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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Initial Thoughts: Legend of Korra Season Two

The series is set in a fictional universe where some people can manipulate, or "bend", the elements of water, earth, fire, or air. Only one person, the "Avatar", can bend all four elements, and is responsible for maintaining balance in the world. The series follows Avatar Korra, the successor of Aang from the previous series, as she faces political and spiritual unrest in a modernizing world. (Source: Wikipedia)
Spoiler warning: Post contains spoilers for season two of Legend of Korra, up to the end of Civil Wars, Part 1 - as well as spoilers for how season one ended! Read on with caution!
Don't worry. For the first time, I'm gonna keep this short. I'm actually more interested in what everyone else has to think that hearing myself talk. I'd especially like to hear from people who, for them, Korra is their first exposure to the Avatar verse. Speak up!
So the first season of Korra ended pretty well for the young Avatar. She had defeated Amon, airbended for the first time, got herself a hot new boyfriend, and saved Republic City from certain destruction. Certainly, things can only go up from there. Right? Eh, not so much. As we rejoin the new Avatar Gang six months later, we see that Korra still has a lot to learn about being a proper Avatar. Aang must be sighing heavily in the spirit world.

As Book Two: Spirits open, there's trouble in them tharr hills - err, I mean, there's clear tension between the Southern and Northern Water Tribes, and angry spirits are attacking people. We are introduced to Korra's uncle, Unalaq, who is quickly set up as Korra's new teacher as well as the antagonist of the series. Despite being the only person who can teach Korra the way of the spirits, his heavy-handed tactics at tribe unification is leading to civil warfare between the tribes, something Korra wants to prevent above all else.
Yes, Korra, as Avatar her primary job is to keep the peace in the world. Unfortunately, it's not an easy job, especially when the Avatar is a hotheaded young woman who thinks with her fists and has to juggle her Avatar duties with being the girlfriend of Republic City police officer Mako. And they've left poor Bolin to do his pro-bending duties by himself! The new Fire Ferrets are just sad without Korra and Mako.
(And I'm endlessly amused by the fact that Korra's reaction to seeing the portal to the spirit world closed is to PUNCH IT WITH FIREBENDING REPEATEDLY. And that she uses the Avatar State to win races against Tenzin's kids. No one said the Avatar had to be a mature adult all the time, dang it. See: Aang's insistence on penguin sledding as well as his showing off his airbending to Water Tribe kids in Book One of ATLA.)
It's nice to see more of Tenzin and his siblings, and to see that being the child of an Avatar isn't a walk in the park. Unfortunately, Tenzin is repeating Aang's mistakes in getting so wrapped up in his duties that he's neglected his family and his own personal well being, as so helpfully pointed out by Kya. It's also awkward for Bumi, Tenzin's other sibling, who is the only child of Aang that isn't a bender, which usually leads to overcompensation on the part of Bumi due to lack of bending ability.
A nice sub-plot developing is that with Asami, Bolin, and the eccentric businessman Varrick, whose voice actor should win all the awards ever. Asami is bringing back Future Industries without her father, and Bolin is a surprisingly good partner for her endeavors. I suspect the show is trying to set up Asami/Bolin, something they've been hinting at since last season. I could do without the 'pair everyone!' aspect but hey, they're cute together. 
(And it's obvious that Bolin's 'relationship' with Eska isn't meant to last. Yikes, Bolin, talk about letting a pretty girl step all over you. She even waterbended him away from Korra! RED FLAGS, BOLIN, RED FLAGS.)

Overall, as someone who really enjoyed season one when it seemed few others did, I think Book Two is heading in an interesting direction. Korra is going to prove that the Avatar season doesn't need a big baddie spanning several seasons to be interesting. I'm just excited to see how Korra grows as both a character and as an Avatar.
Go on and tell me what you thought of the opening episodes for Legend of Korra Book Two: Spirits!