Korra Episode Review – K408 Remembrances

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K408 Remembrances

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Written By – Joshua Hamilton, Katie Matilla and Tim Hedrick
Directed By – Mike Dimartino
Animated By – Studio Mir and Studio Pierrot

Budgets. Never did I ever expect I would need to start off a review of Korra by talking about the budget for the show, but now that Nick have actively affected the content that we get to see, I think it is important I bring this up. As I am sure most of you know, the reason that this episode is a recap/clip episode is because Nickelodeon cut the budget of Book 4 by 1 episode forcing Mike and Bryan to either fire some of the crew early or do a clip show and limit the amount of new animation. They rightfully chose to keep their crew and do what they could with this episode.

So there is a reason why this episode is as it is, but at the same time as a reviewer, I have to be fair and review this episode as a normal episode. Yes the budget is a factor, but I am not going to just praise this episode for “Doing what it could”, it remains an issue that this episode happened in the middle of a, so far, excellent season and the final season no less. For me the budget factor keeps me from flat out criticising the creative decisions of the people who made this episode, which is how I felt after I first watched the episode before I had read about the budget cut.

So lets begin. Overall I think this is simply an average episode, nothing in it is really bad, but at the same time there is also nothing massively notable here. For an episode called “Remembrances” I don’t think I am going to remember much about this episode by the end of the season outside of it always being remembered as “The Korra Clip Show”, which is a big issue for Korra which is such a good show overall. Korra is not average and this is just an average episode, and unfortunately this being an average episode means it ends up bottom of the pile in terms of Avatar and Korra episodes. This happening in the final season, makes me so annoyed at Nick, Book 4 has been excellent so far and this has brought a run of 7 great episodes to a crushing end. The one beacon of hope is that Mike and Bryan knew about the budget cut well in advance and so knew they basically only had 12 episodes, so the other 12 episodes are unaffected by this budget cut thanks to the heroic sacrifice made by “Remembrances”.

There are a few nice moments here and there and the episode is enjoyable and extremely watchable. I don’t think this is a skippable episode as there is just about enough here to make it interesting throughout. There are about 5 minutes of completely new animation and then a few edits made to previous scenes with Chibi reaction faces and funny features added to scenes from Book 1-3. You can clearly see this episode was done on a low budget, but also that the crew had fun making such an odd episode. They really tried as hard as they could to make this episode something unique and interesting, I definitely appreciate the effort, but I still have issues with the execution of this episode.

We begin with Mako recapping his love life with Wu, Tu and Yin giving comments throughout. We get an interesting enough opening scene with Mako training Wu to be tougher and Wu showing an interest in Mako’s life. The little comments are interesting, but only a few actually tell us some new thought on a scene. I liked that Mako started and ended his recap by saying how much Korra changed his life and how she inspired him to put others before himself. It was nice to see Mako super honestly say what Korra means to him, though I still have an issue with this statement as it makes out that Mako is selfish at the start of the series, when he has always been fairly selfless always caring for his brother and Korra. I think this could have been worded better.

The other issue with Mako’s recap is that is completely focuses on the romances and really shows how little we have got of Mako outside of romances, they point this out and try to make it an in-universe thing where Mako has only cared about relationships and now needs to find out who he is without a girlfriend. Again I get the idea they were going for, but they seem to be trying to make up for writing mistakes made with Mako by saying that in-universe Mako was focused on the wrong things. Where was the focus on some of the other big moments for Mako, becoming a cop and moving up in the ranks etc. The only other notable thing here was Yin saying that Mako is like his grandfather when it comes to romance, which is an interesting note about his grandfather who we have never met. All in all, Mako’s recap makes me hope so badly that he gets a big moment in the remaining 5 episodes, it is fine and minus some writing things that bugged me enjoyable to watch.

Next up is Korra’s recap when she is talking to Asami and later Tenzin. I like that the basis for this comes from Toph’s line to her in a previous episode about how the world doesn’t need her and there being no point in fighting Kuvira as a new villain will always come up. Asami plays the Katara to Korra’s Aang here as she constantly tells Korra that she is needed and the positives she has brought to the world, while Korra just focuses on her mistakes. The issue I have here is that Korra’s negativity here comes out of nowhere given what she did learn from Toph in the end, I get that the two episodes focus on different angles about the villains, Korra was still fighting those old fights in her head a few episodes ago and here it is more about new villains popping up. But I think the end goal in each episode is the exact same, Korra realises she is needed again and is set on doing her best again. The comments throughout this recap add no new interpretations as I think most fans clearly saw the positives and negatives of all of Korra’s choices. This side of the story gets better when Tenzin arrives.

He agrees that new enemies will always spring up, but that you can learn from them and improve yourself from dealing with them and that is exactly what Korra has done. He then notes how much Korra has grown from the start which is just a rewording of his radio call to Korra in K307. Korra’s recap is a perfectly fine way of showing Korra lose confidence and gain confidence, the problem is that we have already dealt with this this book, Korra at the end of the last episode and at the end of this episode for me are the same, this was a sudden issue brought up and dealt with.

Finally we get to Bolin and Varrick. It is far and away the most visually interesting part of the episode, but also the most confused in terms of the aim of this episode. I would love to comment on how everything Varrick says is hilarious and funny, but that would be me saying “It was funny” over and over again. This section is meant to be Bolin’s recap, but instead of us getting a full on recap of Bolin’s story, Varrick tells a crazy story of his own mixing up multiple character arcs and giving them to Bolin. While interesting and funny, it really limits the amount of focus Bolin gets despite this being Bolin’s recap, instead the focus is on how odd and eccentric Varrick is. Yes, Varrick is very entertaining, but in this episode him being so over the top felt a bit jarring to me given that he is still dealing with Zhu Li’s betrayal, obviously this will be dealt with going forward, but for full on continuity I wish that perhaps Varrick needed to be snapped out of Zhu Li thoughts into telling this crazy story to distract him.

What I do love in this section is the one time Bolin does comment on events. When Varrick mentions Bolin’s relationship with Opal he goes on and on about how beautiful and amazing Opal is and suddenly realises that she will probably never speak to him again ans starts to sob, Varrick then for the only time in his tale adds in something to cheer up Bolin, he mentions that Opal forgives Bolin and kisses him giving him power. This does cheer up Bolin and give him hope that their relationship can still be a thing, it shows that as odd as the Varrick and Bolin relationship is they are friends and Varrick does want to cheer up Bolin. And in general how highly Varrick thinks of Bolin that he would tell such a crazy story with Bolin as the amazing hero.

There may also be a foreshadowing of what Bolin may do in future episodes. Varrick says that in his story Bolin leads an army of airbenders against the villain and helps win the day, if Bolin actually reunites with Opal, it would be cool to see him lead a bunch of airbenders into battle against Kuvira.

In terms of the humour I really did enjoy the 4 villains teaming up via a phone conference call. It was so absurd, but brilliant.

This episode is effectively Korra’s version of The Ember Island Players, but comparing that episode with this one really highlights how limited the crew were with this episode. That was a recap with no clips, instead all new animation. I am sure the crew would have loved to be able to do something really clever like that, even something as simple as showing the clips remembered by the characters in full chibi animation was probably too much given the budget.

Overall, the episode is fine. It is neither aweful nor very good, completely middle of the road and while that would be perfectly acceptable for most shows, Korra is not most shows and thus this episode stands out like a sore thumb in terms of quality, a real outlier.  As I said at the start, Nickelodeon is at fault here and this for me is really the final straw. I have been very optimistic about the future of Avatar going forward in terms of another show, but at this stage I am wondering why on earth Mike and Bryan would want to work with Nickelodeon again after forcing them to make this decision. While the immediate future of Avatar looks good with 5 episodes of Korra to go, set up very well by the first 7 episodes, the future post Korra doesn’t look so good, when really Avatar should have absolutely no doubts going into the future.

 

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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 - 16 Posts

  1. Avatar of Pinkfire
    Pinkfire Said: Comment by Pinkfire on November 24, 2014 at 2:47 pm | Permalink
     

    The villain phone call was definitely the star moment of this episode :P If anything, it was the scene that made the episode worth watching to me.

    Reply

  2. Avatar of Droc Plug
    Droc Plug Said: Comment by Droc Plug on November 24, 2014 at 6:39 pm | Permalink
     

    Only really memorable thing is the Villain phone call scene. Poor Unalok, not even the villain’s like him.

    Reply

  3. Avatar of MoonPeaches
    MoonPeaches Said: Comment by MoonPeaches on November 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm | Permalink
     

    Saddest review eveh. :( especially that last paragraph.

    Reply

  4. Kal Said: Comment by Kal on November 25, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Permalink
     

    I actually genuinely, unabashedly loved this episode. I know it got a lot of flack for being a clip show, and I can definitely understand the criticism that it’s received, but I can’t remember an episode in either AtLA or LoK that was this gut-bustingly hilarious.

    I also appreciated the placement of the episode as a retrospective on the long and often wild ride that has been LoK: it’s often easy to get bogged down in the complaints of the hour, but this episode helped me remember the awesomeness of the overall arc of the show.

    Reply

  5. Sri Said: Comment by Sri on November 27, 2014 at 11:49 am | Permalink
     

    The decision to turn Korra into a 1 shot miniseries and then more miniseries part way through season 1 was and has always been TLOK’s achilles heel. This was a story with even more potential than ATLA and would have made for an epic anime had it been made in Japan. It’s a pity that the miniseries format killed of a lot of that potential. There isn’t enough length to develop complex and complete plots for older audiences with truly fulfilling endings — there’re always many loose ends, stuff introduced right out of thin air, Deux-ex-machina issues, lot’s of significant contributing plot points being pushed to the wayside — it’s a sign of cramped writing, trying to end everything in the last episode somehow. ATLA had the space to develop the plot (60+ episodes as compared to 12-13 here).

    And now the animation has gone quite a few bars down with the budget constraints. The romance is a distraction. It’s still amazing how the show has nevertheless managed to excel despite it all, but all in all, this show could have been an all time classic down the line and it’s bad planning on Nick’s part that they got it into this shape.

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    But at the same time you make it out like ATLA had some stunning plot that was deeply complex. ATLA has a super simple plot (Master 4 elements and defeat the Fire Lord, yes other stuff happened, but at a base level this is the main plot), it is the amazing characters that made it great.
    Korra with its format has 4 separate plots with similarly good characters. They both have different formats which they use effectively in the way they each tell their story. Aang’s story is the tale of him gradually accepting his role as the Avatar as he has to train to take down the big bad fire lord, while Korra’s is more the opposite someone who wanted nothing more than to be the Avatar gradually beaten down and built back up by the challenges she faces. Each arc suits the format of their respective show. Comparing one 12-14 episode season of Korra to ATLA’s full run is very unfair, Korra vs ATLA is 52 episodes vs 61, 4 seasons with different yet interlinked plots and character arcs vs 3 seasons telling one big story. Ultimately which format you prefer probably decides your favourite.
    The Deus Ex Machina point it something people bring up for ATLA also (Lion Turtle, Energybending), I personally dislike this as a criticism and don’t think any season of avatar contains deus ex machina.
    Right now Korra has yet to end, right now ATLA has the edge because it is a known quantity and it ended well, though still had it’s loose ends (Zuko’s mom, Toph and her parents etc). Korra has the potential with 4 episodes to go to be just as good as ATLA if it ends well.

    I understand your point, I just don’t think criticising Korra to big up ATLA is a great way to make it. ATLA AND Korra both have their issues, but both are amazing shows :)

    Reply

    tobi Reply:

    Wrong atla might had a simple plot but it made me care about the character and new setting. Most people only watch korra because they have seen atla and wanted to see if korra could be as good. 1 mini plot for each season hasn’t made korra better. It make the story cliches and overrated *korra is going to die oh wait it only season 2* The writing has gone downhill, the character were bland for two season. Mike and Bryan just can’t write good stories, they created a unique world but it was due to the creative team that the atla became better. TOPTH was created by a writing team…Mike didn’t even like at first.

    Another bad think about korra is it dumb down the bending in certain situation that make no sense. Why are fire bender only using fire ball to attack, water bender using limited water when they are in an ocean or ice surrounding them, Earth bender using small rock instead of moving the earth,

    the reason for this weaken was to 1. the equalist more of threat, 2. make the evil bender more of a threat to then end the fight with 2 main character beating them like child play. (season 3 finale)

    The lousy writing. You are telling me amon is stupid enough to use water bender to rise up to the surface right where a crowd of people is to review his real identity. Which then directly end the revolution? Season 2 ending jesus jinoria, Pacific Rim, destroying Vaatu when it clear stated you can’t because he and ravva are one being. Season 3 making 4 evil bender so smart and then for the finale making them so stupid. Season 4 (why would kuvira waste her time against korra and letting her enter the avatar state, she been fighting a war for three years, realistic she should had kill or capture korra right in the beginning of their fight.

    The whole relationship stuff was dumb. The writing for asami is still dreadful. Sokka was a nonbender but he felt like part of the group. Asami is a nonbender and all i feel is she only used for her rich background and as a part of a love triangle.

    And if you notice the fans people only like this season because it mimic atla. It bring back an old favorite character. it explore the world etc. (People like A BLIND OLD LADY more then anyone in LOK)

    And it proves that korra is a disappointment since it rating are falling hence it lost mone)v (being move to the internet was bad.. no matter what the future technology is in this day you have to do well on tv) rating a based on tv views not illegal download or watching it on Nick and Mike and Brian are most likely not getting another series.

    @airspeed

    beside i am talking to the guy who like the last airbender so we can’t ever agree on anything.

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Well excuse me for trying to have a balanced discussion. I see no point in eve trying to engage here, I just tried to present a more balanced view on Korra and I get a string of complaints.
    I like ATLA and Korra and find TLA to be ok. Your loss if you don’t like Korra.

    tobi Reply:

    i like korra but i don’t praise it like you every single time someone say atla is better *which it is*. You always come back with “korra isn’t finish yet, give it time” well sir it the final season and so far nothing has shown it to be better then atla.
    And as for the creator wanting 12-16 episode for atla i am glad someone had some sense and told them to make it longer. Because obviously they aren’t that good at writing or making a show. Atla was great because it allow us to understand the character, while korra is a shallow show with bad character. Which also teach kids to date other lady, used them for the money and then cheat on other people with superpower lady.

    ps your discussion point has been the same for three years. nothing has changed.

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    I find it hard to discuss what youa re saying as you are stating your opinions as if they are facts.
    “i like korra but i don’t praise it like you every single time someone say atla is better *which it is*”
    You find ATLA to be a better show, I personally like them fairly equally. Yes I do defend Korra at times when I feel it is necessary as I do feel it gets criticised too much at times, when it is in reality not really that bad.

    Book 4 may not have shown you anything, but to others including myself it has been extremely enjoyable.

    “Which also teach kids to date other lady, used them for the money and then cheat on other people with superpower lady.”

    Not sure what show you were watching, there was no plot in Korra where someone used someone for money.

    This is a point where I have to absolutely call you out for putting down Korra to big up ATLA. Because you are using an early thing in Korra and comparing it to the good complete messages from ATLA. Competely ignoring the fact that Korra as a show has also presented good messages to learn from. Take Book 2 Spirits for example the concept explore towards the end with Tenzin and Korra that they are powerful and strong themselves not because they are the son of the past avatar and the Avatar, but individually they are strong. Who you are not what you are. That is a wonderful message, just like Aang showed that you can stick to your beliefs and still succeed even when others tell you to throw them aside and The Southern Raiders exploration of revenge and forgiveness which didn’t just try and be nice and friendly to kids, they flat out said that sometimes it is impossible to forgive.

    I completely understand your opinion that you prefer ATLA to Korra and have issues with Korra. I just disagree with you making negative points about Korra only to praise the way ATLA did something as if ATLA is perfect as I just mentioned above in my post here. Sure the two shows can and will be compared, but saying things like ATLA has good messages while Korra has bad ones is just wrong. Both have realistic characters who make mistakes and learn from them, depending on what point in their development you catch them at they can be shown as portraying a bad or a good message.

    For example the romance in Korra, sure if you look at the romance mid Book 1 Air it portrays issues between all of these characters. Skip ahead 3 seasons and these characters are all friends, not in relationships with each other, but also not bitter about what came before. You look at it from a book 1 point of view and it sends out a bad message, you look at it from a book 4 point of view and it sends out the positive message of being able to move past these dramas of the past and remain close friends.

    An ATLA example. Aang in The Deserter is not weary enough of firebending and burns Katara, sending out a bad message about Aang. Skip ahead to Book 3 and Aang only accepts Zuko as his teacher once he sees that Zuko too realises how dangerous it can be and the need to be careful. SHowing Aang’s growth from the previous episode.

    PS thanks for pointing out my stunning consistency in my posting. It is nice to know that the years have not dampened my enthusiasm for this universe and that I still feel as strongly about Korra as I did before.

  6. Sri Said: Comment by Sri on November 28, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink
     

    Airspeed, don’t get me wrong. ATLA did the best it could for it’s target audience — the overall plot underneath might be very simple, but it’s how far you can create on that plot point that makes all the difference. After all these years I am still amazed at how refreshingly original the whole thing was and how far it raised the bar.

    As for TLOK, there are many examples. Korra’s season 1 till about 3/4th of the way raised the bar to a level I’ve never seen before for one. Don’t forget it was not meant to last beyond one season and the writers did do a good job of connecting the 4 seasons. You do feel that Korra has the potential to be one of the greatest shows made — but in my opinion it doesn’t get enough space to explore it’s full possibilities.

    Of course, I admit a bias here thanks to exposure to manga & anime (which can go to truly massive lengths to explore the plots, settings, characters and the like and which sometimes causes ending fatigue).

    Korra doesn’t have to go that far at all. I have nothing against the mini-series format — it makes for more intense story telling, but only the space it provides. I honestly feel that 20 episodes per season (as in the case of ATLA) would have been a much better idea as it would have given plenty of extra space to neatly wrap things up. The romance could have progressed at a comfortable pace. Amon as a villain might have got room to fully explain his backstory and his rather “unclear” motives (I mean even half an episode more would have solidified his grounds). Season 2 could have avoided the Jinora – ex- machina or could have at least had the space to explain all the stuff that just appeared out of nowhere. It’s not a negative to pull plot twists out of thin air, but it requires room to be handled well. The lion turtle for example would be accepted considering the target audience for ATLA, but Season 2 : Beginnings took it much further and did extremely well to develop the lion turtle’s role in the history of the avatar verse and in context, it doesn’t seem odd now.

    ATLA and TLOK also have to get credit for how they keeping trying to find ever new ways to ensure that the Avatar State doesn’t become a story breaker power that ends the plot right then and there. So there’re a lot of positives with what space and budget the creators have been given to work with. I know they can’t control how many seasons or episodes or budget is allocated — but honestly, a story with epic potential — does it deserve to be constrained like this where it has to compromise?

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    The thing is that Mike and Bryan actually wanted ATLA to be 12-14 episode seasons, they have said this on multiple occasions and this is the reason why Korra has this format, because with ATLA they had to push Nick to get the show going and Nick wanted 20 episode seasons, but with Korra Nick came to them and gave them basically free reign with regards to season length etc so Mike and Bryan did what they always wanted to do, 12-14 episode seasons.
    They like telling tight stories.

    I didn’t find Amon’s motives unclear, Skeletons in the Closet clearly showed the exact reason why he hates bending, his father finding out he and his brother had bending changed their family forever. I agree that I would have liked to see the next step in his journey after he runs away, but his general motive is fairly clearly stated in the episode. Which IMO is better development than Ozai who is simply a classic bad guy, though he later gets really good development in the comics, the show doesn’t give you much on him outside of him being the latest in a line of evil fire lords just continuing on what Sozin started, which is perfectly fine, I have no issue with a guy who is just bad every so often. Though it does show that of the 3 main villains in ATLA 2/3 were stock bad guys Zhao for Book 1 and Ozai for Book 3/overall enemy of the series while Azula is probably the most well developed villain. It shows that while Korra may have new villains each season, they have all been unique and interesting in their own way, which in general is a change from ATLA.

    Again Jinora at the end of Book 2, sure it is not point by point explained, but there are some key facts that are clear from viewing the episodes. Raava and Vaatu are balanced by the number of spirits who are light and dark, by the time the final fight happens nearly all spirits are dark and thus Raava’s rebirth in Vaatu is drastically slowed down. Jinora throughout the whole book is stated to be extremely spiritual, attracting many light spirits too her. Come the finale she is the only character who has light spirits any where near them, as is later explained in Book 3 Change what she did was use her spirit projection power for effectively the first time here, she uses the fact that she is a beacon for light spirits and engulfs the area in light speeding up Raava’s rebirth. Hence why the music track that plays at this scene is called “Jinora’s light” :)

    The Lion Turtle also was never a deus ex machina given that it was set up as an ancient animal at a few stages before the finale including the fact that they came into contact with a previous Avatar at some stage.

    The thing is that ATLA also was constrained by the number of episodes it had despite it having more than Korra. They left Zuko’s mother an open cliffhanger with clear set up in earlier episodes, but no initial plan by the end of the series to cover it. Sure they later tried to get a tv movie made and we now have The Search, but in terms of ATLA as a show that was not explored. Same with Toph and her parents, clearly set up as Toph’s main story, but not addressed in the series, again left for the comics to explore and that comic only came out fully a few weeks ago! Not to mention all the mysteries about Iroh’s past and so on.

    Both series could be expanded, but at what stage do you say that for this length of show it fit in everything it could. Avatar is my main fandom so for me I want to know EVERYTHING about this universe and will always have these issues of “That could have been expanded upon” “They should have told that story”, but there is only so much you can cover and cover well in a set number of episodes. As a fan I will always want more content and more explored, but as much as I love animes like Bleach and Naruto, I don’t think I want Avatar to have single fights that take place over the course of like 10 episodes. There are definitely things in ATLA and Korra that could have been improved upon, but in general with both I have never really thought deeply about how both shows are constrained.

    It is a good discussion though :)

    Reply

    tobi Reply:

    jinora falling from the sky is worst of a deus x machia then aang and the lion turtle.

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    If you really think they are Deus Ex Machina’s then I can do no more to convince you otherwise. I don’t think they are as I have explained above.

    tobi Reply:

    don’t waste time with him, he stating the same thing for the last 2 years. Nothing will remove his love for the last airbender movie or korra. To him atla is just an old relic. he defends mako using asami for crying out loud. And he think the bending fight actually make sense. Bolin is funny??

    Reply

    Avatar of Airspeed Prime

    Airspeed Prime Reply:

    Out of interest what is the aim of this post, instead of adding to the discussion you instead are what trying to diminish my posts by pointing out some stuff not related to the discussion. I think it is completely up to Sri to decide if he thinks my posts and discussing these topics with me is a waste of time or not.

    Also because you will probably pop in at some stage on another random discussion bringing this up to someone else. I have never said “I love” The Last Airbender movie, I think it is ok/fine/average and as is the case with this movie anything that is not outright hatred is seen as an invalid opinion. I have huge issues with TLA as a movie, but there are also parts I think are good.

    I don’t think ATLA is an old relic. Would I help to run a site called “Avatar The Last Airbender Online.com” if I thought it was a relic, would I review every episode of that show in written form and podcast form with positive views on each episode if I thought that. Don’t mistake me defending Korra from harsh criticism as me putting down ATLA, I love both, I like the ATLA comics also.

    Me thinking Bolin is funny is not a crazy thing, a lot of fans like him as a character and find it funny. I can understand you mentioning my non-hatred of TLA as an odd opinion I have, but that??? Not really.

    Reply

 

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