The Legend of Korra Episode 1 Review: Korra Dazzles in Debut

Badass Baby KorraThe Legend of Korra finally started and it took me so long to write a review because my brain was unfortunately fried by how truly awesome it was. I, like many, have been waiting a long time for this show and I cannot believe how great it, and Korra, is.

From the get go, the show sets the stage. A voice (who turns out to be Tenzin, Aang’s son) narrates what has happened. The four most recent Avatars, Kyoshi, Roku, Aang and Korra strut their native element stuff in order and then we are told how Avatar Aang and Prince Zuko brought peace after the 100 year Fire Nation war. They created a new world, and in this world, their crown jewel city was named Republic City. Welcome.

Instantly we know many things. It’s explained how the world is, gives us the main setting of the show and also explains that Aang is dead. Sad news, but then with that simple news we know that this show is set many years after the last one. Seventy years it turns out but either way, we are ahead of Aang’s time.

The White Lotus society, a great group from the original series still going strong, appear at the South Pole in their continuing search for the new Avatar. The parents they meet are polite but clearly confident in the face of these weary Lotus men. They call Korra. It is at this early point that we meet the young Korra. She busts through the wall in a display of Water, Fire and Earth bending that leaves no one indecisive. ‘˜I’m the Avatar, you gotta deal with it’she cry’s and never have truer words been spoken. In your face, confident and skilled, there is no getting away from the tubby little Water Tribe girl.

Fast forward a few years and we see the now (slimmer) seventeen year old Korra demonstrating that her confidence has not diminished over the years. She competently beats two Firebenders in passing her Firebending training. A familiar face comments on her strength but the other masters are not too impressed (although I was, it looked great). They comment on her lack of spirituality concerning bending, although state she excels at the physical side. This can only be good news as far as I’m concerned. I’m always up for a bit of spirit with my fighting but I love me some action!

Katara, with her familiar hair, is pleased that Korra has passed Firebending and is about to move on to Airbending. Korra meanwhile celebrates her passing Firebending by telling Naga, her Polar Bear/dog. I loved Appa in the old series and have all the faith in the world that it is only a matter of time before I find myself wearing a Naga T-shirt.

The next day, a flying Bison shows up containing Tenzin, Katara and Aang’s son, with his family; his three Airbending kids, Jinora, Ikki and Meelo and his wife, Pema, who is pregnant with Tenzin’s fourth child; who Katara suspects is another Airbender, much to Pema’s dismay. Non bending wives have it so hard. Not as hard as we do though, Jinora was about to find out the mystery of Zuko’s mother but it was ruined by Ikki. Damn.

Unfortunately for Korra, Tenzin can’t stay. Matters are afoot in Republic City, where Tenzin is a well-respected figure, and he must leave. Korra is disappointed, eager as she is to learn Airbending. As Tenzin is the only Airbending teacher left, Korra decides that a plan is needed, after she is denied the luxury of accompanying Tenzin back to Republic City.

Fed up with what she considers imprisonment, the hot-headed Korra decides to leave her home and head to Republic City. She’s going to learn Airbending regardless of what anyone says. Teenage girls eh? Always think they’re right. Turns out that old lady Katara agrees with her, independent sisterhood and all that. Before Korra leaves, Katara explains to her that it is her time, she and her generation will now be called upon to maintain peace in the world. Once again, a sad kick in the teeth comes along when Katara mentions that Aang and the rest of the heroes from the last series are no more, apart from her. I’m typing with my fingers crossed as I hope this is just a bluff. I miss Sokka. Anyway, Korra leaves after saying goodbye to her folks. Republic City, here she comes!

On the boat she and Naga sneak upon we get another glimpse of the world Avatar now inhibits. There’s a car! Oh yeah, no more than ten minutes in and it’s all coming along so nicely. After arriving in the city, Korra finds out the hard way that all is not what she thought in Republic City. After being refused food on the grounds of empty pocket syndrome, she scorches fish in a park and shares them with a homeless man. Well, technically he lives in a bush but anyway, he welcomes her to Republic City!. The streets are not paved with gold, everyone is not living the big life and it’s just not what she thought. Guess the South Pole has inaccurate information, or the Avatar is shielded. I wonder which one made her such the rebel.

The episode picks up from here in terms of action. Firstly she loses an argument on morality with an Equalist, the promised bad guys of the series, but we’ll come back to them later. Then she ends up in a fight with Triads; a Firebender, an Earthbender and a Waterbender team harassing a shop. Korra whoops them, showcasing her Avatar ability but she inadvertently makes more mess than the villains she was trying to stop. This brings one of the coolest things I’ve seen in cartoons in a long time. Metalbending cops, jumping out of a blimp. Yes, goosebumps. They use wires to apprehend the Triad benders and after Korra resists arrest in another fine display of teenage exuberance they chase after her by ‘Spiderman-ing’ with their metal wires and grind on wires around the city. They are fantastic, and demonstrate this by capturing Korra and Naga with wires from their blimp. I’ve never been so excited about Police in a series and just as soon as the thought of them being a major ploy in the story excited me it was dashed, of sorts, by their leader. Chief Lin Beifong, daughter of the epically badass (and creator of Metalbending) Toph Beiling. Except she’s nowhere near as fun. She isn’t impressed by Korra, or her Avatar to-be state, she just doesn’t want the city she’s in charge of to be so carelessly destroyed by some hot head bender who doesn’t know how things work in the big old Republic City.

Korra is saved from interrogation by Tenzin, who is polite to Lin but it’s not really reciprocated. The clear old-friends vibe blisters from these two. I can’t wait till more of their history is delved into. Pounds to crumpets that there’s a bit of teenage romance unanswered in there. Anyway, Tenzin only grabs Korra out there on the condition that she is being sent home to the South Pole. Korra is disappointed but meets Chief Beifong’s ‘˜I’m watching you’gesture with her own immature version. Ah, that Korra is a free spirited one.

Korra sees the Mighty TophIn fact, Korra seems to be just your typical teenage girl planted into the universe of the Avatar. She’s brash, fun-loving, angry and just not into being told what to do, or maybe that’s just the teenage girls I grew up with. Either way, Korra is trouble and I love it already. At the ship, Korra is saying her goodbyes. Tenzin’s children show up on gliders and are just the image of Aang and the Air Nomads. It’s a beautiful sight. Tenzin seems to have mother issues as well when Katara gets brought up. Tenzin seems like he is going to be fun, the clearly put upon Airbending master, juggling training the Avatar and soon to be four Airbending children and his place in the Republic City upper echelon, he has a lot on his plate but I have faith he can manage it, just about anyway.

Eventually Tenzin relents and accept that Korra’s place is in Republic City. He has been trying to protect his father’s vision for the city but it’s not enough, the city needs the Avatar. Korra is over the moon and celebrates, smiling and picking up Meelo, Ikki, Jinora and even Tenzin. Is she strong or are Airbenders just very light?

Later on, Korra is at a press conference. Camera’s, sharp suits, microphones, bright lights, the full 1920’s works. I love the city already; it just has such a vibrant feel to it, but it clearly has a darker underside. I’m so excited. Korra ends the conference with typical good-guy promises of a better world, flanked by Chief Beifong and Tenzin, not forgetting Naga. The new hierarchy of justice in Republic City is there for all to see. And hear, as it turns out.

In an undisclosed location, a two sword carrying (clear) henchman speaks to Amon. We see just the briefest glimpse of this character as he shares with us a snippet of his plan; the Avatar has arrived ahead of schedule, it’s time for them to accelerate their plans. I adore villains so much and I’ve been so eager to see the Equalists. Ty Lee was one of the greatest characters to come along in Avatar and even though she wasn’t a bender, she was as bad ass and tough in a fight as anyone else. If the Equalists follow her style of fighting, ‘˜chi-blocking’, then these villains could be fantastic. Ninja like, dangerous and highly trained bender-blockers; I can’t wait to see them in action, they just feel brilliant. This little tease has whet my appetite immensely, bring on the Equalists!

A lot happened in this first episode. But nothing should be forgotten. Korra was introduced and she excelled in her role. She is the main character and I can’t wait to follow her on this new journey. Intelligently, and beautifully, The Legend of Korra give us enough of a taste of this new world within an old universe, and the main characters within that I’m hooked and already can’t wait to see more. Korra, well done, girl, I can’t wait to see you become a legend.

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