Sunday, 18 March 2012

Legend of Korra: First Episode Review

It turns out that the first episode was posted early on the Nickpress website... ANYWAY, here is my recap and review of the long awaited show.

Welcome to Republic City
- Recap
The show begins with a new introduction, voiced by JK Simmons' character Tenzin, who quickly brings the audience up to speed about what's happened sinnce the end of the last show. The end of the 100 Year War, the formation of Republic City, etc. Basically the events of the current Dark Horse series, the Promise. The animation is gorgeous.

The tale starts some time in the past, with four members of the organisation, the Order of the White Lotus, arriving at a house in the South Pole. Due to the lights in the background, they've had something of a population surge since the one or two villages that existed at the start of season one of Airbender.

The OWL are here looking for the Avatar, it being roughly two years since the death of Avatar Aang, meaning that they've been out looking for his reincarnation. They are somewhat wary when being let into Korra's family's house, explaining that they've been and examined Water Tribe children from both the North and South Pole whose parents claimed that they were the new Avatar, what makes Korra's parents so sure that she's the one?

Korra's rather frazzled parents give each other a smug smile and call her into the room. The toddler promptly smashes in a wall with earthbending, yells "I'm the Avatar, ya gotta deal with it!" and firebends at the stunned members of the OWL. This starts off the ways that Korra is different from Aang, namely Aang didn't know that he was the Avatar until he was ten (normally it's sixteen) and he had to spend roughly a year learning the other elements. Korra however... doesn't. She's something of a prodigy amongst Avatars.

Time skips forward to teenage Korra, who is completing the last parts of her firebending training with the OWL. The scene showcases both her skill at bending, her inherent badassness. In  a cameo from the previous show, a now elderly Katara is present, and is watching the new Avatar proudly, though the other members of the OWL are concerned about her lack of restraint.

Korra defeats her two sparring partners, and enthusiastically runs up the OWL for some praise. They tell her, however, that although she's excelled at the physcial side of bending since she was a little girl, but she's also completely ignored the spiritual side of it (another difference between her and the monk Aang). She attempts to correct them by saying that she's not ignored the spiritual side, it just isn't as easy to her, which is why she should be allowed to progress to her airbending training, as Tenzin is "Mr Spiritual". The OWL turn to Katara is see if she thinks that she's ready... and she does. Hm, I wonder if a little bias has come into play here.

After being given the go ahead to start the last part of her training, Korra goes to tell her best friend the news. Her best friend being Naga, the polar beardog. Aww, she's show huge and potentially dangerous. ^^ They decide to go on a stroll outside of the OWL compound, though its apparent that Korra has gotten into trouble for wandering off before. They go for a picturesque run in the snow, though she is overseen by some OWL members while she's doing so.

Several days later, Tenzin and his kids arrive via air bison, evidently Appa wasn't the last one. Tenzin and his kids' personalities are quickly set up, and they're for the most part likeable. Though the hypergirl and the bizarrely troll-like son are kind of annoying. The older, smarter daughter attempts to ask Katara about her old adventures, like how she help Zuko find his lost mother (a loose plot thread from the old show), but is immediately cut off by her younger sister babbling about how old her grandmother is.Tenzin's wife is introduced, and she also seems pretty cool, though somewhat frazzled by her children's antics.

Tenzin spies Korra, and after some pleasantries, hits her with the news that he won't be moving to the North Pole to teach her airbending as planned. It seems that there is trouble back in Republic City, and that he has to try and get it sorted there before he can concentrate on helping Korra complete her training. Korra suggests that she moves to Republic City to continue her training there, but she's cut off by the older OWL member who tells her that it's too dangerous in the city for her. And apparently it was Aang that gave the OWL the new mission statement of protecting the Avatar while they learned the elements, cool. Also, a nice little detail, Tenzin has vegetarian food, reflecting his father's dietary choice, while Katara has some kind of meaty thing. Korra goes off in a sulk in response to her rather blunt refusal.

Tenzin and co. all go back home, and Korra makes a decision: she's going to run away to Republic City by herself and learn airbending that way. Katara, being at least somewhat genre savvy, catches her in Naga's hut, though explains that Korra has to make her own way as the Avatar. She then gives a little "passing the torch" speech, where she confirmed that her brother Sokka and many of her friends are now dead, and it's time for a new generation to take over the world saving gig. Korra says goodbye to her, breaks out of the compound to say goodbye to her parents and then heads out...

Korra gets to Republic City via a cruiseliner, thus showing the progression from the old fantasy setting of the original series into the more 1920s style one of the new one. The ship comes across as a Asian-version of the Titanic, and is generally rather cool looking. Korra is hitching a lift in the hold, which contains a similarly Asian-themed car (called a Satomobile, apparently), which considering it looks like a Model T Ford may imply something about it's creator, who I believe will be appearing later.

First look at Republic City, and it's awesome. It gives the impression that it's a city that works and has people that live in it. Korra briefly does the tourist thing of looking at the buildings and the statue of Aang in the harbour, before deciding to go straight to Tenzin's island in the bay... unfortunately Naga has other ideas, and runs off for food first. Naturally polar bear-sized creature running down the street isn't exactly good for traffic safety, and causes a number of accidents.

Unfortunately, economics get the better of Korra, and it turns out that the fact that she has no money means that she can't get any food. This problem is solved by Korra going to one of the local parks, and then cooking and eating some of the fish from the ornamental lakes... yeah, her adaption to urban life will definately be interesting. Suddenly, a creepy guy leaps out of a bush at her.

Turns out that he's a homeles person, and that there are a number of bums that call the park there home. This suprises Korra, who thought that everyone in the city was "living it up". Predictably a cop shows up to tell Korra off for fishing in a park, and she runs off. Bush-Man waves enthusiastically at her she she leaves.

Now it's time for the introduction of the villain. A demonstrator is yelling about how people are tired of living under the tyranny of the benders, and is calling for people to join the Equalists. They even have an impressive poster of their leader, Amon. Korra is riding past at the time, and does the worst thing possible when dealling with a man on a soapbox with politic views: getting into a debate. The crowd quickly turns against her, leading to Korra claiming that the protester is "oppressing himself!" resulting in a "That doesn't even make any sense!" response.

It's now a little later, and Korra and Naga have wandered into the more downtown area of RC. They stop to ask for directions, just when a bunch of gangsters attempt to roll a shopkeeper for protection money. Korra intervenes, using the word Hoodlum, no less. And apparently the gangsters in Republic City are in fact called Triads, which is good to know. The gangsters attempt to attack Korra, but things logically don't go well for the criminals while at the same out outting Korra as the Avatar. Hey, the Cabbage Man's relative is the phonograph salesman!

The fightscene is actually pretty good, with the impacts looking like they actually hurt. Unfortuantely for Korra, her method of crimefighting actually caused more property damage than the gangsters would most likely have caused if they'd carried out their threats. Whoops. The disturbance causes the arrival of the metalbending cops, who arrive in their very BTAS airship. They arrest the badguys, and also attempt to arrest Korra too, due to the whole property damage thing, she runs off.

The resulting chasescene is a lot of fun, in terms of the score used, the animation of both Korra and the cops, and the ways that they manage to keep up with her despite being Avatar and stuff. Hm, I'm beginning to think that this show might not be as entirely onesided as the previous one was on occasion. Korra is eventually arrested when the police work out that if they stay out of range they can just get her with their cables.

Korra is taken to police headquarters, which has a huge golden statue of Toph on the front. Toph's daughter, Chief Lin Bei Fong, is reading a list of charges of Korra's crimes out to her. She's kind of a hardass, though it does kind of make sense that she knows who Korra is and that she's professasional enough to not just let her off her antics just because she's the reincarnation of one of her mother's best friends. Particularlly since it's likely that Lin is old enough to have actually have known Aang in person.

Tenzin, who is a councilman in the city, arrives to bail Korra out/tell her off. He basically agrees to take responsiblity for her actions and pay for the damages (huh, I guess that he would be fairly wealthy wouldn't he?) in exchange for deporting Korra back to the South Pole until he can begin training her. Korra tries to explain that Katara said that her destiny laid in Republic City, causing an outburst from Tenzin to "Not bring my mother into this!". Korra explains that she understands why Tenzin had to stay, what with the homeless people, the crime and the antibending folks, but just as RC needs him it needs her too.

Tenzin takes her back to his island, pausing to look sadly at the gigantic statue of his father en route. Just as Korra to about to accompany the OWL back to the South Pole on their private ship, Tenzin's kids show up and act disappointed that Korra isn't coming to stay with them. This, combined with Tenzin's musings about his dad, causes him to change his mind, agreeing to let Korra stay so that they could guide RC back towards the ideal that Aang intended for city, and restore balance. Korra then picks up both Tenzin and his kids up in a bearhug (yikes, she's strong!) in gratitude.

Next scene, they are officially welcoming Korra to the city, complete with a huge crowd of reporters. She states that she's here to serve the people of Republic City, and is happy to be there bringing Avatar Aang's vision back into the world. But, over the radio, Amon is listening to Korra's announcement, revealling that they apparently have plans in store for her. Plans which will have to be accelerated now that Korra has appeared in the city early...

- Review
Very, very strong first episode of the show. The themes and personalities of the characters have been established. The transition between the old setting and the new one was well handled, and I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of this show.

Korra managed to comme across as being earnest and headstrong without becoming a stereotype, which was a nice feature. I was worried that her being as strong as she is from an early age might lead to her being some thing of a jerk, but she seems fairly balanced as a character thus far. Janet Varney, her voice actress, also does a good job at making Korra's personality come across too, which was good.

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