episode 1 review featured

The Legend of Korra: Season 2 Premiere (“Rebel Spirits”)

It’s here!  It’s finally here!  Almost as anticipated as a new Harry Potter novel, the premiere of Book 2 (titled “Spirits”) in the Legend of Korra was shown Friday night.  Firstly, I’d like to say that I think the premise of this season is fantastic because I’m sure some fans, like myself, were slightly put off by the almost entirely abolished sense of wanderlust and exoticism from season 1 as compared to The Last Airbender.  Having this season focus on the spiritual side of Avatar is a great way to bring that aspect back.  And I hope that crazy kraken start is a good portent for the future. Well, I mean, it’s definitely bad since it sunk a ship but…nevermind.

[Though it should scarce bear mentioning, spoilers resides ahead.  Ye hast been warned.]

The show starts out with a quick look at the current situations of all of the main characters:

  • Bolin is trying to make it in the pro-bending circuit without Korra and Mako to fill out the roster,
  • Mako is an officer with a list of one-liners, and I can only assume that the thought of busting one of those bad puppies out is the one thing that helps him get out of bed in the morning,
  • Asame is trying to forge ahead with Future Industries while the company falls to ashes around her (she seems to have the basics of leadership down as she only allows herself to look worried when her back is to her employees, projecting a brave face and a good plan to everyone)
  • and Korra is using some Avatar State-based NOS to cheat in Air Scooter races with the Air Tykes.

It was a nice way to catch up with almost everyone that fans might have become attached to in the time skip.  I especially love the reveal of Aang and Tenzin’s extended family which were hinted at in season 1 but were conspicuously absent, along with many of these new and supposedly important characters.  Bumi seems to have inherited some of his namesake’s….humor, and not much is shown of Kya, Aang’s daughter, but we do know that she beat up Tenzin when they were children. So she’s alright in my book.

There’s quite a bit happening and it’s easy to get swept away in the flow.  Korra’s rebelling against Tenzin’s teaching methods which is nothing new but we get a bigger look at the Southern Water Tribe city just in time for a massive festival.  And it seems like reuniting with the North as Master Pakku, the waterbending master of the Northern Water Tribe in The Last Airbender, promised was good for the village’s health.  No longer a bunch of Eskimo squatting in igloos on the wrong hemisphere, the Southern city is as chillingly beautiful as the Northern city was.

legend of korra and naga

“And all that the light touches is yours to howl at, Naga.”

Speaking of the Northern Water Tribe, we get to meet its chief, Unalaq, as well as his eerie twin children Desna and Eska.  Unalaq is Korra’s uncle, brother to Tonraq, the chief of the Southern Water Tribe. On a side note: I’m going to go ahead, assume that the subtle differences between Desna and Eska’s design (beyond Eska’s preference for eye liner) was a conscious decision, and praise the art team for it.  In fact, the quality of the show in its entirety seems to have taken a turn for the better, if that were even possible.  Mayhaps they took some extra art courses during the hiatus but everything is slicker, from the landscapes to the character designs.  And we were treated to some very interesting designs in this episode.

A dark spirit, unnamed as of now, made an appearance inconsiderately late at night and went to town on Korra and everyone that attempted to help her.  Even entering the Avatar State made little difference and did less good.  It may be that Korra reins in her use of the Avatar State a little more than Aang did but seeing Korra’s eyes glow with the knowledge of hundreds of lives just seems a little less impressive.  Or it could be that Aang just tore his surroundings apart like a freaky force of nature.  Either way, it was Unalaq to the rescue with a form of waterbending that has never been seen on the show to date.  Encircling it with ribbons of glowing water, Unalaq placated it and led it shuffling off into the night as particles of confused light.

legned of korra spooky waterbending

Go home, spirit, you’re drunk.

Going back to the dark spirits for a second, I just want to gush.  Again.  They have an inky and watery design while moving (and they move quickly) that sharpens and solidifies when they stop.  And Unalaq’s banishment of it was entrancing; I was almost and captivated as the dark spirit.  The way the light moved, flowing almost as fluidly as the water it seeped through, continues to impress me.  However beautiful his display of waterbending might have, I’m not much liking Unalaq. He’s very opinionated and just fanatical enough about his mysticism to be annoying.  The very specific wording Unalaq uses makes me very suspicious. Maybe I’ve just been conditioned to distrust skinny, sharp-jawed Waterbenders after the first season of The Legend of Korra.  The obvious tension between Tonraq and Unalaq might be a reason too, as I like Tonraq more right now.  The reason for their hostility is sure to be expanded upon later and I can’t wait to watch it.

The first episode was a great first step for Book Two: Spirits and I couldn’t wait to watch more when it ended.  Luckily, the premiere was an hour-long affair with episode 2 starting just after it.

In episode 1 of the Legend of Korra season premiere, Korra isn’t the only thing the title “Rebel Spirits” is referring to.

Review Overview

Total Score - 8.5

8.5

Summary : So far, Book 2: Spirits is looking like it will be quite the page-turner. Anticipation is high for the next chapter.

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