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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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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!

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Review TV

The Legend of Korra – Civil Wars

I thought Part 2 put a solid finish on the various Civil Wars storylines.  Korra learns just how deep Unalaq’s lies and manipulation go, and Tenzin bonds with Ikki, and in doing so has a moment with Kya and Bumi to boot.  The Bolin/Eska situation is still less funny and more painful, but at least it generated some funny moments from Varrick.  “No honey?  We’re in a BEAR for crying out loud!”

One thing fans need to realize is the Avatar is NOT a pacifist.  Aang was, but you’ll recall that other Avatars have killed (or allowed someone to die) if it meant balance would be restored.  There’s more than one way to solve problems.  We’re trying to compare Korra to Aang, and considering everything he accomplished by 13, it’s hard to come out better when you look at it like that.  It’s the same thing in the Kya/Bumi/Tenzin storyline.  They must feel like they are the only ones who see the warts on Aang, as a dad and not just as the Avatar.

The Ikki and Tenzin interaction was so cute, and I thought did a great job of giving some younger fans insight into the family conflicts that might otherwise go over their heads.  And baby sky bison!  With what amount to My Little Pony names!  Glad Ikki got some spotlight time where she wasn’t just being a silly energetic kid.

There’s still something strange here.  It’s almost like, having been told all this time that this season deals with spirits, we’ve barely seen them.  I think now that we’ve got Unalaq exposed as the villain that he is, we may see more spirit action as he seems to think he can unlock the North Pole spirit portal himself now.  There’s a lot of plot that hasn’t happened yet, which is strange considering how far into the season we are.  I enjoyed this episode a lot though.  Can’t wait for what’s next.

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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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Media TV

Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra Tips

Just a heads-up for those of you who may be interested in these shows:  For a limited time, you can watch every episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender at the NickToons site.  There are 3 books, that takes you to Book 1.  Very much worth your time, even if you are *cough* somewhat grown up.  :D  It’s a great show to share with your kids.

Now, if you’ve seen Aang adventures, and are interested in Korra’s, there *IS* a way to watch every episode of Legend of Korra online too.  First, from the A:TLA page above, you follow this link, which takes you to the Korra: Making of a Legend page.  This gets you the first six episodes, interspersed with commentary from the creators.  THEN you go to the Legend of Korra page at Nick.com, and click Full Episodes at the bottom of the page.  That has the last seven episodes (it overlaps by one with the Making of a Legend stuff).  Korra is also coming to DVD and Blu-Ray soon as well.

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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”.

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Featured Media Review

The Legend of Korra

This is a notice to those of you who wax nostalgic about the cartoons of your youth, and claim nothing they make these days can compare.  I bet you’re not watching The Legend of Korra, the follow-up series to Avatar: The Last Airbender, on Nickelodeon.  A:TLA was well known for being an excellent show, and not just for kids, and The Legend of Korra seems no different.  If you don’t know what the deal is, basically this world has ‘benders’ who control one of the classical elements of Fire, Earth, Water and Air.  There is always one bender, however, who can learn to control all four, and they are the Avatar, destined to keep balance in the world.  The previous series followed Avatar Aang and his quest to re-unite the nations and tribes after Fire Lord Ozai tried to take over.  The Legend of Korra skips ahead 70 years, with a Republic established and relative peace.  The new Avatar, Korra, is a powerful but hot-headed young woman from the Southern Water Tribe.  She follows Tenzin, Aang’s youngest son and her would-be airbending teacher to the capital, Republic City.  She’s in for quite a culture shock, as Republic City resembles a modern-day metropolis, with a wide mix of benders and non-benders from all tribes…and a building anti-bender sentiment amongst certain people.  Behind all of that, there lies an even greater threat to bending itself.

The makers of the show have successfully advanced the world as you might expect, taking the Steampunk elements and moving them forward to exist in a 20’s to 30’s sort of world.  The first cars are appearing, they use newsreels to do the “last time on” montage at the beginning of each episode, and Korra has to deal with the media.  Korra herself is a very interesting heroine.  She’s tough and wants to do good, but frequently leaps before she looks (sometimes literally).  She has real fears and feelings, and with an older Avatar, they writers can bump up the maturity level of the storylines a bit.  This keeps up with the age of the kids who grew up watching Avatar: The Last Airbender, while keeping it accessible enough for new fans.  I’m enjoying the show immensely, to the point where I’m actually worried about the characters.  The danger they are all facing is terrible, if true (I have theories!), and I don’t want to see them hurt.  Previous knowledge of A:TLA is helpful but not required, and you can go through the Nick site for Korra to get some of the background.  Hit up the comments or the forums if you want to discuss the show!