First Impressions – Avatar: The Legend of Korra Book Two

The more things change…

I’m probably not going to blog Korra this time around, but for now at least I’ll watch it and hope it surpasses my expectations, and I wanted to at least check in with some quick impressions of the opening double episode.

In short, about the same.  Though many new faces are on board the playing field has shifted, this feels very much like the same show to me, for better or worse.  As with the first season, I find the overall plot to far exceed the execution – it’s another interesting premise, but somewhat clumsy on the ground.  Pacing was a huge issue in the first season, and I’d hoped that with so much lead time Bryke might be able to transcend that problem but based on the premiere, it’s a work in progress.  We still had long stretches of drag intermixed with bouts of frenetic noise, and things seemed to play out in a rather stiff and mechanical fashion.

The spine of the story son far is a long-simmering feud between Korra’s father Tonraq (James Remer) and uncle Unalaq (Adrian LaTourelle).  The latter is the top dog in the Northern Water Tribe and highly spiritual, bemoaning the lost connection of his Southern brothers with the Spirit World.  It so happens that Tonraq is in the South to begin with because he was banished from the North after destroying a sacred forest during a combat mission, bringing down the anger of the spirits on his people.  That leaves Unalaq free both to assume leadership of the Water Tribes and to lord it over his older brother pretty good.

Siblings have always been a big theme in Korra – a sibling relationship was at the heart of the first season’s main plot, we have Mako and Bolin, not to mention Tenzin’s annoying sibs play a major role in the premiere, as do Tonalaq’s fraternal twin son and daughter.  Unalaq intends to use Korra as a tool in his plan to tighten his iron grip over the Southern Water Tribe, and given that she’s shown no character growth at all she’s just as easy to manipulate as ever.

That, really, is a major problem for me with this series, especially as compared to the first Avatar.  I don’t especially like Korra – she’s stubborn, dense, temperamentally violent, petty and astonishingly lacking in common sense – and that’s an issue when it’s her name in the title.  But the cast isn’t a strong point in the Korraverse at all for me – Mako is as irritatingly smug as ever, for starters.  In fact the only characters I find likeable are Bolin and Tenzin, and they (especially Bolin) are constantly made the butt of the series’ often leaden humor, and not in an affectionate way.  There’s also Tenzin’s children, of course, and they’re endearing enough – indeed, there’s an indication that eldest daughter Jinora is going to explore her spiritual side and play a larger role this season.  That would certainly be welcome, and the branch line that followed Tenzin and his family on their visit to the Northern Air Temple was probably the best part of these episodes.

Really, you could read my post on the conclusion of Book One and apply it to these eps without a whole lot of tweaking – Korra is very much the same show, at least through two episodes.  I won’t lie, I was hoping for more – I just don’t feel the authenticity and subtlety in Korra that the original Avatar series had, and Korra being a rush-job is no longer a valid excuse.  Korra is louder, more predictable, less character-driven and far less emotionally accurate than its predecessor, and given that this premiere is a result of such an extended period of planning, it seems unlikely that situation is going to change.  It’s still pretty good, but some of the magic is gone.



  1. K

    Pretty much exactly how I feel. I don't like Korra as a heroine much myself, she's learned like nothing after all that happened in the last season; what I'd give for that subtle and meaningful characterization of the original. And not just for Korra herself.

  2. A

    I think you probably meant Northern Air Temple.

    I agree with you on everything. I'm honestly more interested in Bolin's advances with the twins and Asami's efforts to clean the name of her family than I am in Korra's quest to grow up from being a bratty teenager.

    At least Amon was intimidating…

  3. K

    Agreed with pretty much everything. I just don't find myself caring about any of the characters and that is never a good thing. The only scenes that somewhat interested me were early scenes with Asami & the stuff with Tenzin's family. The rest was meh!

    I thought maybe I was losing my affection for the Avatar world but then I recently read some comics with the original characters and I could feel my love rekindled for those characters. Korra just makes me miss Aang, Zuko, and the rest even more.

    Maybe in this case lightning just doesn't strike twice.

  4. N

    Judging the second season by first is not a good idea I think. The first one was done with only one season in mind (it was almost finished when Nick green-lighted the second season) so developments and plot were rushed to fit only 12 eps wheras they now have three seasons to work with so I expect it to be better executed.

  5. I'm judging the second season by the first two episodes of the second season. They just happened to be a dead-ringer for the first.

    I'm also more than skeptical that Bryke ever really thought there would only be one season, though the official approval did come late – Avatar is just too much of a cash cow for Nick for there to have been serious doubt. But I can't prove it, and it's an old argument anyway so no point in pursuing it now.

  6. K

    See that's what I was hoping too, whatever the reasoning behind Bryke's decisions, but five minutes into the premiere this season and you could tell that not much, if anything, has changed as far as rushing execution goes.

  7. m

    I only watched the first few episodes of the first season and i almost wanted (no offense) to smash the computer screen. again, no offense to any fan, but this korra sequel is an insult to the original avatar series. i can't even say how much worse it is >< i don't know about plot, since i didn't watch far enough to see it flesh out, but the characters are so annoying. sorry people, not meaning to be so harsh here.

  8. B

    Well how can you say you didn't like the series of you only saw the first few episodes? I loved TLA and I also really liked LoK. It's not the same as TLA, but if I wanted to see more TLA, I'd just watch TLA again.

  9. S

    The animation felt more "anime-ish" in these season's premier episodes than the first season, This might be because Studio Pierrot is giving a hand at this.

  10. L

    With 4 more seasons already scheduled, I hope Korra gets some development down the line (I hope).

    In better news, I just caught up with the HxH anime.

  11. G

    I liked the first two episodes, if only because the premise and the delving into to spiritual side of the Avatar universe sounds interesting. The pacing is a problem for me, and a lot of what goes on is rushed. I kind of like Korra as a protagonist, but I'd like to see her learn more from her mistakes. And what's up with making fun of Bolin in every turn? Not cool.

  12. K

    I actually liked these episodes. Seeing how the Water tribes progressed is interesting to me and I like that they're exploring Korra's family. It will also being nice to more on the spirit world.

    As for the characters. I can see why people don't like Korra but I do.See brash, impulsive and yet a little gullible but I find her a good protagonist. What's annoying is her and Mako talking to each other. They have no chemistry as a couple. Zuko and Toph have more chemistry as a couple than these two have. Like how stupid is Mako supposed to be?

    And it was great to see Aang's kids together. I like that they poked fun at his stiff attitude.

  13. B

    I thought the same thing, I really liked the first season of LoK, and I like how this one is shaping up so far.

  14. H

    "Jinora is going to explore her physical side" Assuming you meant spiritual side, unless you saw some indication I didn't that she's going to turn out to be an Olympic class bender or such. XD

  15. d

    I have to say that I'm disappointed in the cast but intrigue by the plot. I do like how they may be exploring the spiritual side of the Avatar and perhaps exploring the origins of the Avatar. However, the current story looks like a rehash of Book 1 in a different skin. As for Korra, she is like a poor version of Naruto. No matter your view on Naruto as a character, he at the very least, grows as a character. I'm sadden that I find the side characters more interesting than the main protagonist. My apathy towards Korra may be due to the feeling I have that she is being used as a prop to progress the plot instead the other way around. I'll keep watching to see if the premiere episode was a slip up.

  16. Disappointed by the cast and intrigued by the plot is a pretty good summation of how I feel about Korra. I confess, though, that the constant humiliation of the one character I sort of like is making the whole exercise more tiresome than it would otherwise be.

  17. e

    Poor Bolin of mine :,). And that promising delightful bit of Asami&Bolin interaction (never mind I was rooting for such bonding time since season 1…) was criminally short.

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