Episode 8, Book 1 (Air) of Avatar: The Legend of Korra aired yesterday. We’re a little bit past the halfway point of the first season, which has a total of 12 episodes. So, as the consummate Avatar: The Last Airbender fan, what do I think of The Legend so far?
Well, it’s no Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA)!! LOL! Okay, so I say that, not as a bad thing … but just to say that Korra is not a fluid extension of ATLA. It definitely has its own unique feel and the fast forward to the future of steampunk machines, Shanghai Jazz, motor cars and modern thugs has definitely been a bit jarring and unnerving for me. Gone are the familiar characters and the music that I immediately loved and adored … it was time to get used to a whole new Team Avatar: Korra, Naga, Bolin, Mako, Asami, Naga and Pabu. There are also some new adults in the mix. But, unfortunately, so far, Aang’s uptight son, Tenzin, and Toph’s angry daughter, Lin, are complete downers!! They are the complete opposites of the jovial, yet fierce Uncle, the hilarious nut job, King Bumi and the deadpan, yet subtlety droll Piandao!
To be honest, all of the characters have been hit and miss for me so far. Actually, let me take that back. It’s more that I am not in LOVE with any character the way that I was with ATLA. From the third or fourth episode of the original, I fell in love with Uncle, then it was Sokka and don’t get me started on the cuteness and mischievous gluttony of Momo. Pabu is cute … but he’s no Momo … though it seems he has a similar appetite. And I doubt that there will ever be a “Naga Alone.”
Then there are the more frequent anime moments and the romances that aren’t quite my cup of tea. I know that Aang immediately had a thing for Katara … Sokka had his moment with Suki in the Warriors of Kyoshi, which was only four episodes into the series. But … I don’t know … the sentiments in ATLA felt more organic and authentic whereas, in Korra, things feel forced to me. The whole Korra, Mako, Asami, Bolin love “square,” and the frequency of reference to it, is more than I can take. I mean, they had an entire episode devoted to it already!!! It feels so much like filler … I know ATLA had “The Great Divide,” but they had 20 episodes and 3 seasons, 1 episode wasn’t such a loss ;).
And then, there’s this issue that I have with the frequency with which Korra finds herself knocked out. I mean, c’mon!!! I know that she’s not a fully realized Avatar, but she’s close! She can’t do better than this? I feel like I’m watching Superman: TAS, where he constantly got his a@#$ handed to him until the very end of each episode. And shoot, Korra’s track record isn’t as good as Supes, because she is NOT ending the episodes on top!! *lol*
Okay, so yeah, I’m not loving everything about the series. It has yet to really hit its stride with me. There have been some really great episodes, but just when I think it’s getting really good … we hit a bump in the road. That being said, let’s talk about the things that I am loving. Gorgeous sets and colors, Melo’s lumpy head, “flashbacks” of adult Aang, Sokka, Toph and an angry man (who looks like an older Admiral Zhao to me), chi blockers, lightening benders, metalbending police, scary a@#$ Amon and his bending stealing powers, secrets yet revealed, wicked awesome fight scenes and, most recently, Tarlok exhibiting a fearsome display of bloodbending!
So yeah, let’s just say that, though I’m not in LOVE with Korra, I am firmly in my seat for the ride! I can’t wait to see her really connect with her spiritual side and visit the Spirit World, talk to Aang, enter the Avatar state and airbend. I also can’t wait to find out how Zuko and his mother reunited, why Uncle Iroh went to the Spirit World (I know that one is wishful thinking), who is still alive (Toph? Zuko? Suki? Anyone?) and if Koh will keep his promise to Aang, “We’ll meet again.” I know that some of these things are coming eventually, though they may not manifest exactly the way that I expect.
Speaking of expectations, I had none that Korra would be better than ATLA or the same … but I do count on it being a really good story. And, though I miss the BoomerAang Gang ;), I would not have had Michael and Bryan drag out Aang’s story for anything. ATLA was good and it was perfect and it was beautiful. I am soooo happy with how it ended and that they had the integrity to say, “This story is over” instead of attempting to prolong it for the money and the fans. To me, ATLA is the perfect trilogy the way that Star Wars Episodes IV, V and VI were … you see what happened when George Lucas tried to mess with perfection? Ughhh.
And, though Korra is no Aang, I think that she will be an Avatar to reckon with in her own right. I’m not going anywhere and will be riding this one out until the very end, because I have faith that Bryan and Michael won’t let us down ;).
With that, I’ll leave you with one of the most poignant and moving moments of ATLA. The character Mako is named after the late, great and inimitable voice behind the hilarious, yet powerful Uncle Iroh. Mako died during the taping of the second season of ATLA and they pay tribute to him during the episode, “Tales of Ba Sing Se,” where sings to the only son he lost in the war.
I tear up every time.
So, what do you think of The Legend so far?