Sunday, 24 June 2012

Avatar: The Legend of Korra

I'm departing from my usual material on books and film and jotting down some thoughts on TV show that I'm a huge fan of - Avatar: The Last Airbender (officially my most fave cartoon series of all time), but more specifically, its successor, the much awaited, Legend of Korra. This new series followed the next avatar after Aang,  a hot-headed and spiritually lacking Korra, who has mastered all three elements, bar Air. If you have no idea what I'm blabbing about, head on to Wikipedia or whatever.

Is it really tired that I shall now deliver my verdict of this new series in comparison to the predecessor? Why, yes and I shall do it anyhow. 

1. The Setting

The world of the newer series is more 'modern' with technology rearing it's wonderful head - electricity, mechanics, military weaponry, 1930s buildings yada yada yada. Some other fans have noted that it takes away from the fantasy, elemental nature of the original - and they're right. There's less mysticism and philosophy in this story's journey - and we're left with two forces really at play - bending and non-bending. While this political issue is intriguing and rather 'mature', the show never delves into the intricacies of this choice.  No one is really addressing the concern that these Equalists have - it's just all very confrontational, which sure makes more dramatic sequences but where's the honest conversation about it? I was looking forward to the episodes exploring it but it's either 'all or nothing'/extremism, represented by Sato and of course, Amon.

2. Character Development

There isn't much of this flying around - it likes getting a spent wedge of lemon and you have to work pretty hard to squeeze some out. And what a disappointment that is when you consider that Aang's series was all character led - there were layers, variety etc - all very commendable for a 'kids' show - but somehow the writers have reverted to cliches and archetypes. We know nothing really of the minor characters - Mako, Bo Lin and Asami. I ended up liking Asami the best because she had the more intriguing conflict (plus she wasn't stupid at any one point or annoying - which I cannot say the same of  Korra, the one were supposed to be rooting for). Also, why even bother creating that city council? They did sh** all! Exceptionally lazy - apart from Tenzin, who is so badass. 

On that same note, Korra was a great bender but just lacked any real promise of being avatar-like. To me, she comes across as just either complaining or whining, throwing herself at Mako (you're the avatar, you're better than that!) or rearing to get into a fight. I was waiting to engage with her more, i.e waiting for her to access her avatar state which never happened! And no, the end of season scene, which everyone is rightly saying was shockingly deus ex machina,  does not count - it was absolutely the right thought behind it (lowest points opening us up to greatest change - I got tears at that point because people who've been there know the deep truth of that) - but the worst, worst execution. I was totally banking on Korra achieving avatar state when Amon was at the point of taking her powers. I hated how helpless she was so often - and only fired up when Mako was in danger. Really? That's just poor. 

3. Music

Legend of Korra's soundtrack was 'interesting', which means I didn't like it. Sure, it was more in line with the modernisation themes and therefore, why not throw in Jazz etc? But in no way does it compare to the epic scale of the first series. I never skip the Season 3 Theme for Last Airbender on my iPod, that's how immense it is. If I had mind altering powers, I would command you to check it out now. Otherwise, here's the link on YouTube. 

4. Scale

It's based only at Republic City. I hope we get to see more of the world we love as fans in the next installment. 

5. Script

This also ties in with point 2 on character development but the show definitely pitched the production values on action etc and left little in the way of meaningful script. So much of what characters said were so run of the mill, I thought I might have dropped into another dimension and was watching some rubbish TV. I know, right? Writers - please stop having this silly scenes between Korra and Mako - it's just plain dumb and the source of 90% of vomit inducing dialogue. Also writers, you totally skimmed over how Tenzin and kids were captured. Just skip over the details of that, huh?

VERDICT for Legend of Korra: 7/10
VERDICT for Legend of Aang (aka The Last Airbender): 10/10

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