Michael Moccio ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Executive Editor
Official Description: Executive producer and creator team Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino (Avatar: The Last Airbender) give a behind-the-scenes peek at how they create one of animation’s most stunning television productions. Panelists include voice actors Janet Varney (Korra), David Faustino (Mako), P. J. Byrne (Bolin), Seychelle Gabriel (Asami), John Michael Higgins (Varrick) and Mindy Sterling (Lin Beifong). Including an exclusive sneak peek screening of a new episode for Book 3, “Change.” Moderated by Megan Casey (VP of current series for Nickelodeon).
Megan Casey took the stage to introduce the panel, thanking fans and getting things started. She brought out the “heart and soul” of the series: Janet Varney, welcomed by a round of applause from Ballroom 20. Next up, David Faustino, aka Mako. Sevchelle Gabrielle came up next with the loudest applause yet! John Michael Higgins sauntered out onto the stage to the applause as well. Mindy Sterling makes her first appearance on a Korra panel. Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko were up last and by far had the loudest applause of the room.
Konietzko and DiMartino started things off by thanking the panelists and talking about the Korra episodes being pulled and moving to digital. “It’s a part of this hugs sea change in the whole industry. We’re seeing digital streaming doing their own content and doing their own thing. Things have changed just for us from when we did Avatar. When Book One of Korra came out, its online presence was insane. Not only the chatter, but the actualy numbers in terms of digital downloads and streaming–it’s just been huge. By the time we got to Book Two, the numbers of digital streaming, they greatly outweighed what happened on the channel. Nickelodeon has had a hard time to fit it into their programming. The Book Two finale had insane numbers when it streamed online–it was the biggest number they had all year. It’s just part of this shift. It definitely caught us by surprise. The important thing is the show is NOT cancelled!”
They decided to show an episode that hasn’t aired yet. Here’s the mini-review of the episode, Chapter 8 the Terror Within:
As always, Korra does a great job at mixing up the pacing of the show. While everything seems to be going well for Korra–finally–the four dangerous benders after Korra make their move. DiMartino and Konietzko have built up that the Metalbending City is one of the safest places in the world, therefore it adds to the tension after the benders’ operations to figure out how their operation to kidnap Korra went underway. The next two-thirds of the episode after Zaheer and his gang attempt to kidnap Korra turns into a mystery episode, where Team Korra attempts to find out how it’s going on. Lin and her sister continue to have sibling rivalry, despite their conflict resolution. Mako gets the opportunity to shine in his detective work and and police skills. The only one who hasn’t gotten a chance to shine in the episode was Asami, who didn’t get the opportunity to fight against the antagonists. In the end, the reveal is unsurprising and expected, though continues to have moments of suspense where we wonder if Team Korra will make it out okay.
Overall Grade: B+
Questioned were posed by DiMartino from fans.
How would you rate Korra’s job as the Avatar?
Varney: This is a question I get a lot. Some people are like “Do you like Korra?” I think this episode we just got to watch is a great example of how much she’s come to understand that she’s the Avatar, but that doesn’t mean she can do her job alone. I think she’s on her journey. I’m proud of her–she’s wonderful and strong and human.
What’s the voice acting process?
Faustino: When I first started the show, I would rush through the script to find my lines, then as I became a fan I would read it all. We would get the script the night before and sometimes we would have the cast together when we’re all together. It’s tremendous and a lot of fun.
How have you seen Korra and Asami’s relationship develop?
Gabriel: My parents actually told me how cute Asami and Korra are together. I’m really happy, especially when two girls don’t let a guy get between them. I’m happy for them and I think they’re stronger together and they make Team Avatar stronger for it.
What’s your favorite part about voicing Lin?
Sterling: This is an amazing strong woman, who is fearless and powerful and feminine and hot looking! She’s not afraid to take control and charge and really does have this amazing facet to everything she does. I love, love playing her. Is she a little like me? I think all our characters have a little similarities to us. I’m not that strong or that powerful, but I am that feminine! She’s not mean, and I play a lot of really nasty women, and she’s not. She’s very matter of fact and protect the Avatar. She’s very motherly in the way and she has a lot of baggage and issues (which I do).
They then showed some images from Book 3, starting with Character art. Boomju was featured with one of Bumi’s sweater on him. The first concept piece of Zaheer was shown as well, along with another concept art of the same character. and then expression sheets with and without his hair. Next up was Ghazan’s concept art and expression sheets. Ming-Hua was up next along with her expression sheets. Last up was P’Li , who looks a bit more punk in her concept designs.
More art was shown with some characters in funny situations: Zaheer in Christams sweaters and garb and Team Zaheer as a metal band (images to come later). Next up was the concept art from Suyin and her family.
Next up was some pencil test footage from Studio Mir. Shown was Zaheer’s escape scene, shown next to the final animations. Upnext was Eska and Desna’s fight against the rogue waterbender–again, very interesting to see how it changed from pencils to final animation. Next up was Zuko fighting and man does he look great. The final scene shown was Kya versus Zaheer at Air Temple Island in Republic City.
The last and final test showed a fight yet to be seen, where Team Avatar faLin showcased some earthbending against Zaheer, who appears to effortlessly airbend the earth away.
To close out the panel, they gave one last sneak peek and lamented that “this will probably be the last big Korra panel” according to Konietzko. To find out what happens in the next episode, stay tuned! Korra finally finds out why the group is after her, though we’re not let in the secret just yet!
Stay tuned for more coverage from SDCC by Emertainment Monthly!