Rassilon of Old's review of "Welcome to Republic City" and "A Leaf in the Wind"

This is something I've been planning to do ever since watching the two-episode internet premiere, and since it's finally aired on Nickelodeon, this is my last chance to do so before "The Revelation" airs this weekend. I plan to review each episode of The Legend of Korra after it airs, so stay tuned to my blog to see what I think about each episode, and comment below to tell me what you thought about the episode, and my opinions. Let's get started!

"Welcome to Republic City"
Korra in Republic City
Korra leaves the safety of her home and travels to bustling Republic City to begin her airbending training. Once there, she is shocked to find a big city full of corruption and dangers, including criminal bending gangs and a vocal anti-bending revolution.
"A Leaf in the Wind"
Meditation practice
Korra is living with her airbending teacher Tenzin on Air Temple Island. Frustrated with her inability to master airbending, she disobeys Tenzin and turns her attentions to Republic City’s famous pro-bending arena. There she befriends two brothers, Mako and Bolin, who compete in professional bending matches. Korra is immediately drawn to pro-bending’s dynamic fighting style.

There have been countless people who during the wait for Korra, doubted their fate in Mike and Bryan's ability to continue a series as popular and stellar as Avatar: The Last Airbender, and more so, their choice of setting it in a post-industrialisation world. Many fans were outraged at this decision, but I'm sure that most, if not all, outraged fans were more than pleased with the outcome of "Welcome to Republic City" and "A Leaf in the Wind".

I was never one to be concerned about the setting of the series, but I was concerned about not so much the plot, but what, or rather who, manipulates and shapes it. From an early stage, I was concerned that The Legend of Korra would just be another story about Aang and Team Avatar, but told through the medium of his successor, Korra. I was afraid that the series was not going to be Korra's story, but Aang's legacy, and after watching the first two episodes, I still am.

My concerns were first realised when I saw the opening sequence. As beautiful and stunning as it was, Tenzin's dialogue describing the journey of Aang and his friends, as well as his time passing, unnerved me. Aang's prominence in the opening sequence definitely worried me, even though it was somewhat necessary to shorten the gap between Sozin's Comet and the end of the Hundred Year War, and Korra's time. I'm sure some of you may be thinking "gosh, he really wouldn't have like Katara's inclusion in the series!" but fear not, I loved her inclusion! Why? Because she had such a minor role in the episodes that it didn't bother me. Sure, it's hinted that her and Korra have a strong appreciation for one another, but Gran Gran Katara has not influenced the overall plot, so for now, her inclusion is greatly appreciated.

As for Korra, her introduction was somewhat, awkward. Her attitude as a child just seemed really forced, and entirely for comic relief purposes. I didn't buy it. But the jump into her firebending test? Loved it. It was after these firbending scenes I really felt at home watching The Legend of Korra, it felt natural, and the animation was nothing short of beautiful. On top of that, Korra as a character, felt much more real once interaction between herself and her mentors began.

And the setting? Republic City is amazing, and for some reason, it felt somewhat familiar. It definitely felt like some of the more Asian populated suburbs around Western Sydney, and that familiarity caused no problem with me, it just added to the realism of the entire setting.

Korra's fight with the Triple Threat Triad was excellent, not just the choreography, but Korra's willingness to fight was something I enjoyed, as more and more parallels between herself and Aang are drawn.

And Lin Beifong? Fantastic. She just feels like a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender, I can't put my finger on it, but she has that one thing that just makes her fit right in to the World of Avatar, and so I'm looking forward to seeing more of her.

Of all the things in the new series that I loved, pro-bending was a huge let down for me. There's a piece of concept art depicting pro-bending, and that version of the sport looks so exhilarating and wild, even reminiscent of Earth Rumble VI. This more rule defined sport just bored me after the first match. I enjoyed seeing the new bending styles, incorporating more Western fighting types, such as boxing. But again, I'm really disappointed at how clean the fights are, when I was hoping for a more Roman gladiator type sport.

The dialogue, though usually satisfactory, sometimes came across as cheesy, and cringeworthy. Pema's line particularly annoyed me, her "I'm not helpless, I'm just pregnant." It seemed so out of place for Mike and Bryan to use a line so often used in various forms elsewhere, I've seen it in porely written shipping-central fan fiction, obviously none on our fanon portal though! To me, it just feels like there were so many other ways to introduce Pema as Tenzin's wife and her being pregnant, that I'm somewhat disappointed.

Something I really enjoyed was the characters, Bolin in particular for me. I think the creators have done an excellent job in creating new characters that are not reminiscent of any Avatar: The Last Airbender characters, except for Tenzin of course, who is an excellent mix of Aang, Katara, and his own uniqueness.

I'm also looking forward to the possible grittiness of the series, starting to show through some of the plots, such as the Equalists we've seen very little of so far, and the apparent gang wars taking place on the streets. I'd love to see more of the power strugle between the police, the gangs, and the Equalists.

Before I go, I have to mention The Track Team. Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn have outdone themselves with this score, specifically the opening sequence, Korra's firbending test, Korra's theme played as she rides Naga in the Southern Water Tribe, and the Metalbender chase scene.

Overall, I really enjoyed the premiere of The Legend of Korra, so much that I feel that in two episodes, it has very nearly surpassed its predecessor, Avatar: The Last Airbender. The two episodes felt natural for the most part, and although I preferred the much faster pacing of "Welcome to Republic City", "A Leaf in the Wind" was also enjoyable with its introduction of characters and even more themes. I'm definitely looking forward to more, and if the rest of the series is anything like "Welcome to Republic City", it might just come out on top of the original series.

Final verdict: 8.5 out of 10

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