Hey guys, and welcome to my review of episodes 1 and 2 of The Legend of Korra. Mind that I will be mostly focusing on what I didn’t like about the first two episodes in this review, as I saw some definite room for improvement, but no one else ever mentions the episodes’ flaws.
That’s not to say that I thought the episodes were bad at all! It’s just that after so much anticipation for the sequel series, Ep.1 didn’t meet my expectations. I expected something that would blow my mind, and Welcome to Republic City wasn’t it. But first, I have to mention the things in Ep.1 I did love. Seeing Katara again – wonderful, and so nostalgic! Tenzin’s three little airbabies are adorable, especially Meelo, even if he does creep out a few people. That little troll scene with Jinora asking Katara about Zuko’s mom… grr, frustrated doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt! It was funny though, in a masochistic kind of way. Republic City is designed beautifully. I completely dig the city’s steampunk, 1920’s America feel. The statue of Aang was done even more magnificently than I had imagined, and the look on Korra’s face as she saw the statue of her previous incarnation – what a parallel to Aang in TLA! Speaking of which, there are tons of parallels that can be found between just these two LOK episodes and TLA, and whether they’re intentional or not, it’s really interesting to compare and contrast the two series.
Ep.2 was all across fantastic. Pro-bending is the coolest thing ever, hands down! It’s also something that I could really see happen as a result of the creation of a metropolis where benders of all elements come together. A game with teams of a waterbender, earthbender, and firebender… it really embraces the idea of Republic City, that all benders could live in peace. The exclusion of non-benders from the sport is also a great, subtle way to show why Equalists may hold contempt for benders – who wouldn’t be jealous to be denied something as awesome as pro-bending?
Now on to the bad. The pacing in this one episode was especially horrible, in my opinion. They throw a lot at us right at the beginning, and before we even know it, Korra’s running away to Republic City. We don’t feel the sadness we’re supposed to feel when she says goodbye to her parents because other than the opening scene where the (rather unimpressive) Order of the White Lotus talks to Korra’s parents, we don’t see them at all. When Korra’s on the ship to Republic City, we don’t feel as excited as she does because there’s hardly been any buildup to it. Everything leading up to Korra’s arrival at Republic City was really condensed, but oddly enough, there’s a couple long scenes that are rather unnecessary. Korra taking Naga out for a run in the South Pole, for example, didn’t contributeto the plot nor our understanding of their relationship (although the fandom did get to have some fun with Howra). The entire talk with Mr. Bush Man taught Korra and us nothing but that Republic City isn’t as wonderful as it seems, which we find out anyways in the immediate next scene with the Triple Threat Triad, so that could have been cut out, just like Naga sniffing for food. Heck, even Amon could have been cut out from the first episode. I would rather have seen maybe Equalist promotion posters in the background here and there to subtly hint at the city’s anti-bender movement and have that in addition to the speech-making Equalist be all that we get about the movement so far, because to introduce Amon and then leave him completely out of Ep.2 seems a bit sloppy.
There’s a lot of sitting around and talking about where the Avatar should stay, and even though that’s the main conflict in Ep.1, that doesn’t change how boring it is to see Korra and Tenzin talk and talk and talk again about the issue. Come on, Bryke, we already know she’s going to end up staying in Republic City. There’s no need to drag it out. I’ve noticed that there are a lot of semi-far shots in Ep.1 where we can see the characters full body. They can last for a few conversational lines, which really distance us from the characters and isn’t something that should be used as much as it was, especially in a pilot episode.
There are a couple of action scenes, which is a great relief from all the talking, but the music that played in the background during the chase scene with the metalbender cops really wasn’t my cup of tea. The score in the first episode in general wasn’t to my liking, with all the high violins and(I think) the erhu.
As for character design, I’m actually very pleased with the the look of every single character. Somehow, even though Katara looks completely different now, I can see some traces of young Katara in old Katara. So, fantastic job there, Nickelodeon! However, Tenzin makes me uncomfortable. The extremely spikey beard in combination with his round bald head is quite odd. Him being a tall man with a lanky structure makes it a little awkward to see him wear the light, breezy airbender outfit. Plus, I’m not such a big fan of the fact that Tenzin, his three kids, and Korra all wear the exact traditional airbender outfit that we’re so used to associating with Aang. I get that being the last airbenders living in an Air Temple, it makes sense for them to wear traditional airbender outfits, but every time I see that outfit and those colors, all I can think about is Aang, which really distracts me from the fact that this is a new series, separate from TLA.
The background paintings are really done wonderfully. Absolutely amazing. I was a bit unhappy with the panoramic shot of Republic City when Korra first gets off the boat because, again, there was no buildup to it and it was thrown at me rather suddenly, but the background itself was great.
I know. Everyone condemns me for the things I don’t like about Ep.1, but I feel that part of being a fan is being able to criticize the material.