Toonzone Talkback: "The Legend of Korra - Book Two: Spirits" Blu-ray (Mostly) Does the Thing

Discussion in 'The Nicktoons Forum' started by Toon Zone, Jul 15, 2014.

  1. Toon Zone

    Toon Zone The Ultimate Administrator

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2001
    Messages:
    4,990
    Location:
    New York
    Book 2 of Nickelodeon's The Legend of Korra feels like a big good news/bad news joke. I am thankful that...

    View the Full Article
     
  2. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2001
    Messages:
    12,905
    Location:
    Princeton Jct, NJ
    Got this Blu-ray a little later than I had expected, which is why this review is late. The title of the review was a stab at "Zhu Li! Do the Thing!" which consistently got a chuckle out of me whenever Varrick would say it, and which was always a harbinger of something impressive. Not sure if the joke carries, though.

    And I kind of missed out on the discussion of the series as it was airing once we got past the Avatar Wan episodes, so I don't know how many of my observations are old news. But a lot of stuff I refer to in there (like Korra getting her inner Jack Bauer on) came from stuff in the commentaries. I'm generally not impressed that a lot of stuff only became clear from the commentary tracks (like the idea that Korra was emotionally stunted from her time training as the Avatar in the South Pole, largely cut off from most normal human contact, or the link between Korra's behavior at the start of this season and Aang after Appa was kidnapped in season 2).
     
  3. Neo Yi

    Neo Yi In a Dream, I Can See, You Are Not Far Away...

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Messages:
    6,959
    Location:
    The USA
    A lot of what you said is what most of us agree on. I would argue and say Korra was justified in her anger in at least the first three episodes. Personally, I felt the easily resolved ending of Book One was more than enough for me to accept Korra's immaturity during these specific episodes (and why I can buy her throwing a tantrum.) I also want to say her nearly crushing the judge's head between Naga's mouth was definitely intended so her downfall in "Peacekeepers" was all the more karmic. She was going over the top; she was going way off the far end and that was the point. However, I can understand why people would go insane over this. In the same episode where I pointed out this justification, I also cited my irritation. I think I can meet halfway and say Book 2 pushed Korra to her limits on purpose, but it could have been handled with better grace.

    Everything else I agree with you: Mako especially who hasn't done much to incur my wrath in Book 3, but has yet to recover from his stupidity in previous books. Everybody seems to either be jerks or idiots unable to see the most blatant in front of them, and the pacing was atrocious. I debated endlessly on whether I liked Book 2 over Book 1 just because the finale was an excellent game changer, not to mention the "Beginning" two-parter trumps nigh anything Korra had done so far, buuuuut I might have to rethink that. Book 2 was nowhere near a mess as Book 1 which may have suffered as it progressed, but was a great deal more consistent (probably helped by a less epic plot that gave room for more growth.)

    Varrick is also my legit favorite character in Legend of Korra right now. Everything about him works. While Unalaq disappointingly slid into Snidley Whiplash territory, Varrick was excellent simply because I had no idea where they were going to take his character. Even when it's revealed he was behind many of the events in Republic City, his natural charm and funny eccentricities honestly made me root for him when he and Zhu Li escaped prison. I love this character and I hope for many, many, many returns in future episodes.
     
  4. Light Lucario

    Light Lucario Moderator

    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Messages:
    38,446
    Location:
    In a Dream World
    I agree with most of the points you brought up in the review. I'm amazed that they tried to associate Korra's character arc with what happened to Aang in season two. Aang's situation was completely different, what triggered it was pretty understandable and he didn't go as Korra. While I could maybe buy that being in isolation made her emotionally stunted, her behavior in season one didn't really give the impression that her anger would go as far as making public death threats or torturing judges for information. She was always hot headed and often wouldn't think about the consequences before acting out on her emotions, but season two took it to an extreme. Even before that and before the situation became serious, she came off as unnecessarily snippy with constantly biting off people's head if they said or did something she didn't want. I understand why they did it so that her behavior in the second half of the season would feel like she's grown and matured, but I really think that they could have done a much better job going about it. Characters don't have to become insufferable, unlikable and throwing around death threats in order to have a character arc or to make their growth more noticeable.

    A good portion of the flaws of this season revolve around the arcs for Korra and her friends. None of them are really any good. Mako's attempts to uncover the plot in Republic City doesn't really feel necessary in the grand scheme of the main plot. Not to mention it did make Lin look pretty stupid for believing these comical incompetent cops over Mako. While Bolin has some funny moments, he became more of a jerk at times and his sadness over the others not being around doesn't really feel believable due to how they don't really feel like friends. Plus, I absolutely hated how they played the abusive relationship with Eska for laughs at first only to have Bolin really love her out of nowhere in the finale. Asami is reduced to love triangle fodder again, even though she really has so much more potential and still is the only interesting character out of Korra's group of friends. Mako getting back together with Asami only to pretend that he and Korra never broke up made him really unlikable to me. At least they did the sensible thing and didn't bring them back together since they really don't work out as a romantic couple at all.

    Varrick was easily the best new character in this season. While I felt like his subplot wasn't necessary, or at least it didn't really connect well to the main plot, he was just so much more interesting and entertaining than Unalaq ever was. Unalaq was just painfully boring and predictable, but Varrick was really something different. He seemed just like comedy relief at first, but then he started to take more action and you'd really start to wonder what he's going to do and why. I really hope that he keeps appearing in the series since he is just such a fun character. While I really thought that Korra was insufferable through the first half of the season, she became much more tolerable in the second half. The two-parter Beginnings was great and easily the best part about this season.

    The subplots with Tenzin and his family had some of my favorite moments of the season. While some of them were a bit too short to resolve the tension, they were still pretty sweet, entertaining and gave some insight into all three of their personalities and conflicts. Bumi talking to the statue of his father was a really sweet moment, which is one reason why a development with him in season three still rubs me the wrong way. Tenzin dealing with how he couldn't get into the Spirit World, despite his love of the Airbending culture and his desire to do so, was handled pretty effectively and being able to talk to Aang during the finale to deal with more of his personal issues was pretty nice too.

    I'm not sure if I prefer Book 2 over Book 1. Both seem to be kind of too ambitious for their own good, in that they both deal with conflicts that require much more time to resolve than they're given and don't focus on key elements enough, such as Korra's airbending training, developing more of a spiritual connection and the role of spirits being fairly minimal for the first half of season two. I think that the finale for Book 2 works better in that it doesn't upset me. It doesn't really make any sense that she'd want to leave the spirit gates open after everything they've been through and breaking off her connection to the other Avatars really only works if someone has already seen the first season, but at least it isn't a cheap resolution to the problem. The storyline to the first season was much more interesting and most of the characters, aside from Mako, were still generally appealing. While there are plenty of good aspects about Book 2, I agree that it's kind of a step down after Book 1, even in spite of all of its own problems.
     
  5. Pac-Attack

    Pac-Attack Me every Thursday

    Joined:
    May 20, 2013
    Messages:
    2,642
    I'm honestly not sure if I should even bother with this set, I mean I do want the complete series in my collection but at the same time I really don't want this set.
     
  6. Dr. Daedalus

    Dr. Daedalus I presume.

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    39,912
    After reading some of the negative remarks towards Book 2, I went in with hesitations, but I enjoyed it a lot. I liked the spirit world stuff, I liked Jinora getting more focus, I liked the political tensions (even if the whole "I refuse to send troops in" was pretty obviously inspired by the Syrian civil war), and I loved the final battle. It was one of those shows where I couldn't put the set down; I had to see how it finished. Korra was a bit unlikable in the first few episodes but thankfully she redeemed herself. And yes, Varrick was awesome. Kinda reminded me of Phil Ken Sebben, if that makes sense.

    After watching this and the previous season, I can confidently say that Studio Mir is quickly rising to one of my favorite overseas studios. The animation and fight choreography in those last few episodes was just excellent. Studio Pierrot (who did the first half) thankfully maintained the look and feel of the show and had some great animation too.
     
  7. The ShopSoldier

    The ShopSoldier Wandering about in both ANGER & DISGRACE

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2011
    Messages:
    7,343
    Location:
    Who Dares To Attmept a Rescue From My Lair?
    Season 2 will likely go down as my least favorite season of this show, even with any good moments to be found here. That is all (and that's me putting things lightly..... I need to watch more Sanjay and Craig, personally - gross out humor aside, it's a much better show than this has been, overall.).
     
  8. Ed Liu

    Ed Liu That's 'Cause I ATE IT!!!

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2001
    Messages:
    12,905
    Location:
    Princeton Jct, NJ
    In considering this more, I think finally nailed down my real problem with the "I'll kill you" scene. I don't think it's death threat itself, but that it's out of character. Korra is stubborn, hotheaded, and constantly itching for a fight. It's not that she threw out the threat -- it's that she did it verbally. If I were rewriting it, I'd make it a physical assault (bending or just trying to tackle him) out of anger, which makes her ultimate intent more ambiguous (is she just lashing out or does she really mean to be lethal?) and would be more in keeping with her character up to then.

    I can almost buy the belief that the Jack Bauer scene with Naga was an attempt to put her in a bigger hole so she could be seen to climb out of it later. I guess one other problem I have with that scene is that I don't buy that Naga would go through with it and threaten someone who is no visible threat to her. It credits Naga with a bit more capability for subtle thought than I think I want to credit her with. She's always acted more like a dog, and dogs in general are pretty rotten liars. But the scene in general is more in keeping with Korra's character: she doesn't SAY she's going to beat up the judge. She just does it.

    And I'm also re-reading your recaps for the season, just to see how much I ended up repeating ;).

    You know, watching it all in one sitting, I can buy Bolin's character arc overall a lot better than Korra's. Bolin makes decisions based on what other people want (Pro-Bending, falling in with the Triads when he needs to make some money, and helping Korra in general in book 1, and becoming a mover-star in book 2) or through inertia (staying with Pro-Bending because he doesn't know what else to do with himself in book 2). The moment when he walks out of his premiere is significant because it marks the first time he realizes what he wants on his own, and that the path he's on is taking him away from what he really wants. It's equally significant that he sees something amiss while he's moping and investigates it on his own rather than grabbing Asami or Mako or Korra or anyone else and asking, "What do I do?" I think it's a moment that's a lot more important than it looks, akin to the first time Aang popped up somewhere unprompted to declare, "I'm the Avatar. What can I do to help?"

    I could make a similar case that his sudden decision regarding Eska is similar, because his prior relationship followed his old patterns of behavior. He'd do what someone else would tell him to, even if he wasn't very happy doing it. The moment where he does say, "I love you and want to be with you" to her could arguably be his first step to a relationship that's something he wants on his own terms, which is a big step for him. I think it's exploiting her feelings in a bad way and unnecessarily ambiguous, but if this read is right, then the ambiguity of his feelings towards her isn't as relevant as the fact that he's taking independent action.

    I'm also thinking that a lot of the above really was by design, because Bryan and P.J. Byrne kind of said so when I asked them about why Bolin was being such a butthead in that early bit of season 2.

    I'd hesitate about pinning the story to a specific event. The long lead time for the series means I'm not sure if the Syrian civil war had advanced past protest marches when they were writing and animating that part of the season. I also think you could point to Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Libya instead (which turned into open conflict in ways the other Arab Spring revolutions didn't, but which toppled Gaddafi without Western boots on the ground). I think your point stands of "I'm not getting our troops involved in a civil conflict" being inspired by real events, but if I was going to speculate on a real-world event inspiring it, it'd probably be the negative examples of Iraq and Afghanistan. But I also don't think the crew was thinking of those examples consciously -- there's lots of examples of civil wars where external powers didn't get directly involved immediately, despite pleas from one side or the other, and mostly for the same reasons President Raiko articulated.
     
  9. Light Lucario

    Light Lucario Moderator

    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Messages:
    38,446
    Location:
    In a Dream World
    His arc does feel like they're keeping him in character most of the time, more so than how they handled Korra throwing death threats around, but it was some of his behavior after he started becoming a star that made him look a bit like a jerk to me. Walking out of his premiere would feel more significant if there had been a bit more buildup to him being depressed about his situation or that his friends weren't around, but I can see what you mean about what it means for his character.

    I don't know if I could really buy something like that simply due to how they established how he felt about their relationship. Bolin tried to get out of his relationship with Eska, ran away from it because he was terrified of her and then suddenly declared that he loved her out of nowhere in the finale. Having a relationship that he wants on his own terms, instead of just following other people's directions because that's all that he knows how to do and he's directionless without it, could have worked in that case if there was any hints that Bolin really did like Eska. There was an initial attraction, but the whole relationship went down south pretty fast due to how she treated him more like a personal slave than a boyfriend, so the idea that he would still really love her after all of that seems too forced and unbelievable to me.
     
  10. Dr. Daedalus

    Dr. Daedalus I presume.

    Joined:
    May 13, 2003
    Messages:
    39,912
    Fair enough. I was definitely thinking of it when watching the season, though.
     
  11. Neo Yi

    Neo Yi In a Dream, I Can See, You Are Not Far Away...

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Messages:
    6,959
    Location:
    The USA
    Having recently watched the latest Korra episode (specifically "Old Wounds"), I am agreeing more and more with Ed's assessment of Mako. He IS an utterly superfluous character. He spends much of Book 1 as a shallow love interest and much of Book 2 solving a mystery that never affected the central plot and certainly didn't advance his character any (even though it involved the awesome Varrick.) Book 3 so far has him doing painfully little (I completely forgot about him until he popped up in "Old Wounds".) You can cut off a lot of Mako's subplot and lose little grounds and anything he's involved in I bet Bolin could have carried alone in his own way; he's a far more intriguing character and his personal journey are much more plentiful and intriguing.

    Thanks, Ed, I needed another reason to dislike Mako. ;P
     
  12. Light Lucario

    Light Lucario Moderator

    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Messages:
    38,446
    Location:
    In a Dream World
    I noticed that Mako didn't even get any lines in The Original Airbenders and had pretty little appearance in Old Wounds, which does help the argument that he's a superfluous character. His subplot in this season being pretty unnecessary, even with Varrick being so awesome, helps with that a lot as well. The only good thing about his appearance in season three is his moments with his family, although I could kind of laugh at him in a couple of other cases. If he was written out of the show, I don't think much of anything of value would be lost. While I'm not much of a fan of Bolin, I could see him carrying his weight on his own relatively well.
     
  13. Dudley

    Dudley Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2003
    Messages:
    25,897
    Location:
    East Coast of USA
    Mako and Bolin always seemed like they were meant to be this series version of Zuko and Sokka. Except they're just weaker characters. Is Bolin even useful?
    I still feel the whole series would've been better if they never existed and it'd just be about Korra and Asami (and give her a chance to be fleshed out). In fact, ever since they were first introduced they were meant to just be there to attract a male demographic, because boys wouldn't watch an action show with a lead female character.
     
  14. Neo Yi

    Neo Yi In a Dream, I Can See, You Are Not Far Away...

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2004
    Messages:
    6,959
    Location:
    The USA
    I heavily disagree on Bolin. Unlike Mako, he has character, he has development and flaws to work out. Granted, he may not specifically contribute the greatest portion to the central plot, but Bolin at the least represents a different side of Republic City (at least doing Book 1 when everything was introduced) than Asami (who has her own thing) and has his own personal hang ups to deal with. Of course I admit partial bias because Bolin is one of my favorite characters and I actually prefer him to Sokka. My complaint about Mako is that he possess none of these defining traits; he's just there. Even if his subplot in Book 2 doesn't relate to the main plot, it wouldn't be an issue (well, maybe a bit given everyone was under stupid pills in that subplot) if it wasn't lead by a painfully underdeveloped, boring character. That's my problem with him. Imagine Lin carrying his role in Book 2; I think I'd be 200% more invested.

    I also don't believe for a second he and Mako were created to specifically target boys to the show (and they made it clear the leading lady appealed heavily to both genders) and if there's any mishaps on how either were handled, it's just bad writing.
     
  15. Light Lucario

    Light Lucario Moderator

    Joined:
    May 11, 2007
    Messages:
    38,446
    Location:
    In a Dream World
    Bolin is okay and he's usually fairly likable, which is more than I can say for Mako, but he never really seemed that much of an interesting character to me. He seems primarily there for comedy relief and basically comes off as Sokka lite. Sokka was also clearly there for comedy relief, but was a much stronger character by comparison in my opinion. To be fair though, I think that the main characters in the original series are stronger than the majority of characters in Korra.
     

Share This Page

Timing:
0.2373 seconds
Memory:
12.748 MB
DB Queries:
23