end of June. To make matters worse Nick put the show on the air with only a weeks notice and little to no advertising. Any person looking at the viewership could easily see that this move ended in disaster for the network; Korra ended up with its lowest ratings by far. After seven episodes (but only three weeks time), Korra was pulled from its timeslot, giving way to the public sentiment that Korra was on its way out. This time the brass at Nick made the decision to move Korra from airing on its cable channel to premiering exclusively on its website Nick.com. The problem with all of these decisions implemented by the men in charge is that none of it was relayed to the die-hard fanbase that Avatar has established. Furthermore, Nick does not seem to understand the gem of animation they possess and make no mistake, Korra truly is one of the best television shows on air period. Now that Book 3 has wrapped up and Book 4 is already almost done filming lets delve into just how good this season was. 

Book 3 opens with Korra in Republic City dealing with the aftermath of Harmonic Convergence, which took place two weeks prior in Book 2. In the premiere episode we get to see the mysterious return of airbending to the world, and with it we get to see Zaheer, the big bad for the rest of the season, become a bender and break out of his prison. Over the course of the first few episodes we see the rest of Zaheer's Red Lotus team break out of their prisons; Ghazan, Ming-Hua, P'Li round out the dangerous foursome. The Red Lotus continues the trend of powerful adversaries for Team Korra to face off against and we finally get to see some more Lavabending and combustion eye lasers. Zaheer makes for the best villain the show has had to date and represents one of the few antagonists in animation that have understandable motives. In fact, Zaheer's philosophy on world leaders and their place in society may have led to a better world than some of the other characters realize. 

Excuse any hyperbole, but Book 3 manages to deliver in the animation department possibly better than any other animated show in history. Before you start shouting out names I want you to understand that it is not just me saying this, many animators have come out to express their feelings on the greatness of the animation. Co-creator Bryan Konietzko has stated that the final action sequence of season 3 is the most ambitious animatied sequence ever on television. To any doubters I absolutely urge you to give it a chance, at least a few episodes. The attention to detail, backgrounds, character movements, and fluidity are all second to none. Studio Mir has reclaimed its role as sole animation studio for Avatar and put its foot down on the matter, no other studio should animate another Korra episode. 

In comparison to the rest of the fantastic Avatar television series, the action scenes are the standouts of Korra season 3. In part due to advances in animation Studio Mir has managed to crate fight scenes better than any other. Standout fights from this season include Bolin & Mako vs Ming-Hua & Ghazan, Tenzin vs Zaheer, and Korra vs Zaheer. Check out any of those and if you are still disappointed you should probably stop watching cartoons. The final fight between Korra and Zaheer also  allows us to finally get a chance to witness just how powerful Korra can be, an idea that is sometimes forgotten throughout the series. 

Book 3 of Legend of Korra improves upon Book 2 in every way. From a Christopher Nolan point of view, where Book 1 was the Batman Begins-esque stand alone origin story and Book 2 was the epic, Dark Knight Rises whole world is in trouble arc; Book 3 appears closest to the Dark Knight, with the main character's ideology being questioned playing as large a role as any one fight. Book 3 also marks the delightful return of Avatar: The Last Airbender's episodes that follow secondary events that always seem to introduce more humor into the universe than whole Korra seasons.