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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Legend of Korra season 1 review!

Alright, I can finally review the sequel to my favorite cartoon ever! Yeah! Let's do this!

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But I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself. What exactly is The Legend of Korra? It's the sequel to a cartoon called Avatar: The Last Airbender that, as previously stated, was basically my favorite anything ever when I was a kid. And you are going to have to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender first because A) some characters from Avatar return. B) It's easier to understand the concepts behind the franchise through Avatar. And C) there are PLENTY of references to events that happened in the original series.

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But if you have never watched the original series, I shall do my best to explain the concept behind the franchise as a whole. Basically, in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend of Korra, there are people known as Benders who possess the ability to manipulate the four elements (Earth, Fire, Air, and Water!). However, the Avatar is the only one that can use multiple elements simultaneously. Furthermore, the Avatar's role in the universe is to maintain balance and peace. The Avatar is also kind of like a Time Lord from Doctor Who in the sense that if the Avatar dies, they are reborn anew. Unlike Time Lords, they make it clear that each Avatar is NOT just the same character in a new body, but rather separate entities that just carry on the title of Avatar. Example: In the original series, the Avatar was a 12-year-old kid named Aang who was born into the Air Nomads (Airbending monks) and Aang was pretty much a pacifist, basically refusing to fight back in most situations unless it was for self-defense. However, the Avatar of Legend of Korra is, well, Korra, a 20-something-year-old woman who is notably more hot-headed than Aang. Also, I just got to say I love the irony of the fact that Korra was born into the Water Tribe, which are Waterbenders, but the element that Korra herself uses most when fighting anything is Fire (at least until she learns how to use Air, at that point she alternates).

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Something I would like to mention is seeing as there are four seasons to this show, I will review each one separately. Anyway, on with the actual review.

The premise of The Legend of Korra is that it is set 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Aang has, unfortunately, passed on, which means the universe gets a new Avatar; Korra.

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Korra, who is basically the opposite of Aang, masters not one but three Elements in the span of one episode (to be fair, she was raised by an organization called the White Lotus for 90% of her life and she had 15 years in-universe time to learn), but struggles to learn Airbending even with the help of Aang's son, Tenzin (voiced by J.K. Simmons!). Tenzin's responsibility as a political leader in the Victorian Era-esque Republic City requires him to leave the compound where Korra was being raised. And, being the hot-head she is, Korra follows him even though basically everyone sans Katara (if you watched the original series you know who Katara is!) told her not to. Now I just got to say that Korra is actually a really fun character. She is nothing like Aang at all, and part of the reason why I like Korra is due to how different she is from Aang. Also, I still get a kick out of the fact it took Aang no less than THREE WHOLE SEASONS to learn how to use the other Elements. Something I like about Korra is the fact that due to being raised by the White Lotus it becomes incredibly obvious that she has been over-sheltered (the only things that the White Lotus taught her about appears to be how to be the Avatar and that's it. They didn't teach her how to drive, or how to use money, and it's a miracle she can read/write... Wow, the White Lotus suck at their job lol).

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Before I continue I would like to point out that Tenzin is arguably one of the best characters in the show. But I'm being biased since I wind up always liking the cool mentor type character and Tenzin is the coolest of mentors. Also, Tenzin's entire family makes me laugh. His youngest son, Meelo, is a *Pokey-mon Master, his eldest daughter, Jinora, is a Jedi, and his middle daughter, Ikki, is a My Little Pony character on steroids (heck, in one episode she discovers a herd of Sky Bison and gives them MLP style names!).

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By far the best introduction to a character

During her little adventure in Republic City, she meets two brothers, Mako and Bolin.

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Mako is a Firebender who also got a job as an athlete in a sport known as Pro-Bending, as well as Korra's love interest for 87.5% of the series. Personally, I wasn't the biggest fan of Mako. I mean, I didn't DISLIKE him, but he just felt he was created just to fill the role of the token love interest for the main heroine. He gets better in later seasons, but here he's just... Okay... His name entertains me a little because Mako is the name of 4-year-old kid from Digimon Tamers who has Impmon has his partner Digimon, which is slightly ironic since Impmon's special attack in that series has him throwing fire balls, and Mako here is a Firebender, which means he can (among other things) shoot fireballs out of his hands. I also like how his fighting style has him fighting like a medium-weight boxer to reinforce the fact that Mako is an athlete.

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Bolin on the other hand is basically the opposite of Mako, since he is a very lovable character that also stands out. In fact, Bolin is my second favorite character in the franchise (the first being Varrick but he doesn't appear until Season 2). Anyway, Bolin is an Earthbender who is also a Pro-Bending athlete (he's even on the same team as Mako!), and also as some of the funniest moments in the show.

Together, Korra, Mako, and Bolin compete in the championship tournament while Korra tries to learn how to use Airbending and trying to stop of group of terrorists known as the Equalists from destroying the city.

But what's a good story without a villain?

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This lovely gentleman right here is Amon, founder and leader of the Equalists. He is the main antagonist of Season 1 and is a really good villain. "But wait!" you ask. "How can a villain be good!?". I'm not talking about morally good, I'm talking quality good. Now let me explain the four types of villains you can have in a cartoon/movie/video game franchise. There's Type One, which I will call the **Darth Vader type because Darth Vader is the perfect example. A Villain that oozes cool factor and/or charm, while also having a reasonable/believable reason to be evil in the first place. Type Two, which I like to call the ***Team Rocket type. A Villain who is so funny and/or pathetically incompetent that you almost feel bad for them. Next up is my personal favorite of the bunch, the ****D-Reaper type. Basically a villain that is the stuff of nightmares. And finally, Type Four, the Earth Queen type. Someone who is boring, generic, and doesn't even FEEL like a threat to the heroes. Amon is both the Darth Vader type and the D-Reaper type. He has the cool factor and believable reasoning (Amon is the leader of a group of terrorists known as the Equalists who are sick and tired of life pandering to Benders while leaving regular folks high and dry) while also being surprisingly creepy (he can steal a Bender's powers in a process that bears a disturbing resemblance to lobotomy). I actually really like Amon as a villain, and his quest for equality for all brings me to something I love in storytelling in general, which is grey-and-gray morality (when both sides of the conflict thoroughly believe that what they are doing is the right thing to do and whatever the other party is doing is horrendously wrong), which is rarely seen in children's shows like Legend of Korra. Oh, and random fun fact, he's voiced by Steve Blum who ALSO voices Guilmon and Yamaki, both of whom are from Digimon Tamers as well as Starscream from Transformers: Prime, as well as Orochimaru and Zabuza, both of whom originate from Naruto. Basically, anytime Steve Blum voices a character in anything, I'm probably going to like that character.

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On another note, I really like the setting of this show, Republic City. It's basically a 30's era, Victorian-esque, Steam Punk New York with a dash of Eastern influence. Which is awesome because I love Steam Punk and I love Eastern culture (and foreign culture in general).

Something I found interesting was the fact that while Avatar: The Last Airbender had Aang and friends travelling the world, literally the entire first season of Legend of Korra took place in one location. Which is not a bad thing, but it helps give the show a separate identity.

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The story for season 1 was mostly good. It's a little slow paced at the beginning mostly because of the Pro-Bending matches, in fact it was actually better once the Pro-Bending arc ended. Why was it better, you ask? Simple! While the concept of turning part of the franchise's most well-known trait into a sport is cool on paper, the matches themselves often got repetitive. The only match that was cool to watch were the very first one (for obvious reasons) and the final match (the only match that wasn't repetitive and actually bothered pointing out what kind of moves are prohibited and which ones are legal).

And that covers it for characters and story, but what about graphics and music. Well, the visuals are amazing. Being based on the art style used in most anime series really pays off in the visuals department (NOTE: Legend of Korra is NOT an anime itself. It may be heavily inspired by anime but it is a western animation, which is just a fancy way of saying it's a cartoon). The music is also amazing, as it takes the Eastern theme of the original series and runs with it.

But aside from the slow and repetitive beginning that is the Pro-Bending arc, Season 1 was good. Was it as good as the original series. I give it a 9/10. If Mako ever did anything here that didn't seem like the token, pretty boy love interest guy and had the Pro-Bending arc been shorter, it would have been perfect. In My Opinion.

*-You see, that joke is funny because Meelo has a pet lemur-bat called Pokey and Tenzin offers to teach him (quote) "to be a Master Trainer". The Pokemon reference was basically inevitable.

**-If you DON'T know who Darth Vader is, congrats on not knowing who the most well-known character in the history of anything ever is.

***- "Prepare for Trouble! And Make It Double! To Protect the World from Devastation! To Unite all Peoples Within our Nation! To Denounce the Evils of Truth and Love! To Extend our Reach to the Stars Above! Jessie! James! Team Rocket Blast Off at the speed of Light! Surrender Now or Prepare to Fight! Meowth that's right!"

****- D-Reaper was the final major villain of Digimon Tamer and continuously creeps me out to this day.

P.S. Almost forgot to mention that although Legend of Korra is rated TV-Y7 (basically this rating means the show is for ages 5 years and up), this show gets really dark. Heck, Season 1 ends with a corrupt politician committing murder-suicide on his own brother. How in the Earth Kingdom did this show get TV-Y7? it should totally be TV-PG.

P.P.S. I guess you could say that the villain of Season 1 is Amon-ster.

P.P.P.S. Solomon Grundy was born on Amon-day.