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TV

Legend of Korra, Five Years Later

Five years ago, The Legend of Korra first aired on Nickelodeon in the US, as a sequel series to the much-beloved Avatar: The Last Airbender.  While not the critical smash that A:TLA was, for me Korra stands up well as an amazing piece of storytelling, with gorgeous visuals to boot.

In case you’re not familiar with either series, the world of Avatar takes cues from ancient Indian, Asian and various indigenous cultures around the world.  The twist is, some people are born with the ability to ‘bend’ earth, fire, air or water, and there is always one Avatar that can learn to bend all four.  When the Avatar dies, their spirit is reincarnated to the next nation in a cycle (in the same order of elements above).  As you might guess, A:TLA follow an airbender Avatar (Aang), and The Legend of Korra follows his immediate successor, Korra who is a waterbender.

Right away, the new series made sure to show us how different Korra herself would be from Aang.  Aang had started out as a reluctant hero – he had run away from the Avatar responsibility, she dove in head-first.  Aang had been contemplative and looked to solve problems peacefully first.  Korra would often punch first and ask questions later.  In fact, it’s one of Korra’s central issues she has to overcome, as that sort of personality is diametrically opposed to airbending principles.  Throughout the first season (Book One: Air), Korra struggles to connect with her spiritual self, butting heads with Aang’s son Tenzin as he tries to teach her to airbend.  It’s very parental, and it’s something most tweens and teens can relate to.  In fact, if there’s one thing that seemed to bother some fans that grew up with Aang, it’s that the new show definitely skewed older with the issues that were tackled.

One of my favorite things Legend of Korra did was realistically advance the world from the previous show.  On Avatar: The Last Airbender, we saw the beginnings of industrialization.  There were rudimentary mechanized vehicles and ships, and it would’ve been easy for the show to just stick with that, but they went full industrial revolution in Republic City.  The problems facing the world also matured.  Book One’s villain, Amon, made you take a hard look at how you treat the ‘others’ in your life, especially when you have more power than they do.  Book Three and Four swung the pendulum between chaos and order, showing how bad things can be at both ends of the spectrum.

I am the solution – Amon

Another aspect I love about Legend of Korra is how the relationships grow over time.  Sure, it starts out with typical teen angsty love triangles, but it ends with a some amazing friendships and even a same-sex couple that goes about as far as Nickelodeon would let them.  And that develops over years, by overturning the media tendency to have women be rivals for the affections of whatever men happen to be around.  Korra and Asami have every reason to dislike each other, but end up close friends, and finally more.

Legend of Korra does what any sequel or continuation should do – it deepens the lore, pays homage to the past but isn’t beholden to it, and only serves to improve the Avatar legend.  If you never gave Korra a shot, you owe it to yourself to try it now.  The first three books (seasons) are available on Amazon Prime for free though you do need to buy Book Four (which is totally worth it).

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Comics TV

The First Legend of Korra Comic, “Turf Wars”, Starts June 2017!

It was first announced that Korra’s adventures would continue in comics (much like Aang’s) last New York Comic-Con, but it’s taken until this one to get an update.  The new comic, titled “Turf Wars”, begins June of 2017.  The details:

This three-part graphic novel series is written by Nickelodeon TV series co-creator and executive producer Michael Dante DiMartino, drawn by Irene Koh (Batgirl, 1602, TMNT), with covers by Heather Campbell (Free Comic Book Day 2016: The Legend of Korra), and consultation by TV series co-creator and executive producer Bryan Konietzko.

Turf Wars begins with Korra and Asami leaving the spirit world and returning to Republic City only to find political hijinks and human vs. spirit conflict, as a pompous developer plans to turn the new spirit portal into an amusement park, potentially severing an already tumultuous connection with the spirits. In addition, the triads have realigned and are in a brutal brawl at the city’s borders where hundreds of evacuees have relocated.  In order to get through it all, Korra and Asami vow to look out for each other—but first, they’ve got to get better at being a team.
No information as to why Brittney Williams (who’s been great on Hellcat) isn’t the artist but Koh does great work.  I’m very curious to see if they will be showing more of the Korra/Asami relationship, which would be great to show some LGBTQ representation to younger readers.  The story sounds like classic Avatar, with a mix of serious and fun.  Can’t wait!  I’ll update the post when pre-orders show up at Amazon, or head to your local comics shop and pre-order there!
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Review TV

The Legend of Korra – The Sting

Okay, this was a good episode to show off the supporting cast, considering Korra is missing and presumed dead, at least by Unalaq, Eska and Desna.  We see a ship of Varrick’s (filled with Asami’s mecha-tanks) get attacked, but this time it’s not by spirits but apparent Northern Water Tribe goons.  Mako, of course, thinks it’s still someone else.  But hey, cue the Keystone Kops messing stuff up again (seriously Beifong, can those two guys).  We see Desna and Eska waiting for their father by the spirit portal, and he comes out of it, surprising the both of them.  Most interestingly, the twins relate to him how Korra got ‘killed’ and they tell him “they (the spirits) are getting out of control”.  Sounds like he set them loose in the first place, eh?

The Sting, as it were, is Mako’s plan to ambush the people attacking Varrick’s ships with a dummy shipment.  I think it was an interesting character twist for Mako to go to the Triple-Threat Triad for muscle, though it ends up biting him in the ass.  I’m actually not sure HOW he thought Beifong wouldn’t catch on – suddenly Shady Shin gets his bending back?  Gee, who could do that?  They escape the ship, but find Asami’s warehouse emptied – she’s ruined until Varrick swoops in and buys a controlling interest in Future Industries.  Too late, Mako finds evidence that Varrick himself is orchestrating the attacks – his apparent wackiness seems to be a mask for his evil deeds.

Korra *does* appear at the tail end of the episode, washing up on a beach.  Found by Fire Sages, she airbends them back out of reflex, before discovering she’s suffering from amnesia.  Could that be Roku’s island?

If anything, this episode is a good reminder that all of these primary players are still barely into adulthood.  They’re making mistakes, bad ones, with far-reaching repercussions.  Some of this falls at Unalaq’s feet.  By driving Korra away from her parents and Tenzin, he removed Korra from her the few role models and advisers she listens to.  Knowing that she explores her past lives (heck, her FIRST life) in the next two episodes should bring her back around.  That’s another source of knowledge that she doesn’t tap in to.  Asami, Mako and Bolin are all in a similar boat, with parents gone and little support.  They need to band together, and I can’t wait for it to happen.

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Review TV

The Legend of Korra – Peacekeepers

"...comin' right back at ya, like my boomerang!"
“…comin’ right back at ya, like my boomerang!”

Korra just can’t catch a break.  Heading to Republic City to seek aid for the Southern Water Tribe only brings tensions with Mako to a breaking point.  Then, the President refuses to commit troops help defend the South, and Korra tries to go around him to General Iroh directly.  Unfortunately, Mako feels compelled by duty to report it, and the Prez (who I can’t tell if he’s really a slimeball or just a regular politician) puts a stop to it.  Oh no!  The Makorra ship has foundered!

Bolin gets employed by Varrick, starring in propaganda films to support the Southern Water Tribe, and Asami edges closer to war profiteering.  The Southern Water Tribe cultural center is bombed, and only Mako seems to care that it wasn’t the North that did it.  Seriously, the older cops couldn’t seem more like the stereotypical “round up the usual suspects” suckers if they tried.

 So, Korra has broken up with her boyfriend, been stonewalled by the President on assistance for her outgunned rebel parents, and makes a desperate run (at Iroh’s urging) to the Fire Nation to seek help there.  Too bad Desna and Eska attack on the way there, with Eska losing it over Bolin.  But no, that’s not enough trouble for our girl, as a giant spirit rises up out of the ocean and, well, appears to eat her.  Interestingly, Korr almost succeeds at pacifying it the same way Unalaq did the earlier ones.

I won’t get the see tonight’s episode live, but I hope to catch it before the weekend’s up.  Have fun, guys!

Categories
Review TV

The Legend of Korra Book 2 – A Rough Start

Spoilers, if you must know.

I meant to write these weekly, but hey, there’s a ton to process here!  The first two episodes set the stage six months after the defeat of Amon.  Korra can airbend, Mako’s a cop on the fast track to detective, and Bolin’s remade Fire Ferrets are terrible.  Asami is barely keeping Future Industries afloat, looking to make a deal with an eccentric businessman.  Everyone comes together in the Southern Water Tribe for the Solstice Festival, including Korra’s parents, her Uncle (and Water Tribe Chief) Unalaq, and his twins, Desna and Eska.  Unalaq throws a huge snowy blanket on the proceedings when he decries the Southern tribe’s lack of spirituality, and then offers to take over teaching Korra about spirits.  Seems there are marauding spirits that normal bending has trouble defeating, but he can ‘calm’ them.  Korra decides to let Unalaq teach her instead of Tenzin.  Feels! as the fandom says.

Part two, The Southern Lights, has Unalaq taking Korra to the South Pole to open a ‘Spirit Portal’, with the idea that this will help settle the spirits that are angry with the Water tribe.  There is drama when Korra finds out that her father, Tonraq, had been banished from the North when he and some troops destroyed a forest and angered spirits there.  Also, Tonraq and Tenzin worked to keep Korra safe (or trapped, in her mind) as a child in the White Lotus compound.  She sends him away.  Korra does manage to open the Portal, and the Southern Lights are restored.  We also see Tenzin and Pema taking the family on their ‘vacation’, starting at the Southern Air Temple, with Kya and Bumi tagging along.  Jinora seems drawn to Grandpa Aang’s statue, and another one, a very very old one.  The episode ends ominously, with Northern troops of Unalaq’s entering the Southern capital to help it “get back on its righteous path”.

This week’s episode, Civil Wars Part 1 (note the plural there), shows how the Southern Water tribe reacts to Unalaq’s ‘help’.  Not well, you can imagine.  He blocks the port, leading some (including Varrick, the businessman working with Asami) to agitate for rebellion.  There’s a ton of family drama everywhere, with Korra first thinking her father was one of the rebels who attempt to kidnap Unalaq, to seeing her uncle arrest her parents not long after she helps rescue him.  Back with the airbender family, Ikki runs off after Jinora and Meelo pick on her.  This leads Tenzin, Bumi and Kya to go searching for her, with some uncomfortable conversations about Aang’s parenting style.  Bumi and Kya think he favored Tenzin, you see.  Speaking of uncomfortable, Bolin has some trouble with Eska – he wants to dump her, but can’t.

There is a ton of interesting set up here, and I’m hopeful that the next episode, Part 2 of Civil Wars, begins the payoff.  Korra had JUST convinced Unalaq to give the rebels that tried to kidnap him a fair trial instead of just detaining them (real world parallels much Bryke?), but now that it’s her parents?  I love that Jinora’s going to get some face time this season, she seemed to get the short end of things with Ikki and Meelo being the more active kids in Book 1.  My personal theory is that the spirit portals were closed to help KEEP the balance between the spirit world and the physical/real world, possibly dating back to the first Avatar who we meet later.  From the Book 2 trailer, we see Wan Shi Tong and his library – researching the portals?  Or the first Avatar?  I can’t wait to find out!

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TV

Legend of Korra Book 2 Trailer!

Okay, we FINALLY have something to sink our teeth into here, but we have to wait until September to for Book 2 to start.  So let’s obsess over the trailer!

  1. Korra and Tenzin meditating.  Spirit world connection!
  2. Unalaq bending.  Such beautiful animation.
  3. Looks like…A FUNERAL??  Who are you killing, Bryke?
  4. The next part looks like some of the stuff about the first Avatar, notice the different animation style of the clouds.
  5. A few more quick scenes – Unalaq looking sinister (or badass depending on your perspective), a Satoplane with Korra and Mako on the wings.
  6. Bolin and Mako going into a light – to the spirit world?
  7. Korra and Jinora appear to be entering the spirit world.
  8. A bit of the Dark Spirit being voiced by Grey Delisle, followed by Korra going into the Avatar State.
  9. Some cool battle scenes – a boat chase, a waterbender slinging ice, Korra airbending.
  10. The ‘first’ Avatar, Wan, perhaps in his first trip to the spirit world.
  11. Korra, with some sort of dark spirits flying past her?
  12. Mako with some superior firebending.
  13. Korra, attacking with earth and waterbending.
  14. Desna and Eska, Korra’s twin cousins, sort of snow-rollerblading via waterbending.
  15. Korra over the falls!
  16. A spirit taking what looks like Jinora to Wan Shi Tong’s library?
  17. The United Forces fleet?
  18. Mako, defending that spirit world entrance?  If that’s what it is.
  19. Korra waterbending, seems like it’s Katara-style.
  20. Asami driving the hell out of a boat.
  21. Wan meeting a froglike spirit.
  22. Wan Shi Tong meets Jinora!  I hope she brought some knowledge for his library.  May still not want to see her, or the Avatar.
  23. Hard to tell, looks like Wan battling snake or eel spirits.
  24. Tenzin, Kya and Bumi being thrown or chased off a cliff?  Look like some kind of animal up there.
  25. Korra talking to Roku…and Kyoshi!  I was waiting for that.
  26. Korra and Jinora being swallowed by some sort of glowy-mouth giant crocodile spirit?
  27. Korra, seems like snow flying around her.
  28. Motorcycle policeman Mako.  That sounds like an Anime title all on it’s own.
  29. Tenzin’s family at some sort of rock formation, Korra appears to be within the rocks, possibly creating that flash of light.
  30. Bolin, doing flips and shit.  Maybe he’s been learning from Lin!
  31. Desna and Eska, surfing.
  32. Wan takes a direct strike, but what was it?  Energybending?
  33. Korra, bending, then Unalaq, defending against a firebender.
  34. Wan, seeming in full Avatar mode, keeping peace between humans and spirits?
  35. Korra, touching some sort of sphere, triggering the Avatar state.

So glad to see the other previous Avatars returning.  I bet Korra gets along a lot better with Kyoshi than Aang did.  Love seeing Jinora involved in some serious stuff, perhaps showing some trust coming her way.  The scene that looks like a funeral has me worried for Katara or Lin – we see nothing of them.  No way to tell if teary Asami is from that same time though.  Love the art style in the Wan portions.  So awesome that we get to see how the Avatar formed.  Wan Shi Tong is back!  It makes sense to seek out his library if there’s a need to research the original Avatar.  Why can’t it be September now?

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Review TV

The Legend of Korra Season Finale – You Gotta Deal With It!

We have watched the Korra finale a few times now in these parts, and I love it.  There are many who don’t, and they would be wrong.  That is not to say that there weren’t problems or things that could’ve been tweaked, some silly choices, but you know what?  I didn’t even think of them while watching, too caught up in what was happening.  I was stifling cheers and “oh sh*t no!” and “I totally called that!” and everything else you say while watching a show that has gotten you emotionally invested.

My favorite parts (SPOILERS):

  • The Lieutenant (seems wrong he doesn’t have a name!) stomping on his mask after witnessing Amon bloodbending.
  • Naga again being the most effective member of Team Avatar.
  • Turning around all we know about Amon and Tarrlok, and showing how your past comes back to haunt you.  You actually come to feel…not sorry, maybe, but you understand how hard things were for Amon (I don’t have the right spelling for his real name yet).  The use of Aang’s voice actor was interesting.
  • When Korra announces that Amon is a waterbender in front of the Equalists, and we see his eyes narrow – FINALLY she’s gotten through his defenses.
  • Aang showing up at the end.  She made the spiritual connection – she’d been closer and closer over the past few episodes – and seeing Aang, and Kyoshi, and Roku…worked for me.
  • Lin Beifong getting her bending back.  YES.
  • Iroh Man flying around.

The meh:

  • Mako/Korra.  Just don’t like them together, and I really don’t like how Mako strung Asami along.
  • I can come up with an explanation for how Korra could still airbend after Amon de-bended her but it takes some work.  Eh.
  • The United Forces were pretty lame.  I realize they were fighting unknown weapons, but still.
  • When Korra was hiding and Amon walked past her spot, why didn’t she just trap him with earthbending?  Not enough room to move?
  • Tenzin and the family still being captured.  Got another Meelo line out of it, but…very plot-convenient.
Most of the complaints I’ve seen about the finale involve things feeling ‘rushed’.  I don’t feel that way, though.  This was intended from the start to be one 12 episode mini-series, and even once they knew they’d have another season, they wanted this to wrap up.  I know it’s hard to see where Korra goes from here, but that’s why I’m not writing extremely successful “kids” TV shows.  I do think they underestimated how much we’d dislike Mako for all that happened with the love triangles.  The plot moved.  There were no filler episodes, other than the ‘shipping’ episode.  But even that had a ton of bending, so it was fun enough.  You were left breathless after most episodes, wondering just how things got that bad, and how it could possibly be resolved.  I for one am interested to see what the adventures of a fully realized Avatar will be like, especially in the world as it is now.  Season 2, please!
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Featured TV

The Legend of Korra Season Finale Preview

Well, it seems like the show has barely started, and we are already at the season finale.  This Saturday at 11am, we see the endgame with Amon and Korra.  From the previews, it’s clear that there is a HUGE battle involving battleships, planes (launched from General Iroh’s ships?), airships, and who knows what else.  We see Mako being ridiculous again, having a deep, meaningful moment with Korra while I presume Asami is in the next room over stewing.  The hobo in the bush makes an appearance, sheltering Team Avatar and showing off a makeshift town under the city with benders and non-benders living together.

Here’s a recap of recent events:  Tarrlok’s bloodbending was found out, and Korra escaped when Amon and his thugs found Tarrlok and took his bending.  Amon and Sato attacked Republic City with airships and attempted to capture all of the remaining Council members, but Tenzin again fought off the chi-blockers sent to subdue him.  It seems airbending might be the best defense against the Equalists, as they have little information on how to fight back against it, and the blasts of air can keep them out of hand to hand range (where they could actually chi-block Tenzin).  All the more reason to hope Korra breaks through with that for the finale.

Lin Beifong, with the help of Tenzin and Team Avatar, rescued her de-bended metalbender cops, and then helped defend Air Temple Island during the attack by Amon.  The airbender kids helped ably, aiding my theory that the Equalist chi-blockers have no way information on dealing with airbenders.  Tenzin takes his family on Oogi and tries to escape, but is pursued by airships.  Lin Beifong, in a touching sacrifice, leaps off Oogi and begins wrecking the Equalist blimps (Beifongs hate airships!).  She is captured, and Amon takes her bending away.  I admit, this more than anything affected me.  Lin became one of my favorite characters these past few weeks, and seeing this hurt.

But they couldn’t leave fans with that heartbreak as the only thing to carry them forward to the finale, so there is one more scene.  A flotilla of ships, called in by Tenzin, and the general in charge…named Iroh.  Voiced by Dante Basco, Zuko’s grandson leads the fleet and will be key in helping to liberate Republic City.

My predictions for Saturday’s episode:  Team Avatar, after some relationship drama underground, perpetrates some guerilla attacks from within Republic City while Iroh’s ‘United Forces’ fleet attacks from the harbor.  Korra will break through with airbending, and faces off with Amon.  He attempts to take her bending, but she finally goes into the Avatar state and resists it.  There HAS to be a reveal here of who Amon is, as you don’t keep someone behind a mask for this long without it meaning something more than “I was burned by a firebender”.

Categories
TV

The Legend of Korra: WHOA

Note:  bigtime spoilers here, if you aren’t fully caught up.

I watched episode 8 today (both times it was on!) and am completely floored at what’s happening here.  The show is moving through plot at a breakneck pace, and just when you think they might take a breather, BOOM, Tarrlok and Korra fight.  And for Tarrlok to somehow bloodbend without a full moon, well, something is definitely up.  This page has a very interesting theory on what is happening in the flashbacks (though he extrapolates a bit much, and I don’t think everyone in the room is being bloodbended or is that bloodbent?).  My thought for the next episode is Beifong rescues Korra, but not until she finally gets some real meditating in, and gets some plot info from Aang in spirit form.  Or at the very least sees the whole picture of what she has seen only bits and pieces of so far in those flashbacks.

Other random thoughts:

  • I love the airbender kids.  The fartbending was a bit much, but Meelo and Ikki were both fun.
  • The Asami/Korra dynamic is great, though I would’ve thought Asami had noticed something between Korra and Mako earlier, so Ikki’s spillage wouldn’t be such a big reveal to her.
  • It was good to see Team Avatar be effective, seems so many times they’ve been disabled or defeated pretty easily.
  • Moving the show up to 20’s era society makes things quite interesting.  Will benders be like the samurai, with ever-dwindling prestige in society as it becomes more technologically based?
  • We need Katara back in the mix, I think.  Perhaps she will teach Korra how to defeat bloodbenders.
  • Is it Saturday yet?
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Featured Media

Wired: Best Sci-Fi Movie Effects

Wired has an article up about the Best Sci-Fi movie effects scenes of all time, which has some classics, from Godzilla to 2001: A Space Odyssey to Avatar.  To be sure, though, they missed some of my favorites:

  • Iron Man – specifically the scene when Tony puts the upgraded suit on for the first time and takes his first flight.  The filmmakers managed to make it look, if not real, then at least realistic.  Honorable mention to Tony’s holographic UI.
  • The Abyss – Some great stuff here, including the liquid breathing apparatus, aliens made of water and mini-subs.
  • TRON and TRON: Legacy – I’m surprised that no one voted up the original TRON in the original article, considering how amazing it was at the time.  The new movie had some sweet scenes as well, including the light-cycle battle.

What else did they miss?