(Started writing this about 6 months ago, 12/04/13, and never finished it - so here it is.)
The Legend of Korra is different from its predecessor and counterparts among today’s cartoons. It’s well-thought out, well-produced, and above all, has managed to hold on and continue an imaginative world and culture that has captured the minds of many fans seeking a world worthwhile to them. Granted, the quirks and oddities that made the original Avatar universe what it is isn’t always apparent here. Sure, it appeals to a broader fan-base, but what’s the point in giving less details about the world and its characters, when really, that’s what made it the most enjoyable? Here’s my take on Book 2.
Disclaimer: I’m aware of its shortcomings - the producers, as I’ll reference the team that makes LoK throughout this, that they only originally thought that this would go for 1 season, and that they are held to 14 episodes for whatever reason. I’ll reference these things often throughout as well. Also, spoilers ahead if you have yet to see S2. And when I may seem negative, I’m just giving my opinion on how it could improve.
Venturing into the first few episodes of Spirits, the new Team Avatar from Book 1 finds themselves split apart, each growing as people and young adults, trying to make sense of whatever destiny lies ahead for them. New characters are introduced, namely Unalaq and seeing more of Korra’s parents, and other characters connecting LoK to ATLA, such as Bumi and Kya. But the show doesn’t really expand during these first six opening episodes, and generally feel like the hardest episodes of the season to watch. In my opinion, I believe many fans would love to see some character development and early involvement with characters such as Iroh Jr. or Lin Bei Fong, and more on Bolin, Mako, or Asami. Instead, you get a rather linear plot that centers around the impending antagonist Unalaq, Korra struggling with Tenzin, and strangely on the side, Asami’s desperation in saving Future Tech Corp. As I bring this up, I would have liked to seen this developed more. Why should we care that Asami is trying to save her company? Because she doesn’t want to lose her life in the lap of luxury? For me that’s not enough incentive to really care about Asami. Or maybe its restoring what her corrupt father created and envisioned originally, and being motivated by her mother’s death still. It would have been nice to see some back story to at least make us like or sympathize with her, rather then just her being a non-bending beneficiary to Team Avatar (the smart mechanic, pilot, etc.) and a piece of the love triangle.
Other parts of the first half of the season also leave something to be desired. These first few episodes seem almost like the producers knew just as much as what was going to happen later on as we did, like they were just trying to figure what to really do with these spirits and how they would unravel the story. Korra’s difficulties maintaining peace among the two Water tribes, which results in a divide between her father and her, while gravitating towards Unalaq, is the main development here. This ultimately results in a feud between the two tribes while deceit, distrust, and corruption that is arising (Unalaq’s betrayal and setup, Mako’s involvement with the Triple Threat Triads and Lin just disacknowledging him, Asami’s romance with Mako) takes over. To me, this feels very crime show-young adult drama type of linear; it’s fine in its own right, but not something I really care for when the characters are not really being giving a stronger motive to behave the way they are.
To summarize the 2nd half of the season (since I stopped writing the review at this point formerly), I’d have to say that the whole story of Wan and the origin of the original Avatar was my favorite part of the series. The art was great and I liked they did something different. Overall the last few episodes and ending, while not particularly memorable, were well done visually and the battles had some great action. I felt the story was rushed and alot of major pieces came out of no where, such as Jinora claiming a major role in the saving of the world, and Raava and Vaatu symbolizing the yin-yang of Spirit World. All of it converging at the end to have a picture-perfect esque ending leaves the story feeling a bit jumbled, and the viewer having a blur of all the high-octane and new events going on. While Unalaq was not a particularly compelling antagonist that had many dimensions to him, his evil corruption driving him to fuse with Vaatu was definitely epic. The end wraps fairly swiftly, with the Avatar once again restoring balance…
Rated on increments of .5 from 1-10.
Overall: 8.5/10 - Far and away, the Avatar universe and series (ATLA/LoK) stands as 21st century Nick’s greatest production to date, and sets the bar for both anime and cartoons in-terms of how much effort, thought, and creativity is put into it.
Just started watching the season opener for LoK S3, eh so far. I miss ATLA.
∟ ba sing se / impenetrable city / capital of the earth kingdom