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Author Topic: ASN Wants Your TLoK Episode Reviews!  (Read 14453 times)
Avatarleo
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« Reply #25 on: Jun 25, 2012 09:49 am »

My review of the Book One Finale was posted at Toy-TMA.com this morning.

http://www.toy-tma.com/hot-toys/anime-cartoons/korra-finale-review/
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Go see Mae Witman (our lady Waterbender) as Roxanne Richer in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.
NeeNee
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« Reply #26 on: Jun 25, 2012 09:56 am »

^ It's too long to be used here. Please read the first post to see what a review for ASN should look like.
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theblindbandit1
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« Reply #27 on: Jun 29, 2012 09:39 pm »

Episode 10 "Turning the Tides" Review

Grade B+

This weeks episode had a great start. Started out with a little Makorra action, which can make a lot of us fans happy-sorry Masami fans-. Then we get a short recap from korra of what happened last episode, which was fine, a lot did happen. Then we see Tenzin asking Lin to babysit before he goes to work, which was cute with the Linzin factor and Meelo always gives me a reason to laugh. But once Tenzin left, I felt that things were just going way too fast.

First of all, now along with the equalists having the the lightning gloves, they also can desguise them as other equipment? When were those created? Then the equalist airships which we have seen before, well, we saw 1 airship. Now the 50 or so they seem to have now. All of the fighting happens, and the events that happened at the police station just seem like their impossible. I'm guessing that the police station's air ducts are metal, so how did metalbending cops and other personel not hear equalists climbing through them to plant the gas bombs? Ever try climbing through those? they make ALOT of noise! Unless your an airbender or weigh nothing it's going to be apparent someones in there!

Of course then in the midst of the battle Mike and Bryan do what everyone would suspect right before equalists reach air temple island... THE BABIES COMING! Man how many times has that freakin' happened. Sad thing was, me being a Linzin fan, I was hoping Pema wasn't going to make it at first, but I didn't really mean it.

Then there's the actual battle of airtemple island, in which Lin gets her butt kicked... again, but is saved... again, by the airbender kids. Which I thought was totally awesome! They were fighting for their home like anyone would have done. But of course, no one wins against Amon so they go to leave.

This last part, made me really sad. So the airship is catching up to the bison, and Lin wants to keep the others safe, so she wants to take it down. So she jumps onto the airship!?!! Didn't your mom's stories about what happened when she did that teach you anything Lin?! You are wearing a suit of metal that you could destroy the engines with but instead you rip it apart and get captured. Granted, she did what her mother would have done, not telling Amon where Korra was, but her loosing her bending was like a knife in the heart for me.

Then of course we get the scene with the new character "General Iroh", which I guess is supposed to make up for the stuff that just happened. Yes, lets send in MORE benders into Republic City to loose their bending. THATS BRILLANT!..... idiots... Guess he's related to Zuko somehow... though if he were the new Firelord's son, I don't think it would be smart of him to go into battle when he's the heir to the throne! Look what happened when Iroh Sr. Did!
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« Reply #28 on: Jul 02, 2012 02:09 am »

Uploaded review by theblindbandit1.
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ATLA Keeps: Kuei's necklace, Pandalilies, Zhaodburns, Sokka's DoBS speech
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AvtrSpirit
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« Reply #29 on: Dec 08, 2012 11:45 pm »

Book 1: Air

Chapter One: Welcome to Republic City

Grade: A

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. However, to the best of my abilities, I shall avoid spoiling any events that take place in the episodes after the one under review. Also, my reviews mostly revolve around themes, plot and characterization. I do not have enough technical knowledge to give the music and animation the kind of critique they deserve. Hence, I shall generally refrain from talking about them. Finally, ATLA = Avatar: The Last Airbender, the first series, and TLOK= The Legend of Korra]

The primary goal of this episode is to introduce us to Korra and Republic City. The first one third introduces us to Korra. We see that she excels at the physical side of bending while having issues with the spiritual side. She enjoys a good fight and is often shown to be impatient and irreverent. The Avatar series has consistently delivered great character introductions (see Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, Azula) and it does so again.

However, some of the major issues with this episode also lie in the first one third. Firstly, Korra's relationship with her parents is not given any meaningful treatment. Secondly, there is no substantial explanation as to why Korra's tutelage did not follow the tried and tested model of visiting each nation to learn its element, as was done in ATLA and before. From a story-telling perspective, it makes sense to keep her isolated so we can share her wonder and naivety when she visits Republic City for the first time. However, I would like an in-universe explanation of it.

The rest of the episode is a great introduction to Republic City. It has us connect with the city by being simultaneously awed and apprehensive about it. The city is introduced thematically instead of factually. Having Korra start off from a sea-port, we first see the grandeur of the city. The giant flying blimps, the tall building and the regal park area, they all highlight the opulence and wonder of it. Then, when Korra realizes that she cannot get food without money, Korra and the audience begin to realize that being an outsider in the city may not be that easy.

Korra's subsequent encounter with the homeless man gives her a first hand perspective of the socio-economic stratification within Republic City. This is the first big issue with which she is confronted and she is unable to do anything about it. Korra then runs into one of Amon's many mouthpieces who denounces bending publicly. This is the second issue she has to face. While Korra does not yet recognize the threat that this rebellion poses, she feels personally affronted by the man's claims because bending is a corner-stone of her self-image. She tries to deal with this issue but her counter arguments tantamount to a variation of “So is your face”. She fails again.

The third major issue she faces is organized crime. After having been defeated by the city twice already, Korra is eager to finally solve a problem on her own terms: using her bending abilities. Just when she believes that she has finally succeeded, she runs into the fourth and final issue: bureaucracy and The System. As Lin Beifong makes it clear, the city has been without an Avatar for so long that they are no longer making any exceptions for her. To viewers of ATLA, it is clear that an Avatar needs more freedom to work with the full range of their capacities.

To summarize, the first episode introduces us nicely to Korra, Republic City and the four major antagonists of the season: socio-economic stratification, the anti-bending rebellion, organized crime and bureaucracy. By having Amon show up at the very end, it highlights that of these four, the anti-bending revolution should be our primary concern.



Book 1: Air

Chapter Two: A Leaf in the Wind

Grade: A-

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

In the first episode, we see Korra feel like an outsider in Republic City. The city does not make space for her as an Avatar. In this episode, we see Korra carve out a space for herself within the city.

We know from the first episode that Korra is no master of the rhetoric. Unlike Aang, she is unable to address the public without nervousness. Nor is she a fully realized Avatar as she has no mastery over airbending or the spiritual connection. And she does not see herself as a proper airbending student since she keeps rejecting its principles just as she feels that it keeps rejecting her. Overall, she feels like there is no place for her in the city. So what is a girl to do?

Enter pro-bending. Pro-bending is a celebration of the physical side of bending, something over which Korra has complete mastery. Even though she has to change her style to be a pro-bender, she is completely at ease with the ruthless nature and physical duress that pro-bending demands. When the referees allow Korra to continue participating in the pro-bending match, it is a symbolic moment for Korra because the city has finally accepted her, even if only as a pro-bender.

Of course, connecting to a city means connecting with its people. Korra meets her first truly Republic City friends in the form of Bolin and Mako. Since they are of Korra's age group, she finds herself able to let her guard down. The dialogue between Bolin, Mako and Korra contains the most snappy and humurous lines in the episode.

Trouble arises when Korra, having found validation via pro-bending, changes her attitude towards airbending from indifference to outright rejection. In the end, though, she realizes the importance of airbending forms and she does so via pro-bending. The moment of this realization, the moment when she starts avoiding and evading attacks in the match, is one around which the entire episode hinges. It resolves her issues with airbending and reconciles Tenzin's purist attitude with pro-bending. So, given the importance of this moment, it is unfortunate that it feels really cheap and not well-earned. With the blink of an eye, Korra goes from showing no skill whatsoever with airbending forms to being perfectly patient and evasive. A few flubs here and there and a bit of aggression would have been more realistic.

Other than that one niggle, the episode does a good job of accomplishing what it set out to do. It compares and contrasts airbending with pro-bending and by having Korra reconcile the two, it has shows her grow closer to both Republic City and her teacher Tenzin.

[As of December 2012, there exists a video on nick.com in which Bryan Konietzko explains the rules of pro-bending very comprehensively. If it is still up, a Google search of “Pro Bending Rules Explained” should take you to it.
Also, a shout out to Daniel Floyd of “Extra Credits” as I used his one insightful observation in this review.]



Book 1: Air

Chapter Three: The Revelation

Grade: A

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

In this episode, Korra realizes the true threat posed by the anti-bending revolution and its charismatic, masked leader Amon.

This episode brings to the forefront three of the major issues plaguing Republic City: poverty, organized crime and anti-bending sentiment. We see that being rich puts one in a privileged position, as does being a bender. Impoverished benders, like Mako and Bolin, can still use their bending abilities to get by in Republic City, whether as part of the bending mafia or as cheap power plant labourers or as pro-benders. Imagine, then, the lot of the poor non-benders who do not have recourse to these resources and are being terrorized by the bending mafia. This makes Amon, the self-proclaimed champion of the non-bending masses, a very sympathetic antagonist.

The episode is also a study in inducing fear and tension. We are first apprehensive about a missing Bolin. Then we become anxious about a possible turf war between the three mafia groups. When the army of Ty Lees (Chi-blockers) is revealed, we are downright scared. By going into daylight, the show takes a bit of respite but still manages to make ominous references to the eponymous revelation. Finally, during the warehouse scene, the tension reaches a fever pitch, helped generously along by the music. Upon witnessing the revelation, the bending-removal, and the fight with the electric batons, we realize that even our talented trio has met its match. When they turn tail and run, we are just relieved that they survived with their bending intact.

Assorted observations follow. Firstly, the pro-bending narrator really adds character to the show. Having him recap previous episodes is a delight. Secondly, this episode has the important consequence of drawing Mako and Bolin into the conflict with Amon. They are more likely to be involved in any anti-anti-bending antics now that they know firsthand what would happen if the anti-bending revolution were to succeed. Thirdly, the episode does a good job of fleshing out Mako and Bolin's characters. By learning about their past, we understand exactly why Mako is silent and stolid while Bolin is vivacious and a little naive. Their attempts at earning money further cements this: Mako, the realist, goes to a power plant while Bolin takes a stab at showbiz.

Overall, the episode does a great job at introducing a charismatic, powerful but sympathetic antagonist while embroiling all the major characters against him.


Double post merged. ~ Icy
« Last Edit: Dec 09, 2012 03:06 am by AvtrSpirit » Logged
SMBH
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« Reply #30 on: Jan 06, 2013 04:33 am »

Uploaded reviews for 101, 102 and 103 by AvtrSpirit.
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ATLA Keeps: Kuei's necklace, Pandalilies, Zhaodburns, Sokka's DoBS speech
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AvtrSpirit
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« Reply #31 on: Jan 09, 2013 10:59 am »

Book One: Air

Chapter Four: The Voice in the Night

Grade: A

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

This episode showcases Korra's struggle with fear. At the same time, other characters are introduced and every plot line is moved forward.

By vividly showing her successes and failures in dealing with her fear, this episode shows Korra grow as a character.  Korra is scared of Amon. She is so terrified of his ability to take away someone's bending that she even has nightmares about him. After all, Korra has hitherto not met anyone that she could not overpower. The fear is so new and strong that she does not know how to react to it. Tenzin suggests that acknowledging the fear would be a healthy first step in dealing with it. However, Korra has built her self-image and her reputation around her tough-girl image. Not only does she refuse to acknowledge her fear, but she tries so vehemently to deny it that she runs headlong into danger. She comes face-to-face with Amon and he defeats her, knocking her out but leaving her bending intact. Only then does she admit to herself and to Tenzin that she is well and truly afraid. Korra, as a character, has matured.

Some major characters are introduced in this episode. Taarlok is a cunning, power-hungry, water-tribe council-member, who creates an anti-Amon task force. On comparing Korra's, Tenzin's and Taarlok's reactions to Amon, we see some notable differences. Korra is scared for herself. Tenzin is fearful for Republic City at large. But Taarlok sees an opportunity to be heroic and consolidate power. Effectively, in what has until now been a two-way conflict between Korra and Amon, we now have Taarlok as a third party with his own motivations. I speculate that it is the success of Taarlok's task force that really drives Amon to confront Korra directly at the end of this episode.

Speaking of third parties, this episode introduces Asami Sato as a love interest of Mako. She complicates the romance sub-plot by inadvertently choosing as her beau the love-interest of Korra. On the other hand, Asami removes the complication from the pro-bending sub-plot. She convinces her very wealthy father, Hiroshi Sato, to sponsor the Fire Ferrets.

It needs to be mentioned that near the end of the episode, Korra makes a brief connection with her spiritual side: shots of Aang's life pass fleetingly through her mind. Whether these were caused by Amon physically knocking Korra out or by Korra's fear, it is up for speculation. What we can expect is that these flashes will be of importance later.

All in all, this episode does a good job of dealing with Korra's character growth while moving all the other plots forward. No scene is extraneous nor is any character introduction. Admittedly, there is no arc in this episode that stands out as much as in some of the other episodes. But while the episode may not rate highly as a standalone, within the context of the entire season it does its job very well. All the pieces are now in places. We have only to see how the game will play out.



Book One: Air

Chapter Five: The Spirit of Competition

Grade: B+

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

Korra experiences the highs of pro-bending and the lows of romantic entanglements.

The introduction of Asami in the previous episode helped forward the romance and the pro-bending sub-plots. In this episode, both of these plots play off of each other, delivering some heartfelt romance and some nail-biting pro-bending matches.

It is funny that a game as brutal as pro-bending would have brought all these characters together romantically. Korra likes Mako but Bolin likes Korra. Asami likes Mako. Mako likes Asami. But Mako may also like Korra. Ladies and gentleman, we have multiple love triangles in play here! It is also funny how the romantic entanglements make the pro-bending matches so exciting to watch. The episode delivers a clear account of what difference it makes between being in the zone (romantic high) and being out of focus (romantic low). In all, the two plots are woven seamlessly and entertainingly.

It is also nice to see Korra's airbending forms come into their own. In the last round of the last match, when she is the only one left standing on her team, she avoids and evades with an agility that would make Aang proud. We can infer that some of Tenzin's tutelage has been successful. Korra tempers her aggression with strategy. For ATLA fans: she wins the match by combining both positive jing and negative jing. She also uses Toph's strategy of weakening your opponents with minimal energy so you can take them out with one final blow.

Having said that, there is one aspect of this episode which falls short of mark: Bolin's reaction to Mako and Korra's kiss. That he is distraught is to be expected. What is not expected was the sudden and comedic flow of tears and snot from both eyes and nostrils. Bolin, when crying, becomes a caricature. The audience's feeling of intense pathos turns quickly into laughter and a dismissal of Bolin's romantic pursuit as merely childish.

For me, personally, Bolin's reaction is so jarring that I have docked almost a full grade from the score of this episode. Aside from that, this episode gives so thorough a treatment of these two sub plots that it leaves the story ripe for the major arc to come back in full force in the next episode.
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« Reply #32 on: Jan 12, 2013 10:50 am »

Uploaded AvtrSpirit's reviews for 104 and 105.
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AvtrSpirit
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« Reply #33 on: Jan 19, 2013 12:06 pm »

Book One: Air

Chapter Six: And The Winner Is

Grade: A

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

During the much anticipated final pro-bending match of the season, the anti-bending revolution dramatically launches the first volley of civil war.

And the winner is... ? Well, it is Amon. Let us review Amon's brilliantly crafted strategy thus far. He first began the revolution underground, probably gathering to himself all who have been wronged by benders. He then established the righteousness of his path by taking away the bending of the Mafia elite. This move gave a measure of hope to the oppressed non-benders. Amon then taunted the benders of Republic City via the radio and showed that he could get away with it. In this episode, he makes his boldest and most public move yet. Having proved the strength of his convictions and the righteousness of his cause, Amon goes on to show that nothing, not even the most elite bending security team of Republic City can stop him. Even if you do not believe in his ideals, it is easy to be in awe of Amon's cunning and charisma. And if, like me, you do believe in his cause, then just like in his propaganda, Amon really does take on a rightfully messianic role.

The episode is paced excellently to build the tension all the way to the climax. Amon gives his warning early on, the fear of which drives the episode. At the same time, the series has spent enough time with pro-bending so as to have the audience emotionally invested in the outcome of the match. When the Fire Ferrets lose the match, the audience's emotions are already running high with feelings of injustice and disappointment. It does not take much to redirect these strong emotions to fear and horror at Amon's explosive intervention.

The only interesting character exploration happens with Lin, and to a lesser extent Tenzin and Taarlok. We see that Lin learns to accept Korra as not just a major player in happenings of Republic City, but as someone alongside whom she can fight proudly. We also learn what past events have soured Tenzin's relationship with Lin. With regards to Taarlok, we see that while he is happy to lead anti-Amon raids on his own terms, he is hesitant to fight Amon on Amon's terms. It shows how measured he is in his battles, unlike Korra and Lin who seem to be willing to do the right thing irrespective of the danger.

We also see some more of Aang's life play out in Korra's mind. On comparing this with The Voice in The Night, we can guess that it is fear and helplessness that brings on these spiritual visions. We still do not know what they mean.

There is one aspect of this episode that confuses me. Who paid off the referees? If it was Amon, then how did the Wolfbats know that they could play dirty? If it was the Wolfbats, then what was Amon going to do if the Fire Ferrets had won? Would he have taken the Avatar's bending and martyred her? That seems unlikely. The only explanation I can think of (without extensively combing the forums for an answer) is that Amon paid off the referees and then tipped the Wolfbats off about it without revealing himself or his cause. I bring this up here to point out one small flaw, a tiny ambiguity, in an otherwise stellar episode.

Overall, the episode does a great job of finishing the pro-bending arc and starting in full steam the major anti-bending arc of the season. Amon has declared war. There is no going back now.



Book One: Air

Chapter Seven: The Aftermath

Grade: B

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

As both sides of the civil war ramp up their efforts, the loyalties of the Sato family are brought into close scrutiny.

I have mixed feelings about this episode. Whereas in the previous episodes the writing is excellent with perhaps a flaw here and there, in this episode I find that there are nearly as many hits as there are misses.

Hit:  As its title suggests, the episode describes a realistic aftermath of the attack on the bending arena. The Metalbending Police is almost over-eager in its search for Amon. At the same time, Amon's side does what it can to lead the police astray with a red herring while getting ready to launch their mecha-tanks. The depiction of this course of events is laudable because it mirrors real-world responses to terrorist attacks.

Miss:  Korra overhearing Hiroshi Sato is too serendipitous. If this was the only co-incidence of the series, I would not begrudge its use. But Asami meets Mako via a street accident. Co-incidences building on each other to drive the plot does not really appeal to me.

Hit:  Asami is fleshed out as a character. She proves her chops as a high-speed driver, a martial artist and an all-around good person. The choice she makes at the end of the episode reminds me of Zuko's crossroads at the end of Season 2 of ATLA. Thankfully, unlike Zuko, Asami has high self-esteem.

Miss:  Other character explorations are very shallow. Most of the pool scene as well as Korra in the powder room is mostly extraneous and could have been excised without much grief. They show familiar character quirks without adding to the characters' depths.

Hit:  I like that the Previously On section tries to maintain its realism. Instead of the bending arena commentator, who is probably recovering after his electrocution, we get Taarlok explaining the situation to reports.

Overall, despite all its misses, the episode shows how deeply entrenched and yet easily masked anti-bending sentiment can be. It tears apart the Sato family, perhaps foreshadowing what it could do to the entire Republic City.
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« Reply #34 on: Jan 20, 2013 03:42 pm »

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« Reply #35 on: Feb 10, 2013 10:51 am »

Book One: Air

Chapter Eight: When Extremes Meet

Grade: B+

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

The co-creators of ATLA and TLOK have always held this to be true: no one is wholly good or wholly bad; people are either in balance or out of balance. In this episode, Taarlok falls out of balance by going to the extremes to get what he wants.

In the larger scheme of things, Taarlok goes to the extreme by imposing curfew on all non-benders. When Korra says to him that he is just as bad as Amon, she is not saying it just to provoke him. Much like Amon, Taarlok would risk dividing the city into benders versus non-benders to reach his goals. On a personal level, Taarlok shows himself out of balance when he uses the most perverse form of bending: blood-bending.

The other important event of this episode is the formation of the new Team Avatar. Much like in ATLA, each character comes to Team Avatar for their own reasons but these reasons are always well constructed. Asami needs to undo the damage her father's works cause to the city. Mako and Bolin both care about Korra; they know how to fight as a team alongside her. More importantly, from “The Revelation” episode, they know from up-close the dangers that benders such as them would face if Amon succeeds.

The Air children are endeared to us at the beginning of this episode. Iki proves a match for Bolin, Jinora has the cool assurance of an erudite, Milo is as cute as he is crass. One of the most surprising moments, which vies with blood-bending reveal, is when Iki says, “Asami, did you know Korra likes Mako?” It is very telling how used I am to dramatic clichés that Asami walking in on Mako and Korra kissing would not have been much of a surprise. But this had me nearly falling off my chair in shock.

Much like in the previous episodes, it is when Korra is struck helpless that she gets visions of Aang. This time there appears to be blood-bending involved but it is still difficult to tell with clarity. It is a nice way to keep us in suspense.

Despite everything it gets right, this episode has some flaws. The first one may not really be a writing flaw but rather a character flaw. It is that Tenzin sees nothing wrong in getting people released from jail merely by requesting it. Does he think bureaucracy and red tape should apply to others and not him?

The other issue is the lack of Korra's growth as a character despite hinting at it. At two points in this episode, Korra's preconceptions are challenged: once by the mother in the non-bending family who says, “You're our avatar too”. And again by Taarlok who says to Korra that she is just like him because she uses her bending to intimidate people too. Sadly, neither of these excellent issues are explored in any depth. Korra accepts the former and shrugs off the latter without much thought. And even then, when she confronts Taarlok, it is for her friends' sake and not really for the oppressed non-benders.

The final and biggest issue is of the characters, or lack thereof, of the three other council members. They have absolutely nothing to say, no defence of Taarlok's views or placation of Tenzin's opposition. They exist simply to vote in Taarlok's favour. For less screen time, Lo and Li in ATLA got ten times the characterization.

Overall, it is a mixed bag of an episode, especially given the viewer confusion as to why a new villain is being introduced so late in the game. Nevertheless, because it all eventually ties in to the main plot, I do not dock any points for it. I give it a healthy B+.



Book One: Air

Chapter Nine: Out of the Past

Grade: A

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

A kidnapped Korra seeks help from her past life while her friends desperately try to locate her. Meanwhile, Taarlok is forced to face the consequences of his actions.

One of the biggest strengths of ATLA was the crafting of each character. Strong or weak, bender or non-bender, hero or villain, they were most of them multifaceted, wholly original individuals. With this episode, I can definitively say that Legend of Korra has kicked it up a notch and does an even better job of characterization. That is because this show has no easy villains, if any villains at all.

Amon is fighting for a just cause. So, although his methods are extreme and he is antagonizing Korra, he cannot be called a villain because he is not acting out of malice. Similarly, Taarlok wants glory and wants to be the saviour of Republic City. His bitterness towards Korra is justified. Still, at least his blood-bending of Korra should be called 'villainous'. But what happens when he has lost his bending ability? Once again we are in the same situation as with Tahno, the leader of the Wolf Bats. Yes, he was a repulsive character before the final match. However, after losing his bending, it is difficult to not have some sympathy for him and it is nearly impossible to brand him as a villain. This type of layered characterization is what makes the characters from this series more memorable than many others.

This episode has good pacing as well. It intertwines the breakneck action of the search for Korra with the expository flashbacks of Aang. The flashbacks were put to good use for two reasons. Firstly, it let fans of ATLA know that the gAang had many more adventures even after the series finale. That is a comforting thought. Secondly, it reinforced a theme from ATLA: that the burden of the current Avatar may be a direct result of the action or inaction of a previous Avatar. Aang had to deal with the consequences of the choices that Roku and Kyoshi made. Now Korra has to deal with Aang's mercy in letting Yakone live.

Some assorted observations follow.
1. Our radio narrator is back to recap the series. I am glad it did not take him long to recover from his electrocution in “And The Winner Is?”.
2. It is awkwardly convenient that a group of five can find the Equalist hideout within hours even though the police could not do it for weeks.
3. When Taarlok brings Korra down the stairs, his pose is almost like that of a puppet-master controlling his puppets. I like that reference.
4. Once again, only when Korra is helpless does she manage to connect with her past life.
5. Amon becomes my hero! He IS the solution. His appearance is sudden, unforeseen, dramatic. He basically rescues Korra from the clutches of Taarlok. But what is he? Did the spirits give him the power to resist blood-bending? These are interesting questions raised by this episode.
6. Finally, we see that putting Korra in extreme danger brings out Mako's affection for her.

Overall, this is a well-paced episode with plenty of twist and turns and revelations.
« Last Edit: Feb 10, 2013 12:13 pm by AvtrSpirit » Logged
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« Reply #36 on: Feb 11, 2013 09:48 pm »

^ Uploaded.
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« Reply #37 on: Mar 02, 2013 01:04 am »

Book One: Air

Chapter Ten: Turning the Tides

Grade: A

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. Down-the-road spoilers are avoided. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

Amon enters his endgame and the stakes have never been higher.

Forget 'The Revelation'; THIS is the ultimate study in tension-building. It starts off with a little romantic tension: Mako-Asami-Korra followed by Tenzin-Lin-Pema. This escalates very soon to Amon's capture of the Council Members followed by his all out attack on Republic City. First the police are spread thin and then their headquarters are attacked. Thanks to Team Avatar's timely arrival, Tenzin is saved from capture.

And just when we think that the heroes are safe, Air Temple Island is attacked. To compound the tension, Pema goes into labour. Although the first wave of Equalists is fended off by Lin and the Airbending kids, this respite does not last long either. More Equalists come in hot pursuit of our heroes.

In the end, a sacrifice is required of everyone: the Airbenders lose their home while Korra restrains herself and loses the certainty that her bending gives her physical superiority over all others. The greatest sacrifice is, of course, Lin's. The scene of her sacrifice is accompanied by some very sombre pathetic fallacy as even the sky cries for her.

Thankfully, the episode does not leave us in this lowest of notes. By introducing us to General Iroh and his fleet, it channels our desperation into righteous anger and hope of recuperation.

It is a bold move by the show to continuously spiral downwards without relenting. Other than a few successful raids by Taarlok, our heroes have been consistently beaten by the Equalists and barely managed to escape. However, this chain of events is also realistic because Amon and Hiroshi are both intelligent men who have had a long time to prepare their endgame. We hope to see in the next episode if their reckoning includes the United Forces or not.

A special mention goes to some of the battle moves when Team Avatar rescued Tenzin. One very obvious but appreciated reference was to Uncle Iroh's lightning redirection technique used by Mako to take out a Mecha Tank. Korra's use of Waterbending to take down another Mecha Tank could have been a reference to Katara's anti-tank Waterbending in “Norther Air Temple”. What was wholly new was seeing Airbending used to actively attack instead of to avoid and evade. Outside of the Avatar state, this has almost never happened before. Watching Tenzin destroy the Mecha Tanks using Airbending was both awe-inspiring and a little unnerving. It is a mark of desperation because Airbending was developed to elevate and escape the mundane world, not to fight it.

Overall, the episode does a great job of taking us to new lows. This leaves us ripe for a climatic showdown between the Equalists and the United Forces. Who will prevail?
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« Reply #38 on: Mar 22, 2013 02:15 pm »

^ Uploaded.
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« Reply #39 on: May 03, 2013 08:53 pm »

Book One: Air

Chapter Eleven: Skeletons in the Closet

Grade: A

[Preface: These reviews are written after having seen the first season in its entirety. My focus is on the writing, not music or animation.]

Amon fights on two fronts: the physical war (mostly thanks to Hiroshi) and the propaganda war. Korra and team know only how to contest him in physical terms. But Korra also wants a one-on-one confrontation. Unlike Ozai, who in the original series would have relished nothing more than a physical confrontation, Amon has avoided it so far. Hitherto, the propaganda fight and the army battle have all been on Amon's terms. Korra hopes that a one-on-one surprise confrontation may be on her terms.

A theme that is shared between this and the original series is that a handful of talented and really passionate individuals, working in perfect sync, can accomplish what whole armies cannot. This is borne out by both the original and the new team Avatar, as well as Azula's gang. It is difficult to tell whether this theme is accidentally (arose out of need for more thrilling story-telling) or purposeful (since Azula explicitly says that a small elite team works best).

In this episode, we get the very last major character introduction, that of General Iroh. Since it is so late in coming, it makes perfect sense to mesh it with the action-packed battle scene. Characters reveal most about themselves when under pressure. So, we quickly get that in the heat of battle he is as unrelenting as his name sake, though perhaps a touch more aggressive. Very much like Korra.

Then comes the big reveals: the point at which all the antagonists' stories intertwine: Yakone, Taarlok and Amon. What is amazing is how different the motivations are for all of them. By the time they are fully grown, both Noatak and Taarlok detest their father and become contemptuous of his desire to rule Republic City just for the sake of wielding power. In fact, they both dedicate their lives to opposing what each thinks is their father's failings: Taarlok is relentless in pursuing criminals and Noatak wants to eliminate benders.

And yet, as Taarlok says, they were both put on their respective paths by their father. By teaching them blood-bending, Yakone inspired in them a near absolute certainty about their bending prowess and how unbeatable they would be if they mastered it. Though neither of them showcase their blood-bending ability openly, the confidence generated by this realization can be seen over and over again in both Taarlok and Noatak throughout the series. Yakone also inspired in them the importance and centrality of Republic City in the new world order. Is it any surprise, then, that Taarlok and Noatak's ideologies should clash on the battlefield of Republic City? I have previously expressed my distaste of using co-incidences to move the plot forward. In this case, however, the clash of the two brothers is explained excellently by their back story.

One other theme that is shared across multiple avatar life-times is that the new avatar has to deal with the unforeseen consequences of the actions of the previous avatars. Aang did this at least for Roku and Kyoshi. And now Korra has to deal with the fact that Aang merely punished Yakone instead of properly rehabilitating him. This is a great way to impress upon the viewers that all actions have consequences. It also lends realism to the world of the Avatar.

Overall, this was a very well-paced episode that deftly handled a lot of endgame exposition.



Book One: Air

Chapter Twelve: Endgame

Grade: A-


Korra has matured. She has learned to think like the airbenders, to approach a problem in multiple ways. When Taarlok makes it clear that Noatak's blood-bending is superior to her ability, Korra jumps to the idea of fighting propaganda with propaganda. She decides that instead of defeating Noatak physically, it would be far more efficacious to turn his own revolution against him. This is something that the Korra from the beginning of the series would likely not have done. She is now seeing the bigger picture and is able to act accordingly.

The action sequences are classic avatar style. Highlights include: Asami sorting out her issues with her father, upon seeing up close how far gone he really is. Naga and Pabu proving their worth as core members of the new Team Avatar. Iroh single-handedly taking out a wave of air-planes. But, although the battle at the airfield is well planned and does not outstay its welcome, the interesting events are happening elsewhere.

Korra, very ably and succinctly, sows doubt in the minds of the crowd. Of course, these seeds of doubt do not bear fruit until much later on. But it seems that she does have some rhetoric ability in her.

Then, out of nowhere, Amon brings out air-benders. This really frustrated me. I guess that the intention was to make the audience feel the terror that Korra feels when she thinks that air-bending is going to be wiped from the world forever. However, it comes off as a rather contrived attempt to raise the stakes and it also somewhat cheapens Lin's sacrifice.

Then comes the nail-biting final confrontation between Mako, Korra and Amon. When Amon took Korra's bending away, I was left literally open mouthed. I did not expect that to happen. At that point, I only wished for them to beat a hasty retreat. Then, when Korra discovered that she could airbend, I was actually confused. I put aside my immediate confusion and just went with the jubilation of the moment when Amon is completely unmasked.

But, just like with Azula, the creators of the series are not content with the viewers feeling jubilant at the completely fall of a human being, no matter how villainous they are made out to be. The boat scene with Noatak and Taarlok is the most heart-wrenching in the entire series. Taarlok, it seems to me, goes through the most amount of character development over the course of the series. And with his final act, he becomes my hero. Although it could be argued that the single tear from Noatak's eye may be proof that he knows what Taarlok is doing. All in all, a very dark and unexpected scene which went a long way in redeeming, or at least making us feel for, the two antagonists of the series.

Meanwhile, at the South Pole, Mako tries to make Korra realize that she is more than just her avatar abilities. However, love does not just heal all. Korra feels broken and cannot love another until she can feel whole again.

I have heard the theory floating around that when Korra is crying by the cliffside, she is considering jumping to her death and perhaps hoping that the next avatar is reborn with connections to all the elements. I would have considered this far-fetched if the boat scene had not shown a murder-suicide already. In fact, if Korra is really considering ending herself, then it lends even more credibility to what we have seen throughout this series: that her connection with Aang is strongest when she is feeling most helpless. Now that she is connected to Airbending and is “at her lowest”, it makes some sense that this is when Aang would finally manifest.

It is just added bonus that Aang's theme plays as Korra tries out her Avatar State for the first time. Cheesy

This episode is not perfect because it does leave somethings unexplained, like how Korra's airbending was unlocked and how Amon captured the airbenders. Other than that, it did a good job tying up a lot of story threads in a very limited time. I cannot wait to see what the next season will deliver!
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« Reply #40 on: Jul 18, 2013 10:24 pm »

^ Uploaded. Thanks for reviewing every episode, AvtrSpirit! Cheesy
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« Reply #41 on: Apr 08, 2014 08:50 am »

Does ASN want reviews for Book 2 as well?
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« Reply #42 on: Apr 08, 2014 09:12 am »

Of course. It does say TLoK episodes in the title. All books included.
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« Reply #43 on: Apr 08, 2014 09:15 am »

Is it okay if I do it? Or is there some sort of qualification? Or a deadline?

Edit : But nah, I changed my mind, I don't think I can speak English that well. My vocabulary is poor.
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« Reply #44 on: Apr 08, 2014 10:21 pm »

There are a few rules in the first post. Apart from that, you can do your own thing. Smiley

And your English is fine, Furudo. Seriously, don't worry about it.
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« Reply #45 on: Apr 08, 2014 11:56 pm »

There is no limit on the number of reviews written per episode. Anyone can write it.
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« Reply #46 on: Jul 03, 2014 09:03 pm »

Just bumping this thread to remind people of its existence now that we've started Book 3. If anyone wants to post an episode review, for any episode from any season, please feel free to do so.
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« Reply #47 on: Aug 05, 2014 03:00 pm »

I'll try... I guess... not sure if I'm gonna be good at this...

Book Three: Change

Chapter Six: Old Wounds

Grade: B+

This weeks episode is somewhat of a mixed bag, containing both excellent new information and development, as well as some less than stellar execution in certain areas.

Starting off with the positive valuee, Lin and how she reacts to this flashbacks is excellent. Put under a 'dangerous amount of stress' due to both having to keep Korra safe, who is not taking the most powerful criminals trying to capture her very seriously yet, and being on edge at Zaofu with her estranged sister, Suyin. It merely emphasises how uncomfortable and worried Lin, and this highlights not only how far her wounds with Suyin run, but also how the Red Lotus (Zaheer, Pi'li, Ming Hua and Ghazan) may be even more dangerous than we've seen so far.

After noticing Lin snapping at some guards, Ai-wei, the local Truth Seer, directs her to a local acupuncturist to help her loosen up, where she experiences flashbacks of her younger days. Lin and Suyin's feud is addressed the very next episode after it formed, which is wise structurally to make things more tightly-knitted since Book 3 has much bigger, ongoing multiple narratives. Suyin, Lin and Toph's characterisations in the Flashback sequences are excellently executed, giving the audience an excellent representation of how their relationship, they're dysfunctional childhood in a few short scenes and consequences of being raised with "too much freedom". She is shown to stubbornly resist confronting these problems mentally and physically, and even storms out because the encroaching memories are too painful for her to endure.
 
Yet, nonetheless, she is forced to confront these issues regardless. An interesting scene is when an out-of-it Lin is sitting in her designated room after storming out of acupuncturist, and visionally maps Teenage!Suyin onto Korra when Korra's berating her for 'how she treated Opal last night?', showing this is likely part of the reason why Lin took an immediate dislike to Korra - she hates troublemakers who think they can do whatever they want, made even more so by how her sister acted.

We learn of how Lin caught Suyin red-hand as the getaway driver for her friends, who were involved with the triads and robbing people. This tense confrontation leads to Lin trying to arrest Suyin and Suyin accidentally give Lin the facial scar she has to this day. Toph covers this brewing scandal up, and send Suyin away so she won't go to jail. What's interesting about this, is it prompts the tragic thought: likely,  everyday Lin looked in the mirror she'd be reminded of those bitter memories.

Another character centred arch, Bolin's narrative for the episode. He's conflicted between his desperate desire to metalbend and his insecurity he'll just embarrass himself in front of Toph's (who's, apparently, his 'biggest hero') daughter, no less, because he's not 'one of those one in a hundred' who can do it. There's a slight issue with Bolin's sudden reverence of Toph to this level, because it seems out of nowhere - while it is understandable to be awed by such an accomplished Earthbender as Toph Bei Fong and calling her his 'biggest hero', Bolin has never expressed this admiration of her before, even when he was around Lin Bei Fong, Toph's other daughter. If she was such a 'hero' to him and his issues with metalbending, why has it never been flat-out mentioned or hinted at these past seasons?

Opal and Bolin's relationship is a much-needed reprieve from the Mako/Korra/Bolin, the demented Eska/Bolin relationship, and the flat, superficial Ginger/Bolin relationship. All of which have Bolin acting as either as 'the nice guys finish last' cliché, the male abuse-victim for comedy, or too stupid to realise fiction isn't real life. In fact, a misstep in Book 2 was that all Bolin's relationships were mostly played for laughs. Bolin and Opal, however, are sweet and their relationship is developing naturally even with the comedic moments. The parallel between Opal's fear of leaving home and disappoint her mother and Bolin's fear of metalbending failure and embarrassment work well, helping to build up their romance even more and progress as characters.  

Present Lin and Suyin's relationship is also, for the most part, well-displayed in this episode. With so much dislike and resentment on Lin's part toward Suyin, which amounts to an epic battle between the sisters, the change in Lin's character near the end of the episode is somewhat sudden, although it could be put down to Lin finally facing her past and releasing thirty-years worth of pent-up resentment and aggression concerning her sister. She hasn't completely forgiven Suyin, but with this new piece of mind Lin is able to apologise to Opal and have a reasonable conversation with Suyin where they reflect on the wrongs of their past and the possible future.

All in all, a solid episode, but with flaws.

---

God, I probably failed so hard at this.
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Keeper of Kuvira's owning, Asami's lacking development, and Azula's nails.
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