Legend of Korra – Welcome to Republic City & A Leaf in the Wind

Well I was hoping to review the MLP:FiM comic books.

BUT… looks like they make references to episodes I haven’t seen yet so I’m putting it off a moment.

Instead: Korra!


I can still remember the day I first saw Batman: the Animated Series (I’m pretty sure it was the premiere but it might have been a rerun of the first episode).  It was back when I was younger (shortly after the earth had cooled).  I’d go over to my grandmother’s house after school until my parents could pick me up and she had more channels than we did at home so I got to watch cartoons I normally couldn’t.  At the time, B:tAS blew me away, there was nothing like it on television.  While the writing and plots still hold up quite well today, I will admit that some parts haven’t aged well (mostly the animation and action sequences, but that’s a consequence of time marching on).

So when I first watched Avatar: the Last Airbender, I suffered a bit from hype backlash.  I thought it was good, but I didn’t find it as mind-blowing as the zeitgeist implied.  However, I didn’t begrudge anyone’s fandom of the show as a lot of what I heard about it reminded me of how I felt that afternoon so long ago and first saw Batman punching a crook in the title sequence.  For those who didn’t have the years of experience with them, they were experiencing for the first time what I and others had.  Classics should not only live on and be remembered, but should also be given their chance to be reborn.  A:tLA was good, but it wasn’t as groundbreaking for someone like me. (though I will get my own copies once it’s in a slim, total show collection like my Monty Python)

Then I started watching the sequel series, the Legend of Korra (LoK).


THIS is the show I was expecting from all the A:tLA hype.

First of all: the show is gorgeous.  Absolutely gorgeous.  The settings, action sequences and even musical selection in the first episode reminded me several times of the best parts of Baccano! and Cowboy Bebop.

Of course, visuals alone aren’t enough to save a story (it didn’t for the bad Avatar), how was everything else?

The setting is nice.  The city/1920ish feel is a logical outgrowth from things we saw in the previous series, yet different enough that we don’t feel like we’re treading the same ground.  Probably the biggest shock are the metal-bending police.  In this time, is metal-bending still a subset of earth-bending, or has it grown enough to become its own, distinct school/element?  That would bring the world more in line with with the Chinese elements which had metal as one, but then we better be seeing “wood benders” (and offshoot of water) showing up too.  It is also interesting to consider how this might affect the avatar too, so color me intrigued.

Plotwise, there’s not a lot in the first episode as it’s mostly devoted to world-building.  The basics of “avatar needs to learn” are used just to move the characters along and get everyone into position.

Speaking of, how were the characters?

I admit, I was thinking I was going to dislike Korra.  There’s a fine line between being spunky and being a jerk (Rainbow Dash likes to walk it) and Korra looked set to set it on fire and cover it in an avalanche.

Then… we spent a half hour of watching everyone else hate her.  Which does go a long way in redeeming her.  It was actually nice to see her get knocked down a few pegs and actually have her avatar reputation work against her, rather than for her.  Not having the world fall down in adoration of a character is one of the easiest ways of keeping said character from being a (bad) Mary Sue (and it is so easy for the avatars as set up to become total sues).  Of course you can’t go the opposite extreme and have everyone hate your Sue for no reason.  No, this world establishes good reasons for several people to be wary or suspicious of the avatar.  She might be able to bend elements, but politics?  That could be the real challenge (trust someone who works around it).


Now my torrent put episodes 1 & 2 into the same file so I thought I was going to get a 2 parter but the second episode “a Leaf in the Wind” (miss you, Wash!) isn’t directly related to the first beyond normal continuity.  It’s mostly more world-building establishing “professional bending” and who looks to be our main villain (so far).  Plus we get to see more dumping on Korra and screwing up by her, which pleases me.  At this rate, by season 1’s end we might see her character arc into the lovable spunkyness we all loved Toph for.

Oh, and it looks like the show makers have decided to just set up shipping wars as fast as possible.

Hmmm… I notice once of Tenzin’s daughters look like Ty Lee.  You think Tenzin married Ty Lee’s daughter? (yes, you can spoil this for me)  Heh, that could be interesting.

I like to do scores relative a series’ whole so I’ll wait on scoring these episodes until season 1 is done and we can establish what were the high and low points.  Though so far, I’m looking forward to it. 😀


2 thoughts on “Legend of Korra – Welcome to Republic City & A Leaf in the Wind

  1. Re: metalbending: Some of the police are shown regular earthbending later on, so I believe it is still just a subset. A really interesting thing they did in LoK is that they didn’t just have an Industrial Revolution, they had an all-out BENDING Revolution. Metalbending goes from “one person figured it out” to “many earthbenders have learned it”. It’s still an advanced technique and not every earthbender off the street seems to be able to do it, but it’s a whole lot more common.

    This is a nice touch, I think. A lot of magic/tech shows suffer from having the magic be “old” and incompatible with tech, but here, we see that understanding of bending has advanced right along with magic. And there’s the real-world analogue of athletics–when running the mile was first timed (1850s), the world record holder took nearly 4 and a half minutes, but today, it’s about 45 seconds faster.

    Other things of this nature (a rare skill from TLA being shown to have evolved into something more common) will be seen later… no comment. 🙂

    Re: shipping wars: lololol yes. It will only get better/worse from here. And I’m not sure if Tenzin’s wife is Ty Lee’s daughter. I don’t think anything about her family is said.

    Overall, though, glad you like it. I’ll be honest, from a story perspective I prefer parts of TLA… but the animation of LoK is just, just, just gorgeous. Every time I saw an episode, I’d be drooling over it and the glorious, glorious fight scenes. Korra’s fighting style in particular is great–it’s very, very her, in so many ways.

    And pro bending, whoo! Go Fire Ferrets!

  2. The design philosophy/conflict psychology of Korra’s world reminds me alot of the classic game “Arcanum” (Wherein the mystic and the technological both work together and conflict with each other in a precarious balance).

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