And honestly, I'm not feeling it. Doug Walker (aka The Nostalgia Critic) has been doing a series where he's been vlogging his experience watching the original Avatar series for the first time (Take a look they're actually really good go watch them! thatguywiththeglasses.com/vide… ). He's a new fan to the series and his enthusiasm and critique of the original series has only helped to intensify my loathing and hatred of The Legend of Korra's disastrous season finally.
The more I remember how amazing and awesome the original Avatar series is, the less I am interested in picking up the pieces and following these unlikable characters through another series of exploits, especially after haphazardly killing off the main villain in such a clumsy and awkward way. Not only that, but there's no growth to the main character at all. There's no journey of her learning how to be an Air Bender the way there was for Aang, as her powers are unlocked through lazy writing (more on that in a minute). There's nothing left to really continue with except continuing to force the relationship dilemmas that they've made very clear by the end of the 1st season who gets with who anyway so... there's no real point going on with it.
Avatar: The Last Airbender was lightning in a bottle and their attempts to replicate it but make it "more grown up" with Korra have failed spectacularly in my eyes. It started off with such good promise with interesting set ups and situations, but all of them failed (or worse crashed and burned) during the season finally. Here are my top 4 reasons for hating the ending to Korra.
1. Korra doesn't learn anything. She still runs in and fights head on and doesn't have patience and doesn't learn airbending at all. It gets "unlocked" through some bullshit excuse when her powers are taken away.
2. Aang solves all the problems. After Amon is dead and Korra is left as just an airbender, she walks away and meets the spirit of Aang who then proceeds to give her back her powers (which had JUST been taken away not more than 5 minutes ago) where she then proceeds to go through all the cast who lost their powers and fixes them. EVERYTHING that was being built up as this terrible awful dehumanizing thing that Amon was doing to the world throughout the entire first season... erased. And not just erased, but erased in the last MINUTE of the episode.
3. Amon is dead. Seriously why kill him off like that? You KNEW you had 2 more seasons left to go through, or at least you did before the series AIRED. I can't believe for a second that the producers couldn't have simply removed that scene or called in a last minute edit (which is a very common thing to do with animated TV shows) to keep Amon as a villain. Without him as the great threat to overcome, there's nothing to look forward to in the next season. Nothing to keep the seasons connected in any way except through the main characters.
4. Mako is a jackass. Fuck Mako. Not the voice actor who did General Iroh in the original series. No the stern cold hearted jackass who is Korra's "love interest." Except that Korra already HAD a love interest in the form of Bolin. Also, Mako cheats on his girlfriend to be with Korra. CONSTANTLY. He keeps telling Korra he likes her, while holding on the arms of his girlfriend who he saved from her crazy father and who genuinely loves him back. What a selfish asshole. I don't want anything to do with this guy. By the end of the season it's clear who's who in the roster. Bolin is Sokka. Mako is Katara. Plus it's just disheartening to see such a selfish, arrogant, womanzing, sexist asshole be given the name of Mako, the voice actor for Iroh.
Watching the trailer for the new season it seems pretty clear they don't have any idea what to do next with the characters and are just rehashing already known spirit characters through some contrived war of spirit world versus human world. That wouldn't be a problem for me IF those seeds had been planted in the first season. But they weren't. The entirety of the first season was about Amon taking people's bending powers away and nothing to do with the spirit world. Amon is dead, and the producers have 2 more seasons to make so... well... i guess they gotta come up with something.
I'm making a prediction right now. Season 2 of Korra will be the spirits angry at the world and all the characters fighting back, with some moralizing lesson in the season finally.
I can't do it, Nickelodeon. I can't muster any interest in seeing what happens to Korra or any of the other characters. Probably would've been best to just end it at the first season and skip ahead another 100 years so we'd have a different avatar to start the slate fresh. I'm gonna have to rely on you guys to watch this for me and tell me if I'm wrong or that they might "justify" themselves later, cuz I can't muster the dedication to watch it.
I will mention one great thing about Korra, Uncle Bumi.
Yup that is about all I watched it for...the story was quite rubbish and more full of holes than cheese!
The original had a lot of problems itself (For example, most of season two or the horridly campy nickelodeon moral lessons in every episode, the music, wonky animations, some of the voice acting), most people seem to just look past them because the show was really the first of it's kind. It's kind of not fair to judge this show in comparison to an idealized view of the other.
The original series was amazing. Great characters. Great writing. Interesting plots with deep and meaningful messages. But none of that appeared in TLoK. How could they drop the ball so low???
I don't think I managed to get all the way through the first episode before I turned it off in disgust. It took me weeks before I forced myself to watch the rest of the series (after friends telling me it gets better - it didn't), only for the final episode to have one Deus Ex Machina after another. They must have fired all the writers of the original series and hired a bunch of illiterate children that got expelled from school. I didn't think it was possible to write something so horrible!!! Having said that, I have since seen Iron Man 3. -_-
I feel in some ways the show's creators bungled it because of low expectations and not planning for more than one season of the show. It was meant to wrap-up as it is.
So what's the next book going to do for plot development when all the interesting antagonists appear to be gone?
I'll still watch it though, they might manage to pull something off because they've done good stories in the past. Even if the new story arc doesn't appear all that great there still might be some redeeming episodes. I'd say not to write it off just yet.
However, I agree that the writers are now grasping at straws for an intriguing conflict to fight. ATLA's strength was always its strong grounding of relatable, believable human characters and conflicts( Zuko has a great evolution over the series, for example), and the fantasy element enhanced the story without distracting. Now that the ever-nebulous spirits are the conflict, it's hard to see how ethical human struggles in the same vein of those that we saw with Aang and Zuko or even Korra and Amon can still be the driving center of the show.
Yeah, I'm totally agreeing with you on a lot of this. In all honesty, Korra's lack of character growth freaks me out because she is such a SCARY person, and given so much power. What I loved most about A:TLA was how much Aang grew from a kid to an adult. Part of me wants Asami to turn into somewhat of a villain just because Mako is such a jerk. I'm mostly gonna be watching this next season for the animation, cuz it looks freaking awesome.
Btw, I don't know if anyone's mentioned it yet (okay, they probably have and I apologize), but "season finally" should actually be "season finale".
You bring up a good point about writing. It's all about the characters. Nobody cares about what happens in the story, but everyone cares about who does them or who they happen to. We relate to characters, not events. When a character we relate to learns something, we learn them as well.
Characters aren't just part of the story, they are the story. And when they suck, the story sucks.
That being said I am going to watch the new season and I look forward to it release.
Korra could have been handled better, I agree. A large part of the problem is the story simply moves too fast and too intensely for necessary character development and getting a chance to know more than one facet of them. Twelve episodes just wasn't enough time to go through all of the really BIG social, political, and emotional problems they set up for the show. It probably would have done the series a world of good if they had just a few 'filler' episodes thrown in between, to let the watchers have a chance to breathe, and to develop other sides of the characters. This, I think, is part of what makes the original Avatar: The Last Airbender so good, because we have the TIME to learn about these characters. And it could have turned out very badly too, because let's not forget: when they originally pitched ATLA, it was also supposed to be a much shorter series, like Korra is now. The network forced the creators to add more episodes in because they were up-and-coming newbies and Nickelodeon didn't quite trust them yet. This time around they allowed Korra to be shorter and more packed because they figured the creators knew what they were doing.
But that aside, there are some great things in Korra. The whole non-bending revolution is chilling, and when they get to the parts when they start trying to haul non-benders away or give them curfews it smacks of our own history, with segregation, internment camps, and various other deep and dark issues. I think this is actually handled surprisingly well and adds some deeper meaning to both the spirituality and the political aspects of the world as a whole (which we don't go into as much with A:TLA because the plot is basically 'fire guys attack oh noes!' )
And I feel like I need to play devil's advocate with a few of your points, sooo....
1) Korra actually markedly does learn things. She's more patient by the end of the series than she is at the beginning. Remember when she gets captured, and realizes force isn't the answer, and actually sits down to try and meditate things out instead? Or how about the fact that in the final fight she's actually willing to sneak in using a disguise, instead of gung-ho blasting her way in, like she does at the beginning of the series? Granted, her growth isn't extreme, but I think she's one of the few notable characters to get any significant development in the series at all.
As for airbending, I personally found it notable that throughout the entire series she's relatively self-centered with her powers--her first words are "I'm the Avatar and you gotta deal with it" after all--and the moment she airbends for the first time is notably the first time she's not really concerned for herself. Because throughout the entire series it's always "my bending this, my bending that," and bending is really her identity, but it's only when she's really desperate to do something with it for somebody else that her airbending is unlocked. I dunno, maybe I'm the only one who saw this, but that's what I saw in the finale, anyway.
3) Amon is dead. Seriously why kill him off like that? You KNEW you had 2 more seasons left to go through, or at least you did before the series AIRED.
I just want to point out here that they didn't know there would be more seasons when Book 1: Air was created. It was intended to be a single-season series. However it was wildly popular--moreso than expected. I remember there were ratings notices everywhere at the time--"watch Korra, if it gets high enough ratings they'll make more seasons!" Which is why everything kind of feels like a solo arc. This is actually why I was disappointed with a lot of the series, because if they knew they only had a certain amount of allotted time they could have done a better job wrapping up all the loose ends and planning their time accordingly. But the entire season is written as though it's the only season and this is probably why Amon died (if he even did....we never see a body; it's possible they could revive him somehow, cliche as it might be).
4) Oooooh, Mako hate. Alright, so, I have no interest in jumping into a shipping war or anything, and based on what you said it seems like you personally prefer Bolin/Korra. Well, I don't care about the relationship shit at all really (the other thing I really hated about Korra was the blatant shipping that sort of took over the series). But I feel like I need to defend Mako's character a little here, all the same.
Yes, Mako did a lot of really stupid, really nasty stuff. He cheats on his girlfriend, he tends to avoid pretty much any confrontation (especially on the emotional level) that he can, and he's cold and aloof. I'm not denying that in the least. What really ticks me off about the Mako hate is that it always focuses entirely on the love triangle aspect. And here's the thing: he has other defining characteristics. Remember how protective he is of Bolin? At the beginning, when he knew almost immediately that something was wrong with his brother, and looked for him without stopping? Remember how he tells us he saw his parents die, and instead of abandoning his little brother on the streets, he takes care of him, even though it couldn't have been easy and his official profiles tells us he gets into a lot of street fights to protect Bolin? Remember how he's a skilled tactician and leader, able to lead a rookie sports team in a very rough field? Or how about how he's a really hard worker, constantly doing his best to take on his, Bolin's, and later Korra's problems by himself, so they don't have to worry, or how he's constantly looking for work to get money so they can still have a place to live and eat?
See, these are all "good" traits in a person, things that should be commended, and they all happen in series. The problem is, they all happen at the beginning of the series, and by the end everybody is so wrapped up in this stupid love rectangle crap that their involvement in the shipping becomes their only defining character trait. Mako gets nerfed by this a lot but he's not the only one. Bolin had some great setup for gradually growing more independent of his brother and learning to take care of himself, but the writers don't do anything with it because he turns into the Third Wheel in the romance plot that takes over. Asami has a lot of really great character traits too, but by the end of the series her entire character is also pretty much defined by getting stuck in a love rectangle, and it actually shocks me how many people hate her just because she's 'Korra's competitor.'
Ultimately I think the shipping crap is really at fault here for destroying a lot of the great character traits in all four of our mains: Korra, Mako, Bolin, and Asami. They had a lot of potential in the beginning episodes, but the shipping came on too strong, too intense, and too sloppily, and it sort of ruined everything.
Or at least that's my humble opinion.
Sorry for the wall of text. I just find the Korra reactions too interesting to resist, for good or for ill
And by that logic I still don't see a proble with Aang helping Korra to get her powers back. I mean the thing happened when the battle was over and the bad guy totally defeated, so what's wrong with that? What's wrong with a reward?
I mean you see assholes in the real world having a great life despite being horrible human beings and still they get tons of rewards on their life, so why is it so bad to have a good character have a reward after working so hard, fighting, growing and all that?
I think the problem most people have with Aang helping Korra get her powers back is that it seems a bit like a deus ex machina. Which I can understand; it does come a bit suddenly with seemingly no previous preparations in the story. I think the intent was supposed to be that Korra is not very spiritual and has never had contact with Aang before, since she's relied mostly on the physical aspects of bending. When that's removed she has no choice but to approach the spiritual side, which is when she "gets through" to Aang, as it were. It's a good intent, I just don't think it was handled particularly well. But then again, the creators have a history of this--the Lion Turtle and Energybending also comes to mind, which also felt a bit like a cop-out. I think the writers are just very skilled at starting stories and building up to major events, but don't have a handle on 'endings' so much. They're hard, I don't blame them. Again, nobody's perfect.
Aang teaching Korra how to fix the blood bending damage at the end? If that the biggest flaw that anyone can find I still think that the ending was pretty solid.
Everybody needs help sometimes and heros can have rewards too.