K101 – Welcome To Republic City and K102 – A Leaf In The Wind Review

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So Airspeed Prime here again, to start what will become a weekly review of new episodes of Korra.  My aim is to give a very reasonable review of each episode pointing out what I liked and even some things I didn’t like, if you have read my previous reviews on the comics you will know I am very fair in my reviews and that I don’t blindly like everything Avatar or hate on small things. So Since we had a 2 episode premiere I will review both today.

K101 Welcome To Republic City

So after nearly 2 years of following production, finding every scrap of information, the show is at last out. Episode 1 would always have to make an impression, especially with just how passionate us fans are about Avatar, Mike and Bryan took a bit of a risk setting the show 70 years on with most of the characters we love gone. The show is out and it is amazing.

It did make an impression, straight away this show just feels so much like an “Avatar” show, but I could see straight away how much everything has improved. The animation from Studio Mir is sensational, and with them as the sole studio working on Korra the look of the show is going to be so consistent (ATLA had 2 different studios every season), the big thing is that with the advancements in the world the animation had advanced also to show off the extra detail. The backgrounds are stunning, with a real painterly look, and especially the CG animation has made huge leaps, it is incorporated flawlessly into the traditional style.

The music also has changed a bit to suit how the Avatar world is now. What we first heard about the music style of Korra was “Chinese Jazz in the 20′s” I did not know what they meant back then, having heard it now I completely understand. The original show had a music style that really suited the “Group of Heroes Travelling across the World” with this it is more subtle and suited to all the underlying issues in United Republic. The Track Team have done it again.

Now on to more specifics on the episode. Episode 1 of Korra has the task of reintroducing us to the world 70 years on while still making it so that new fans can understand what the Avatar world is about. I think this episode does this very well, perhaps they did not mention exactly what the role of the Avatar is or why Tenzin and his family are the only Airbenders, but they can mention these things at pretty much any time. Korra the new Avatar is our new main character, I love the way she is very much the opposite of Aang, it really adds to the “Each Avatar is their own unique person” thing that makes the concept of the Avatar so interesting. Even from a young age, she is very much a physical bender as opposed to spiritual one, while not fully explored in this episode I find this to be a great character arc for her. The Avatar, a spiritual being, who is not at all spiritual, it means that she will struggle with not only Airbending but also just the specifics of being the Avatar. Tenzin is the other main character in this episode, a very spiritual man with the interesting character point of being the guy who always tries to be calm but easily gets mad. The interactions between Korra and Tenzin are some of the best moments of the episode, the show continues straight on from Avatar in having such realistic character interactions, they get mad about things and emotional, but they can both see that they are wrong or right about things, it is this realism that makes every character in the show so interesting. I really enjoyed the rest of Tenzin’s family, it is one of our first times seeing a happy family in the Avatar world, and especially the kids added a lot of great humour to the episode, with their very different personalities. Most notably when we were all trolled about Zuko’s mom when Jinora asks Katara what happened and as she is about to answer, Ikki interrupts, it is a fantastic reference to the original show and also the whole fandom.

This episode also sets up the story extremely well, they get the balance right of how much time to spend in the Southern Water Tribe and how much to spend in the city. It means that Korra’s decision to suddenly go to United Republic is not out of the blue, the first half of the episode shows us how controlled and almost prison like her training has been, exemplified with the emotional scene where Katara catches Korra leaving and understands that Korra needs to become the Avatar and help the world as she did in the past. So she sets off for Republic City with her Polar Bear Dog, Naga.

United Republic itself was one of the big talking points once we found out about it, so it’s introduction is so crucial and like many location reveals in ATLA (Ba Sing Se, Omashu, Southern and Western Air Temple) this is amazing, at the same time Korra and the audience take in this vast modern city for the first time, seeing cars, airships, parks, skyscrapers and so much more. This is Korra’s first time in the city and she goes to explore, what is great about this part of the episode is that her not knowing the customs of the city and how to act allows her to experience close to everything in the city and most importantly discover the problems in the city. She sees that there are a lot of homeless people, there is an Anti Bender revolution growing, Bender gangs controlling the streets and metalbender police looming overhead. She realises that she is needed in the city not just to learn Airbending from Tenzin but also to solve the problems.

I don’t want to go on too long, but watching this episode I just felt good, this show has captured what made ATLA so good while still making it original. I think it tells you everything you need to know when alot of the fandom were worried that we would not see many ATLA characters, but after the episode we were just as in love with the new characters as the old. A close to perfect episode 1, they did not overload us with stuff nor did they make it the ATLA reference show, every reference was well thought out and important, only negative would as I mentioned be that perhaps there was not enough explanation on what exactly the Avatar is and the role of the Avatar, but it is so minor.

K102 A Leaf In The Wind

K102 Screenshot

The first thing I think is important to say is that It was a great decision from nick to air This and the first episode as the premiere of the show, just because I think they work so well together as a two part opener, they just flow into each other so well. At the end of Episode 1, Tenzin accepted Korra as his student and straight away we get into the Airbending training here. The one element we did not see explored in a training way in ATLA was Air as Aang knew it already, so seeing this so early was great to see, to get the philosophy of Airbending as the most spiritual element. The title of the episode ties in so well with this, as Tenzin explains you need to be like a leaf in the wind, meet resistance and change direction to avoid it, explained very well through a lovely shot of a leaf flowing through the Airbending training gates. We knew from episode 1 that Korra was not going to find it easy to learn this element as her personality is the complete opposite of the Airbender philosophy, she tries to force her way through the training gates rather than flow through them and is thrown out by the gates. The kids do a great job in these training scenes of showing us that they all despite their age can do this training and understand the philosophy “Dance Like The Wind” Ikki says to Korra, showing us that despite Ikki’s over enthusiasm she has that creativity and flow of an Airbender, Jinora despite being a bookworm and the quiet one has a kind of grace that suits Airbending and finally Meelo, a bit mad, but so relaxed. Korra’s personality comes out more in these scenes, she is not used to struggling at bending and is frustrated, she is not getting any of it at all and quits training for the day. We also see Tenzin get frustrated at Korra’s impatience too.

This leads into the second half of the episode, Pro-Bending. One thing I love about this episode as a whole is the contrast between Airbending and Pro-Bending and ultimately how they link at the end, the difference in style and approach, one very traditional the other the height of modern bending, but at the end they both help each other. It is here that we meet Mako and Bolin, 2 members of The Fire Ferrets Team, once thing Avatar always does well is introducing new characters and making us like them. Bolin is who Korra meets first and straight away they are friends, just from the way they both get straight into the act to calm Toza down, Bolin and his confident yet awkward at times personality is just straight away one of my favourite characters. He then introduces Korra to his brother Mako, who is quite serious and a bit dismissive at first, but once we see him compete in the arena we see what drives him and Bolin, they want to win to get a better life for themselves and he has to be the more serious one since Bolin is so laid back.

Pro-Bending itself is an amazingly constructed sport, the creators have planned out every single rule and it is just an exciting thing to watch. It allows us to have bending fights without a lot of the risk of our characters being injured or killed, but also to showcase how bending has changed over the years. It is set up to be an exciting plot point of the Fire Ferrets  run in the championship tournament, the one thing I worry about is how they will distinguish the elements from each other, because at the moment being hit by earth or water does not really matter as the aim is just to knock the opponent back, so I hope they introduce more tactical fighting in future matches like: waterbenders purposefully soaking the field to slip up the opponent, using the ropes for dodging or aerial attacks and even just some unique formations. I also have to say this, the Pro Bending Commentator is UTTERLY AMAZING and really adds to the fights.

A scene that really needs to talked about is when The Fire Ferrets, now with Korra in her first match are about to lose in the final round, Korra is in Zone 3 teetering on the edge when she dodges one attack instinctively and begins to understand her Airbending lessons and then dodges every attack and inspires the victory, the scene and especially the music swelling at this moment definitely made it the epic moment of the episode. This combined with the character interaction and reactions from Korra and Tenzin were great, Korra realised that her traditional Airbending training can help her in a modern situation and Tenzin learned that Pro-Bending which he considers a mockery of bending is actually an excellent teaching tool for Airbending.

After these 2 episodes, IMO we have the perfect introduction to the show, we know the main characters pretty well and where the story is going for the most part while leaving the mystery of The Equalists still to be told. It is doing everything right so far and I cannot wait for episode 3 “The Revelation”

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By:

My name is Morgan Bannon, I am a 22 Year old Male from Ireland and I am the Site Super Moderator. I have watched and been a fan of Avatar since it premiered. I am also a news post writer for the site and host the site's podcast, The Avatar Online Podcast. My strength as an Avatar fan would be just a good knowledge of Avatar Canon and characters.

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Comments - 2 Posts

  1. AvatarOlivia Said: Comment by AvatarOlivia on August 7, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink
     

    I love the first episode! 🙂

    Reply

  2. AvatarOlivia Said: Comment by AvatarOlivia on August 7, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink
     

    The first time I ever watched The Legend of Korra, was around midnight. After the first episode was over, I knew I was going to love this show! 🙂
    It was love at first sight! 🙂

    Reply

 

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