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The Legend Of Korra back to reviews
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(first season review) Raised expectations causes disappointment
Avatar: The Last Airbender had more depth than it let on. At first glance it looked like a standard good vs. evil adventure, but over time it revealed its hidden depth, showing characters who underwent change and growth, themes such as how war changes people's lives, and how one can be on the wrong side but still believe they're doing the right thing. It did all this while still being a fun adventure cartoon for a family audience. People didn't expect much, and were pleasantly surprised by the show's quality.

The Legend of Korra, on the other hand, has almost the reverse. The authors promised us more in-depth themes, and the show teases those themes early on. When Korra arrives in Republic City, we see that there is a class division, with the magic-using benders - the elite minority - having all the power and privilege, while the non-benders are left out, forming a movement called the Equalists to try to take the magic away from benders.

We're given a few examples of how the Equalists have a legitimate point - their entertainment is based around pro-bending, a sport that only benders can play. Their ruling council consists only of benders. The police force consists entirely of metalbenders. And a gang of benders extorts townspeople. It's easy to see why the Equalist movement is so popular and why non-benders hate benders so much.

But the moral complexity goes out the window rather quickly. The Equalists start by taking bending power away from the gang, a rather sympathetic move. Then they take it from a cheating sports team. But after that, they rapidly turn into terrorists, kidnapping police officers and locking them up, and attacking the town indiscriminately. Who would support them after that?

Opportunities to show greater shades of gray are squandered. At one point in the finale, during the terrorist attacks, we briefly see benders and non-benders living in peace underground. This would have been a great opportunity to show us how and why they live in peace - maybe they're just tired of the war? Maybe there's still animosity bubbling beneath the surface? But instead it's glossed over, and we quickly get back to the action.

This is indeed a very good action cartoon, but sadly it feels like that's all it is, once it degenerates into mostly simple good vs. evil.
I like how people keep criticizing this show for showing terrorists acting like actual terrorists. Look up the history of the IRA or, dare I suggest, look up the history of the conflict in Israel and Palestine. Both groups have legitimate grievances and that's why they receive popular support. But they also rapidly devolved into outright reprehensible terrorism to get their way even if it contradicts their stated goals. They still receive popular support from people who feel wronged even though logically you'd think a group of people whose favorite targets are unarmed civilians would be grossly unpopular.

LOK showed how a movement like that tends to play out in real life. This is the shades of grey. The Equalists motives may have been sympathetic, but they ultimately got caught up in their idealism to such an extent that they lost sight of what they were looking for in the first place. Hiroshi Sato sacrificed everything he ever worked for, his prestige, his fortune, and even his family, because he loathed benders that much.
comment #15925 Rebochan 27th Aug 12
You make a good point about how terrorist organizations are able to receive popular support, though I think the show itself could have gone into detail about that. It was briefly touched upon with the Equalist sympathizer who gave the police hints about the secret underground factory in that one episode. He even said "I joined up with Amon and the Equalists because I thought they would make life better for us non-benders, but I didn't sign up for this war." A good line, but the idea is only briefly touched upon.

That, I think, is the major problem of this season. 12 episodes isn't enough to really explore all the nuances possible. We just get very brief glimpses or mentions of the depth that exists.
comment #15930 BonsaiForest 27th Aug 12
Rebochan, you talk about how the IRA or other real-world organizations have legitimate grievances. However, in Lo K the grievances of the anti-benders are never shown to be legitimate. This is completely undeveloped. Heck, only Sato is shown to have any real reason for his hate, and that's just "a firebender killed my wife", which isn't much of a reason for hating ALL benders — it is just better than nothing, which is what everyone else has. Heck, his very existence (apparently one of the most powerful people in the city and a non-bender) is evidence that the gripes of the anti-benders don't make a lot of sense.
comment #17834 drachasor 24th Jan 13
There's the Triad, which disappears from the main plot but surely didn't stop because Korra beat up some thugs.

I agree that Season 1 was rushed, ands in the end I found it mediocre overall with a few shining moments. Let's hope the series proper can fix everything up.
comment #17837 MrMallard 24th Jan 13
The Triad can't really count as justification for anti-benders when the bender police showed up to arrest them. A criminal organization of benders is not the same thing as non-benders being discriminated against (unless, perhaps, they want to be criminals). It could perhaps be built up into something, if the authorities were unable or unwilling to stop the Triad, but we didn't see any evidence of that.

Honestly, before things get bad and Tarrlok starts acting as if he wants to help Amon, Korra is the only abusive authority figure we see. She seems to have no problem using bending to intimidate non-benders who say things she doesn't like. She doesn't seem to learn this is wrong of her to do. Heck, she doesn't learn anything she does that's irresponsible is wrong — it all turns out in her favor or the negatively effects are quickly removed. But that's part of the problem with them not examining the themes they bring up.
comment #17838 drachasor 25th Jan 13
"However, in Lo K the grievances of the anti-benders are never shown to be legitimate."

Wow, I thought hostile government, the relative poverty of non-benders, and constant seige by runaway bending crime was a legitimate grievance, but wow, I guess not

"The Triad can't really count as justification for anti-benders when the bender police showed up to arrest them."

...so what? Does that render the fact they were able to continue operating in spite of the police moot?

"It could perhaps be built up into something, if the authorities were unable or unwilling to stop the Triad, but we didn't see any evidence of that."

What, you mean the fact the Triads operated in broad daylight and the police had an easier time catching and punishing Korra instead of breaking up a protection racket means their not a threat?

"She seems to have no problem using bending to intimidate non-benders who say things she doesn't like"

Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize we were moving on to inventing scenes out of whole clothe. In that case, consider this line of discussion ended because I really despise arguing against Strawmen.
comment #17839 Rebochan 25th Jan 13
>>>>"However, in Lo K the grievances of the anti-benders are never shown to be legitimate."

>>Wow, I thought hostile government, the relative poverty of non-benders, and constant seige by runaway bending crime was a legitimate grievance, but wow, I guess not

The government eventual acts hostile under Tarlok. However, before that there's no evidence of hostility. Since future events don't cause past events, that can't be a legitimate reason for the unrest. There's no evidence of non-benders being relatively impoverished. The richest person in the show is a non-bender. Two members of team Avatar are poor benders who barely scrape by.

>>>>"The Triad can't really count as justification for anti-benders when the bender police showed up to arrest them."

>>...so what? Does that render the fact they were able to continue operating in spite of the police moot?

The fact that crime exists and is being done by people with bending powers doesn't mean that non-benders are oppressed or not favored in any general sense. Anymore than in comics the existence of supervillians means that normal people can't have good jobs, be part of government, etc, etc. All it means are that some benders are criminals. In other words, just because the police don't capture all criminals, doesn't mean that society is dominated by whatever populations dominate the criminal element.

>>>>"It could perhaps be built up into something, if the authorities were unable or unwilling to stop the Triad, but we didn't see any evidence of that."

>>What, you mean the fact the Triads operated in broad daylight and the police had an easier time catching and punishing Korra instead of breaking up a protection racket means their not a threat?

We see one Triad attack in the whole show (as I recall) and that's in the first episode. Clearly the police had an easier time capture the Triad members, since Korra had incapacitated them. How the police were responding to the Triad is honestly never shown. We don't know if they were generally having problems with the Triad. Heck, we don't even know how big of a problem the Triad generally was. Crime in daylight doesn't necessarily mean crime is a huge problem or that the police are generally incompetent. It could be built up to that, but it never is.

>>>>"She seems to have no problem using bending to intimidate non-benders who say things she doesn't like"

>>Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize we were moving on to inventing scenes out of whole clothe. In that case, consider this line of discussion ended because I really despise arguing against Strawmen.

She admits as much in the first episode to the anti-bending speaker. She later does rough him up and use bending to intimidate him for information. She doesn't ever seem to think there's anything wrong with this or consider what kind of message that sends. I'm not saying she goes around intimidating people left and right. Nor am I saying she's a bad person, generally speaking. Merely that she starts off not thinking through the consequences of her actions. She ends the season exactly the same. Part of this is using brute force bending to solve problems, even when it wrecks property unnecessary, is used to scare others, attack city officials, etc (granted, she doesn't care if they are non-benders or benders).

Again, this is supposedly part of the whole concern non-benders have. She doesn't give it a moment's thought if it goes against what she wants. But hey, that's "ok", since the show doesn't really concern itself with examining this idea that's so central to the plot either. And that's really my point. The whole bender/non-bender conflict is not looked at in any detail, especially in regards to the causes of unrest.
comment #17840 drachasor 25th Jan 13
Guys, this review is over 6 months old. If you want to fight, fight over PM.

It's just a cartoon.
comment #17843 MrMallard 25th Jan 13
I don't see why people can't continue to give their opinions on the show. There are many legitimate points being raised here.
comment #17844 BonsaiForest 25th Jan 13
It looks more like 2 monkeys flinging their shit at each other. Just saying.

But alright.
comment #17850 MrMallard 26th Jan 13
There's still a lot of facts and decent arguments and neither of them are the people who wrote that line above 'But alright'

I've found the discussions pretty interesting
comment #17852 TomWithNoNumbers 26th Jan 13
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