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Michael Dante dimartino and Bryan konietzko are incredibly inspirational people, having
through their work ignited my own interest in the power of animated television. I hold
them in the highest regard, and would love it if they saw this video. Having said that,
i'm now going to burn all these budding bridges by talking about why Korra sucks.
Nah, I'm not hatin'. Well, to be pedantic I don't really set out to hate on anything,
though many find my critiques blasphemous. I'm incredibly fond of the Avatar franchise
and Korra is no exception. I love the world, the style, the music, the ideas, and the characters-
not to mention that Janet Varney is absolutely adorable. I LOVE YOU.
Which is why it pains me to have anything bad to say at all. I still maintain that the
first few episodes of Korra are perfection and the original series, Avatar the last Airbender,
is my overall favourite animated show. Sadly, it's clear that the latest incarnation is
somewhat lacking. I worry that the creators believe all the critics are variations on
the eternal fanboy and have thereby disregarded many arguments. I like to think that I could
offer more eloquence to some of these points of contention- i mean not to blow my own trumpet
but…actually, eh, fuck it. With book 3 on its way I'm keen to address this series while
it's still fresh in my mind- and while I will be looking at what doesn't work, I will also
give credit where credit is due.
Avatar is set in a world where people are born with the ability to bend the elements- coming in flavours of
earth, air, water, fire, and absolutely normal. The Avatar is a reincarnated deity who has
the ability to control all of these elements, and therefore can bring balance to the world
when things get a bit rowdy. The avatar is also able to act as the bridge between the
spirit world and the mortal realm.
In the original series, the overarching plot was set right from the get-go- Aang had to
learn his skills and bring balance to the world by stopping the fire nation. This became
the forward momentum for everything that followed, allowing the focus to fall on character development
and evolving perspectives on the entirety of the situations context. Exposition felt
progressional, not retractive.
Korra does have an overall agenda but also ekes out plot details bit by bit purely for
exposition, and the goalposts shift almost every episode come the second season. Now
on the one hand this does work if the plan is to really pull the rug out from people's
feet and create a sense of mystery, but the surprises and twists offered are often incredibly
superficial, offering little sense of weight or insight. Our characters are active in pursuing
a goal but aren't very good at questioning anything in same way as their predecessors.
Some threads also simply just don't tie together as neatly as they could- Season 2's adventures
in republic city could probably have been their own series outside of the spiritual
unrest Korra and Tenzin dealt with, and they pair together rather poorly compared to the
parallels between Aang and Zuko's stories of gaining independence and self discovery.
The encompassing issue that creates this is that ATLA had real growth, and Korra doesn't.
This is present in three distinct perspectives i'm going to cover- spirituality, physicality
and empathy. So let's start with the spirits.
Spirituality and physicality were highly allegorical in ATLA- the spirits were deliberately mysterious
and unexplained because it leant more focus to the actual struggle Aang was going through.
They weren't simply black and white in their makeup (well, except for that guy.) They were
there with specific purposes, even if it was to set the tone, express the difference in
style from the physical realm or hint at previous endeavours that fed into Aang's current plight.
Same can be said of his physical trials which were more than simply overcoming obstacles-
With each lesson, Aang learns how to control his abilities and emotions- but in doing so
has to by proxy change his behaviour and outlook in order to master them. He is forced to change
as a person, and as he changes, the way he decides to solve the overall problem changes
with it. As a result each lesson, each bit of exposition, each interaction and facet
added to his repertoire feels utterly necessary and fulfilling, because we feel Aang's growth
offer a sense of progression.
Spirituality for Korra, until the last episode of season 2, was merely a means of plot dumping.
Through spirituality Korra accesses flashbacks which only give her a basic understanding
of the semantics of what must be done and to whom. They offer no personal understanding
and are often far removed from her own experiences, which makes it difficult to care for her journey.
There comes a point in season one where the plot hands itself over to an event that feels
far too detached from the political ideology and character relationships presented to really
invest emotionally in the outcome. In season 2 this continues to be an issue, though frustratingly
so as the character she should be relating to in question is someone she shares family
history with- not to mention there was actually the potential for a story about the misuse
of spiritual guidance. No amount of Godzilla can make up for that. (roar)
Korra's physical prowess is basically rendered pointless to serialise because it's done in
a manner of convenience. As a hotheaded character Korra relies a lot on her powers and relishes
the ability to use them, which obviously hampers her foresight in using them effectively later
on when they're removed. Not a difficult dramatic arc to pinpoint overall. Sadly the way it's
handled doesn't belie it's predictability. She only uses an ability because it's the
only thing left available to her, but she doesn't learn anything about it or learn from
the surrounding circumstances that had her resort to said power in the process, leaving
her at the same point of understanding as at the start of the series. These ultimately
feel like Deus Ex Machinas even if they're passingly explained because we don't experience
an understanding of them on any kind of relateable level.
At one point all her powers are taken away and are then given back without consequence-
which is a damn shame. There was the potential to create a very nice contrast from ATLA-
Aang was always reluctant to use his powers while Korra took them for granted. He was
forced into using them to actively save the day and appreciate his potential, while Korra
could have learnt to work within the limitations to truly become a more rounded Avatar. The
yin, and the yang, so to speak. Ah! It was so good to see Iroh again and his soothing
Jasmine tea.
The last part is empathy. Aang begins life as not only a child but a sheltered one. His
re-introduction to the rest of the world means that his journey instructs both the audience
and Aang from the ground up on the many differing perspectives and values held within that world.
With each new meeting Aang gains a new understanding on how to deal with the problems before him.
For example, his dealing with Fire Lord Ozai which is a conclusion drawn from his experience
from the entire journey. He knows that if he kills the fire lord he will create a martyr
to the fire nations cause and violate his own principles. However if he leaves him be,
he will cause unrest and probably be blamed for being ineffective. It's debatable that
the final conflict is achieved in a satisfactory manner but the ending does satisfy the ultimate
arc of the series and the character arcs present.
Korra doesn't really gain any insight into her foes or her friends, and they in return
seem to be too wrapped up in themselves to have anything resembling meaningful interactions.
We catch glimpses of it but it almost feels like a lot of characters are just talking
to themselves and establishing they are, in fact, that kind of character. There's a clear
deficiency in the dialogue as a result- you only have to compare some of the nuanced dialogue
in ATLA to Korra to see what I mean. As a result incredibly intriguing issues are left
feeling moot. The Equalists never come to any understanding with Korra or their bending
peers and are explained away under a new president at the start of season 2. The mob which is
so prominently given notice in episode one also only appears as a plot device now and
then, which is rather aggravating when their minuscule character development seems more
interesting than that of our leads. The spirits are surely still hampered by negative energy
within the real world and are clearly unfit in many ways to live amongst normal people.
Overall the series just lacks that extra level of humanity. It's slowly becoming a show that
draws on skewed sentimentality and world building rather than concentrating on the sincerity
and frankness that made the original series so solid.
But you know what? Some of this stuff is addressed, which is what makes this really frustrating,
and proof that these writers are capable of more.
The first couple episodes of season one and the last half of season 2 really do a great
job of combating my issues. Season one starts with Korra fighting against the element of
air until she realises it can actually improve her overall physicality outside of being the
avatar. She experiences the entire range of citizens and the idea that the Avatar may
in fact be a flawed concept. Nepotism is covered in a way most series ignore, with the children
of ATLA's heroes burdened with living up to their parents and having to deal with the
legacy of their actions. We have a villain who brings up political manipulation under
a genuinely imposing guise and one who invokes the idea of blind faith in a world where we
know it may not be so misplaced. The Avatar as a concept is explained very well and the
lack of fulfillment within the first avatar feels incredibly moving. Bolin and Mako achieve
some much needed character development, pitted against each other as Bolin's selfishness
and naivety begins to blossom. And of course, Avatar always manages to keep its sense of
humour while balancing it against dashes of real pathos- including perhaps the best thing
to happen to the series in a long time. (cut to varrick)
Korra herself finally goes through that long awaited growth, and while it may feel like
too little, too late, it is well conveyed. She finds herself manipulated and turned into
a political figurehead. She finds that her capacity for strong relationships is tested
by her duties as the Avatar. She has her legacy literally ripped away from her, and when she
emerges after realising that her strength comes from her own being and not her predecessors
nor the spirit she is the avatar of, she finds herself emotionally and spiritually drained.
She has grown into a shaken, weary avatar, who's experimental decisions will perhaps
hurt her in the future. Her sense of humour, her willingness towards aggression is gone,
and she will have to rely more on her own intuition as time goes on.
This simultaneously sets up hopes and fears for the progression come Season 3. With a
title like ‘change' there's a lot of potential for this to be a series that really puts Korra
back on track, and to hopefully win back a lot of viewers. I worry that such a wonderful
franchise and concept with be marred by poor handling and misguided notions- and yet I
know that with every installment, their integrity is always present, and their love of what
they have set forth is always evident. Mike, Bri, you guys have a wonderful thing going
here, and I'm sure that you'll give it the dignity it deserves. (Varrick poops money).
Heh, poop.


降世神通:寇菈傳奇分析:元素錯誤 (The Legend of Korra Analysis: Elemental Errors? | Beyond Pictures)

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Hhart Budha 發佈於 2014 年 6 月 16 日
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