Which Studio Animated Book 2 of The Legend of Korra – Mir or Pierrot?

Questions pertaining to the animation of Book 2 began to arise after Nickelodeon released the first official clip from the new season. Many fans suggested that the animation in Book 2 looked different than the animation in Book 1. After watching the clip several times over, I also came to the same conclusion. I knew that there had to be an explanation so I began to dig for information.

My search started on Twitter; I came across an interesting tweet on January 23rd by a man named LeSean Thomas. Thomas found an article claiming that Book 2 would release in either March or April of 2013, so he tweeted it. The tweet itself was irrelevant in terms of Book 2’s animation, but the discussion it created was a big lead to follow.

One of LeSean Thomas’ followers replied to the tweet, asking him if he worked on Book 2’s story boards. Thomas replied shortly after explaining that he did not work on Book 2 and added that Season 2 was done by a Japanese animation studio named Studio Pierrot.

In order to ensure that LeSean was a credible source in the first place, I did a bit of research on him and learned that he worked on the animation for Book 1 at Studio Mir. Needless to say I trusted his input, but I wanted to make sure that I completely understood him.

I tweeted LeSean asking if he could reconfirm that Studio Pierrot was working on Book 2, but apparently the situation had grown much more complicated to a point where a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would not suffice. Instead, he sent me a link to a YouTube video and explained that the last 10-15 minutes of the video would answer all of my questions. I decided to watch the entire video rather than the last 15 minutes and I soon realized how much more complicated the situation really was.

The video LeSean sent me was a 50 minute interview with Studio Mir’s executive director, Jae-myung Yoo.

One thing I learned from the video is that there seems to be a bit of a rift between Korean animators and Japanese animators. The Studio Mir executive director, Jae-myung Yoo, praised Korean Animators for their ability to adapt and style their animation to other’s preference. The skill has proven to make collaboration between Korean animators and other foreign animators a bit easier. Japanese animators, on the other hand, didn’t receive the same type of praise. Jae-myung explained that the Japanese only animate their way and are unable to adapt to other animator’s styles. This makes collaboration with Japanese animators much more difficult.

During the last 15 minutes of the video, Jae-myung discussed Studio Mir’s association with Book 2. The original expectations were that Studio Mir would animate Book 2 just as they did Book 1. However, Studio Mir received the offer to animate another series known as The Boondocks the same time they received the offer to animate Book 2. Even though working on Book 2 would have been more beneficial for Studio Mir, the animators were exhausted from working on Book 1 because the process proved to be very difficult.

Jae-myung took all of the animators in a room to make the final decision: The Boondocks or The Legend of Korra. In the end, the studio picked The Boondocks over The Legend of Korra because the animation process would be less rigorous. When Studio Mir backed out of animating Book 2, a Japanese animation studio known as Studio Pierrot came in to fill the role.

After some time, Studio Mir received a call from the producers of The Legend of Korra who re-requested that they work on Book 2’s animation. Jae-myung speculated that there was probably a problem with the animation in Studio Pierrot so the producers wanted Studio Mir involved to ensure that the animation was done properly.

Even though the animators in Studio Mir were exhausted, Jae-myung feared that if Book 2 failed, Studio Mir and Korean animators in general would have their reputations tarnished for Studio Pierrot’s failures. Consequently, Jae-myung decided to involve Studio Mir in Book 2’s animation process as well.

Based off of that, it looks like both Studio Mir and Studio Pierrot worked on the animation for Book 2. Since the two studios had different animation styles, they couldn’t use both – they had to choose one. Studio Mir most likely adapted their animation style to fit that of Studio Pierrot’s which is the reason why Book 2’s animation looks different.

After analyzing the video, I still dug around some more to see what else I could discover. What I found was further confirmation that Studio Mir and Studio Pierrot had indeed both worked on Book 2’s animation.

On LeSean Thomas’s official website I found that he had posted about the Book 2 clip we received a few weeks back. Underneath the embedded video he wrote, “Congrats to the gang at Nick and Studio Pierrot/Mir! Here’s to a great season 2!”

That pretty much confirmed it for me. Case closed.

  • Orange9746

    It’s great to see so many people working on a high quality cartoon such as LoK. The more the merrier. Kudos to Studio Mir and Studio Pierrot. :)

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

      Exactly. And I kind of like the new animation style.

  • One Boot

    I’m less worried about the animation style than I am about freedom with the artistic direction. I remember l seeing the spirit in the teaser and the designs from Comic Con last year. I had a specific image in my head that was not met by the behind the scenes preview we saw. I don’t know if it is how the creators imagined it, but I thought the glowing and the colours were supposed to look a lot make them appear a lot more dark and menacing. It looked toonish but that might be to show the disparity between them and the first one Korra makes contact with.

    • Orange9746

      I’m also a bit skeptical about the spirit(s) that were shown in the new where they have bold outlines and a purple color to them, which do indeed look slightly cartoon-ish and out of place in the new clip that was released unlike in the concept art; where it appears to be more of a black-ish color. It is called concept art for a reason and since they said that clip and animation wasn’t fully finished (such as the color correcting) they might go back to the way how it looked like in the concept art or another color scheme?

      • One Boot

        I hope they stay true to those designs. I have no doubt that the backgrounds and landscapes will be absolutely stunning no matter what.

  • Filmeditor16

    It does look slightly different, but on the other hand it also looks like Book 1. It picks and chooses. Some clips could be incomplete. Honestly, the animation not be as amazing as it was in book 2 scared the crap out of me. I’m so terrified Korras not going to do as well for Book 2 because its been so long. It puzzles me that a lot of Avatar fans I encounter have not watched Korra yet. I honestly don’t know where the hell the fans went. I can’t really blame them it’s been almost a year. I probably am just paranoid and the fans will come back and Books 2, 3, and 4 will do even better than book 1 and by the end, Korra will have evolved so much and it will just be awesome.

    • Filmeditor16

      Haha I really jumped around in that paragraph I really need to remember to take my ADD meds every day…

  • MitchGunner

    This worries me a little about Books 3 and 4. I don’t want to see a drastic change in the style of animation when Studio Pierrot takes up the project alone. I don’t think there will be an issue, but the thought of such a possibility is a bit nerve-racking. I’m not worried about the animation in Book 2, however, because Studio Mir is overseeing it, so for now, I’m still very enthusiastic.

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

      Studio Mir said they’d see The Legend of Korra through until the end, so they’ll be animating Books 3 and 4. As far as I know, Studio Pierrot’s role is probably over with.

      • MitchGunner

        Wait, so Studio Pierrot is doing a little bit of season 2 and then leaving? Cuz I was under the impression that Studio Mir said they were only seeing season 2 to the end.

        • HaZardous

          Bryan & Mike didn’t come to a agreement with Pierrot. That’s why they asked Mir to come back.

  • Katie

    This is off topic, but can someone tell me when the art of the animated series book is coming out? i recently read the Avatar:The Last Airbender one and it was fabulous

    • Ki

      Check their tumblr, I’m pretty sure I saw it there.

  • HaZardous

    Though it begs the question if the producers weren’t happy with Studio Pierrot’s animation, did they also ask Studio Mir to go over whatever Pierrot completed and redo a few scenes or they just left it and only concentrated on the remaining episodes.

    Would Pierrot even allow another studio to edit whatever they’ve done?

  • HaZardous

    Though it begs the question if the producers weren’t happy with Studio Pierrot’s animation, did they also ask Studio Mir to go over whatever Pierrot completed and redo a few scenes or they just left it and only concentrated on the remaining episodes.

    Would Pierrot even allow another studio to edit whatever they’ve done?

  • ArcherLeon

    You literally followed the same trail of bread crumbs I did haha!

  • chewgum

    spero che l’animazione venga bene lo stesso, ma che ne pensate di questa? Dal blog di Bryan konietzko

    • Zoom

      To watch his analysis, go to avatarpatel on youtube.

    • Korratastic45

      Yeah, looking at that screenshot I’m pretty sure it looks exactly like book 1’s Studio Mir animation. So I’m sure that Mir didn’t “adapt” to their style, as you say Keval.

      • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

        Screen shots only show the artistic style of the show which has remained constant. Animation is the style with which the characters move. You can only see animation style though trailers, not screen shots.

        • Korratastic45

          Sorry, don’t buy it. I know that your opinion is that they adapted to Pierrot’s animation style, but I believe that they just went over/edited over their work. It just doesn’t make sense? So what, in book 3 and 4 they’re gonna go back to the same style as book 1? Nah. Sorry, but I don’t buy it.

          • Bast

            Your loss: It was on sale…

          • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

            Well, I respect your opinion :)

          • Korratastic45

            I respect yours too! :D Whatever it is with the animation, guess we’ll find out when we get some more teasers, and trailers. :)

          • KanoHi

            You don’t know Studio Pierrot like most of the anime fans do.:(

            They don’t have consistent animation quality (see Naruto and Bleach). Sometimes it’s ok, sometimes it’s not. Most of the time, the faces are off model.

            The moment I knew Studio Pierrot did the Book 2, I didn’t get my hopes up with the animation quality.

    • daniel yefru

      thumbs up if you went to paste and went to google transalte for this

  • chewgum

    Can you explain me: Is it book 2 finished? Because It has just started the recording of book 2 in Latin america, but bryan give us photos about colour corrections ecc..
    (sorry for grammar mistakes :) )

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

      Yes, Book 2 is complete. According to my source, Mike and Bryan will constantly be color correcting the Book as much as they can.

      • chewgum

        thank you to answer me!

        • chewgum

          I love your source!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!XD

      • HaZardous

        That recent pic Bryan posted shows they at least still have audio mixing left.

        • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

          It’s all just touch-up work.

  • Kai

    we should call you Nancy Drew for now on lol

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

      Haha, I did feel a bit like her while doing the research :)

  • Kai

    That is interesting that they had to collab but Im kind of happy because I love the Boondocks too,i hope the animation lives up to our expectations.

  • daniel yefru

    that explains alot

  • daniel yefru

    well the animation looks so BETTER and with color corretion

  • daniel yefru

    lol the video also said that at first nickelodeon were thinking of not producing the legend of korra just because the main hero was a girl the arguing eventually stoped and they execpted it

  • Linn8966

    Oh no! I hate anime, I’m sure Book 2 will look like naruto or other animes …. damn I want the original american animation! >:(

    • Hmm…Bend over you will

      It was never “American”. The animation for ATLA and LOk Book 1 were both done in countries like South Korea and Japan.

      • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

        That’s correct. The animation was always done overseas.

      • MitchGunner

        But it was made to look like American animation. What they ended up with is a blend between the two, which I really like. I think that if the style became too close to anime or American animation it wouldn’t be as good.

        • Hmm…Bend Over You Will

          I still don’t get what “American” animation is. Can you give me an example of a tv show?

          • MitchGunner

            THIS IS BASED ON MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

            Well, if you look at just about every other show on Nickelodeon besides Korra, then you are looking at the American style of animation. An example most comparable to Korra would probably be Young Justice. American animation is less stylized than anime. It’s less over the top and has a simpler look to it. The movements of characters is more smooth in American animation as well, whereas anime consist of very quick movements that are more limited within moments of dialogue because the majority of the detail goes into the action. In terms of visual fidelity, anime has typically been much more detailed. There are also obvious differences in character design and actions that, for me, is part of the reason I do not like anime. In anime, I have found that characters’ eyes are either overly slim (to depict seriousness or negativity in a character) or overly large (to portray innocence). The noses of characters are also very pointy and small (such is likely not the case with every anime, but it is definitely a common trend), and the hair, depending on the character’s personality, is often exaggerated and colorful. Anime is packed with more mature qualities such as nudity and blood and gore that I usually find odd because of its extremeness. Personally, I don’t enjoy the style of animation that is anime, and I’m not always in love with the American style, though I do find it to be more appeasing. ATLA and TLOK have managed to take the qualities I like from both styles and it is easily the best looking 2D show I’ve seen.

          • Hmm,,,Bend Over You Will

            Thanks :)

          • dubaloseven

            no, anime in general moves smoother

          • HaZardous

            Um, pretty much all the Disney or Looney Toons cartoons? :P

            Seriously speaking, Batman The Animated Series and many others.

    • James

      LOL! You hate anime, but on your youtube channel your subscribed to Mark Crilley who has some tutorials on how to draw some anime/manga style?

      Also, nice whitewashed Korra.

  • Korratastic45

    I kinda don’t believe that both studios are working on it. I also watched the entire interview, and Jae myung, Yoo said that they decided to do book two because they don’t want their reputation to be tarnished. Well if Pierrot is also animating it, wouldn’t it kind of ruin Mir’s reputation either way? It just doesn’t make sense to me. I think Pierrot maybe animated one or two episodes, but Mir most likely went over their work. What about all those screen shots Bryan posts, they all look like Mir’s work. Even the one with Korra and Varrick from yesterday. Besides, that book 2 clip was unfinished. Anyways, since book two has started to begin with marketing, and that they’re working on it in Latin America, does that mean book two is complete?

  • Pokefan9150

    Keval, do you think that the fact that two studios from different countries worked on Book 2 caused some delay with the airing of Book 2?

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

      It’s definitely a possibility. In my opinion, yes, that was the cause for the delay if there was a delay in the first place.

  • Pokefan9150

    Keval, do you think that the fact that two studios from different countries worked on Book 2 caused some delay with the airing of Book 2?

  • chewgum

    Hello, keval i have a question. What will Michael show on his panels on the 26 june?? (sorry for grammar mistakes)

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

      I don’t think it’ll be Korra related. It’ll probably be related to TV Production because the panel includes a lot of other TV show producers – not just Mike.

  • Airspeed Prime

    If there are two animation studios working on Korra it is not that big of a deal. Korra Book 1 is the only season of Avatar that has only had 1 studio work on it.
    Book 1 and 2 of ATLA had JM Animation and DR Movie
    Book 3 had JM Animation and Moi Animation.
    So if there is another studio involved I am not worried at all.

    Personally I would lean towards Studio Mir doing all of Book 2 as I think the interview made it pretty clear that Mir did not want any other studio giving them a bad name, by not living up to their quality. It would also explain why Book 2 has taken the longest of any Avatar season to come out.
    The animation looks different, slightly in the final clip that we saw, other than that everything looks normal. The Spirits IMO are purposely animated in a different style to show they are not from the physical world and are different to the spirits we have seen before.
    The other off scenes I would put down to a bit of us all overanalysing a few seconds of footage, footage that is comprised of action shots. Do the same to more or less any scene in ATLA or Korra and you will see some odd parts of the animation.

    If Pierrot have any involvement in Book 2 I think it will be very minor, perhaps just a few scenes or maybe an episode. It is important to note how confused most people working on the show seem to be about it, we definitely do not have the full story.

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

      I agree with you – I don’t think Pierrot had a very big role in Book 2. But like you said, we still don’t have the full story. We don’t know the specific involvements of the two studios – did Mir redo Pierrot’s work? Did they work together on it? Some things are still pretty unclear but we do know that Mir and Pierrot both had some sort of hand in Book 2’s animation. Anything said beyond that is pure speculation.

      I did not know that bit about the animation for Books 1-3 of Avatar though, thanks for the info.

      • HaZardous

        For Avatar though, the studios worked on alternate episodes. They never really worked “together”.

        That’s why the situation for Book 2 is very confusing right now.

      • daniel yefru

        if Pierrot were just minor animation then why would Mir need to adapt there style if there animation are minors?

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  • Hannah

    I think the new animation looks awful. I hope they go back to the original company.

  • Bleh

    South Korea RULES!!! World’s #1 lowest payed high quality animators!

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  • leele8892

    i
    know i am way too late to join this conversation but u do realize that pierrot
    is not some no-name sweetshop/factory that makes whatever crap they are told
    to make right? They do do outsourced projects (they started that way), but they
    also design/produce their own stuff. So
    of course they are not as flexible (by which I assume he means that they are to
    do whatever they are told without any chance to suggest or add anything to
    improve the project) as a firm that only does outsourced material (its their job
    to be flexible).