So, apparently this is now a 'talking about Nickelodeon cartoons' blog. Sorry, not sorry!
Over the last couple of months I've really gotten into the two Avatar television series, and I want to talk a little bit about them today. I've seen all of The Last Airbender and I'm about halfway through Book 2 of Legend of Korra, so my observations have probably been better articulated and analysed by people who have actually seen the whole show. An unfortunate side-effect of first-time watching a show that has already been out there in the world for a while... and I can't look and find out, either, without subjecting myself to spoilers! So, here goes nothing.
The Last Airbender (ATLA) and Legend of Korra (LOK) are two very different, very wonderful shows, with different strengths and different weaknesses; however, I have noticed a few things in common - particularly a few weaknesses in common. (NB, I really do love these shows, ATLA changed my life a wee bit and I'm loving LOK so far, but I also love to analyse stuff a little too much...)
Starting at the very beginning (apparently a very good place to start), both shows take a while to find their feet. After watching two or three episodes of ATLA together my brother turned to me with shining eyes and said, "Isn't this the best show you've ever watched?"
I was forced to say no. It wasn't the best show I had ever watched. It was cute, I liked the premise, I liked the world, but the characters didn't grab me straight away. I found Aang's hyperactive childishness and Sokka's awkward wisecracking a bit annoying, and the earliest stories weren't especially interesting to me. Of course, after watching all three books of ATLA, I now have to declare it one of my favourite television shows ever, if not my most favourite, and the characters hold distinguished places in my pantheon of fictional darlings.
In comparison, I can't help but feel that LOK, as of Book 2, still hasn't really found its feet. The plot arcs, though interesting and well-conceived, aren't always paced very well - one less interesting plot point will be given far too much time and several very interesting plot points will be hastily jammed into a single episode! As for character arcs? I don't think they really exist in LOK at all in a real sense. Korra seems to pretty much learn the same thing in most episodes, since the plot of most episodes goes a bit like this tumblr meme:
Everyone: "Korra, don't do the thing!"
Korra: "I'm gonna do the thing!"
Korra: *Regrets doing the thing*
If you have the same lesson taught over and over again in different episodes, it sort of ruins the whole 'character growth arc' thing that is so terribly important to a good show.
And the other characters??? Um. Well.
Why did the Fire Ferrets disband? Really, why? I rely too heavily on the bro-y bros broing it up dynamic; separating Korra and Mako and Bolin for a good portion of season two just made me sorta dislike Mako and even Bolin a little. In stark contrast to ATLA, LOK doesn't give us much of the inner lives of the characters, except maybe for Korra and Tenzin (a bit). I appreciate what we do get - but just remembering Zuko's agonising journey of personal development - and Aang's - and Katara's (and Sokka's and Toph's, to a lesser extent)... why? Why don't we get to see much of the motivations and struggles and epiphanies of the characters of LOK?
(EDIT: the above was written when I was up to Chapter 8 of LOK. I greatly appreciated Bolin's acknowledgement of the breakdown of the brotherly relationship in a subsequent ep. Bolin had some nice moments over the last episodes of Book 2)
THAT SAID, LOK seems to have a way of making up for some less interesting/plain awful subplots *COUGH* LOVE TRIANGLE *COUGH* with really full on, no punches pulled, go big or go home finales. You should see me failing to stifle my cries of shock, fear and disbelief when watching the season finales. I'm super annoying.
I'll write more another time!
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