Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The Legend of Korra: A Review
The new world of the Avatar, Republic City, is way too progressive from the world that Aang saved eighty years ago. This is the future that Zuko and Aang built. I'm impressed at the technological progress that the four nations have developed over the years. In spite of the fast, sleek and sophisticated gadgets present in Korra's world, old and familiar practices and beliefs are still evident: the world is still in need of the avatar despite the existing law and order enforcers; all is fair in love and war; every generation has its tyrant; heroes are not perfect and like any human being, they too need help of family and friends.
The animation is superb. There are enough visuals and imagery to anchor the fans' context of Aang's world to Korra's. Likewise, the presence of visual cues are enough to fill in the puzzle of Korra's journey in becoming a full pledge avatar. Aang's colossal statue, as well as Zuko's and Toph's are tribute to the characters that endeared the fans greatly to the show. The reprisal of Sokka and the episodes where Katara appeared are treats to fans. The appearance of the young general, Iroh II, Zuko's grandson, gave me goosebumps. I didn't expect Aang would grow up looking serious, and yes, handsomely voiced by DB Sweeny, who happened to be my crush way back in the 90s. I like it that Aang restored Korra's bending because, this new facet of the avatar as restorer is messianic. Aang is still the hero of the hour. If Roku guided Aang in his avatar journey, Aang takes and gives to Korra what she has lost.
The formula of the fantastic four: Mako, Bolin, Asami and Korra stays true to the one that Aang and the Gang forged in his season. Tenzin as the wizened teacher to Korra is acceptable in his own low key personality. The Legend of Korra did present a new avatar world while honoring the past. Then again, it falls short on some aspects where Aang's season stood out brilliantly.
What did not work
The lack of a strong villain, an anti-hero and a confused character in the round made me think that this new season of the avatar is all fluff and stuff. The comedic timing is still there courtesy of Bolin and Milo, but Sokka is just superb at being sarcastically funny. Tenzin is a nice guy, but he does not have the mystery and deep seated wisdom of Uncle Iroh. The thing is, I learned a lot from that man and his mentoring of Zuko. Iroh is instrumental in making Zuko a hero. If not for Zuko, Aang wouldn't shine as the child-savior.
There were so many gaps left unfilled with in the span of eighty years. I know it's just me, but it had been difficult to wonder what happened to the characters I loved and considered (in my imagination) as my next door neighbors while watching Korra. Perhaps this was so on account of the believable world and characters the old season left behind. As a viewer, and fan, I have made a personal investment on the characters of the old avatar. The Legend of Korra flew by so quickly I didn't fully realize it was over until Mako and Korra kissed in the end.
The writers of Korra spoiled the new avatar, big time. I am expecting more tests on Korra's character in the next season, if there will ever be a next season. My plea to Dimartino and Konietzko: please make a short series of the original team avatar to help fans like me get over the last Air bender.