Oh my god it’s really here. Season Two of Legend of Korra is really here and it is amazing so far. It has been more than a year since we saw Korra become a fully realized Avatar waiting patiently for all of our questions and desires to be sated. Granted we are now only two episodes in but they were amazingly beautiful and innovative not only in altering what we know of Korra’s world, but also how her friends and family (who actually get to speak) play a larger role in this world. It truly is a wonderful hour of television that manages to play up everything we love about the Avatar world while at the same time creating an interesting future possibilities. This is the review for “Rebel Spirits,” my “Southern Lights” review will be posted tonight or Sunday morning due to the Jewish Holidays.
An Avatar premiere always has a lot to live up to as all of them focus on the passage of time and how our characters have changed since we last saw them and “Rebel Spirits” is no different. With six moths having past since Amon’s defeat all of the member of Team Avatar are enjoying their new lives. Bolin is now the captain of the Fire Ferrets, Asami is president of Future Industries, Mako is a cop, and Korra is enjoying life as a fully realized Avatar. Sure these are not major changes for our characters but it is interesting to see that what was once a rag tag group of friends have all been given major positions of power since we last saw them. It is not exactly the most subtle of changes, but it is a very believable progression for all of our heroes.
Of course Korra has only become more arrogant since gaining access to both the Avatar State and Airbending, and Tenzin believes they should all take a vacation to visit the Air Temples for Korra to gain a better appreciation for the spiritual side of being the Avatar. They all agree to go the South Pole first for a traditional festival in Korra’s hometown before their journey with good Ol’ Uncle Bumi tagging along because he is named Bumi so he is a clinically insane, mad genius.
Of course once they get to the South Pole, everything goes horribly awry with awkward family meetings between Korra’s father, Tonraq, and her uncle, Unalaq. This scene manages to play up the Thor/Loki dynamic as Unalaq instantly comes off as the seeming mentally superior brother. It is a predictable dynamic but a fun one to watch nonetheless. Kya, Aang’s daughter, also shows up to greet Bumi and Tenzin and it turns out she is kind of the alpha of the siblings and that she bullied Tenzin when they were younger. Of course, some of the best material comes from the scene where Asami and Bolin team up to get Varrick, a wealthy shipping magnate and outstanding douchebag, to help ship Future Industries’ new flying machines. Varrick is a seedy, ambitious, and yet incredibly stupid man who is trying to bring “Movers” to the world. He pegs Bolin as a shrewd business man and agrees to Asami and Bolin’s terms before he even hears them. It’s hilarious to watch and I believe the writers will get some good milage out of this character.
Of course, all the action starts when a Dark Spirit attacks Korra and she is powerless to stop it from wrecking everything. The action, as always, is beautifully done and the change from Studio Mir to Studio Pierrot has really allowed the creative team to flex their muscles in terms of artistic limits. The entire sequence is staged amazingly and all of the colors manage to flow naturally and the “calming” of the spirit by Unalaq was beautifully rendered. At this point, an episode of Korra could put an entire Disney movie to shame in terms of art direction and color pallet.
My only complaint is that Korra seemed to learn nothing from her battles with Amon and in fact has gotten not only arrogant in her skills but really susceptible to manipulation as Unalaq manages to maneuver her into the palm of his hand with only one spirit attack. In one night Korra decides to ditch Tenzin as her trainer in favor of her uncle. It just felt odd even with the revelations that it was Tonraq and Tenzin who kept Korra under White Lotus house arrest. Blood is thicker than air I guess.
Overall a fantastic premiere. My review of “The Southern Lights” will be up in a little bit.
Final Grade A-
+Every character got their moment.
+ All the new characters add some fun element to the show
+Mako’s quip notes
+Bolin cam animation
+Animation is stunning
-Korra seems to be as brash as ever
-Unalaq seems by the book for a villain… and another Waterbender with fraternal issues
-Enska, voiced by Aubrey Plaza, is very disconcerting, like stalker girlfriend disconcerting
– Seriously though Bolin perspective blew my mind in terms of an animation technique. I want that more.
-Plushy Appa, Awwwwww.