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SDCC2013: Nickelodeon Unveils the First Episode of The Legend of Korra: Book 2

by on July 20, 2013

At 2013’s The Legend of Korra panel on Friday, Jul 19, fans who camped out overnight outside the convention center were rewarded with a trailer of clips from Book 2 along with the premiere of the very first episode of Book 2: Spirits titled “Rebel Spirit.”  Nickelodeon has posted the Book 2 trailer online for fans who weren’t at San Diego to see.

Megan Casey, the VP of current shows at Nickelodeon introduced the panel which consisted of creators and executive producers of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino, director Joaquim Dos Santos, Korra voice actress Janet Varney, Mako voice actor David Faustino, and Bolin voice actor P.J. Byrne.  Joining the creative team for Book 2 are 2 seasoned Airbender writers, Josh Hamilton and Tim Hedrick; Airbender directors Lauren Montgomery and Ki Hyun Ryu; Invader Zim director Ian Graham; and Mission Hill director Colin Heck.  The first episode was written by Tim Hedrick and directed by Colin Heck.

Because the first episode shown at San Diego was an exclusive for the fans who came to see it live, Nickelodeon has only posted 5 minutes of it online for now for the rest of the world to see on their website.


Korra_SDCC_Poster_FINALIn the first few moments of the episode, we learn that strange glowing spirit creatures are attacking ships. Via newsreel we discover that Tenzin’s older brother Bumi has retired from the United Forces and moved in with Tenzin, the council that governed the nation has been replaced by a president, and Korra and Mako have become a ‘hot’ celebrity couple to watch.  Meanwhile the sport pro-bending team champs, The Fire Ferrets, have just 2 original members left: Bolin and Pabu.  With 2 rookies replacing Korra and Mako in water bending and fire bending, The Fire Ferrets are now easy targets and instant losers.  Mako has left The Fire Ferrets and become a full-time police officer who now patrols the streets and uses his fire bending skills to stop other bender criminals.

Asami, now the head of her father’s company, Future Industries, is desperately trying to keep the company from going under.  She hears of an eccentric Southern Water Tribe businessman named Varrick who might be the key to saving the company and plans a trip to meet him.

At the air temple, it appears Korra has fully mastered her airbending and Avatar-state skills while racing with Tenzin’s kids on wind spheres.  She uses her Avatar-state to boost her wind sphere’s speed to beat Jinora in the race, much to the chagrin of Tenzin who scolds Korra for wasting the Avatar-state for a child’s race!  Korra, on the other hand, believes she has mastered airbending and even demonstrates her ‘fighter’ like airbending to Tenzin.  Tenzin disagrees and says she has mastered ‘Korra’ airbending and not ‘real’ airbending.  Tenzin tells Korra she still has much to learn and suggests a trip to all the airbending temples around the world in order to get a real feel of airbending.  Korra is not happy whatsoever with the prospect of boring temple visits, but she goes along with Tenzin since she is still technically his pupil.  Their first stop though is the annual Spirit Festival at Korra’s hometown at the Southern Water Tribe, where Aang was first found and also the home of Katara as well as Tenzin’s older sister, Kya.

While en route to the Southern Water Tribe, Mako and Korra spend some quality time together catching up.  Korra is quite proud of Mako’s accomplishments and quips as a police officer.  In fact, Mako has even written a list of quips to use every time he apprehends criminals.  Korra tries discussing her frustration with Tenzin about her airbending skill, but Mako doesn’t know how to advise her.

Upon arriving at the Southern Water Tribe, Korra, Mako, Bolin, Tenzin, Bumi, and Tenzin’s family are greeted by Katara, Tenzin’s older sister Kya, as well as Korra’s parents and tons of other people. Bolin is surprised by the turn out of people welcoming them, but the turnout wasn’t for them. It was for Korra’s uncle, the leader of the Northern Water Tribe and her father’s brother, Unalaq.  In tow with Unalaq are his children and Korra’s cousins, identical looking fraternal twins Desna and Eska, who give Korra the creeps.  Bolin is smitten by both twins until Korra points out that Desna is a boy and Eska is a girl, but Bolin can’t figure out who is who!  It’s apparent that there is some tension between Unalaq and Korra’s father, Tonraq, but no details are given.

While at the Spirit Festival, Unalaq snubs the entire Southern Tribe’s whole treatment of spirits as no more than a frivolous carnival of games, rides, and fast food, which is why he thinks ships are being attacked in Southern Tribe waters.  Tonraq dismisses Unalaq’s claims as nothing more than superstition.  Bolin tries hitting on both twins because he still can’t tell them apart, hoping he has a 50/50 chance with attracting Eska.  Eska somewhat responds to his advances, but it’s more of a joke to her than what Bolin thinks is a return of his affection.  Meanwhile, Korra and Mako try to spend more quality time with each other by playing carnival games.  Korra tries talking with Mako again about her training, and Mako tells her he’ll be supportive of her in whatever she decides.  Korra is upset with Mako’s lack of an actual answer to her problem though and leaves him by shoving the stuffed air bison plush that he had won for her back at him.

Later Bolin accompanies Asami, who is also in town to visit Varrick for his help in saving Future Industries.  Upon entering Varrick’s tent, it’s clear that Varrick is similar to the emperor who had no clothes in that he’s surrounded by yes-men who blindly agree to Varrick’s every word.  At the moment Bolin and Asami enter the tent, Varrick tells his followers he is levitating off the ground when in fact he was just sitting on a pillow.  While everyone else seems amazed by Varrick’s powers, Bolin is the only one who blurts out that Varrick wasn’t levitating at all.  Varrick is surprised and shocked by Bolin’s statement but realizes Bolin was in fact telling the truth.  Varrick is impressed by Bolin’s candor and decides to show both Bolin and Asami his latest discovery, The Moving Picture, and how he plans on pushing it to the public using pretty girls.  Asami asks Varrick if he will help her, and after a little thought, he agrees, but only because of Bolin’s moxie.

That evening, the royal celebration dinner is anything but festive as Unalaq further insults the Southern Water Tribe’s un-spiritual beliefs and their lost connections to tradition.  Unalaq claims that he has a very powerful spiritual understanding, a trait of all in the Northern Tribe, proceeding to offer to teach Korra to help calm the angry spirits which have wrought havoc in the Southern Tribe’s waters.  Tonraq tells Unalaq that Tenzin is Korra’s spiritual teacher and that Unalaq’s services are not needed or welcome.  Korra says nothing, but is clearly upset that others are deciding what’s best for her.

While everyone is asleep, there’s an attack in the village by a glowing purple monster.  Korra and Tonraq use their waterbending skills to bend ice to attack the monster while Tenzin tries to verbally reason with it.  None of their actions work though, and they’re all thrown back.  At this point, Korra enters the Avatar-state and tries attacking the monster with all 4 elements in hyper mode, but even that proved ineffective.  Unalaq though approaches the monster and starts bending bright glowing spiritual ribbons in the air around the monster until it stops, calms, and starts glowing brightly as well before vaporizing.

After seeing her father and teacher both fail at dealing with the monster, Korra decides that Unalaq should be her teacher from now on despite protests from both Tonraq and Tenzin.  Tenzin has no choice but to respect Korra’s wishes and be on his way.  Katara suggests Tenzin bring along his siblings, Bumi and Kya, as he continues his visits to the air temples of the world, because nothing is more important than staying close with one’s family.  Tenzin begrudgingly brings them with his family as they leave the Southern Water Tribe via air bison, leaving Korra behind with Unalaq as her new spiritual teacher.


After the sneak preview of the first episode of Book 2, the panel fielded questions from the audience.  The first question was for the voice actors and how they got their start in voice acting.  Faustino said he first started acting at the tender age of 3 months when he played Lily Tomlin’s son.  He also said his dad advised him to go into voice acting, plus he said he had a love of cartoons.  Janet Varney said that she got her start when a friend of hers, an artist and animator for Blue Mountain e-cards, asked if she could do voices for those e-cards.  From there, she went on to do voices for another Nickelodeon animated pilot before landing the role of Korra.  P.J. Byrne said his first voice over job is The Legend of Korra actually.  He had never liked his voice as a child, but voice acting has made him like his voice.

The next questioner asked if any of the voice actors were similar to the characters they play.  Varney said that she likes both Korra’s stubbornness and her ability to change by learning from her mentors.  Faustino noted that Byrne is like Bolin, except with a higher IQ.  Faustino stated though that he’s like Mako in that he doesn’t understand women and joked that he’s still scared of Grey DeLisle, who did the voice of Azula from Airbender and will be doing a voice for The Legend of Korra as well.  Varney said she feels lucky to be able to do voice acting and learn from her colleagues, and that’s it’s hard not to enjoy working with them.  Byrne added that everyone is supportive of each other; even when mistakes are made, it’s okay to try again.

Wired announced exclusively on Wednesday, Jul 18, that The Walking Dead actor Steven Yuen will be voicing the first Avatar, Wan which Konietzko and DiMartino repeated to the audience at the convention.  Konietzko and DiMartino have thought about telling the origin and history of Avatar from the beginning, so for Book 2, they had Studio Mir come up with a slightly different style and color palette for the show based on ancient Asian ink wash paintings and woodcut blocks.  Backgrounds based on this new style and color palette were shown to the audience.  The colors are less bright and more natural in tone from Book 1.  The new style wasn’t too divergent from Book 1 though for consistency.  While showing designs for the spirit creatures, they admitted that everything was a little tribute to the work of Hayao Miyazaki, especially in one spirit design who had creatures that looked like cousins of Miyazaki’s soot sprites.  As for Wan, the original Avatar, the character sheets put up showed the progression of his character (and hairstyle) as he matured into the first Avatar, 10,000 years before Korra’s time.

By the looks of the trailer, which was shown again at the end of the panel, it looks like fans have a lot to look forward to in Book 2, and we’ll see that Korra’s old friends are still very much a part of her life.

The Legend of Korra: Book 2 Premieres in September 2013. For more information, visit the official website.

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