The Legend of Korra Season 1 Wrap-Up: A Delight to Watch, Flaws and All

As a sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend Of Korra had some sizable shoes to fill. Its predecessor achieved a level of maturity and accessibility that few series billed as “children’s programming” (whatever that term means) have, and helped to launch a successful franchise of video games, comic books, and toys. (Repeat after me: There was no movie.)

It also created—thanks its captivating storytelling, well-choreographed action, stellar acting, and engaging (and diverse) characters—a passionate and devoted fandom that was completely geared up for a story that continued in that same universe. It’s a fandom that, like any fandom, will compare the two series and debate over which one is “best.”

I’m not going to do that as I discuss Korra’s first season. First, it’s not fair to do so, since Korra’s not even done yet (we still have another 14-episode season to go). Second, Korra and A:TLA have different structures, tones, and thematic concerns that making declaring “best” a tricky thing. Certainly you can prefer one to the other, but they’re different series, at least so far.

So when I sat down to collect my thoughts on Korra's first season, I decided to look at some of the less-than-enthuastic fan reviews that have been posted to the TV.com page for Korra to get a sense of how those who didn’t love the series were seeing and experiencing, and where their frustrations were centered. I’m not looking to change anyone’s mind, but I do want to put those frustrations in a dialogue with my own enjoyment of the series in an effort to not only refine my own perceptions, but hopefully to refine some viewers' frustrations as well.


Korra is really plot-driven, as opposed to character-driven (and the short season hasn’t helped)

If there’s one thing I think we can all agree on, likers and dislikers alike, it’s that Korra is very focused on its narrative about the Equalist revolution within Republic City, and how it threatens the very existence of benders everywhere. This has led to a number of gripes that the series’ characters aren't as well-defined or unique as those of A:TLA. And I think it is a legitimate critique.

Korra’s characters are all fairly flat (Korra is hot-tempered and rebellious; Bolin is goofy; Mako is...aloof?) and none of have been given a real chance to develop beyond their initial traits. Certainly the shorter season is partially responsible. A:TLA used its episodic, "adventure roadshow" format to allow its characters space to breathe and develop, but it had more space to tell those stories. By the time you reach the final push of episodes in any given season of A:TLA (and certainly by the end of Season 3), there’s a real sense of attachment to the characters that Korra just hasn’t made the time for.

Yes, the time spent with pro-bending stuff was largely to help establish the New Team Avatar dynamics, and sports are a good way to develop the sense that characters know each other, like each other, and can work together, but apart from little tidbits about their pasts (Mako, Bolin, and Asami’s parents) the room to stretch the characters was never really there.

I feel like this need for plot was made even more obvious by the finale itself. With most of her bending removed, the series’ second season would benefit from a chance for Korra to explore her identity and what happens when that most identifiable trait—being the Avatar—is stripped away. But again the series backed away from that opportunity, restored her bending, and nullified the chance for sustained character development.

Elsewhere, characters moved around and responded as needed to developments to keep things going or the character development came a bit too late, so while some things worked better than others (Tenzin and Lin’s history was a particular highlight for me), Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko didn’t do much to create a sense of investment in the show's characters. And without much investment, it can make caring about both of those things rather difficult...


But what a what an engaging and thoughtful plot!

I’m willing to excuse some of the lackluster character work because I found the Equalist revolution and its politics to be well-executed and discussion-generating. The notion of bender-led oppression was something that the show never sold me on until we actually started seeing it happen in “When Extremes Meet,” but it still encouraged us to think about things critically.

Is it okay that the ruling council is currently comprised entirely of benders? And what about the police force that is entire made up of metalbenders (in a city that seems designed to make use of both their metal and earthbending abilities)? While it’s not oppression per se, it’s certainly not “equal”-seeming either.

While those seeds took root in our minds, thanks to Amon’s penchant for speechifying, when Tarrlok began to mobilize the police force against non-benders (how wonderfully clever was the use of the police barricades as both a way to keep people contained and then using them to people people truly contained?) we started to see how the series is carefully challenging those preconceived notions that we may have come into the series with.

And seeing as it is a “kids’ show,” Korra deserves credit for (hopefully) encouraging its intended audience to think critically about what it means to have power, who should have power, and what the justification for that power is. If the intended audience isn’t, I certainly hope thoughtful parents are maybe nudging their kids to do so.


Republic City, modernization, and the loss of fantasy

If there is one other major complaint about Korra, it's the series’ “steampunk-lite” setting. The use of cars, electricity, and mecha suits coupled with the de-emphasis on the mysticism of A:TLA all contributed to a notion that Korra is a bit more generic feeling, and ultimately a betrayal of its predecessor’s fantasy roots.

I’m not exactly in that camp. Korra is still, in my mind, a fantasy series even with its use of modern technology. Part of this is based on the fact that bending continues to be a force in the world, but the other part is that it seems like a natural evolution of the series’ universe—in which submarines, tanks, giant drills, and airships were all developed. Yes, some of those particular instances of technology did rely on benders, but they couldn’t forever, not without creating an odd caste system of benders as workers (and Korra hints at this, as lightning bending seems to be the source of Republic City’s power... or at least it's a green, renewable resource).

But also consider the larger thrust of the show in relation to these technological developments. What does bending (the fantastic element of the show) mean in this world with these technologies? For that matter, what does the Avatar mean now? A shift toward a more industrious society, one that is less impressed and/or concerned with the spiritual aspect of the four elements calls into question all these things.

While the series reaffirmed the need for this spiritual aspect in Season 1's painfully deus ex machina-y final moments, it did shift away from those questions at the same time. A more interesting avenue for exploring these questions would have been Korra having to figure out how to harness the Avatar state after having most of her bending removed, and whether or not the world even needed that to happen, whether or not the world still needed an Avatar.


But overall...

Those are the big, macro-level ideas I had about the first season of Korra. On a less overarching view, I found the season to be a delight to watch. The animation from Studio Mir is crisp, clean, and has a wonderful atmosphere (I loved that much of the series occurred at night). Jeremy Zuckerman’s score, a mix of 1920s jazz and ragtime with more Asian-influenced orchestral pieces, did a nice job of enhancing the series' on-screen aesthetics.

And of course there’s Joaquim Dos Santos (a.k.a. Dr. Fight) and Ki Hyun Ryu and their teams of storyboard artists (led by Ian Graham), who put together a well-directed and dynamic season, with most of the big action sequences feeling reminiscent of, but also surpassing the action sequences of A:TLA Season 2, in their wall-to-wall insanity. I’m thinking, of course of the stellar action sequences in “And The Winner Is...” and “When Extremes Meet.”



What about you? What are your thoughts on what I’ve laid out here, as well as other aspects of the show I didn’t mention, like the romance subplot (which was by far the weakest aspect of the season for me) or the important role that family ended up playing? How did you feel about the finale? What do you think Season 2 will be about, and what do you hope to see?



Noel Kirkpatrick is a co-founder of Monsters of Television and This Was Television.

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I don't have a problem with narrative driven stories, my big gripe is when you have a group like the equalists, the audience should at least be torn between the side of the benders, and the non-benders, however especially near the end the equalists were portrayed as a terrorist group. There wasn't really enough time to show enough genuine bender oppression (aside from 1 particular insider with the councilman) that justifies the existence of the equalists in the first place. Hopefully the equalists will survive Amon's defeat in a less extreme way.
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I would not say korra and mako 'cheated'. They were attracted at the first to each other though they did not admit it. Besides, mako was more or less carried away by the luxury afforded him by hiroshi sato. They found that they were both meant for each other, that's all.
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I loved this new series, I thought it was a really good story. The characters weren't orginal very similar to the old story but likeable I dont mind that.The thing I didn't like is the fact that Korra and Mako cheated on Asami. Idk if Korra even felt bad about doing it.
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well to be honest i don't agree with most if not all of you the show was awesome in fact better than A:TLA the action was more intense the plot was more mature the love triangle was more pronounced and done in a way people can truly understand and the machines are there mostly so that non-benders could pose a real threat without them it would be like you go with your fists and ill grab a flamethrower also its there to show progress A:TLA had coal-powered ships cars are not a huge advancement really the fact that amon was a blood bender makes sense because it was never about equality for him it was power same for tarrlok that is just how they were raised and he never switched sides he got his brother and left because he lost you don't have any clue if he has chosen to quit only a fool would stay in a place were your defeat is absolute you retreat and rebuild amon is no fool i promise he will be back
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The author presents some fair arguments against the show. It's completely fair to day at least some of the characters are very much flat indeed. Asami and Mako definitely quality as the most so among the main cast. I don't lament the shift to a more modern setting as much though. It's ideal ground to present new ideas, which the series has already done in spades.



Above all I'm waiting to see what they do with season 2. Season 1 has established the world setting, who these characters are, and how they relate to each other. Now it's time to develop them. We know the authors are capable of this from A:LAB. We'll see if they utilize that when our new team avatar hits the road.
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I think that this was a pretty fair review. I agree that A:TLA and Korra are two different shows and it's hard to compare them to each other, but you can compare how well each does at its "type." A:TLA had great plot, characters, and setting. Korra had a great plot and setting, but the characters were flat I agree. Of all the elements of story telling to shy away from, setting is the best choice, not characters. So no matter how exciting the plot or the setting, it didn't matter as much to me, because I wasn't as concerned about who it was happening to. I knew that Amon was the bad guy, and Korra was the good, but that wasn't enough for me. The plot was complex and that's really what kept me watching, but I caught a few of those plot devices from time to time. Luckily, as I was watching I could let them go.



Overall, Korra was a success, but not as successful as A:TLA in their separate genres or whatever you want to call them. Characters are the heart of your show, it just can't be ignored, which it seems the creators didn't mind doing, 12 show season or not.



I am still holding out for season 2 though, even with the magical happy ending and complete plot they left me with. Hopefully it will have more character development, and then maybe I will come back to season 1 caring a little more.
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@Sarautah ....No offense, but your review contradicted itself completely. "It appears to be yet another show pandering to teenage audience?" It's on Nickelodeon. Duh?. It's a KIDS show. Yes, it does appeal to a wide audience, I am in my early twenties and I loved A:TLA. I also loved Korra. You have to take the show for what it's meant to be. You don't go see a G movie and get angry that there is no crazy death fight with blood flying everywhere do you? No, you expect a certain level of maturity, and although A:TLA did it better, I think Korra did a great job of doing what it could. Especially since when it was first scripted, they were only planning on one season. So, Overall, I think the show did great. I'd give it 8/10 and I can't wait to see Season 2.
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*spoilers*



I just watched the last episode and all I can say is: "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!" I read some posts here, but did no one else feel a little... nauseous... hearing "Satomobile"? And "Republic City"? I am surprised they didn't call the airplanes "Sairplanes". Blech.



In all fairness, the episodes leading up to the season finale were actually enjoyable, despite the lack of character development and somewhat lazy writing. I particularly liked the plot line of the Equalist movement. Unfortunately, the writers destroyed the legitimacy of it by having such a lame plot contrivance as the leader, Amon, being a water-and-blood bender (who just so happens to change sides at the end for no apparent reason). Rounding out the next several annoyances: Zuko's voice, Aang's voice, snot nosed Airbender child, the old Avatar Team being central to so many characters and to fill in their underdeveloped personalities (Zuko/Iroh, Bumi/Bumi, Toph/Lin, Momo/Pabu, Sokka/Bolin, etc.), the Twilight-esque love triangle(s), Korra being relatively unscathed by Amon and Korra magically reaching the spirit world because she was sad and cried? Some of this wouldn't even matter if Mako, the trained fighter, just continued electrocuting Amon until death or incapacitation instead of pointlessly running away when he had the advantage. It wasn't like Amon was trying to kill Korra, just take her bending. I also remember lightning being a bigger deal in A:TLA than it is here. How did Amon survive that much contact without being seriously injured? Aang and Iroh sure didn't. To add insult to injury, Korra picked the man who didn't care for her over someone who did (and was actually single). Heck, they wasted too much energy on that forced and immature "love" story to begin with. They should have followed A:TLA's lead in this regard by developing their love slowly over time and instead focusing on the story and characters. Suffice it to say, season one has been a complete disappointment. I really, really wanted to love LOK, but sadly it appears to be yet another show pandering to an angst-y teenage audience.
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I really disagree on some point I think that the modernization was great. I loved the feel that it gave. I think is was showing how much things changed when the four nations could work together and what they can create, how much better life can be by working together. However I thought that the first season was alittle short. But I loved it I never missed one.
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LOK did as well as it could with the amount of episodes it had, so as a whole i am content. What puzzles me is why the creators denied having more episodes I've never seen this written but given ATLA's success i assume nick would want to milk the franchise for all it's worth. I am excited for season 2 of LOK but know that ATLA will always be the better of the two and as for this guy saying LOK's fights were better he clearly needs his eyes checked. now on to watching ATLA all over again (for the 5th time)
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I just read an article on the creator's thoughts about the season Finale. They said they prefer fewer episodes. I think they should have taken more time instead of taking us on a zipping wild ride through a crazy plot. Yeah, ok, fun ride, but it needed some "character."



Here's a link to that article. http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2012/06/22/the-legend-of-korra-creators-answer-your-questions/
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I loved it. I was disappointed to begin with because of the modernization, but the series worked well with that. Only I feel it would have been better if it were extended to more episodes to give better character development, but thats what season 2 is for :P
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Great, great and great! Loved ATLA and really love this series. I'm hoping the music will be available at some point for purchase and/or download. If you are a true fan of the series, then there should be no complaints. Nothing is perfect, and future seasons will honor all those who take issue with this first one.
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I haven't seen ATLA (but will make sure I do!) I just happen to get the LOK eps from a friend some weeks ago, and since I spent most of the day yesterday in bed running a fever and stuff I went through them all... I really liked the series. I think it is well written and honest.



I did feel that the end was a bit rushed. Did Korra need to recover her abilities in the last 2 min of the series? Maybe it was not certain they would get a S2... But id they had already greenlighted S2 then I would have been happier if S1 ended with Korra leaving on a Quest to reconnect with the other elements bending.. Just my 2 cents



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I really enjoyed this series and also agree with many of your main points. Unlike A:TLA, this story was much more plot driven than character driven. Personally, I do prefer character driven animes but that's not an implication that there can't be good plot driven stories as well.



While I did think The Legend of Korra was really good, it did feel a bit rushed. If we go back to The Last Airbender, that series spent 64 episodes surrounding the adventures of Aang learning all of the different types of bending and adventuring with his friends to try and stop the Fire Nation. Over 64 episodes, it is pretty easy to develop the characters because there is time to do it. The Legend of Korra as we know so far had a 12 episode first season and will have a 14 episode second season. That's only 26 episodes to develop Korra and the cast around her. On top of that, this show already went ahead and developed her bending so we didn't need to see the same trials and tribulations Aang had when he was learning the elements. With all that in mind, with the plot that The Legend of Korra had, I did feel they could've made this a 20-23 episode season. There were a lot of things crammed into the last two episodes that could've been explored over a longer stretch of time and given us (the fans) a better explanation of what is going on.



Personally speaking though, I do prefer shows to rush things than to draw them out longer than need be though. If I recall, The Last Airbender did have quite a few episodes that felt more like filler than an actual part of the story. If The Last Airbender did have a weakness, it's that they drew things out a lot longer than they needed to. In doing so, yes, it did have better character development, but there were times I wondered if the plot was ever going to advance.



I can't really say which one was "better" because they are two vastly different series. Comparing them is like comparing them between apples and oranges because each series has a far different goal in mind. Unlike a lot of Airbender fans, I'm not going to whine and complain about how this "wasn't as good." I remember watching the first 12 episodes of The Last Airbender and not being overly impressed right away either. It takes time and I'm keeping in mind that this series isn't over yet. Overall, The Legend of Korra is still a very good series. Of course it is far from perfect. I'm not saying there aren't any problems with it but all things considered, it is far more entertaining than a lot of "kids" shows out there.
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I mostly enjoyed the series, especially the final episodes. I understand all the complaints about things being rushed. There's only so much they can accomplish in 12 episodes and they were ambitious about trying to get it all in.



I think the biggest occurrence in the series for me was Korra and Lin getting back their bending. I had what seems to me as the opposite reaction for virtually everyone else that I've seen on blogs and forums around the net. I was ecstatic. This one thing probably saved me from skipping the next season. There are three reasons for this:



Reason 1: Just like Noel correctly points out in this article, the character development is a bit shallow. And this first season, Korra was literally beaten down throughout. While she did have some minor "victories" personally and in battles, overall, and in every major conflict, both physically and psychologically, she was defeated. Over and over she either narrowly escaped or had to be rescued. (Honestly, the only reason she was alive by the end of the season had to be that the series is named after her.) Until the final episode, in my mind, the name of the series had changed from "The Legend of Korra" to "The Tragedy of Korra", because the whole first season was shaping up just like a Greek tragedy IMHO.



Reason 2: I disagree with folks who say that Korra never "earned" getting her powers back. She gave 110% in everything she did and just because she was over matched by her circumstances and opponents does not mean she was some lame, do nothing, not worthy of being Avatar (with all the powers that commands) Quite the contrary, she kept at it until the bitter end. Only then, after being crushed and stripped of her powers at the very end, did she finally break down (as humans are want to do under such circumstances) She finally opened her mind to the spirit world and could finally receive the knowledge and power of her predecessors. So, yes, she didn't "win" to regain her powers. But she most definitely paid for them through a full season of pain and anguish, both mentally and physically.



Reason 3: This one goes back to another of Noel's excellent points. The Legend of Korra is plot driven. And there is no way I would want to sit through another airbender avatar trying to acquire the other elements. Whether or not she would have been successful at such, we've already had the wonderful A:TLA series to explore that plot. I want to see something completely different, not rehash that again.



So, now I'm looking forward to something fresh and new for next season. Definitely deeper character development. Lets see more fresh new plots and adventures. Also, let's find out what ever happened to Zuko's mother. :-)
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the H is missing in my name O.o
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The legend of Korra isn't a delight, It's a blessing sent from the heavens. ToT we need more episodes.
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more then 26 episode and i would be happy
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did anybody else find generals iroh voice of putting since they used the same voice actor to play him as zuko
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His voice seemed to be to be too high
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There are only two things I had a problem with. First and foremost, she never entered the avatar state--not even a hint of it. I don't care what people say when they hate how characters with powers can just escape hard times because of their powers, I love it. I loved the avatar state--I didn't like how she couldn't get into it, even though I understand the reasoning (she lacked the spiritual connection.)





And finally, I understand she knows all the elements, but Aang knew them all as well, but stuck with air bending mostly because that was his go-to element, and he pulled off some crazy stuff. I wish Korra stuck with water mostly and performed some amazing stuff as well.
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Eyes glowing doesn't count as a hint of the Avatar state?
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I love TLA more because it's naturally better, and I love how it was based in a time when technology was slowly advancing, which led to a cool mix near the end. As for LOK, I didn't watch it at all when it started, because I hate waiting for a show every week, so just today, I watched every single one.



I got to say, it is a great tale with some clever-ness. Amon taking away bending kept me on the edge of my seat. I like the characters even though they are a little blan (Tenzin and the metal bender (always forget her name) are my favorite characters, oddly enough).



The size of the series is going to bite them in the butt, though, because there is no room for engaging fun. In TLA there were many episodes that didn't progress the story, but we loved them because they were executed nicely--this series doesn't have that.
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ATLA is way better than LOK. Not just character development, but also morals and motifs throughout the plot are very diverse. LOK had more than one storyline and I didn't like the flow of events - a better construction was possible. Anyway, for a short season, it was great to watch.
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For those who haven't seen the final hour, it's airing on nickToons IN THE REGULAR Sunday Night 8:00 PM and 11:00 PM time periods this week. Mark your calendars.
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Im not going to lie. I loved ATLA way more than I like LOK ( i cried and cried knowing ATLA ended). Maybe because its the fact that when i watched ATLA i felt like i was part of that adventure i felt a true connection to it. The bending also seemed more pure and impressive. Also the characters all seemed to balance each other out. Team avatar Aang was caring and fun,Katara was motherly and serious. Toph was the funny slacker,and Sokka was the Wise guy that planned everything. Zuko was the hot headed pure hearted bender. I truthfully only watch LOK to see the flashbacks of Team Avatar guilty.... Anyways LOK has really weird characters. Korra is hotheaded and no caring. Mako is a jerk that can't make up his mind Hot headed. Asami seems kind of emo and HOT HEADED. The only level headed character is Bolin which can barely plan nor bend. Anyways sorry for the die hard LOK fans I'm just saying ATLA will always surpass LOK to ME.
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I actually didn't get around to watching most of TLA until after the first episode of Korra was released. I had seen the finale before (who didn't? That was a big night where everyone I knew was watching Anderson Silva, Fedor Emelinanko and TLA Finale) but only very small parts of the actual series.



Well I watched the entire series in about 4 days. That's a lot of episodes but I liked it, I had my favorite characters like I'm sure everyone did, and I enjoyed some of the themes and backstory. I felt it had a solid storyline and characters and thoroughly enjoyed watching it. I don't know that I rate it as high as the fandom does however.



So I picked up with Korra, and I do like the show but I don't agree that it's changing anything or has any deeper themes that challenge younger viewers. It certainly is not revolutionary in that regard at all. X-men:TAS handled those themes better and holds up even now. There are plenty of deeper themes in Japanese anime as well, which is mostly geared towards children (to my knowledge).



It is dangerous to proscribe lofty accomplishments to Korra because it wills trip away your enjoyment under a harsh, critical eye. If we expand our scope to video games, movies, comic books, regular books, and other sources of media that may be aimed at a younger audience it can get even worse.



So I will mostly just discuss TLA and Korra, and some basic storyline and character development, and of course enjoyment. But I also probably don't have much space to write since this is a comment and not a blog, so I'll be brief (I've already been too verbose thus far!).



Although not deeply defined, Korra has mostly likeable characters and does a good balance of comedy and seriousness, although the Avatar franchise seems to lean towards silliness and doesn't take itself too seriously most of the time. Korra has actually shown us a nice range of emotion, insecurity, confusion and growth. I like that she has flaws that are also likely for her age. Bolin is a pure comedy character but he also has his moments. Asami and Mako barely do anything and are plot vehicles, but maybe they will grow.



The first TLA had a lot of filler episodes. LOK has less filler but still does waste time on pro bending and has to find its way. Actually TLA had some epic episodes and a lot of development storyline wise (and character wise) at critical points. Filler was however interspersed throughout, although there was usually a reason for it, and maybe for pacing purposes it was better to have it.



LOK is similar in that maybe you can't really have skipped the filler. The bigger issue however is there wasn't really enough of a payoff yet. We didn't have a big build to a villain and then a standoff. Yes I understand Amon was supposed to be that climactic villain, but we didn't really get Korra growing to fight him, and we didn't even get a definitive end result from Korra, Amon was blasted out a window into water, and then his brother presumably just kills them. We're left to infer his reasons, but they aren't effectively explored or given enough time between things happening. We also didn't get the foreshadowing which occurs in great works of fiction. We just got the sympathetic back story dumped on us by the previous sort of villain, now being related to the real villain, and then we ended it all.



The Equalist movement just disappeared, it was a Bender all along, nothing really changed.



Now things can move in interesting directions in Season 2 on this. But Season 1 by itself was to me a bit of a letdown at the end. I wanted to see and feel something more. For comparison I think I enjoyed seeing Lebron James finally with a title more than seeing Korra beat Amon...and I don't even watch basketball.
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i also wonder if Amon is really dead because killing one of the most bad guys in season one was kinda lame if you ask me if he stays alive i think that he sould follow korra trying to take back the power he lost by killing her and as for Asami's Dad i also think he could turn into a power hungry bad guy in season 2 makeing it more harder for korra while faceing two people at once as they try to take the whole worlds bending away and making the little plot that it was in season 1 into a more huge plot that could blows people minds as for Amon he can also go crazy over the lost of his brother Tarrlok witch he will take his anger out on korra, and i also hope that we really do find out what happen to zuko's mother that sould at least take up 4 parts of the story showing the mother side,zuko child hood again,firelord side,and all 3 parts put togetter to make the 4th part that shows what really happen to her
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No, he's not dead. a) Korra and he didn't have a final battle. b) no body, no death.
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The Cabbage Corp. part was awesome. And my biggest hope for season 2 is that they explain.... ZUKO'S MOTHER !! It was an awesome cliffhanger at the end of "The Last Airbender" and I'm so curious about it.
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Zuko's Mother will be explained in 'The Search' - a graphic novel to follow 'The Promise'



"The Search focuses on Zuko and [his sister] Azula," he continued. "Aang, Katara and Sokka will be there, of course, but the Fire Nation royal siblings are really the drivers of the action.
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OK. agree. Amazing New Plot. Amazing new Setting. Love the kickbacks to the original series.

But way too short. Without character development, the show will never be loved like . Its Prequel. Season 2 better have an awesome way of bouncing back because i was . really disappointed when Korra suddenly got her bending back. That could have . been great way to develop her and bring the spiritual side of the avatar back to life.
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Although LoK has its faults, and thus far hasn't quite lived up to the expectations of many ATLA fans, I'm still ecstatic that it is on tv, and I really did enjoy the first season. Children's television desperately needs more shows like this one-- series that don't underestimate kids' intelligence and their ability to follow a continuous, engaging storyline. In my opinion, television shows should be held to many of the same standards as literature, and like literature they need a compelling character-driven plot in order to be effective. ATLA and LoK have done just that, and this is made even more obvious by the fact that the seasons are referred to as "books."

While I agree that LoK was lacking in character development, I believe that it still has room to grow, and appreciate what the creators were able to do within this much shorter timeline. The series was plot-driven, but the story was thought provoking and I loved that Mike and Bryan decided to do almost a complete 180 and bring into question many of the concepts and ideas that were taken for granted and were part the foundation of the original series.

The deviation from the mystical/spiritual stuff that I loved in ATLA was somewhat disappointing for me when I started watching LoK, but in the end I think I liked how the idea of bending vs. technology panned out in the series, and it was definitely very interesting to see how bending functioned in this more modern world. This aspect definitely reminded me a lot of some of Miyazaki's films since a major theme throughout many of them is the interaction/conflict between nature and technology. I know that the creators were largely influenced by Miyazaki's work in creating the Avatar universe, and in my opinion it's never a bad idea to take a page from Miyazaki's book.

Overall, it seems that a lot of risks were taken with LoK, and just for this I think the creators should be applauded. ATLA was a very successful show and it would've been easy for LoK to have stuck with same formulas that were proven to work in the first series. Instead, the creators took a leap of faith and trusted that fans and new viewers would appreciate being given a brand new story and not the same book with a different cover. Although not all of these risks may have paid off, overall the series is remarkably imaginative and well-done-- and it still has room to grow. In the long run, I think the series will be better off for having taken a gamble. Mike and Bryan have made it clear that LoK was not created as a means to continue profiting from the Avatar franchise; LoK exists because the creators have a new story to tell, with a new message. LoK is not really a continuation of the first series, and is not actually a true sequel. And thank goodness for that, because who really likes a sequel anyways?
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I think it's a well put together show. Unlike Aang who spent the enite span of his show learning the 4 elements korra already had 3 when the show started but learning still a key factor. Team avatar still had a serious person (mako) and not serious (bolin). I liked the lack of "filler" episodes but considering they were based in a city versus travelling around a continent there was less justification for them. The only things i didn't like were the questions that weren't answered,how are there more sky bison if apa was the only one left?,how did so many people learn to lightning bend if iroh and azula were the only ones left that could?, how did tenzin and his family get captured in the seson finale?Do you really think amon is dead? Korra now has all four elements ,where will the show go now? All in all a fine show.
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well if you think about it in ATLA they didnt really say there no more sky bison they only flew away when the fire benders attack the sky tempole and as for the lighting benders zuko iroh and azula never died in ATLA so they could have teach the lighting bending to other fire benders as for the captured i really didnt understand that part as well maybe the plot gets deeper in the next season? who knows but one thing i didnt like at all was that korra got her bending back in the end and the season was far to short if they made it so korra would have to travel around the world to get the rest of her bending back by going to diffent tempoles of the avatars before her it would have made a more better plot to the legend of korra but hey thats what i think anyway
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I felt that it was rushed as well---immediately after the finale, my comment to my friends who watched the show with me were: "I almost feel this entire season should have been stretched out. I mean, in the first series, the story about Tarrlok and Noatak would have been an entire episode on its own," and "General Iroh hardly has any character development, just action and a couple lines. The cabbage merchant had better character development than that."



And then there is no great revelation about the differences between how Aang took Ozai's bending and how Amon did it, which was obviously reversible and probably more akin to chi-blocking. No great effort on Korra's part to overcome the block, just Spirit Aang magically makes everything better again.



Nevertheless, I still greatly enjoyed the series. I was also blown away by the way the series advanced into a futuristic level of technology, similar to the jump from mid-1800's into the 1920's---and the same amount of time elapsed in the series, if Katara's age is any indication. The artistry and the action was completely amazing.
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I guess I'm in the minority. I was blown away by this series. I think it was bold to jump so far into the future, to leave the characters we knew and loved behind. The easy thing would've been to go back to that well. I think this is much more interesting than that.



I also loved how much more adult and darker the story lines were. The themes of power and oppression, family and betrayal, terrible violence, and that ultra creepy blood bending were a lot to get in a "kids" show. I kept being surprised by how far they would go. Beifong being ripped of her bending was heart breaking. And Tarrlok killing himself and his brother. My jaw dropped. They even made Amon sympathetic in the end. I thought there was some really powerful stuff in there.



I did have some of those same thoughts about how interesting it would've been to follow Korra as she deals with her loss of bending. They tidied that up rather quickly. But I trust the creators of this show. I believe that they have something else in mind for next season and I can't wait to see what it is.
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I really loved this show as well. Saying I liked it better than the original series is OK to me, because It's a great show being compared to another great show.



I think The Last Airbender wins when it comes to giving you time with these characters, but Korra already has a tie-in to another show, so I felt like first series was living on in this one.



In terms of action, design, and tone I felt that this series grew up (NO I'm not saying Avatar was immature!) and improved on the framework the crew originally conceived.
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I agree. Things were a bit rushed, but I actually prefer this series over The Last Airbender, which relied way too MUCH on filler and character development with things rarely happening, and also dabbled into too much silly humor for my taste. Korra's humor is much better done (although Meelo's fartbending was ridiculous). I, too, would have liked more character development, and I would have preferred Korra losing her bending at the end, but all in all, it was a very well-done finale, and I'm really looking forward to book two!
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I agree with a lot of your points. An excellent review-you hit it right on the head. I couldn't quite figure out what my reservations were after watching the finale, but you helped me realize that I felt the rushing and shallowness of the plot developments.



From the start I was immediately attracted to Amon's platform. I had never thought about non-bender rights before this-in ATLA it always seemed that bending was such an integral and necessary part of the world.



I started off not liking/trusting Asami-her running into Mako and happening to be a billionaire's daughter all seemed too convenient-but she turned into the most interesting character.



Contrary to what others are saying, 12 episodes is enough time to develop characters. At least the main ones. I had a good grasp of Team Avatar 1 through 12 episodes of ATLA.



The series actually steered away from tackling the themes it brought up (oppression of non-benders, role of the avatar in a modern society) by having the main characters not even consider it. Amon is evil because he's stirring revolution against benders. But they neglect the fact that people flocked to Amon. The citizens agreed with what he said. Those sentiments were there before Amon and will remain after him. I also completely agree with how Korra should not have had her powers restored at the end. What was the point of having them taken away, then, except to bring out her airbending in a cheap way?

Aang worked his ass to master all of the elements. Korra did almost nothing. She was born talented in water, fire, and earth and got her airbending out of nowhere. There were hints that pro-bending would be her training for airbending, but that never amounted to anything.



Now going into season 2 we have: no romantic tension (Mako and Korra are together; Asami is sad, but saw it coming. She's capable, she moves on, maybe pairs up with Ayro.); we have no antagonist (we assume Amon/Noatak and Tarlok are dead); Korra is fully proficient in all areas of avatar power; all the benders who lost their bending will have it restored by Korra; what more is there? It feels more like a conclusion to a series than a season. Team Avatar 2.0 will now travel the world? Why? For fun? The writers have to introduce a new plot thread in the beginning of the new season, as opposed to a continuous plot.



Tons of fun to watch, though. The fights were good fun, there was humour, and the animation and voice acting was very good.
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Lame
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I loved this series. Maybe not as much as the original. Maybe because they weren't traveling and having those kind of adventures. Korra is 17 though; not a goofy kid. Yes, I would like some more follow up on the original characters. I thought they did a good job in keeping in similar to the original in animation, animals etc.
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first of all, i'm on of the likers of the series. =) and i agree with majority of what the write-up said. well, from what i think the reason why they ended it with korra getting here bending back is because they want to keep to just 26 episode (hopefully not) or they just don't want it to be too predictable to viewers. however, for me its not a bad series. got to agree that the romance plot between korra and marko is bit too weak they should have expend it more and a bit for detail. my thought would be on the finale; the fighting scene with amon. it should have been longer and more epic. its avatar! the fight scene with the last boss has to be epic (but that's just me). =)
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The series was intelligent, the plot was engaging and it didn't rely on the overused intense action formula most cartoons use. Anything that can engage peoples feelings, as minds is a step forward. There's plenty of mindless action entertainment shows out there and I'm glad Korra was different. As for character development, Avatar: The Last Airbender had 61 episodes to develop characters with, while Korra had just 14.



But ultimately it comes down to a single question for me. Would I be glad to see a full 60+ episode series?



Yes I would! There's still lose ends to tie up, for example how did Aang die? You have to assume anything big enough to take down Aang is going to be pretty big. Perhaps that's the point were they can reconnect to A:TLA spiritual roots, after all the threat doesn't have to come from the world. It could come from the spiritual plane.
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a bit random, but i like the acronym for Avatar the Last Airbender- ATLA... but how about we take it one step further and make it Avatar: the Last Airbender (not THAT "Avatar")... now we can just call it AtLAntA! i've always wanted to use Atlanta as an acronym for something (and i happen to hate James Cameron's Avatar). :)



Silliness aside, i've been more on the critical side of LOK this season. i didn't check any forums, but i agree with this write up and took issue with many of the same things. i couldn't stand the pro-bending parts and i felt it really took away from what could have been much better character development. As a result, i never felt invested in any of the characters.



We barely got any backstory, and now of all characters we know the most about, it's the seasons' two villains Tarlok and Noatak (Aman).



And yes, I really miss the fantasy elements of AtLAntA (not THAT Atlanta). I really used to enjoy the creative animals they would come up with. A polar-bear sized labrador is NOT inventive or endearing.



That being said, watching the season finale was awesome! The Tarlok/Noatak story was great... very well done. I agree, having Korra only retain her airbending would've forced her to develop her character... but who are we kidding? We love a happy ending, and I would've hated waiting for a resolution to a cliffhanger for a cartoon. So kudos to the new Avatar and while not the best, season 1 was still well-done, a good start, and I look forward to the next book.
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Ok people what do you expect from 12 episodes really?. There should be at least 16 episode to develop characters and other stuff. Ofcourse now everything seems to be rushed thanks to streamlining.
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I loved the predecessor and this is still a nice sequel. sure i do miss the kiddish nicknames from toph, aangs fun personality, kataras motherly instincts, and sokkas "manly" behavior but this is 70 years later. people and personalities change. just because korras hot headed doesnt mean crap. Kyoshi was exactly the same way and we all loved her flashbacks. Yes, i feel with her already learning 3 elements we basically demolished the whole fun, challenging, and long duration of 2 or 3 seasons. Also, i wish she would've only had airbending, so she could actually spiritually and physically learn the other elements again. Also, i wish there could be a better backstory for each character between ''team avatar 2.0'' i mean in ATLA, they had a whole dang episode with Zuko finding his way alone! The only true backstory i got from Korra was Tarrlok/Amon and Lin and Tenzins romance(which was fun). Another thing, she never went Avatar State? Aang went avatar state like 4-5 times before he learned 3 elements. Finally, in ATLA the romance was spread out evenly between sokka/suki and aang/katara but not in Korra. Too much love issues and problems within the plot between asami/mako/bolin/korra, now lets see more character development and a new better unpredictable villain/threat. Great SERIES
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While I find most of the comments valid, there were a few things I had a problem with. First, though, I don't have a problem with the urban fantasy setting. 80 years have passed and that's a nice reflection. I also don't have a problem with her getting her bending restored. In fact, I'm glad that happened, she the AVATAR! The Avatar doesn't play by the same rules as any normal bender. Why? Because she is the reincarnation of EVERY previous Avatar. As far as I was concerned, her bending can't be removed except by the previous Avatars, but I'll chock it up to not being a full Avatar. One thing I did have a problem with is she never entered an Avatar State. Even though she's not fully realized, it's well established that under extreme duress - and she was in that situation at least twice - the Avatar will enter the state, similar to Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk. That would have made for an interesting moment if she'd gone into the Avatar State at the moment she was about to have her bending removed; but then we wouldn't have had that Ang moment. Also, the love triangle felt way too contrived and forced.



Still, it's a good series and I look forward to the 2nd season. Hopefully we can get more character development and it's going to be interesting to see what the new threat will be.
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She didn't enter it because her spiritual connection was so weak, and that's why it was such a huge deal when she had those flashbacks and when she saw Aang at the very end. It was just as "surprising" as her having air bending at the very end, when all her other bending was taken away.



That's one theory.



The other theory, which I partly subscribe to, is that she was never in any real danger. Aang didn't trigger the avatar state when he was in fear, it was triggered more out of anger or necessity. Even her having bending removed was clearly just temporary and not complete, and Mako bailed them both out as well.



And then the final theory is that the creators/writers decided a super invincibility mode was really cheesy and didn't fit this story well at all. It's probably just the former and latter theories, but you are free to your own opinion of course!
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I think the show is a little bit creepy. Korra looks an awful lot like Katara and Mako loks very much like Zuko, even more so then Zuko's grandson Iroh. Not taking into acount the fact that Dante Basco voices Iroh who is Zuko's grandson, whom Basco used to voice on The Last Airbender, there's also the fact that Aang looks weird grown up and with a beard. And that's not even the problem. He's all serious now. I liked the fun loving Aang better. And also why is the new Avatar a stick in the mud. I mean Korra is way to serious for a teenager.
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Well, at least on the latter I can give a response except just agreeing or disagreeing on certain points; she is the Avatar and has grown up knowing she is the Avatar. That is a lot of responsibility for a person, and thus will make you more serious. Aang was quite serious in his own way as well, when it came to the end of the series and the threat he had to face became real. For Korra, that happened sooner rather than later, and ties in with the fact that the series moves much more quickly and there isn't much time for showing development.
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It's funny, I was speaking with friends about A:TLA several months before LOK was announced and I predicted almost every aspect of the show (Aang having kids and repopulating the world with airbenders, metalbending becoming more widespread, benders vs. non-benders), minus some specific details (the modernity, steampunk theme, etc.). I want to say I loved Amon as a villain, and every detail of his character (masked, secret bloodbender, especially). I agree with everyone who wanted more character development, but with only 12 episodes, how do you balance it with plot development and tell a great story? You have to have some sacrifices. I think they made the right call.



Now, onto what I want to see in the second season, and what I'm predicting:

What I want to see:

1) More spiritual side of the Avatar universe. Seriously, A:TLA involved so much of the Spirit World, yet LOK lacks in that department. We could have seen a more A:TLA-esque second season if (with more than 14 episodes for season 2) the developers left Korra without her bending and instead had Aang help lead her through a spiritual journey during season 2 and gain them back. What about all of the spirits Aang encountered? Or the guru? I want to see the Face-Stealer return, he seems like a great potential bad guy, especially against Korra (an enemy who steals your face/soul if you show emotion vs. a Very emotional Avatar).



2) A slight return to fantasy. In LOK everything stuck primarily to Republic City. I'm glad to hear season 2 will have Team Avatar leave and explore the rest of the world. Is Republic City the capitol and technological hub of the Avatar universe now? Are there no influencing external politics? What does the rest of the world look like now? Where are all of the cool creatures from before (the dragons from A:TLA or earthbending badgermoles, anyone?) How does the industrialization of the Avatar universe effect the environment and spiritual world?



3) Smarter, more action-packed bending scenes. In A:TLA, bending was very much an art. Every element had its own type of martial art and beauty. What's this pro-bending crap in LOK? Cool, they made a spectator sport of it but, now characters kind of just wave their hands around or box like Mohammad Ali and stuff just comes flying out. Where's the stylized fighting from the first series? Let's have the characters explore the roots of bending a little bit. I want to see them pitted in super-tight situations where they really have to use their brains along with their bending to get out of it, not so much deu ex machina stuff.



With that out of the way, here's what I predict for next season:

The bender vs. non-bender situation still isn't really resolved. I think the second season will put this to rest pretty early-on, by having benders and non-benders cooperate by means of technology. People will (read: should) start to feel the Avatar isn't necessary anymore. I think the increase in industrial tech will have some sort of effect on the environment and spirit world. While Korra begins exploring the rest of the world and going on a spirit journey, an imbalance will begin between the physical world and spirit world, causing evil spirits to leak out and attack cities and people, causing widespread death and disaster that only the Avatar can resolve. Leading the forefront of the Spirit World attacks is the Face-Stealer. He'll be stealing the faces of benders and using their abilities to destroy human cities and such. Will the Avatar prevail and bring balance, or get her abilities stolen (again) and leave the spirits to wreak havoc on the rest of society?
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For one, Republic city, is the capitol of what was the 4 nations. And 2, I think its a great idea for the rest of the series. I had a thought similar to this once TLA ended. I thought why not have a war between the physical and sptiritual worlds so Aang can live on, and since the Avatar is a link between the 2, he/she would have to pick a side. Hopefully they use this idea for the series.
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That'd be so cool!
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I really enjoyed the finale and almost couldn't believe it when Korra went into the avatar state, but it felt a little rushed at the end. The good news is that season 2 will start with a clean slate. I'd really like to see what a fully realized avatar can do, because so far we have only seen Roku and Aang use their full potential as the avatar in flashback sequences, Roku in TLA and Aang in LOK.
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Aang used his in the final battle agianst Ozia. Just saying.
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I enjoyed Legend of Korra and look forward to season 2, but I don't think it was as great as the original. I guess what I liked best about A:TLA was the overarching storyline of the series pf Aang having to defeat the Fire Lord. I still liked Legend of Korra and the advances you see in technology and the setting of Republic City. The only part of the Legend of Korra I was disappointed in was the the ending of season one where Korra was given back her bending of the other 3 elements. I was hoping to see her have to reconnect with the bending of the other elements as a continuing storyline.
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I agree, I actually became kind of excited near the end and thought, "Oh, hey! A chance at making a development-filled adventure! This should be fun!" But no...she got her bending back in a snap. Oh, well. I enjoyed most of the aspects in Legend of Korra, including the diverse, humorous, and life-filled characters, but the only complaint I have about it is the storyline's pacing. Compared to A:TLA, I felt it was extremely rushed, especially around the romance area (It felt Disney-formatted). I hope next season will slow things down a bit. Not to the point of dragging on and on, but just enough for audiences to really empathize with the characters and see them grow with the story. Other than that, Legend of Korra is a great sequel series- love the nostalgia!
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I dont understand what kind of character development you wanted. It has already developed characters in the mist of a developing revolution. I also thought Republic City was a great setting to tell this story. Aang and co. had to travel the world to stop a 100 year war whereas Korra went to republic city to learn Airbending. I guess when the revolution really got started she shouldn't went to Bai Sing Se to develop her character a little more. This season has been AMAZING
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OMG, I completely agree. TLA and LOK are both incredible shows. TLA had lots of filler episodes, which is always annoying to me, whereas LOK didn't have any, which is awesome. Also this Deus ex bull crap. How is the ending to LOK negatively reflected as deus ex machina....Aang used the the avatar state to freeze himself and Appa in a sphere of ice using water and air bending to save them both from drowning in the first episode of TLA. It is literally what starts the entire story of him being discovered frozen in a block of ice. Using the avatar state is not a contrived plot device. It is an integral part of the story for any avatar past present or future. It is literally "God mode." But if the avatar is killed in that state the cycle is broken and all avatars would no longer exist. This is how it has always been in both TLA and LOK.
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It is God mode, and that's why it's rather ridiculous to think the Avatar is going to lose in that state. Entire armies can't do a thing in it, the best Firebender in the world was not competitive at all against it. Blood bending doesn't work on it.



TLA tried to put a drawback that Aang couldn't control it and would hurt other people in it, and that's why he didn't want to do it. What about Korra? I don't know, she never goes into it, the old God mode limitation felt contrived and I wonder if they'll use the same thing this time.
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I actually didn't watch Avatar the first go round. My brother was obsessed with it and when he started buying the DVDs, I started to take notice.



Maybe it's because I love steampunk or the '20s but I actually enjoy Korra much more.



Don't get me wrong, Avatar was great and I love the characters and story but this just felt more me. I don't know.
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The characters are just too flawed not to mention stupid imo. Seriously, why the hell would Mako all of the sudden fall for Korra? There is just no rhyme or reason for it. "I can't picture my life without you" seriously? That's hardly a valid reason, there is just no depth to that. Amon switched his personality WAY too quickly as well. Main villains should never, under any circumstances be that fickle. There was ONE thing I REALLY dug about the character backstories though. Asami is clearly a tribute to Lust from Fullmetal Alchemist. you can clearly see the resemblance in the characters and the way Asami's mother died blatantly confirmed that it was a tribute to Lust. You know what though, that's actually sad considering the coolest backstory was something taken from a different series -.- the plot and the action was great though and it was definitely enjoyable to watch.
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I hope that Season 2 will focus more on character development. I agree that Korra's spiritual journey should of continued into the second season. (I mean come on? You cry once and suddenly you find spiritual balance?) Maybe with the threat out of the way (for now because I'm sure there will be a new one) the characters will have more time to express themselves and make us care for them. I also hope that Korra will delve into her past lives more because that was an interesting lesson for Ang (remember his spirit quest?) and I think it should/would be even more challenging for Korra considering her "rough" nature.
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One thing about the series finale that bothered me was the way the bad guys ended. Something about the character Tarrlok seemed a bit off. At first he was a strong water/blood bender, with some unusual power hungry missions and inner turmoil, but by the end he was a suicidal defeated enemy. It just seemed too out of character for a bad guy to runaway on a boat with his brother and blow them up. Most bad guys are about self preservation. Even ones with a guilty conscience...I've never seen any type of series where the antagonist comes to terms and does themselves in just because of one lost fight. They usually justify it in some small way as a small defeat and come back in full force. Plus Korra instantly getting her bending back the moment she shows weak feelings was entirely weak in itself. The entire time she was happy go lucky and terrified of Amon taking her abilities, but her being sooo weak to the point were it allows her to access avatar state would of made more sense if she were to do so during the final fight with Amon and not after she's weeping on a mountainside...bad timing made it less dramatic. =/
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As it was eventually explained, Tarrlok was filled with much guilt and displeasure of his childhood. I think once he gained a high position in Republic City the quest for power took over and he lost himself. After Amon caught him, the power was lost, and he was able to think clearly like before. Also he understood who Amon was. With this guilt over him, he decided to end it as he probably saw alot of his father in his brother as well as himself, and it was obvious that they both feared their father. Just my opinion.....BUT, I do agree, It would have been a killer cliff-hanger if they left Korra with out most of her bending. They wrapped up what half a season could have in 5 minutes of the season finale. This also would have given the characters ability to grow. They could have had Aang come to her in the end and tell her she has to learn her way or "something" warning her about the potiential loss of her bending completely and the loss of future avatars. Then I would totally be looking towards the next season ( not saying im not)
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