Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Legend of Korra Finale

Before I talk about the Legend of Korra finale, I want to talk about Avatar the Last Airbender a little bit, since that's where it all began.  I also feel that the book 4 finale wasn't just the end of Korra, but the end of Avatar as well, since they are connected.  Oh, and another thing, this will not be spoiler free.  If you have not seen these shows in their entirety, you may not want to read this, just in case.  You definitely should not be reading this if you have not seen the Legend of Korra finale.

Avatar the Last Airbender is my favorite animated TV show.  I remember turning on the TV when I was a kid, and watching Aang and Katara's cave scene from the second episode of book 2, "The Cave of Two Lovers".  I watched other bits and pieces from book 2 as a kid, but it wasn't until some years later that I watched all four books and fell in love with it.

I have never loved a show more deeply than I have Avatar the Last Airbender.  The world the characters live in is so enriched and well developed, it feels real to me.  The characters feel like family to me, the animation is beautiful, the music is wonderfully atmospheric, and there are many complex themes that bring a lot of maturity to the show.  There are so many great elements, like the influence of Eastern culture and philosophies, Zuko's incredible character development, and Iroh's wisdom.  Avatar the Last Airbender balances humor and emotion effortlessly.  The emotionally heavy scenes have a strong impact on me every time I watch them.

All in all, Avatar the Last Airbender is life changing, and has benefited many people's lives, including mine.

When the sequel series to Avatar began in 2012, titled The Legend of Korra, naturally I was interested in watching it.  It took a while for me to warm up to it, since it didn't feel the same as Avatar in many ways.  I had also just finished watching Avatar, so I was deeply saddened by the absence of the old characters.

However, I grew to like The Legend of Korra more and more as I watched it.  I found that book 1 was very creative and intriguing (the development of the Avatar universe, all of the world building that went into it, and the new character designs especially), with an absolutely fantastic villain.

Amon, a villain after my own heart.

Getting to meet Toph's daughter, Lin, and Aang's son and grandchildren, was enough to keep me watching, and I was always on the lookout for references to Avatar.  Overall, I thought it was pretty good, even if it wasn't quite as good as Avatar the Last Airbender was.

While book 1 was very solid, book 2 was more of a mixed bag.  I hated all of the drama between Korra, Mako, and Asami.  I didn't particularly like the romance between Korra and Mako in book 1, but that was tolerable compared to all of the drama in book 2.  I hated Mako for not being able to make up his mind, going from one girl to the other, and mistreating them both.  To summarize, I thought Mako was a character with a lot of wasted potential, and thoroughly disliked how he neglected to take full responsibility for his actions.  Thankfully, his character improved vastly once he was no longer in a relationship with anyone, and I grew to like him in book 3 and 4.

Although book 2 was messy at times, Beginnings part 1 and 2 were phenomenal, and the finale was amazing as well.  I loved that book 2 focused on spirituality, since that was one of the elements of Avatar the Last Airbender that I enjoyed the most.  It was the final episodes of book 2 that made me fall in love with The Legend of Korra.

Book 3 and 4 blew me away with their high quality.  They are the reason I now love Korra almost as much as I love Avatar, which is saying a lot.  The Legend of Korra is now one of my favorite shows, and I firmly believe it is one of the best animated shows ever made.

(It should be noted that the creators of The Legend of Korra thought book 1 was all there was going to be, but Nickelodeon changed their mind.  I think the reason there seems to be a smoother transition between book 3 and 4, is because the creators had more time to plan ahead.  If Nickelodeon didn't mistreat The Legend of Korra as much as they did, a lot of issues could have been avoided.)

After becoming so emotionally attached to The Legend of Korra, I was dreading the book 4 finale, because I knew there wouldn't be any more Korra after that.  I was in denial for a while after it ended.

However, I find that I've finally come to terms with Korra ending, and am now ready to reflect on it.

So, without further ado, here are some of my thoughts on the Legend of Korra finale.

At first, I was not completely satisfied with how it ended.  Due to some false rumors, I had thought that the Fire Nation would be featured in book 4, as well as Zuko and his daughter, Izumi.  So I was disappointed (and still am) that Zuko and Izumi only had a few short appearances.

There were also rumors that Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee would be returning, which obviously did not happen.  If I hadn't believed these rumors (which were a little unrealistic now that I think about it), I may have felt more satisfied with how things ended.  But it's difficult not to be disappointed when something you hoped would happen doesn't happen.

I was also disappointed with the lack of Kai in book 4, since I really liked him in book 3, and would have liked to see his relationship with Jinora developed further.  Kai mentions to Opal in one scene that his long distance relationship with Jinora is going well, but they are never seen interacting.  They are shown standing next to each other in a few scenes, but that's it.

Despite my complaints, I love the finale overall.  Kuvira proved to be an excellent villain, with an understandable motivation, and in the end, she was a character I could sympathize with.  None of the antagonists in Legend of Korra are evil for the sake of being evil; they are all three dimensional characters.  Zelda Williams does an outstanding job of making Kuvira sound determined and threatening, while also revealing her vulnerability beneath her cold and seemingly collected exterior.

The action scenes in the finale are incredible.  I could feel the weight of the giant mecha suit Kuvira was controlling, and how much everyone struggled to take it down.  I thought it was really cool how the mecha suit mirrored all of Kuvira's movements.

I am so proud of how much Korra, Mako, and Bolin have grown.  They have all changed so much since book 1.

I love that Korra saw herself in Kuvira, and the parallels made between them really made me think.  Korra risked her life saving Kuvira without hesitation, which I think is an incredibly selfless and admirable act.  Korra had her flaws in book 1, but I believe they were necessary for her character growth in book 3 and 4.  She pulled through all of her hardships, which makes her a big inspiration in my eyes.

Mako also displayed an act of selflessness in the finale, which is one of my favorite scenes.  This scene gave me very strong Zuko vibes, and I was reminded of Zuko and Azula's Agni Kai in the book 3 finale of Avatar.

I was worried for a moment that Mako wouldn't make it, but thankfully he did.  I'm not sure I'd be able to handle it if he actually died.  Asami's father, on the other hand, was not so fortunate.  His death was sad, but I feel it redeemed him.  I don't know why, but I really love this particular moment:

I love that this moment is shown in slow motion.  You can almost mark the exact moment she realizes what is happening.  Speaking of the animation, the visuals in the last few episodes are breathtaking.  Just look at all the vivid colors displayed here:

I've heard some complaints about Varrick having so much focus placed on him in the finale, but I absolutely love Varrick and could not be more happy that he and Zhu Li finally did the thing and got married.  I mean, just look at how adorable they are.  I would have been really disappointed if they didn't get married.  I could hardly believe it when Varrick proposed (I pretty much freaked out).

And the soundtrack, thanks to Jeremy Zuckerman, was beautiful as always, and captured the emotions perfectly.  The music playing during the very last scene is especially emotional and beautiful.  But the ending scene is something I am going to discuss in a separate post, since I have a lot to say about it.

Well, those are a few of my thoughts on the finale.  I wanted to make this my last post in 2014, so here it is.  Happy New Year's!

1 comment:

  1. I generally agree with you about the finale. It was epic and provided a satisfying conclusion to the series. Of western animated series, aside from the Clone Wars, there is nothing that comes close to matching Avatar/Korra in my opinion. The series reminds me of my favorite show, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood to a certain extent, which is one of the many reasons why I enjoyed it!