For some reason, so far, when I watch The Legend of Korra, I don’t get very excited. I get excited before I watch it, in anticipation of it, but during the episodes… Meh.
Okay maybe “meh” is an unfair reaction – it’s not that bad, but when I re-watch some of the episodes from The Last Airbender, I get pretty happy. Admittedly, a lot of that comes from watching Toph Earthbend. So far I haven’t seen any bending action that compares to what Toph does in The Last Airbender, but I know there’s still lots of room for things to get better. And that’s one of the things The Legend of Korra’s got going for it: potential.
Let’s start with what makes me the least happy: The romance. I have never – ever – been a fan of the romances in Avatar. Never. Not Aang and Katara, not Mai and Zuko, not Suki and Sokka – or Yue and Sokka… They weren’t bad pairings, but they never really fit into the story well, so when it came time to focus on them, they felt unnatural. (Plus there were so many random pairings of Katara with someone else.) Korra and Mako isn’t a bad pairing either but I don’t like the direction they’re taking with it already: the denial, the angst, the snarkiness. I’d much prefer their relationship to be established early, and then moved aside to a supporting role through Korra’s development as Avatar.
The Legend of Korra has good roots, but it still needs to work hard to establish itself apart from The Last Airbender. And I think it can accomplish that with its intriguing story involving the Equalists. There was never any hint of dissension between benders and non-benders in The Last Airbender, so the concept of not just disagreement, but an uprising in the thousands, is something completely new, and completely Korra. There are so many questions to ask, so many speculations to make, and so many theories to consider. Who is Amon, and what is his story? How did he learn how to take away someone’s ability to bend? Will Korra have to learn to work with him, or will they be forever at odds? These are the things that drive people to return to the show week after week, craving more, and if The Legend of Korra paces itself right (only 12 episodes allotted to the first season) it will plow a path that aligns itself to a very successful franchise.
I’m noticing how bending itself might have changed over the past 70 or so years as well; back in Avatar Aang’s days, there weren’t very many Lightningbenders, and the ones we knew of were exclusive to Fire Kingdom royalty. Mako is shown to be a Lightningbender in Episode Three, and has joined a number of other Lightningbenders working at a power plant in Republic City. It makes me wonder if Lightningbending, like Metalbending, can be taught. Up to this point, I was under the impression that Lightningbending was something you were born with, and the only thing that could be taught in regards to Lightningbending was how to transfer lightning through your body. Somehow I don’t think this will be explained though. The other noticeable change is that siblings can be born bending different elements – that is, if Mako and Bolin are actually biological brothers. However, this just might be a result in inter-bending relationships, like Aang and Katara. Of course it’s been established that the ability to bend is granted by the universe, so it makes sense that the universe chooses what you bend as well. And in that case, it isn’t so much a question of genetics when you’re born a bender. If that’s the case, I wonder if two benders of the same element could have a child that bends something completely different. Again I don’t think that’s going to be explained, and I think I should stop thinking out loud now.
One area which needs no improvement is the animal familiars. Naga and Pabu are awesome! And Appa and Momo were a tough act to follow, too. I’m not sure what kind of animal mix Pabu is, maybe a red panda and a ferret (hence the name Fire Ferrets), but he’s adorable. Momo was fun, but he was never the kind of animal I wanted to own. Pabu I would take home in a heartbeat. Or Naga for that matter.