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‘The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series - Book Three: Change’ - Advance Hardcover Review

I am a huge fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender, which I just recently watched again to show my girlfriend, because she really wanted to see The Legend of Korra. I told her, no – Avatar first.

Let me tell you how much I love The Legend of Korra, which I’m currently making my way through Season Three. The world is rich and the characters even richer. It’s more than just a cartoon, it’s an experience. I adore the art deco-enhanced, fantasy-sci-fi designs whirl-winded together in Republic City that harken back to the gangster-ridden, screwball world of the 1920s and 1930s cinema. The music, the animation, the “talkie” voice-over recap at the beginning – everything. Just thinking about it makes me spasm with joy. The creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, have endless amounts of creativity to spare. To get a behind-the-scenes look at how this world came to be, one would think would be an absolute treat . . . and it is. With the new year, Nickelodeon is publishing The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series - Book Three: Change. Is it worth it? Let me break it down.

First, let’s be honest, you don’t buy a book like this to read and then store in a box somewhere. It’s a coffee table book. You want to keep it out to show off, because you’re proud of what you love. Because it makes you look and feel awesome, and it should. You’re passionate about it, and it needs to speak to that passion. “Hey, what’s this?” your friends ask. “It looks really cool.” And, you win.

Let’s start with the interior. Plentiful amounts of artwork litter the book, beautiful artwork at that. Anyone paging through will be thoroughly impressed by this. Win.
Structurally they break the interior down by episode, giving you insights into why characters were designed the way they were, showing off preliminary art panels, giving you some really awesome behind-the-scenes tidbits and facts. You get to see into the creative process. This will allow you to appear knowledgeable to people who haven’t bought the book, and for those that have, you’ll be able to have nerd conversations with them that only the two of you will be able to understand, like, “How they took the image from Avatar and used it as a background for this one shot in Korra, coooool!” Win and win.

Paging through, you can really see how proud everyone is of their work on this show. Avatar and Korra are passion projects, and the pages of this book are soaked with that passion. It’s inspiring. You’ll want to sit down and create your own worlds. Win.

The interior is definitely worth it.

The exterior however . . . unfortunately, I’m reviewing this book based on a digital file, so I can’t give a completely accurate review of how this book is going to look and feel sitting on your coffee table or on your shelf in the main room (which is where something like this belongs!) But, with a simple search over at Amazon and grabbing a few examples from my own collection (Princess Mononoke: The Art and Making of Japan’s Most Popular Film of All Time and America the Book: A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction), I’m able to do a relatively good job at piecing it all together. 

The specs on this Korra book are 9.6" x 6.6", which is a little bit smaller than your typical comic book (approximately 10" x 6.75"). This is a little underwhelming to me. You want to show off something like this and not have it meld into everything else you own. Princess Mononoke is about 12" x 8.5"; that’s definitely bigger in comparison, something people would immediately notice. America is 10.5" x 8.5". America is bigger than Korra, and I like Korra more than I do my own country! Seriously. This country is screwed, and Korra has a lot of answers.

At a healthy 184 pages, though, Korra is 0.8 inches thick and 1.2 pounds of shipping. Mononoke is 3 pounds worth of shipping weight, though 40 pages longer at 224 pages. America is 2.2 pounds and again 220 pages. When you pick up a coffee table book, you want to feel the weight of it. Woah! This is serious, you want someone to think. I’m not sure if Korra is going to get that.

The good news is The Legend of Korra: The Art of the Animated Series - Book Three: Change is a hardcover book like Mononoke and America were before it. So, basically, with Korra, you’re getting something that is more akin to a nice graphic novel in look and feel than a coffee table book. And, at $34.99 retail (probably cheaper online), you may hope for something more aesthetically akin to a coffee table. As it seems, the Korra book will look really great but won’t feel like a coffee table book. Draw.

So, is this book worth it? From the point of view of a fan of this world and series, yes, absolutely worth it. You’ll just have to find a good place to prop it up, so people don’t think it’s something you’ve accidentally left out, but something you want them to see.

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