We just watched the latest (I think) episode of Legend of Korra, “The Aftermath.” I’m continuing to really enjoy this show for a number of reasons.
MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD
Pacing: One of the things that bugged me was the love triangle between Korra, Mako, and Asami. It felt, not necessarily cliche, but easy. It’s an oft-repeated trope, one that could push characters into more cardboard, stereotypical roles and — if other shows are any example — drag out for far too long.
Instead, Asami’s character quickly developed more depth and conflict. The plot moved along, changing her role in the story. The conflict between Korra and Asami progressed through conflict into understanding and sympathy. I loved the quiet moment at the end where Korra tells Mako, “She’s going to need you.”
I’ve seen that pacing elsewhere, and I appreciate that the show doesn’t seem to get bogged down. There’s always a sense of movement.
Lin Beifong continues to be awesome. In many ways, I think she’s my favorite character. Partly because she’s an older woman kicking all sorts of ass. Partly because she, more than anyone else I’ve seen, seems to take full advantage of her bending abilities. The firebenders throw fire. Earthbenders throw rocks. Beifong, on the other hand, manipulates metal cables like Spider-Man, grows blades from her armor to punch through mechs, and seems to push the “What else can I do with this?” angle.
Complexity: The scene with Tahno’s character really jumped out at me. This is a character who’s introduced as a full-on asshole. He’s arrogant, he cheats, and you really wanted Korra to kick his butt in the tournament. Instead, the White Falls Wolfbats won … and thus became the targets of an Equalist attack.
In the next episode, you see Tahno without his powers, and he’s utterly broken. Korra feels for him. She knows what he lost and how close she came to losing her own bending. It was a fairly short scene, but that’s all it took.
The relationship between Tenzin and Lin Beifong is another interesting example. Their history, the contrast of their apparent discomfort with how well they work together in a crisis … I have no idea where that’s going, but I like the dynamic, and at this point I’m trusting the show not to go somewhere overly cliche with it.
While there are certainly characters who seem flat-out Evil, at least at first, I appreciate that things generally aren’t presented in a simplistic black-and-white way. Neither people nor power are simple, and this show respects that fact.
The Animation: This is a very pretty show, particularly in the way it portrays movement and the grace of the different benders. I get done watching, and other cartoons suddenly seem clunkier.
Trusting the Viewers: I was trying to figure out how to phrase this last bit, and “trust” is the closest I can come. I’ve never seen a single episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but it hasn’t stopped me from enjoying Korra. It doesn’t surprise me that they wanted a show that could welcome new viewers as well as old, but it struck me that there just isn’t a lot of exposition or hand-holding, period. There’s no talking down, no assuming that things will be too complicated or difficult to understand. Elements are explained as they become relevant to the story.
I know there are things I’m missing from Avatar, but I can catch up on my own, and I like that they don’t slow down the story to spoon-feed information.
In Conclusion: Okay, I get it. I’m officially a fan, and I have added Avatar: TLA to my list of things to catch up on (when I find the time).