Friday, March 14, 2014

'Korra' mythology expands tremendously with 'Book Two'

(March 12, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

A sequel to Nickelodeon’s hit, acclaimed cartoon series “Avatar: The Legend of Aang,” “The Legend of Korra” boldly continues the saga of an element-controlling being who now lives life anew as a heroic teen girl.

The first season of Korra, “Book One: Air,” introduced the titular teen heroine, who has mastery over three elements but has yet to control air. Korra is the current reincarnation of the powerful Avatar, and must be mentored by the Airbender Tenzin, son of the deceased Avatar Aang. 

Headstrong but noble, Korra found herself getting distracted a lot during training, and ended up joining a sports team that mainly used element-“bending.” The other two members of that trio, brothers Mako and Bolin, became friends and allies against the nonpowered Equalist forces, led by the enigmatic Amon.

The initial season had its share of mystery and tension; it bravely threw its characters into situations that further established this new Avatar’s world. As an expansion of the previous world, it worked very well; it was easy for devotees from way back to get into this equally imaginative sequel series.

But the resolution to the Amon arc was paced too hurriedly, ultimately coming off as rushed and prematurely concluded.

While the first season’s conflicts were too easily resolved—Korra even went messianic for a bit and restored the powers of neutralized Benders—it made one wonder, how else could Korra be challenged, and grow as a character?

“Book Two: Spirits” addresses such apprehensions. Korra is still a teen, the most powerful in existence, but she’s still fallible and quite naive. The new season brings new conflicts from another unexplored place: the spirit world. She and her friends are sorely tested when nonhuman entities cause disturbances in the physical plane, but the chaos is connected somehow to Korra’s past, and will ultimately figure in a war that will challenge the Avatar like never before.

Visually, “Book Two” retains the steampunk-era look, dazzling with a synthesis of classic Asian architecture and blossoming technology. Adding to the new advancements is the “mover,” or movie, the creation of which will impact the people of Republic City significantly. One of the cast members becomes a “mover” star, resulting in some of this season’s funniest, most charming moments. 

As for the main heroine, Korra learns much this season, not only about growing up (she still has boy problems), but her combined heritage as well. The action-packed and surprisingly thought-provoking “Book Two” brings her to heretofore unexplored territories, and insightfully explores not only her checkered family history, but the Avatar’s complicated origins as well.

(“The Legend of Korra: Book Two” airs weekdays, 4:30 p.m. on Nickelodeon.)

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