Watching Avatar: Legend of Korra was never at the top of my list of priorities for many reasons: I had no time, no one in my immediate circle was honestly raving about its awesomeness (though now, at this point, I’ve discovered some fans lurking about), and most importantly I was afraid of being disappointed. In truth I can’t really express the whether or not I was disappointed; I suppose every aspect of the show would fail in my eyes if I compare it to The Last Airbender (as of now). So, in effect, without any comparison to the first book of A:TLA, the Legend of Korra delivered well and certainly did not disappoint (and I am definitely looking forward to more!)
What is it about?
The strong-willed and assertive Korra of the Water Tribes is the new Avatar, following the death of Avatar Aang. She goes to Republic City, a place where non-benders and benders of the different nations coexist “peacefully”, to learn airbending under Master Tenzin, Aang and Katara’s son. There, she finds herself in the middle of a pro-bending tournament (as a competitor with the Fire Ferrets) and of a more sinister and dangerous plot. Equalists, who advocate for the extinction of benders, are trying to take over the city; their leader, Amon, has the power to take away someone’s bending (permanently). The revolution is gaining resistance, and Korra has yet to master air bending, or even connect to her spiritual side.
What’s so unique about it?
(Well, I did say no comparisons, but uh.)
Certain aspects are really interesting, not to mention great, in the new series. One is the use of a female lead character for an action/adventure anime, which has been sorely lacking in the industry. (Note: Personally, I don’t like women leads in fiction. I identify best with males.) Korra is a fun character to watch, though her flaws are often irritating, more so than Aang’s shortcomings. The level and presentation of universe continuity are also well-executed, in the sense that the friendships and personalities of the last season carried over to LoK as historical truths, origin stories, monuments, flashbacks and so on.
The civilization in LoK is greatly advanced. Technology (from AtLA’s carriages, steam ships and air propellers) has moved on to aircrafts and steam automobiles. Aspects like recreational and competitive bending is more widespread, with the institution of so-called pro-bending matches.
Why should you watch it?
The things I specifically liked about it, and the other things I observed, take the next hundred words that fill follow this section. So to make the essentials brief, you should watch it
there is nothing more awesome in the world than the Avatar Universe. Just. Go.
(But start with AtLA first, because that’s where you fall in love deepest.)
Korra, while awesome and sometimes kickass, is very much a teenager to me. She gets a love interest, disobeys authority and acts with an “I’m invincible” attitude. I suppose I could grow to love her (in time), especially if she puts on more kickass bending moves. Her spirit animal is Naga, a polar bear dog, who is unfortunately small and not very cuddly, though she more than makes up for it by being a badass animal.
The two bending brothers who make up the rest of the Fire Ferrets team, Mako and Bolin, are really entertaining. Mako’s physical characteristics are really pleasing to look at, if not for his somewhat hilariously designed eyebrows. His personality is a little bit more challenging, since he’s so indecisive and insensitive about the girls who hold affection for him. Bolin, on the other hand, is hilarious and sincere, which is a very good combination. Hopefully he won’t be a total comic relief; his earth bending skills are awesome enough (and will grow to be more awesome) to warrant him more fighting scenes in the future. Bolin also has a small ferret (I suppose?) who is talented and intelligent; I think he’s a counterpart for Momo.
Other characters that are lovely are Asami (who is another action girl, but this time decidedly beautiful and “classy”), Tenzin and his family, Lin Beifong and General Iroh. Tenzin is simply wonderful as a character; his wryness and concern for others is really something in its own right. Pema and their colorful kids are funny and adorable, and they bring a certain roundedness or warmness into the show. They also cleanly solved the problem of the imbalance in the world; Tenzin’s family will single-handedly rebuild the race of the Air Nomads. Lin Beifong is just as amazing as her mother, Toph (who was one of my favorite characters). She’s powerful in bending, compassionate (in her own way) and she moves with the no-nonsense attitude that I adored so much in Toph. As for General Iroh, what really made him noticeable was his voice –he’s voiced by the same talent who voiced Zuko in AtLA. On top of that quality, he’s also handsome, a general of the United Forces Army (?), intelligent and a strategist. He also follows, or at least listened to, his grandfather, which is awesome!
An older Katara also made an appearance as Korra’s master in waterbending, not to mention Aang, Toph and Sokka in the flashbacks.
Other Notable Things
Aside from everything I mentioned above, I’d like to mention a few things that I think are the best (or most questionable) parts of the show and Avatar universe.
Special Techniques in bending
The idea of metal bending, a skill single-handedly developed by Toph in the first series, is exhausted in LoK –it is used by the police in their operations, with extendable whip-like material that serves as a lasso, sling and so on. What is really interesting is the way one of the characters got around the existence of metal bending; he (Asami’s father) developed machines and structures using platinum, a metal so pure that it doesn’t have pieces of earth in it.
Bending without the use of arms/ only the mind wasn’t used much in the new series; in fact, I can’t recall anyone being able to do so (in the way King Bumi did in AtLA) except for [spoiler] Amon. I wish the characters could bend without the use of arms; it would be much easier for them if ever their body ended up being trapped in some place.
Bending electricity or lightning also seems to be not so much of a big deal; one of the primary characters who isn’t really a prodigy (at least I don’t think so), Mako, was able to bend cold fire easily.
Note: Bending is still awesome. I hope the fight choreographers never stop producing amazing work.
Over the course of several episodes (12, in fact), I repeatedly thought that the fighters were being extremely stupid with their advantage. Most of the time, I was pertaining to benders. In my opinion, it would be so easy to win a fight against non-benders, especially if you were an earth bender (just trap the Equalists to the floor, or sink them). There really should be no contest –if it’s fire, just wrap them in fire (don’t give inefficient, escapable fire punches); if it’s water, do the same. If it’s air, just blast them away, or hit them in the gut with an air punch or something. Bloodbending was really misused as well; if I was a villain, I’ll just snap everyone’s spines.
Amon’s motives were also very sketchy; I really can’t explain it, but, uh. There was something lacking.
YES. I loved the music for LoK (as I know of it, Nickelodeon hired the same composers from the first series). The mood of the scenes was really developed and furthered with the music compositions and selections. Brilliant. :>
After staying a few hours in prison, how come Asami’s make-up is still perfectly put on? I mean, whu.
But then everything is eclipsed by the fact that FLYING BISONS ARE NOT EXTINCT. Woohoo.