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.
Art – 9
Characters – 9
Story – 8
Overall – 9
Bolin was my fave character, he just said what needed to be said.