The Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender arrived on Netflix in May to much fanfare. Now its epic sequel, The Legend of Korra, is streaming on Netflix, too—and quickly finding its own growing fan base. The sequel series takes place 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender, and follows the journey of a teenager named Korra who, under the tutelage of Tenzin, learns to master the element of Air while attempting to defeat an anti-bending movement that is growing throughout Republic City. Longtime admirers of the series—plus a whole new generation of watchers—are reveling in The Legend of Korra's magical art, action, and adventure.
The Legend of Korra, which was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, delves into topics that are unusual for children’s animation; egalitarianism, communism, PTSD, and queerness are among some of the show's groundbreaking themes. The series begins in Republic City, a multicultural sovereign state founded by Avatar Aang (Tenzin's father) after The Last Airbender. The 1920s-inspired metropolis offers new technology and a new team Avatar. Here are a few things you might not know about the series.
1. Making The Legend Of Korra required hundreds of artists from three different countries.
Just as the characters from The Legend of Korra are from various nations, so too are the show's creators. In a guest post for The Hollywood Reporter, DiMartino and Konietzko wrote that:
"In addition to the artists at the Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, California, we collaborated with Studio Mir in South Korea. They handled designing characters and backgrounds as well as all the animation and compositing for the first season. We also worked with a studio in India called Technicolor. It handled the CG vehicle models—all the cars, airships, and other CG vehicles. But even though we use computers to help us make the show, all the animation of the characters and bending effects are still hand-drawn."
2. The sport of pro-bending was created before the character of Korra.
Avatar creators envisioned an arena-type competition that would be made up of the world’s strongest benders long before developing Korra or her character arc. Konietzko and DiMartino felt that The Legend of Korra's vintage themes were a perfect match to adapt their idea into pro-bending, which is much like old-style boxing with a blend of martial arts and bending.
3. The name "Noatak" refers to a city and a river located in Alaska.
Amon, the antagonist of The Legend of Korra's first season, was originally born with the name Noatak, which was inspired by a city and a river in Alaska. With water-benders being loosely based on Inuit culture, the name Noatak was a huge clue for audiences about Amon’s origins and native bending nation.
4. Mako is named after the actor who voiced Uncle Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Japanese-American actor Makoto "Mako" Iwamatsu died of cancer in 2006. He was well-known for voicing Haku from Samurai Jack and for being the iconic voice of Uncle Iroh in Avatar: The Last Airbender. He voiced Uncle Iroh for seasons 1 and 2 of the series. As an homage to his legacy, Avatar creators named one of the main characters in The Legend of Korra after him.
5. TENZIN'S NAME WAS INSPIRED BY THE DALAI LAMA, a.k.a. TENZIN GYATSO.
Tenzin means "upholder of teachings" in Tibetan and Gyatso means “ocean” and is the second word for every Dalai Lama’s name. The Dalai Lama, Gyatso, also inspired the character Monk Gyatso from the original Avatar series. Aang and Korra were both mentored by characters named after the Dalai Lama.
6. Korra and Asami’s relationship continues after The Legend of Korra.
In the graphic novel Turf Wars, fans learn more about the famously shipped “Korrasami” relationship between two of the series' main female characters, Korra and Asami. From coming out to their friends and family to deepening the intimacy of their relationship, the graphic novel plunges into a new exploration of the two as a couple. Korra’s family isn’t immediately understanding of her bisexuality and Korra becomes quickly overprotective of Asami. Many critics and fans praised the series for its sensitive treatment of LGBQT characters.
7. The Legend of Korra features some major voice talent.
If many of the voices in The Legend of Korra sound familiar to you, that's probably because you've heard several of the actors before: Lisa Edelstein, who played Lisa Cuddy in House, voices Kya; Daniel Dae Kim, who played Jin on Lost, voices Asami’s father, Hiroshi Sato and General Fong in Avatar: The Last Airbender; Kuvira is voiced by Zelda Williams, daughter of Robin Williams. There’s also Parks and Recreation's Aubrey Plaza, who brought her iconic monotone to Eska; plus Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons as Tenzin.