The Legend of Korra: Air

99 V2 600[SOEE #77]

This is the fifth of the Avatar shows, covering the first season of The Legend of Korra.

Major spoilers throughout so we heartily suggest that you not only see the entirety of Korra first but seek out the original series in case you weren’t aware how highly we regard it.

Joining me once again to talk about Airbending, extremist solutions, and the challenge of matching the quality and storytelling of the finest animated show ever created, I have Daniel Floyd, Pixar animator and the voice of Extra Credits, Joshua Garrity of the Cane and Rinse podcast and The Animation Archives, and from Gonzo Planet, Sharon Shaw, Jerome McIntosh and Duane Griffiths.

Thank you to all our new listeners for your support and questions. You can contact me through the Gonzo Planet website and you should all definitely check out the forums and leave iTunes reviews, Facebook likes and jubilant tweets. Stay tuned to the very end to hear a trailer for Batman: Breakdown an original audio drama I released for episode #90 and maybe the best thing I’ve helped create aside from my daughter.

Next week, Gonzo Gaming returns with The 10 Most Important Games of this Generation in Digital Gonzo #100.


Author: Alex Shaw

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  1. What’s that music before you introduce Sharon Shaw?

  2. It’s The Great Eatlon from the wonderful soundtrack to the terrible movie by M Night Shyamalan (noticing a pattern?) Lady in the Water. It was used also in the trailer for The Golden Compass and should frankly have been the soundtrack to that movie.

    • Thanks! I was wondering about the music– what were the other cues? Other than the Gangnam one I can’t seem to place them. I think a few of them need to come live in my mp3 player.

      (Also, apropos of nothing, I tried to download the Korra podcast from my work computer, and found to my dismay that the website was blocked on the company’s network. “Reason: Pornography.” Thought that might amuse you.)

      • OK Josh’s was from My Neighbour Totoro. Daniel’s was from Mario 64 (It’s the original version of his theme on Extra Credits) Jerome’s was the NES title screen for Ninja Gaiden and mine was from Iron Man.

  3. Ahh, this isn’t marked with Digital Gonzo. Didn’t know it was up this whole time!

    • It’s only been up an hour, you haven’t missed out. I always abbreviate Digital Gonzo Episode numbers with DGXX: so there’s room for a bit of title on the front page.

  4. Just had this thought now (took a while) [typing while started listening, so if this gets covered…]

    Advanced Fire Bending -> Lightning Bending. Advanced Earth Bending -> Metal Bending. Advanced Water Bending -> Blood Bending. Advanced Air Bending -> …? [If it has been revealed, I can’t recall it.]

    • Fartbending? Cheers for that one, Meelo.

      Possibly flying?

      Surely just creating hurricanes is just a larger-scale version of your basic air cyclone gust.

      • Vacuumbending? You could suffocate someone. Hell, even if they survived they would have gotten the bends from the sudden change in pressure.

        Pretty scary idea, actually.

        • I would say the possibility of flight into the upper atmosphere and even space with enough concentration.

          I thought of the vacuum bubble too, but surely this lost technique has to be more than just a really nasty way to kill people by yanking the air out of their lungs. That’s just Vader’s force-choke. Even tactile air-based telekinesis is just The Force.

          This one has me scratching my head.

          • I think making a vacuum bubble for just a few seconds is much more dangerous than Darth Vader’s force choke. You see, you’re not actually suffocating them or pulling the air out of their lungs, the real damage comes from the decompression sickness.

            Basically, it would look like nothing was happening, but then the victim would start experiencing excruciating pain, collapse, and possibly have a seizure. And the effects would still continue after the vacuum goes away and there could possibly be permanent damage to their body.

    • Well we only have what? 6 people who can use air bending in the show? Its reasonable that a higher form does exist its just we simply haven’t gotten there.

      But also Earth bending -> Sand bending Water bending -> Plant bending

  5. While I understand why you guys like the ending but I still hate it,specially because of the way they wrapped everything,to me that ending killed my interest in the series, one that I was waiting for years after the end of legend of aang.Loved the first 10 episodes and I hope that future seasons are just as good.

  6. Why Aang die so fast compare to other avatars? I think Kioshi lived like 200 years and Roku a 100 and got killed

    • It’s been remarked upon that Kyoshi lived far longer than was usual.

      And most likely so that some of the original team could still be alive today. Katara provides a visceral link with the previous series and the fact that Tenzin and Lin are the children of team Aang makes them a more immediate legacy than grandchildren or great grandchildren.

      Short answer; it serves the story better.

      • I believe the in-universe reason is because even though he was in suspended animation in the Iceberg, he was still in the Avatar state continuously for 100 years. Which shortened his lifespan considerably.

  7. I felt that something didn’t quite ring true in the discussion about the heredity of bending, repopulating the Air Nation, Amon’s plan and its implications etc. and I think I just figured out what:

    You guys assume genes are the only mechanism of inheritance in the Avatar world, and this might be an unsafe assumption. This is a world where the four elements and chakras are both legitimate metaphysics. A spirit world demonstrably exists. You can DESTROY THE MOON by killing a corporeally manifest spirit.

    Humans were introduced to bending each element by the air bison, the badger moles, the dragons and the Moon respectively – and I bet they didn’t use genetic engineering to do it. Maybe this “spiritual connection” is passed from parent to child by mechanisms quite separate from biology? (This might also explain why the Air Nation had no non-bending children.)

    • Now THAT is a bloody good point. It’s not that there are no Airbenders because the genes were eliminated it’s that without them to teach new students, the spiritual connection to air faded away.

      This brings a new hope to the future in that the family on Air Temple Island can pass this on without the necessity of offspring and this link can be found in future Korra episodes.

      The question is, why didn’t Aang figure that one out and do something about it? Also possibly to be addressed later.

      • Alternatively, maybe offspring are required for humans to pass on bending, but the factors are not in the genes. They have some other nature, and attach during gestation.

  8. There was some speculation about who is and is not still alive – if you thoroughly peruse the Legend of Korra official website on Nickelodeon it actually does give a number of answers for some questions.

    Zuko IS still alive, and he travels the world because he has passed down the responsibility of Firelord to his daughter. Korra makes mention of the fact that Aang did not live as long as other avatars because all those years in the iceberg catch up with him.

    It also mentions that Aang found an island of sky bison in his travels after the war, and it discusses the trials of removing the Fire Nation colonies from the Earth Kingdom.

    It’s really worth a good, solid look, if you’re looking for more details like that.

  9. You guys mentioned that Korra’s whole problem was that she always forced her way through things. When Korra unlocked her airbending she just seemed angry to me. I would have been fine if she had had some moment of clarity before the unlocking. Instead she just screamed “NO!” and swung her fists at Amon. I enjoyed the ending, but that part really didn’t seem right to me.

    I would have preferred an actual fist-fight between Korra and Amon, with her utilizing airbending forms to avoid him culminating with her unlocking the ability.

    Just my two cents though.

  10. Where can you watch the Legend of Korra is just on Nickelodeon or via a nefarious pirating site ?

  11. As for the reference in the equalist movement that the mask is more important than the person behind it, You should look at the Anime Code Geass. The way the rebellion movement in that anime plays out is rather similar, with the idea of a faceless leader ‘Zero’ leading the world against oppression.
    Surprisingly enough a great deal of my friends and my roommates were all Avatar fans, yet completely unaware of the Korra series, which baffled me because I had heard about it almost immediately.
    Keep being awesome.

  12. When I heard you mention that Legend of Aang could be the “The Hobbit” to Korra’s “Lord of the Rings”, I felt I had to butt in with what I feel is a better comparison, if not for plot reasons then for meta production reasons… they’re more similar to Star Trek, and Aang is the TOS to Korra’s TNG. Think about it…

    -Three season show that developed a cult following on a network that hadn’t experienced “fandom” before.
    -Terrible live action movie (Star Trek: The Slow Motion Picture)
    -Sequel show revives the franchise with a whole new cast set many years in the future, with a protagonist designed to be the antithesis of the first one.
    -Sequel show lasts seven seasons and spawns multiple other shows in the franchise. (Fingers crossed!)

    Basically, Korra or Aang is the new Kirk or Picard. I’ve taken to referring to the two Avatar shows as Avatar: TOS and Avatar: TNG, since the analogy works so well.

    • Excellent analogy (although I like the first Star Trek film) and if the pattern continues in the same way then we will get several more long-running series’ until the whole franchise collapses due to niche appeal and then I’ll finally get the Aang movie series I always wanted 😀

  13. One thing I didn’t notice you discussing is what is causing the way of how the avatars look like when other avatars observe them through the avatar state and/or flashbacks etc.

    Aang for instance, looks like he does when he’s 40 even though it’s obviously not how he would look like when he died.

    Roku by contrast looks exactly like he did in the last parts of his life.

    Is it just to keep Korra from being confused by showing various different forms of himself or is it just convinience for the animators?
    Then one can ask again if all the previous avatars we’ve seen short clips of all chose their form themselves or if the latest previous avatar of the one currently living choses the best way of showing the new avatar the way. Which in turns brings about the question of how much conscience avatars have after death which brings me to say that I also would definately want to see more of the spirit world in the upcoming season!

    • That’s definitely one to watch out for. We tried to avoid too much speculation but if i had to guess I would say it has something to do with the way the past Avatars see themselves.

    • The most popular theory is that they chose how they looked like. Another theory said that’s how they look on their most defining and important moment (except for Aang, since he was still a kid when he beaten Ozai). Kyoshi’s is when he ended Chin the Conqueror’s campaign, and Roku’s when he was killed by the volcano, allowing Sozin to start the hundred year long war.

      But my absolute favorite theory is that’s how they looked like when they last used the Avatar State.

  14. Remember the episode “The Painted Lady?” The ending of LOK’s finale is actually quite similar to that episode. for visual reference.

    The very same pattern happened in both the ending and “The Painted Lady.” A waterbender saves a city from the oppressors, so the citizens are happy. Later, the waterbender is revealed to be a liar. Despite that the lie was necessary and the waterbender did save the people, they still became angry. “Artists use lies to tell the truth, while politicians use them to cover the truth up.” (V for Vendetta movie reference, anyone?)

    But unlike Katara who simply stand there (but later got defended by Sokka), Amon ran away. He didn’t try to convince anyone, he just sort of gave up. Who knows what would happen if he stayed and tried to convince them?

  15. One thing that I thought was interesting, is watching it with my girlfriend, her instant response at the end was “She needs to kill herself, she’s not an avatar anymore and the world needs an avatar, dying would allow the avatar spirit to move on to a new host.”

    The problems with that I felt were two fold, the first being, this is a show that needs to be okay for kids to watch, lol. And the second being the interim of waiting for that new avatar to grow old enough to even have an impact on the world. We see clearly in this series how short of a time the world has been without an active avatar shaping it, waiting even longer could be devastating.

    Anyway, just minor thing that I thought was a really interesting point to consider when my girlfriend brought it up. Especially with the supportive words from Korra to back it up, where she didn’t think Mako needed to stick around since she wasn’t even the avatar anymore.

    • And I paused the podcast right before it was mentioned, >.< but yeah, it is really interesting.

  16. About Korra not being as worldly as previous Avatars and being cutoff from the rest of the world, in my opinion, I think it played out perfectly for her considering the world she lives in now. Yes,The White Lotus misinterpreted Aang, but with their world modernizing and growing closer and closer into a one culture, globalized population, it would’ve possibly been harder for her to be spiritually connected to herself and nature (skipping training to listen to the radio), her personality being the way it is. Or the opposite could ostensibly be true: being isolated from the modern world could give her a greater appreciation of it, being freshly introduced to it and all (participating in that competition eventually helped her with her training). I could be over analyzing these points to find some justification in them, so here’s a final thought on that topic: it could be just that the creators of the show are foreshadowing the possibility of their world eventually having an equivalent to our Tibetan Temples.

    Now off to listen to the rest of the podcast.

  17. Alex, where did you get, or how did you isolate the shows soundtrack? I’ve been loving the “clean” versions of the Avatar music you’ve been putting in the intervals throught out these podcasts. I always loved the shows tunes, just never realised how much!
    great podcasts as always, thanks very much.

    • The complete soundtrack has not yet been released but i have signed a petition to help it along the way and will snap it up the moment that happens. Look for NuanceMusicMedia who has several isolated tracks on YouTube for us to listen to in the meantime.

  18. My friend and I were postulating that since the Avatar had the ability to take bending away from such powerful benders like Ozai and Jacone (spelling?), and could give bending back to a bender as strong as Lin, then could he/she then give bending to someone who was previously a non-bender?

    On a different note: loved this episode of the podcast, but my biggest problem with the Korra series is that bending seemed so weak. For example, in the first 12 episodes of TLoA you saw things like: a 16 year-old beating a soon-to-be admiral in agni kai, Bumi moving massive chunks of rock, and the use of earth-bending to open massive holes in the wall of Omashu. In TLoK the only benders who seem to be on the same level as the group of 12-16 year-olds from TLoA were Tenzin, General Iroh, and later on Lin.

  19. Thanks guys – I’ve really enjoyed these podcasts (I’ve been a fan Avatar since its original release)!

    Just a quick note on the genetics of bending (as you mentioned that you were interested in this being explored in the next season). There’s a cool geneticist on youtube that has postulated the mechanics of bending genetics:

    It explains how bending parents can have non-bending progeny (and vice-versa) and what determines the potential bending ability of the progeny of parents from different nations (as well as how the avatar fits in).

    The theory has some interesting implications, such as; all nations are the same race with a different set of allele make-up. So far there don’t seem to be any problems with the theory, but it doesn’t explain how bending became genetic if the races were originally ‘taught’ the skills.

  20. While I don’t necessarily agree with many of the opinions stated in this particular podcast, I can appreciate that you and your team/friends took the time to make this. I did, however, found one comment to kind of reek of utter IGNORANCE and it was made by one gentlemen about 25 minutes into the discussion.

    In order to try and justify the possibility of mixed bender siblings such as Mako and Bolin appearing only in Legend of Korra as opposed to to ATLA someone made an untrue statement regarding real life events. The gentlemen claimed that people kept to themselves and didn’t really start mixing until the 1920s and 1930s. This is historically and factually untrue. You would have to be truly ignorant of the highest order to make that sort of statement. History has proven time and time again that people have been mixing for centuries.

    Merchants, travelers, slaves, armies, and etc. have been traveling the globe since forever. What happened to the stories of the modern humans mixing with Neanderthals? What about the Europeans that went to the Americas and mixed with the African slaves they imported and the natives? What about all of the mixing that went on in China’s history? What about almost all of Latin America? Myself and all of my family are results ‘mixing’ whether it be racial or culturally, all of which that happened waaaaay before the 1920s. Hell weren’t the Vikings constantly attacking the UK during the Dark Ages? Some of them settled there. Knowing that, you guys are going to sit there and then claim that people have just happened to start ‘mixing’ around the 1920s – 30s? What’s worse is that no where in the podcast did anyone ever call this guy out on this statement, which means that ALL OF YOU AGREED WITH IT. No offense, but are you guys completely ignorant to world history? I thought this was something that only plagued ‘dumb Americans.’ Globalism IS a more recent phenomenon though.

    While I’m cool with subjective opinions, I am not cool with people using false facts to justify plot holes in order to defend their favorite shows. If anything I think that this is clear evidence of the type of reaching you guys did almost all of this podcast in order to try and fill the plot holes LOK had. Ironically enough, you guys spent over 2 hours pointing out all of the plot holes LOK had and ended up creating within the franchise.

    If anything, I would highly suggest telling the man who made that statement to turn off the cartoons for a secon and tell him to google the word: miscegenation.

    • I think there has been a misunderstanding. And this may be due to my choice of words on the podcast. I know tend to get a bit jumbled up, and trip over myself when speaking off the top of my head. I am well aware of everything you mentioned above, and it wasn’t my intent to claim that races and cultures have never intermingled, that would be a truly stupid thing to say. Britain for example (and I believe mentioned it in passing on the podcast, I can’t remember)is a melting pot of different cultures. Anglo Saxon, Roman, Celtic, etc, etc I don’t need to tell you this. What I was trying to express on the podcast, was the concept of multiculturalism, where very different and distinct cultures exist in one place. I meant the concept of people belonging to a global community, rather than just their own country of origin. Now, having done some research, I was wrong about one thing. Multiculturalism started to spring up between the 18th and 19th century. So me claiming that this didn’t start happening till the 1930s is false. I hope this reply clears things up.

  21. I just finished listening to all these yesterday. They were absolutely fantastic, and I’m now looking through the back log to see what else you guys have done. After looking, I’m really excited! I’m pretty sure I know what I’m going to be doing with my spare time for a while! 😛
    I’ve always been interesting in reviewing stuff. This teaches me a lot.
    Thank you guys for your content, and Don’t Forget To Be Awesome!

  22. Frist off, excellent detailed podcasts, love listening to your stuff :)

    A thought occured to me if Iroh is part of the White Lotus, is it possible he accompanied Zuko on his quest, not only to guide his nephew on the right path, but also to protect the avatar. According to the ”Nick” website: THe White Lotus’s main purpose is to find the new Avatar, see to his or her training and to provide protection.

  23. Just rewatched Korra and listened to this, and I’m going to keep this comment short:

    I’m really excited to see Korra in the spirit world…where she can’t bend.

  24. Have you guys seen the new Book 2 spirits trailer its beautiful.

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