All Your Old Friends (are poorly replaced)
If you liked Avatar: The Last Airbender for all its interesting qualities, the sequel series, The Legend of Korra may not be for you. Avatar groupies who like anything Avatar (including the live action movie, and even James Cameron’s Avatar) should read with caution.
We were fond of the original Avatar series. It depicted a carefully crafted universe influenced by the few who could “bend” elements. It featured a likable cast, deep backstory, and plots both personal and grand. Korra portrays:
- The entire bending universe haphazardly transported to the American 1920s.
- One supporting cast brother who is overly stiff and unlikable.
- The other supporting cast brother who is a total goober and whose misspeaks get old.
- A lead character who goes from annoying to… er, no change there.
You will also find episodes that are consistently no fun because:
- The “good guys” always lose, being one step behind.
- Our “heroes” make the world’s worst decisions without fail.
- The romantic narrative is purposely uncomfortable.
Why are we in the 1920s? Was the previous setting so bad? Dull? Uninteresting? They went all out: Cars, airplanes, and even a 1920s radio newsie narration. For technology to have advanced so far in just 70 years was bizarre. Seeing Korra ride down the street on a polar bear was just dumb.
The show does have some bright spots. The voice work was well done. The main villain’s voice especially, which carried well his malevolent intent. Most of the voice cast hit the mark, but this does not mean the lines they said carried an enjoyable plot.
The art direction was also very good, especially noticeable in the vehicles (airships, mech suits, etc.) and specialty sets (like the bending competition arena). The character design was less impressive overall, but with solid hits like Amon and Asami. She was visually different and well done. Almost out of place among the standard dull designs of many other characters.
The new avatar is an aggressive, annoying, headstrong, unwise, impulsive (have we said annoying?) teenaged girl. She lacks respect. This is the lead protagonist of the entire show? A poor foundation indeed. If she has a true internal arc of growth, it has not started despite a whole season’s worth of episodes.
The romantic interaction was a real turn-off. Manipulative on purpose. The stiff, dull brother has a brief infatuation with Korra before getting into a relationship with the surprisingly smart, competent, pretty and undeniably interesting Asami. Then he makes an abrupt, completely witless, and disrespectful turn back to Korra. Those two dull lumps deserve each other. Never was there a romance for which we rooted less…
There were a lot of political messages. The shallow appeal of the communist, “Equalist” message apparently appealed to the moronic city populace, and we gained little care for their welfare. Nor did we for the feckless and impotent ruling council swayed by the underhanded antics of every bad guy that came along. The whole season felt insular and small.
The most fun we had with this season was during professional arena bending games shown in the first few episodes (and then stopped in lieu of stupider plot prospects). It was an interesting set up with engagement zones and 3-person teams, each set up with water, fire, and earth benders.
If this show was no relation to the original Avatar series, and just called “Fred’s Elemental Powers Adventure,” we’d cut it more slack. But it’s not. So do the franchise justice, producers.
At the rate technology is advancing in the Airbender universe, Korra’s grandchild will be the space avatar of distant world Rigel 12…
Check out our Avatar related Takes:
She’s a jerk in a world of jerks, weaklings, and megalomaniacs.