Thursday, July 19, 2012

all these feelings cloud up my reason

Torrence Levon Neal is a photographer and digital artist living in Denver, Colorado. He takes convention photos in addition to his other paid work, but he's becoming at least temporarily famous for his set of Korra cosplay shots.

If you don't know who Korra is, she's the next Avatar in an animated series on Nickelodeon:

(from the media album; Korra and her dog)

That's Korra and her polar dog, Naga. She's from the Water tribe, so her look matches the earlier look of the Waterbender Katara seen on Avatar: the Last Airbender. Water tribes in this series are somewhat vaguely Inuit-influenced, as interpreted through anime eyes.

What makes Korra such a hit--beyond the fact that she's a female waterbender--is that the series writers never sell her short. She's not without flaws, but she finds a way through them. She's not a wisp-thin frail-voiced girl; she's a power in her own right. She's pretty seriously muscled, going so far as to join a professional bending team on their way to the championships.

And throughout the entire series so far, they've taken some serious risks with both her and with the show. The beauty is, they haven't taken a false step yet. From the quasi-dieselpunk look of the scenery, to all the travails of growing up and finding her own way, they throw consistent, interesting challenges at her and she's found ways to triumph over them all. But not easily, because some of these questions are pretty primal life experiences--falling in love (or at least in like), and not knowing what to do at that point; letting her temper get away from her and finding that balance of expression vs. control; all the way down to fighting corruption and evil when it seems no one believes what she says.

Which brings us back to Neal. Obviously shots like this are Photoshopped, but the beauty of them is that, as fans of the show, we are accustomed to the wonder of the world commingling with the everyday. In Korra's universe, waterbenders irrigate crops; earthbenders police the cities; airbenders preserve the spiritual histories; firebenders work in the factories. Not everyone bends, but those that do, do what everyone else does for the most part--they work, they love, they get in arguments, they serve--because they're all people.

I will say the one thing that amuses me about the Korra shots by Neal is that, while he did get a fairly close physical match, she doesn't have the muscles of Korra. But beyond that, it's a great run of shots, of what Korra would be like if she weren't just an animated character.

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