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Now don’t misunderstand this, I like Legend of Korra, and I love Avatar the Last Airbender, I personally believe they are not only two of the best animated series in the History of Television, they are two of the best TV shows period.
Having said that, I do think the first season of Legend of Korra could have been a lot better. There were a few things I believe were missing from the first season, that should have been there. I know it’s Mike and Bryan’s story, but there are a few leaps in logic, rushed plot points, and deius ex machina that I believe turned what could have been a GREAT story into an “Meh. . . Okay.” Story. For me at least.
Shouldn’t the fans call out Bryke on these? I know it’s their story, but still. . . it could’ve been a lot better if they weren’t working within the constraints of a Nickelodeon show.
Anyway here is a list of things in Legend of Korra, that I believe could have been a lot better, they are certainly things I wish had been changed for the good of the story and the entire Airbender universe.
10.FIREARMS. . . OR LACK THEREOF
The fact that firearms weren’t allowed in the original ATLA was understandable. The show was aimed at an All ages audience, the fantasy world was (for the most part) pre-industrial, and the Fire Nation did not need firearms when they already had “Fire Arms” built in.
But in Legend of Korra, which is obviously aimed at an older audience, where the fantasy world is completely industrialized, where the enemy isn’t an army of benders with no need for physical weapons, the nonexistence of guns seems like a HUGE leap in logic. I mean the Airbender-verse has steam engines, bombs, automobiles, Zeppelins, and skyscrapers, existing alongside Animistic Spirits, Magic kung-fu, and the spirit of the universe itself in human flesh, but the people can’t figure out how to make blasting jelly fire a tiny bit of metal?
I know why Bryke didn’t include guns of course, its still a “Y7" show, the studio heads and censor boards at Nickelodeon would never allow it, and even if they did they would never show anyone actually getting killed or shot on screen, which would kind of take away from the drama. But seriously, It kind of ruins the whole sense of inherent reality the first series had. Well. . . For me at least. . .
“Batman: The Animated Series”, had guns, Disney’s “Gargoyles” had guns, and both are considered by parents and kids alike to be some of the best All Ages shows ever made! So why can’t Legend of Korra have guns?
Explain, Nickelodeon! EXPLAIN!
9. MAKO AND KORRA’S RUSHED ROMANCE.
I mean seriously. . . what can I say that hasn’t already been said? This is another thing that took away from the “sense of inherent reality” that the first series had. What made Aang and Katara’s relationship believable was the fact that they had a lot of time to get to know each other and build their relationship (a year). Mako and Korra had (this is a rough estimate) about a couple weeks to a month, and most of it wasn’t even shown on screen! I would forgive this, if Mako and Korra had actual chemistry, but they don’t ! I don’t see teens in love, I see two kids Thinking they’re in love! Its not sweet like Aang and Katara, its just. . . Corny!
8. THE RUINING OF AMON’S CHARACTER:
I loved the character of Amon. He was mysterious, he was interesting, he was tragic, he was fighting for a righteous cause even if he was going to violent extremes to see it through. I had such high hopes for Amon! I was watching the first ten episodes saying, “Brilliant! Finally, a villain that believes he is doing what is right! A villain who thinks he is the Good guy! Finally a Non bender that actually poses a threat to benders!”
And then I found out he was a waterbender. No spirit powers, he chi blocks through blood bending. No burns, he wears makeup. He doesn’t believe in equality, he just want’s to sway the people to his cause so he can be just like his mobster daddy.
I remember being a bit depressed because of this. Not only did this water down what could have been a great villain, it also made him downright unlikable. I was hoping for Amon and the Equalists to actually win the first season, so Korra could come back in season 2 and defeat him! I wanted him to be telling the truth! I wanted him to be a complex, sympathetic villain, with divine powers backing up his righteous cause! Not a power hungry jerk who just wanted to take over Republic City just like his evil dad!
And then Bryke blew him and Tarrlok up. Most people say it was tragic. I say, “GOOD RIDDANCE! You ripped me off Mike and Bryan! YOU RIPPED ME OFF!”
Seriously Bryke, do non benders always have to play second fiddle to benders? Can’t you give us one strong Non bender antagonist, that is ACTUALLY A NON-BENDER?
7. FIREBENDERS: INHERENTLY VIOLENT? OR VICTIMS OF A STEREOTYPE?
Here is a complete list of crimes committed by Firebenders in both LOK and ATLA.
- Mako and Bolin’s parents, killed by a FIREBENDER
- Hiroshi Sato’s wife, killed by a FIREBENDER!
- Lightning Bolt Zolt, a dangerous mobster, leader of the Triple Threat Triad, and has built an
entire empire of crime off of his FIREBENDING SKILL!
- The Air Nomads, all killed off and pushed to the brink of extinction, by. . . (take a guess)
- Azula, Zhao, Ozai, Sozin, Yon Rha, Combustion Man all inherently violent, mentally unstable,
all guilty of crimes and war crimes ranging from genocide, to murder, to unprovoked aggression, egotism, sadism, racism, and just generally being monsters. . . and all were FIREBENDERS!
I know Mike and Bryan are trying to balance out the stereotype of all firebenders being violent, with good firebenders like Iroh, Zuko, Roku, Jeong Jeong, Mako, Iroh II and the Sun warriors, and with non firebender villains like Tarrlok, Yakone, and Amon.
But even with that, the impression I’m getting from both shows is that the majority of violent crimes are committed by Firebenders. Is it true? Are most firebenders inherently violent? It would make sense, since fire is the most destructive element, and requires a lot of self discipline to control, (which it appears most firebenders lack). The number of angry, violent, prideful, “I’d burn your face off rather than look at you” Firebenders (Ex. Zolt, Zhao, Azula) seem to outweigh the number of “peaceful, balanced, Stoic, Zen master, Self defense only” Firebenders. (Ex. Iroh, Zuko, Mako, Sun Warriors)
Bottom line, I would like less firebending villains and criminals! They’ve already got the blood of an two nations on their conscience. Lighten up Bryke! Stop making firebenders stereotypical!
6. THE EQUALIST UPRISING: AN UNEXPLAINED REBELLION
I love the Equalists. But Here’s the issue I have with them. We don’t know WHY they are resorting to violent means to get equality. They want benders to be turned into non-benders, because they “are tired of living under the tyranny of benders.” Okay, if benders are tyrants, how are the non benders being oppressed?
Q:Are non-benders forced to live as lower caste citizens?
A: No, from all appearances, most neighborhoods, (both upper and lower classes) are composed of both benders and non benders.
Q: Are non-benders oppressed by a corrupt police force comprised of mostly benders?
A: No, Lin Bei Fong runs a tight ship, and from all appearances the police appear to be honest, if blunt.
Q: Are non-benders denied any rights because they cannot bend?
A: Implied, but never explained.
Q: Are non-benders denied jobs because they cannot bend?
A: Implied but its never fully explained.
Q: Are most criminals benders?
A: Implied with gangs like the Triple Threat Triad, but never fully explored. And even if it is true, it’s not enough of a reason to organize an uprising.
Q: Assume Non-benders are oppressed by Benders, HOW are they oppressed? And how oppressed must they be to organize an entire Militia to overthrow perceived oppression?
A: We don’t know, because it’s NEVER FULLY EXPLAINED!
5. LACK OF CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT= LACK OF CONTINUITY
In the first series, learning a new bending skill, or being able to defeat the bad guy, or getting romantically involved, was (for the most part) directly connected to character development.
A good example of this would be Aang only being able to learn Earthbending when he learned to stick up for himself and confront an issue head-on, instead of always avoiding or finding a way around said situation.
By that same logic, Korra should only have been able to airbend when she became more spiritual, and learned that a situation doesn’t always need force, and sometimes needs to be reassessed. Not by having her chakra released by some unexplained plot device!*
The same could be said for the finale of ATLA, Aang should have given up Katara to unlock his blocked chakra, instead of accidentally hitting it on a conveniently shaped stone. But like I said, Character development mattered for THE MOST PART, and it was at the finale after Aang had a huge amount of character development in the first Nine/Tenths of the series of the series, so it’s a nitpick.
But that’s what bugs me about Legend of Korra, the characters don’t really change. For the most part they are exactly the same at the start of the series as they were at the end. Korra is still hot- headed and stubborn, Mako is still the Stoic, and Bolin is still immature.
The only characters who really get any real character development are Lin, Tenzin, Asami, Hiroshi, Tarrlok, and Amon, all had varying levels of success, and they are all supposed to be either supporting cast or antagonists!
Do I have to say anything else? Bryke better get on the ball and give Korra and company some real character development in season 2, or the LOK franchise is probably going to go downhill.
4. YAKONE, NOATOK, AND TARRLOK= GAMEBREAKERS?
For those of you not familiar with the term, “Gamebreaker,” is a term for an abruptly introduced character, plot device, or macguffin that breaks the rules previously established for a fictional world, causing troubles and continuity issues for it down the road. A good example would the Midichlorians in the Star Wars universe explaining the Force scientifically, which before had been a concept entirely set in mysticism.
The Gamebreaker for “Legend of Korra” was Yakone and his sons. In the first series, it was established that waterbenders gained their power from the moon, and a waterbender’s power varied depending how close it was to the earth, whether it was a full moon or an empty moon, how much light was reflecting off of it, etc. It was further established that a waterbender could only bloodbend on the night of a full moon, and even then, the talent was a rare one.
And then along came Yakone, Tarrlok, and Noatok/Amon. Waterbenders who flagrantly broke the rules previously established in ATLA. Bloodbending at will? How does that work? How are you born with an ability that powerful? If a full moon gives waterbenders the extra power needed for bloodbending, how can someone do it without it? Did the moon spirit bless his family? Did Yakone’s mother drink water from the spirit oasis? IT’S NEVER FULLY EXPLAINED!
3. THE TOTALLY UNNECESSARY GIANT ROBOT MECH TANKS!
These things really bug me. I mean, giant robots? GIANT ROBOTS?
Okay let me clarify, I do not have a personal issue with the giant robots, but they seem so out of place in the Airbender-verse, before the giant robot the tech in both series had real life parallels. The Satomobiles are automobiles, the Fire Nation tank and Zepplins were based off of real world versions, even the Giant Superdrill in “Journey to Ba-Sing-Se” was based off of a real invention, (just supersized).
But these giant mech tanks have no real world equivalent. They just, seem so out of place! This is something I’m afraid Bryke put in just for the sake of commercialization. The Airplanes I can accept, but. . . Seriously? This is the Airbender universe, not Gundam Wing!
2. THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF BENDING.
Pro-bending. I can’t say how much I dislike pro-bending, it is a complete and total debasement of what Bending was intended for (namely Self-defense and Spiritual enlightenment).
Pro-bending (much like the robot mech tanks) is something that seems so out of place in the Airbender world. More than likely, it was just something the creators put in there in an attempt to make the show a bit more commercial, attempting to rip off the Harry Potter franchise by giving the Airbender-verse its own version of Quidditch.
Also, The entire martial arts aspect that attracted me to the original ATLA is pretty downplayed in Legend of Korra, few benders in Republic City (with maybe the exceptions of Korra, Lin, and Tenzin), are even familiar with traditional ways of fighting! Most Benders in Republic City would rather use their skills to make money (In power plants, as Earth movers, Pro-benders etc.) than learn to fight or attain spiritual enlightenment, which makes them easy targets for the Equalists. What happened to benders being powerful? What happened to all the teachings of the past? What happened in the span of seventy years to make the bending arts degrade so much? IT’S NEVER EXPLAINED!!
1. ITS TOO SHORT!
Most of these issues with season one arose from the biggest issue, lack of time. I know Bryke only had twenty-four episodes guaranteed at the start, and tried their best to build on the fantasy world they created in ATLA. But the things they changed, added, altered, and shoehorned in to fit the plot into twelve episodes kind of ruined the sense of fun the first series had. On top of that, the story seemed to favor action over exposition, unlike its predecessor which had more than enough time to find an even balance between action and exposition.
I’m not saying the first series was perfect, the whole lion turtle Deius ex machina thing was never fully explained either, or how Aang was able to unlock his chakra without giving up Katara, or why Zuko didn’t just kill his evil father and end the war right then. But for the most part, the first series seemed to cover most of its continuity bases quite well, and the biggest reason for that was that there was more time to tell the story in just one season of ATLA, than there was in the first season of LOK.
Bottom line, I still like LOK. But I just wish these things had been changed, or at the very least EXPLAINED! The story in the first season is still good, but if it had a little more time, a little more money, a few more episodes, and a some actual character development, it could have been a GREAT story.
What do you guys think? Good? Bad? Overanalyzing? Help me out! These issues really bug me personally as an ATLA and LOK fan!