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Transcript:Wall Street Journal interview with Bryke, March 8, 2011

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Subject of interview is Avatar: The Legend of Korra.
Cyma Zarghami This one is 70 years into the future and takes all the elements of bending from the first series and evolves it and takes it one step further.
Bryan Konietzko [About being picked up for 14 more episodes.] When we first starting talking to Nickelodeon about doing a new series in the 'Avatar' world, they asked if we could do shorter arcs—more like a show like '24'where there's a specific villain or challenge for that particular season. We're really happy with that number. It allows us to focus much more closely on each episode and get a lot more craft into it.
Wall Street Journal How far along are you on the new series?
Michael DiMartino We are in the midst of the first twelve episodes. We've written all the episodes. Episodes have shipped to the overseas animations studios and they're animating away as we speak. So we're kind of in the middle of things right now ... all the vocal cast has been picked and recorded and all the scripts have been recorded.
Wall Street Journal Are you looking to win new viewers with the series or just satisfy fans of the old series who have grown up?
Michael DiMartino We want everyone to watch. Definitely fans of the first series will not be disappointed in this one. The tone is a little older, the characters are a little older than the first series—they're teenagers. Korra is 16 so she's older than Aang was. So I think maybe some people who weren't into the first show might find this one and be into it.
Wall Street Journal Since the main characters are older, will there be more romance?
Bryan Konietzko I thought Korra was 17 so Mike and I have to get our stories straight. The main characters are in their late teens, we've always loved those kind of teen love triangle type stories and there was plenty of that in the original series. We're definitely getting into it in this series. The difference is these people have cars and motorcycles and things. There's definitely a different dynamic. I'd say the show is more sophisticated than the original series but it has the same balance of tones we've always liked with humor, action, drama, scary stuff and romance.
Wall Street Journal Will characters from the first series show up in "Korra"?
Bryan Konietzko Again it's 70 years later so they'll appear in various ways perhaps.
Michael DiMartino There is definitely a link to the old series and the old characters.
Wall Street Journal How did you change the look of the "airbender" world?
Bryan Konietzko In every way we're trying to improve it. We're not trying to change it so much that it's unrecognizable and doesn't feel like the same universe, but we are trying to update it, improve it, make everything just more sophisticated and appealing ... it's kind of like the show has grown up. A lot of the viewers have grown up since the show was last on.
Wall Street Journal Tell me about the heroine of the story, Korra. What's she like?
Michael DiMartino Korra, we kind of describe her as a fiery waterbender. She's very pugnacious. Kind of in your face. We wanted to create a new Avatar that was completely the opposite of Aang. So, whereas Aang was the peaceful, nomadic airbender guy, she's very tough, very headstrong, not scared to get into a fight, and kind of picks fights with people too sometimes. So she's definitely totally the opposite of Aang so it has been kind of fun to write her character and put her in situations that Aang never would have gotten into.
Bryan Konietzko It's refreshing it's totally different from Aang. But she's also funny and has a lot of charm and vulnerability because she's still growing up and trying to figure things out. We worked on that first series for more than six years and we love those characters but it's great to be working with fresh ones with a new spin on the world.
Wall Street Journal Who is the main villain in Korra?
Michael DiMartino We have a great villain. He's kind of an anti-bending revolutionary guy. Very scary dude. And definitely is quite a challenge for Korra.
Wall Street Journal Will you ever make a feature animated film?
Bryan Konietzko On the original series we did our best to make it cinematic with a big immersive world. And on this series because it's a tighter stretch of episodes–just 12 episodes–but Mike and I wrote all of them, there's really no filler. We told almost as much story as the first series packed into these 12. So it's getting even closer to something cinematic. So yeah, we would love to. We feel like we're kind of movie guys working in TV. So we're looking forward to that day when we get to work in that medium.
Wall Street Journal Have you heard anything about whether there will be a sequel to the "Last Airbender" live-action feature film?
Michael DiMartino Uh, no. It's definitely not up to us, so.
Wall Street Journal Will we find out what happened to Zuko's mom?
Michael DiMartino That question will be answered in some way, but not necessarily in the show. That's all I'll say.


Persons Interviewed

Persons Interviewing

  • Christ Farley


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