Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thoughts on The Legend of Korra

I'll start out by saying while I did watch almost all of Avatar: The Last Airbender (I missed two episodes, I believe), I wouldn't say I'm a fan; at least not on the level of the rest of the fanbase. At first I was really intrigued by the show because of it's amazing world and great animation/music; however, overtime I grew bored with show, despite still being a good show. Toph got me heavily invested again (awesome character, and a breath of fresh air for the group), but after a while, the only thing that I watched the show for was to see how it ended. My main reasons for losing interest in the show was the character of Aang, and the development of romances among the characters.

Aang was a terrible main character in my opinion, as he never felt like a hero, just a simple-minded boy who had amazing power; over the course of the series I was hoping he'd grow and learn was it means to be a hero/savior; he didn't. Instead, he remained the simple kid from the beginning all the way through. Thankfully, the series had Zuko, who's development as a character was excellent, and probably the story's biggest highlight.

I know they were never the main focus, but the romances in the show were apparant and only moved more to the forefront of the show as time went; and, imo, they just felt forced, cliche, and/or unneccessary. Aang and Katara's relationship was the worst of them all; the reason being that Aang is a 12-year old boy, it just felt stupid to see him forging a relationship with Katara. Not only should he not even be interested in romance yet, but he has much, much more important things to do than worry if Katara likes him or not; it just felt stupid to me. But, that's what the fanbase grew to want, and overtime nearly every character has some type of romantic deal; the writers even tried to bring Toph into one (thank goodness, that only lasted for one scene), I mean, c'mon, Toph is, what, 10 years-old? But, I digress, the show was still quite excellent, and definitely a show to be respected. So now, we come to the sequel series...

I found the first two episodes of The Legend of Korra to be quite excellent; however, it looks like there will be some bumps in the road later. First off, the animation, art, and music are incredible. The settings look amazing, the animation is "The Blind Bandit" quality throughout both episodes, and the music is just as strong as the previous season, if not stronger in presence. With those foundational praises, let's move on to specifics...

- the setting is fantastic. Republic City not only looks amazing, but the cultural detail is superb; with the city taking on a 1930s-styled look, which greatly helps show that the city's industrial revolution is just starting. The fantasy element is still strong, however, with airships and abundant benders. Also, the man speaking about the revolution was a great touch to both the setting and story. The pro benders sport was also an excellent touch, and shows that with peace comes developments not only in industrial culture, but recreational culture as well. Just A+ quality in the setting.

- Metal bending and the police force. Toph's legacy lives on with the police and their awesome use of metal bending. Way to go Toph! You're the best!

- Korra. Korra, as of the first two episodes, is a superb character. First off, her character design is excellent. I love that she actually looks like a warrior, with strong muscles and powerful physique, as well as strong eyes. I'm surprised that Nickelodeon let Korra have pretty large breasts considering its a kid's show, but nonetheless, they help show that she isn't a kid, but rather an older teenager. I also like how powerful she is; she's the opposite of Aang in basically every way, and I love that. She's headstrong, but still kind, which makes for a nice balance in her character traits and how she interacts with others. She also reminds me a lot of Toph; which gets her some points from me, heh.

- The supporting cast. Tenzen is a great supporting character and teacher character for Korra. He isn't the same as Iroh, which is nice. In fact, I'm glad they didn't pull a whole "their kids act the same as their parents" deal with the new cast; it all works out well. Toph's daughter made a nice first impression, and it was awesome to see a huge statue of Toph in front of the police department. It also showed that Toph got a lot of work done in her life. Tenzen's daughters are great and I hope to see more of them; his son is OK, but it's obvious he's just supposed to be Aang. Even though it's been 70 years, I hope to see more characters from the past make an appearance later; hopefully, Toph (I bet even as an old woman Toph is still a badass).

- the mentioning of Zuko's mother. This was just a middle finger to the audience in my opinion. It was as if the creator's knew that was the story we all wanted to hear about, but they just won't let us hear it. It's a shame, because I would've loved a series focusing on Azula finding her mother.

- The brothers. OK, here we go. I gotta say, I nearly bursted out in laughter when I saw these two. They were basically made for the audience that loves to ship characters, write fanfics, and make AMVs about character's relationships; which happens to make up around 60% of the Avatar fanbase, so I guess it was a good decision, heh. Seriously, the fact that these two differ so much in character design and personality is not a coincidence. It also helps that the main character is a girl, so this show basically becomes a situation where the female fanbase chooses their man for Korra. This stuff annoys the hell out of me, but more on that later. The brothers themselves are OK. It annoys me that they're basically Sokka and Zuko (the two heart-throbs from the first series) in terms of personality and voice; the Sokka guy even has a lot of female fans, just like every girl fell for Sokka in the first series (another story detail that annoyed me). They could be good character though, especially if the story goes into their past as poor kids; but, unfortunately, they'll most likely just be there for the love triangle.

So those are basically the main point I wanted to mention. I liked the first two episodes a lot, but I feel that I may not like the series later on. My main disappointment with the first series was how the story focused so much on the characters and the little, annoying details about them (such as the romance, getting over stuff, and the random thing occurring here and there) rather than actually showing a story about the characters growing and becoming the heroes they will be by the end. Only Zuko got that (and Katara a little), and it was disappointing not to see such development for the rest of the cast. I fear the same may happen in the Legend of Korra. The setting is so superb, and with the revolution theme could come many great stories about the people who live within the city, how they are effected by the revolution, and how Korra and the rest of cast help them, all the while growing as characters themselves. The setting is so rich in potential that it'd be a real shame to spend an episode Korra wondering if one of the brothers likes her or not.

Which brings up my main worry for the series: the evolution and execution of Korra's character. I love female portagonsists. They often bring a whole new light to situations that would often feel cliche if the hero were male, and often bring a new perspective to stories; however, all too often have female characters fallen from grace due to the presence of romance in stories. I hate seeing a badass female warrior turn into a submissive, shy little girl when in the presence of a pretty boy. To me, it ruins the character because they are acting out of character. This would be especially bad with Korra. I can see her acting out of character if coaxed by others, but never just because she feels weak in the presence of the situation. They almost ruined Toph this way, but thankfully that never happened. Korra is going to get into a romantic relationship with one of the brothers by the series' end; everyone knows this, the question is: which one is it going to be? That's how these stories go, and the writers know this; so why disappoint the fanbase? It's basically fuel for the fire. Look, I don't expect LoK to be wholly original and not have any romance at all (not everything can be One Piece), but I just hope they treat this superb character they've created with respect, and don't have her just become an object of affection like Katara and Mai became in the first series.

As you can see, my main gripes with the series is its waste of great potential, and it hasn't reached the third episode yet. (<- after="" be="" being="" br="" but="" can="" execution="" expect="" first="" gun="" i="" in="" its="" jumping="" know="" m="" one="" original="" sarcastic.="" series="" t="" the="" this="" to="" very="">
And that's basically all I have to so say. The first series was great overall, even if I had some problems with it, mainly because for every annoyance I had with the series, there was always something great to balance it out: Toph, Iroh, Zuko's character development, Azula, and serious episodes. I'm hoping Legend of Korra can have just as good a balance. A Toph character would be nice, since in situations like these, I like to have at least one character who isn't going to get in a romance subplot.