If it's crap ... We'll tell you
Yes indeed, I've chosen to follow and write reviews on the follow-up series to Avatar: The Last Airbender. And since today is the official airing of the openers (they have been on the official website for a while now) it seems fitting to begin here and cover them on a weekly basis. This series has been a long time in the pipeline, and expectations for it have been set very high by the fans. Can it live up to the masterpiece of the original series it continues on from? Only time will tell, but let's begin by taking a look at the opening two episodes;
Episode 1 "Welcome to Republic City"
This serves as the introduction for the audience, both on describing the events that have happened since Avatar Aang brought peace to the world, and introducing us to the new-found Avatar, a young girl named Korra from the Water-Tribe. The world is a very different place since before; Aang is no more, but lives on in his family, and his and Katara's children. Primarily his son Tenzin, who is now an accomplished Air-Bender. Korra is found during the log search for the Avatar and is taught by the Order of the White Lotus. After exhibiting vast skill, she is entrusted to Tenzin who will teach her Air-Bending, but he must leave to Republic City to cover his duties there.
Korra, none-too-pleased with the idea of waiting around to master the Elements, follows him anyway to the new capital of the World, and gets swept up in the vast industrialism and commerce that has taken over. The Capital is not as peaceful as it once was under Aang, and is now rife with gangs. After an altercation with them, she gets arrested, but is released by Tenzin under the condition that she immediately returns home. However, he has a change of mind at the dock, and agrees to teach Korra Air-Bending.
Episode 2 - "A Leaf in the Wind"
This episodes works to further expand our vision of Korra's personality, where she appears to be the opposite of Aang. Rather than being strong-willed in the mind as he was, Korra shows a lack of control of her strengths, despite her great power and skills. Airbending, which demands a calm and free mind, becomes nearly impossible for her to even learn, and her frustration increases by the day. Upon hearing of a fighting tournament taking place nearby for Benders, she sneaks off to take part, breaking Tenzin's orders for her to remain on the island. She befriends two members of a team there, Mako and Bolin, and marvels at their fighting techniques they use.
When their third team mate runs out, she takes his place, only to discover her method of fighting does not work on the arena. Like in her training, her forceful mentality and frustration costs her dearly. But after some heated words with Tenzin when he arrives to confront her, she begins to use the techniques of Air-Bending, and helps her two friends to victory.
Review of the episodes.
This is a... strange opening set of episodes, mostly because it gives so much to think about, which I've been doing for the past half-hour or so. The series takes a new turn and method, with Korra we see her exhibiting similar attributes to Aang, but without the self-control that he already possessed. She comes across as exuberant, hot-headed, and possibly a bit foolish, running on to make her own path, irrelevant of it being for good or worse. The rest of the characters are built up quite well, we see that Katara is still around and part of the Order of the White Lotus, and we see Aang's decedents continuing to learn the ways of Air-Bending. The world they live in has changed significantly since the Hundred-Year War, unrest is sneaking back, as well as friction between "Benders" and "Non-Benders" as a class division begins to appear between the two.
I am happy to report that the animation that was so wonderful from the first show remains here, and is even better. The CG-visuals are more frequent now, but the brilliant art-style remains, as does the fighting choreography. And the new World has given opportunity us expand on the styles, for example, the fights in the area have a Kick-Boxing feel to them. Visually, these episodes are top-notch, and well worth seeing in high quality.
The voice over’s are exceedingly well performed too, giving each character a real sense of personality. From the old master that is Tenzin, to Katara who illustrates one of the few remaining links to the previous show, they all come across very well. The settings are more ambitious and have a more "modern" feel to them. Technology has been incorporated into many areas of life, and the Capital is sprawling with motor cars and tall buildings. It still retains the mythology that The Last Airbender had, but times have changed since then.
If I was to give complaints (and there are some), I would begin with the first episode. In contrast to the opening of the previous show, it feels very... cluttered. It has so much to tell that it gets mixed up between relating to new viewers, and bringing the fans up-to-date on the new world. It just has a few times where it's stuck in the mud and can't pull off telling the story to both audiences. The comedic moments aren't quite as strong as the opening in the old show either, probably because Korra isn't the light-hearted spirit that Aang was. She spends a lot more time in frustration and mental conflict, and it left some of the comedy sticking out in contrast to it.
However, I am in agreement now that she has only just been introduced to us, and as time goes on, her character will develop just as Aang's did. All things considered, they pulled off what I thought would be an extremely hard feat, and re-created the world in a new light, with new characters and a continuation f the history and mythology. Very rarely has that been achieved on TV shows, but The Legend of Korra is off to a good start. I'm excited to see where the story will go from here, and this should be a fun series to follow each week.
Thanks for reading! ^__^