Holding this book in hand makes me think back to how excited I was when I first watched the The Legend of Korra. I'm not sure why but this does not often happen with other animation art books. Perhaps it's because I really like the stories and ideas from the world of Avatar.
This is a large 184-page hardcover artbook, similar in size to the earlier two artbooks, namely The Legend of Korra: Book 1 – Air, The Art of the Animated Series and Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Art of the Animated Series. The reproduction of the art is excellent. Images are huge and sharp and printed on thick paper.
Content in the book is split into chapters each dedicated to an episode in Book 2: Spirits. So there are 14 chapters for those plus one extra chapter for ancillary art.
The concept art featured are wonderful and beautiful. They are a mixture of character designs, environment art and storyboards, all completed with insightful commentary from creators Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko and director Joaquin Dos Santos.
The characters appear in the book in chronological order as they appear in the animation. You get to see how they are updated in terms of costumes and also the many new characters that are introduced. Most are full coloured while there are also some sketches. Main characters have lots of expression sheets included.
There are several pages of storyboards included and they have good dynamism in terms of composition and direction. There's also this nice sense of liveliness when you see the characters move in the storyboard sequences.
Environment art are mainly concept paintings, not the final ones used in the animation. They are nice because there are several for each location and you get to see the places from different angles. I like the environment art used for the backgrounds that come from the origin story as they are created in the style inspired by Chinese ink wash painting and Japanese woodblock printing.
As usual, there are also many creature designs for the animals and spirits. Those are fun to look at, such as rabbits with dragonfly ears, walking radishes, etc and the lion turtle is shown again with more drawings. Some of these creatures you'll read from the commentary are inspired by those from Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away.
Once in a while, you'll see art that will remind you of Avatar Aang, such as the family portrait photo of Aang with Katara and their kids. Those are quite nostalgic. The images of other Avatars sometimes also send me thinking about their possible back stories.
All in all, this is a truly wonderful artbook.
Most highly recommended.
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