The Legend of Korra Cartoon (English)

February 10th, 2013

Let me tell you something true and important.

Aang was wrong.

It’s not the moment you’re most down when you unlock your potential. It’s the moment after that. When you look at where you are and think, “Well fuck this, I’m going to live anyway.” *That’s* the moment you connect with your “spiritual” self.

This weekend, during snowstorm Nemo, I took the opportunity to sit and watch all of The Legend of Korra on Amazon Instant Video.

It was excellent.

Super quicky synopsis for those of you who have never seen it: In a world where some people, known as “benders.” have power over one of the four elements, the “Avatar” can manipulate all four. Avatar-in-training, Korra, has mastered all but Air, but when she comes to Republic City to learn the fourth element she find herself caught up in a veritable war.

I never did watch Avatar – The Last Airbender, beyond catching a random episode here or there. It looked good, plenty of people I know liked it, but we just never connected. So when I heard about Korra, I was glad, but not compelled to watch it. It was on my radar, I just needed to make some time for it.

Now I have and I’m pretty pleased at the result. Every character was written incredibly well. I mean that. As a person 100% driven by connection to character, there wasn’t one of the “good guys” that I thought, “oh come on…!” Especially Korra who is that invisible-unknowable to writers in almost every media – a competent adolescent girl. Korra knows from a young age she is the Avatar and has both self-confidence and self-doubt born from that knowledge. She’s not too fragile nor is she too arrogant. She’s welcome over for lunch anytime. ^_^

The story really takes off when she deifies her teacher Tenzen’s order to stay away from sport bending. Korra meets Bolin and his brother Mako…and it’s her illicit professional bending that sets much of the story in motion.

Mako picks up a girlfriend along the way, Asami, who turns out to be a key in the larger plot. Of all the characters, she was the one I was most afraid would be written poorly, but nope. The plot screws her a bit, but the writers never do.

Bei-Fong, the police chief, is a rare middle-aged female character with both bending and secular power. She also gets moment of “waaaah” during the series usually given over to male characters.

Even Tenzen’s family are not afterthoughts. There’s a moment early on when Tenzen and Korra are arguing. Miffed, Tenzen forbids his eldest daughter from being like that, which she wisely refuses to guarantee.

The plot is jam-packed and, as a result moves a teeny bit too fast at the end, but that’s honestly one of only three quibbles I have.

Quibble the first: City Council Members who are clueless sheep. Politicians might follow the money, but darn few of them are clueless sheep. They might be delusional, insane or incompetent, but not too many people are going to make a City Council without *some* presence.  At least make Tarrlok an amazing speaker or something to convince me they were convinced that the worst ideas ever were good. (“Why yes, let’s pass a law that does the very thing the enemy is accusing us of doing! That’s a great idea!”)

Quibble the second: Nothing personal to Mako, and he didn’t have to stay with Asami, but I can think of several ways in which he and Korra did not have to end up together and the story would have ended better. Also, how vexing that Asami, who is a very decent character, is basically brought in just to end up being Korra’s rival. Snooze. I want Asami to be avenged by being a major character next time.

Quibble the third: Aang’s BS about Korra connecting with her spiritual self. Yes, I realize time was running out, but really, 5 more seconds (hey, cut out the Mako scene and you’d have had plenty of time) for the right kind of epiphany and it would have been awesome.

Other than those small things, I genuinely enjoyed the heck out of this series. Korra was definitely my definition of a “strong female lead”. (You can read a discussion of my definition in my review of Bandette.) If I had a girl child, she’d get this series and kung-fu lessons for her birthday. (With a teacher that understands why Aang was wrong!) Highly recommended.

Ratings:

Art – 9
Characters – 9
Story – 8

Overall – 9

Bolin was my fave character, he just said what needed to be said.

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9 Responses

  1. ebb harmony says:

    (Pardon, but slight typo there, “Ang” is actually spelt “Aang”.)

    I think your squibbles are actually bigger than they seem. For me, they are what dragged down what could have been an excellent show to just an okay show.

    I disagree that all of the characters were well-written(the brothers, for example, are the most stock-ish. Bolin stays a comedy relief with little growth or respect given to him, and Mako was a bit bland to me, how many times are writers going to try and make Batman…or in this case, Wolfbatman?)

    However, looking back on it, Korra is an well-made, interesting character. I just wished they did more with her air-training and her combining that with her pro-bending style. Also more of a friendship with Asami(making the triangle a hell of a lot more complicated yet intriguing)

    But what we could get from the atmosphere of the city, the threats to the city and how the world had developed from the prior series, it’s still entertaining! I think I’m always going to prefer the prior series, but I’m willing to see what they do with this one, as kinda disappointed as I am by it.

  2. Eric P. says:

    As a fan of the first series, I wasn’t disappointed at all by ‘Korra’. Aside from it having become a different world since Aang’s time, it’s great that they’re expanding the story in a fresh direction as oppposed to repeating themselves. I guess you don’t necessarily *have* to have seen the original series, but it does help deepen appreciation of the new series and see better where everyone/everything came from, such as current relatives of the past heroes.

    And there’s more to come!

  3. @ebb harmony – Thanks for that correction. ^_^

    I very much liked the art-deco/steampunk China of Republic City.

  4. Helen says:

    Agreed with the quibbles (I think that if the series had been 20 episodes long instead of 12, like the seasons of ATLA had been then they would’ve had enough time to deal with at least two of those) and also agreed on Asami. I was so worried that she would be a flat character but by the end she ended up being my favorite character and went through more character development than anyone else, although I am worried how much she’ll interact with the rest of the cast next season after getting dumped by Mako since that’s sure to make things awkward.

  5. Ed Sizemore says:

    My impression was the creators weren’t sure they were going to get a second season. They short changed the ending to bring everything back to status quo. I was a little disappointing in that.

    In the original Avatar, Aang had to struggle with the lost of his powers for about 1/2 a season. I think that would be good for Korra too.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the show as much as I did. I’m looking forward to the second season. Tenzen’s kids rock!

  6. Donald says:

    Asami’s bending power seems to be driving things.

  7. Kagsgirl says:

    Well just letting you know legend of Korra is a yuri but you have to watch the series

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