Episode 27 - Skeletons in the Closet / Endgame

June 10, 2016 @ 5:54 pm

Book One of The Legend of Korra closes with a bang as Team Avatar and the United Forces face off against Amon and the Equalists. Chapter 111, "Skeletons in the Closet" finally reveals the true identity of Amon, and reminds us just how truly horrific bloodbending can be. And chapter 112, "Endgame" rings out the season with Asami confronting her father, Korra getting "unbent," and an argument for why villains should invest in oil-based makeup. Through all of this the boys defend murder suicide, compare The Legend of Korra to Speed Racer (Amon is Bender X?!), and explain why that ending is NOT just another "deus ex Aang."


Does the show resolve Korra's identity crisis? Does she overcome her case of Avatar block? Do benders and non-benders learn to live together in harmony? This and much more this week on The Avatar Returns! Featuring music by Arlo and The Love Trapezoids.

Next: we step away from silly cartoons to talk about funny books. Our look at Dark Horse Comics' official tie-in graphic novel series continues with Volume 2: The Search.
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Episode 26 - When Extremes Meet / Out of the Past / Turning the Tides

June 5, 2016 @ 7:27 pm

This week on The Avatar Returns it's action, action, and more action! In chapter 108, "When Extremes Meet," we get a full-speed car chase, and a villain stands revealed as Korra goes one-on-one against Tarrlok...the bloodbender! Dun-dun-duuuun! Then in chapter 109, "Out of the Past," Lin Beifong suits up, and we learn that Tarrlok is Yakone's son. (He's whose what now?) It all makes sense at last! (Wait, does it?!) And finally in chapter 110, "Turning the Tides," Team Avatar takes on more mechatanks, Lin and the kids defend Air Temple Island, and Naga bitchslaps the Moustache Guy. Through it all we discuss superhero tropes, fascism vs. due process, and the physics (and genetics) of bending, be it blood-, zipper-, or fartbending.


Plus Iroh is back (sort of), and we banter just a bit about the announcement of the upcoming Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man animated feature film.


Next: The Legend of Korra comes to the end of Book One as we discuss chapter 111, "Skeletons in the Closet" and 112, "Endgame."
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Episode 25 - The Spirit of Competition / And the Winner Is… / The Aftermath

May 28, 2016 @ 6:32 pm

Ugh, teenage love triangles. Or quadrangles. Polyhedrons? Whatever they are, ugh! Even in the world of Avatar, kids have hormones. Fortunately, The Legend of Korra manages to deal with the bulk of this well-worn plot device in a single episode AND make it actually quite interesting, as chapter 105, "The Spirit of Competition" uses the backdrop of the Pro-bending Championship Tournament to examine the relationship between our three main heroes. Tenzin's daughters offer the wisest romantic advice, Bolin gets noodle drunk, and Pema is a home wrecker. Then, in chapter 106, "And the Winner Is...," we find out who the winner is. Duh. Who wins the tournament? Who wins the romance? How badass IS Lin Beifong? Those answers and more could only lead to "The Aftermath," as chapter 107 brings us Republic City's "Tony Stark," the return of the cabbage merchant (sort of), and freaking mechatanks!


And we finally have our first Korra spin-off idea: Batman Beifong! (Bei-Bat? Bat-fong?)

Next: our penultimate Book One discussion brings us to chapters 108-110, "When Extremes Meet," "Out of the Past," and "Turning the Tides."
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Episode 24 - The Revelation / The Voice in the Night

May 19, 2016 @ 11:03 pm

Amon wants a revolution, but first we get a revelation. Chapter 103, "The Revelation" to be precise, wherein we learn that the leader of the Equalists, while really scary and kind of a dick, might possibly have a point? Paul and Eric are in full-on fanboy mode, but Arlo is initially uncomfortable with the muddy moral waters this new series is treading in, with "villains" that are actually the oppressed and "heroes" that could in fact be the oppressors. But Amon has a plan, and it involves taking away people's bending abilities! And in chapter 104, "The Voice in the Night" haunts Korra with the fear of that very thing. We talk again about how The Legend of Korra is the Angel: The Series to Avatar: The Last Airbender's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, exploring more mature, challenging, and morally ambiguous subject matter than perhaps its parent series. Also, we meet the wonderful Asami (we'll get through this love quadrangle stuff, I promise), the adorable Pabu (he's a friend, not a snack), and we jump to some disturbing conclusions about the Republic City Council, start to get really worked up about it, and then realize that we may already be falling for Amon's propaganda crap.


Oh yeah, and we finally, officially settle on a time for the live-action The Last Airbender film. We will suffer for your entertainment.

Next: we hit the Korra Book One midpoint with chapters 105-107, "The Spirit of Competition," "And the Winner is...," and "The Aftermath."
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Episode 23 - Welcome to Republic City / A Leaf in the Wind

May 12, 2016 @ 7:45 pm

It's a new age, and there's a brand new Avatar! 70 years have passed since Aang and his friends ended the Hundred Year War, and the world has moved on. Paul, Eric, and Arlo get the bend back together (get it?) to discuss the legend (and attitude) of Korra of the Southern Water Tribe. In chapter 101, "Welcome to Republic City," our new hero leaves her frozen homeland behind for the pseudo-steampunk '20s era New York-meets-Shanghai industrial revolution of the capital. We talk about how different Korra is from her predecessor, what kind of man Aang's youngest son has grown up to be, and whether non-benders can really survive in a city filled with bender gangs and metalbending cops. And in chapter 102, "A Leaf in the Wind," Korra struggles with her spiritual side, we're introduced to the sport of Pro-bending, and good lord the voice cast of this series!


Plus there's listener e-mail, and the rules of pai sho.

Next: The Legend of Korra Book One: Air continues with chapters 103, "The Revelation" and 104, "The Voice in the Night."
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Episode 22 - The Promise

May 2, 2016 @ 8:58 pm

The show may have come to an end, but the Aang Gang lives on as we take this opportunity to discuss "The Promise," the first collected volume in Dark Horse Comics' official graphic novel series continuing the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Written by Eisner and Harvey Award winner Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese; Boxers & Saints), with art by Japanese duo Gurihiru, "The Promise" picks up right where the animated series left off, but quickly demonstrates that the happily ever afters we saw in "Sozin's Comet" may be a lot more nuanced and complicated than we thought. We talk about the book's exploration of colonialism and cultural appropriation; how Aang's true role as the Avatar, maintaining balance between four autonomous nations, may prove a greater challenge than defeating a single clearly-defined enemy; how well the author captures the voices of the characters, and how it all transitions from fluid animation to the static art form of comics. 


Oh, and we add another title to the growing list of spin-off series we want to see: That's So Toph!

Next: time marches on. 70 years to be exact. And with the passing of an age comes the birth of a new Avatar, with new friends, new enemies...it's a whole new world! Join us as we discuss The Legend of Korra chapters 101, "Welcome to Republic City," and 102, "A Leaf in the Wind."
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Episode 21 - Sozin’s Comet

April 28, 2016 @ 7:52 pm

Endings are hard. Storytellers have struggled with bringing narratives to a satisfying conclusion for as long as there have been storytellers. And audiences love to debate how well even the most venerated series have pulled it off. On this episode of The Avatar Returns Podcast our hosts have their say on whether, with "Sozin's Comet," the four-chapter series finale film event, co-creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino have successfully completed the epic tale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, or if the whole thing goes down like a shattered war balloon. Topics discussed include the emotional grandeur of Zuko and Azula's final Agni Kai, the resolution of Aang and Katara's "will they/won't they," the music of The Track Team, and of course the ol' deus ex Lion Turtle. Midichlorian-bending has come at last!


Our journey through the world of Avatar has been emotional and inspiring, and we're sad to see it come to a close. But the show must go on, and for us it will go on with The Legend of Korra! New characters, new adventures, a brand new Avatar! But first...

Next: we refuse to let the Aang Gang go quite yet, so before we begin our Korra discussions, we read the first collected volume of Dark Horse Comics' official tie-in series of graphic novels, Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise.
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Episode 20 - The Southern Raiders / The Ember Island Players

April 21, 2016 @ 9:05 pm

This week on The Avatar Returns podcast, Eric and Katara both feel the power of the Dark Side, one to run a marathon, the other to seek revenge (place your bets on which is which) as we take one last Zuko field trip in chapter 316, "The Southern Raiders." And then the show goes all Community on us and channels its inner Dan Harmon for chapter 317, "The Ember Island Players."


Plus we reevaluate that whole Zutara pairing thing, we alienate our gardening fanbase demographic, and there's a minor medical emergency as one host "pulls their Arlo."

Next: the end is here! The comet arrives and we say farewell to Avatar: The Last Airbender with the four-part series finale film event, chapters 318-321, "Sozin's Comet."
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Episode 19 - The Boiling Rock, Part 1 / The Boiling Rock, Part 2

April 12, 2016 @ 8:49 pm

Apparently prison break stories lead to weird tangents. This week the boys talk about the verisimilitude of Hogan's Heroes, the connections between Avatar: The Last Airbender and Voltron: Legendary Defender, and that one time Paul and Arlo compared Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Linklater's Boyhood. There's also important stuff, like if bringing Zuko into the main cast and rendering the series essentially a single-plot narrative this close to the finale has affected the tension, and if chapters 314, "The Boiling Rock, Part 1" and 315, "The Boiling Rock, Part 2" really needed to be split into separate chapters. 


And lastly, there's debate over whether to tackle the Dark Horse Comics spinoff series all at once in a single bonus episode, or if we could spread them out over the course of our fast-approaching Legend of Korra episodes. Write in and let us know at tarpodcast (at) gmail (dot) com. 

Next: the penultimate episode of the Avatar: The Last Airbender portion of The Avatar Returns Podcast as we reach chapters 316, "The Southern Raiders," and 317, "The Ember Island Players."
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Episode 18 - The Western Air Temple / The Firebending Masters

April 8, 2016 @ 7:08 pm

Hello, Zuko here. This week on The Avatar Returns, I finally get to join the A-Plot players as the Aang Gang welcomes me in with open arms in chapter 312, "The Western Air Temple." Paul, Eric, and Arlo discuss my journey through the series to this point, including how Avatar: The Last Airbender has actually been MY story all along. Then in chapter 313, "The Firebending Masters," my new best friend the Avatar and I discover the true meaning of firebending, and no it's not dance! Meanwhile, the hosts talk about something called "Zaang?" 

I don't get it. 

Next: The Countdown to the Comet continues with chapters 314 and 315, "The Boiling Rock, Part 1" and "Part 2."
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