Legend of Korra: Season One Ending Thoughts (Spoiler Lite)

I just watched the finale for the first season of Legend of Korra, and I have to say I truly have mixed feelings about it.

As I mentioned in my previous review, Korra is a heck of an impressive show. It’s been a great series in so many ways, and I think this is what makes the finale such a let-down for me. Over the course of the season the creators have taken such care in developing the characters and nuturing the story along. The pacing of the show, and the themes they’ve been weaving have been a beautiful display of animation artistry.

Then it’s like they suddenly noticed they just had 2 episodes left and panicked.

“Oh crap! We’re out of time! We have to end this!”

And suddenly all that artistry went out the window in the name of just getting the darn thing finished and the major plotlines resolved.

Now, there is a possible reason for this. When Korra was originally planned, it was supposed to just be a single season, or at least that was the official announcement. I have a slightly different theory based on what I just watched.

I think the producers wrote this show to be the first of several seasons, and the pacing and presentation clearly represent that. But, somewhere during late production on the show, Nickelodeon (the company paying for it) suddenly decided that it was only going to be a single season show. (This was very likely around the time that the Avatar live-action movie bombed horribly in the box office.) I think they decided that the whole Avatar franchise was done, and basically decided to cut their losses.

So they told the producers to wrap it up, and suddenly there was a mad rush to get everything done story-wise before the last episode. This would explain a great deal of the way the show is paced and presented, and that there seems to be a lot of unfollowed threads in the show as presented. (For example, what happened to Mokko and Bolin’s coach? The guy they clearly intended to be a major character and likely alternate mentor to Korra? He just vanished after an episode or so.)

So the producers scrambled, crammed the whole thing into a single season, and then presented it to the suits at Nickelodeon. It was only then that the suits actually realized that they had a huge potential hit on their hands, and their reaction was –

“Make more!”

“But, you just forced us to finish it!”

“I don’t care! Make more! Here’s money!”

So, they’re making more. Although lord knows why, because they tied things up at the end of the first season so well and tightly there really isn’t a whole lot of room left. Maybe they’ll do a time jump, I don’t know.

All I know is, that last episode was a mess, and I’m sorely disappointed in the sheer amount of wasted potential. For example, the Equalists actually did have a point, and they clearly also had a large social following among non-benders who were tired of bender rule. (However beneficient they are.) They could have at least given us a look into what life was like for non-benders, or even better, worked toward an end where Korra helped bring benders and non-benders into a more equal relationship. (She is supposed to bring balance to the world, after all. Wouldn’t that apply to non-benders too?) Amon’s real goals were selfish, but his stated goals were noble in their own way.

At the end of this story, Korra and Amon may as well never have come to Republic City, and if they hadn’t both come the world would have been almost exactly the same as it is. Think about it. Nothing has really changed in this setting, not a single thing. They both came, did their thing, and left. But had no effect on the setting at all, except for their few friends. Ang literally reshaped his world, what has Korra done?

Maybe they’ll fix that when they get to second season. Who knows?

Rob

Stuff I watched this week

Avatar: The Legend of Korra– a friend sent me a link to a slightly grainy copy of the pilot episode of the new Avatar series. I have to confess, I’ve only watched a handful of episodes of the original series. I’ve tried to watch it a couple times, but it always failed to keep my attention despite being very well done. Korra seems a bit more up my alley, and is extremely well all around. I found myself entranced by the pilot and enjoyed it greatly, although I do wonder what exactly it is they’re setting up. It almost seems like Korra is to be Republic City’s resident superhero or something, which could be an interesting twist. I adore the setting they’ve created with it too, an odd mix of 1920’s American culture with a heaping dose of Chinese culture thrown in, a bit like the legendary city Shanghai was during the early part of the 20th century. A+

GoBuster– Each year Toei puts out a new Sentai series, and each year I watch the pilot hoping that it won’t be awful out of a sense of nostalgia for series like Timeranger, Bioman and Jetman. Pretty much every year they disappoint me, especially recently, so I was shocked to discover that this year’s sentai is actually pretty good! It’s a Spy-Themed Sentai this year, and they’re going out of their way to try to be more like a superspy series instead of a generic sentai series. The production values are great, they have a good (if typical) premise as to why the badguys are showing up, and they actually did something different with the badguy giant monsters for once. (The bad guys seem to actually attack in pairs, a human-sized monster of the week backed up by a slightly customized giant robot.) A lot of thought was also put into how (at least the pilot) is filmed as well. I might not watch it for long, but I will definitely give it a couple episodes. You can find it on Youtube subbed in English. B

PRIEST– This is a movie based on a Korean comic of the same name about a post-apocalyptic future where humans fought a great war with vampires and the remaining surviving humans live in giant walled cities. The Priests (read: Jedi) are the supersoldiers who won the war for humanity, and are now treated like crap since the vampries are gone. (or are they….? Dun Dun DUN!) This is an odd movie, which like Korra is a weird fusion of Asian and American aethestics that produce something visually unique in its own way. Of course, the things that aren’t unique are the plot or the writing, which are fair, but neither especially good or bad.  Actually, the writing style did remind me of Korean Manhua (comics) I’ve read, and had all the poor elements I associate with them as well- stilted uneven storytelling, odd dialogue, and weird moments of comedy. (They produce fricken amazing Historical Dramas, why can’t they produce good comics?) The fights were fairly well done, and the odd thing is that the acting wasn’t bad, in fact it was pretty good! The movie’s cast are all A-List and B-List American actors! They just have really mediocre material to work with. It’s showing on the Movie Channels here in Canada right now. C+

Justice League: DOOM– This is such an odd animated movie. It’s based on a comic by Grant Morrison, voiced by the cast of the old Justice League animated series (together one last time!), and produced by the team doing the current Young Justice TV show who even use the Young Justice character designs for the League. Considering all of these elements were A-List, you’d think it would be an amazing film, but the result is a little underwhelming. It’s not a bad story or premise, and the presentation is good, but its a little too action-oriented for its own good and loses most of its depth in favor of- “and they fight!”. The only one who gets any characterization in it is Vandal Savage, who is oddly the main badguy in the Young Justice TV series as well. (I think the current producer guy adores him, which is kinda refreshing in a way since he’s a really underused villain.) It looks great, and if you’re a fan its worth seeing, but I can only give it a B+.