Over the past two years, we’ve slowly been exposed to the evolution of the Avatar World. Book 1 gave us a peek at Republic City and showed us how the steam-punked technology revolutionized the Avatar World. Book 2 shied away from Republic City for about half the season in order to show viewers how the Water Tribes have changed. We even got several, short glimpses of the Southern Air Temple when Tenzin and his family decided to visit the sacred grounds.
The most notable setting in Book 2 had to be the Spirit World; not only was the setting nostalgic, but many of the characters – Uncle Iroh and Zhao – represented throwbacks to the original series. Book 2 exposed the Avatar World significantly compared to Book 1 and I expect Book 3 to have a similar effect when it premieres on Nickelodeon next year.
Most of the things we know about Book 3 all relate back to the element Earth. Mike and Bryan are on record of saying that Book 3 will focus heavily on Lin and her family. They are also on record of saying that an Earth Queen exists.
Based on those two facts alone, I think it’s pretty clear that Book 3 will have at least something to do with the Earth Kingdom. Thus, we have our potential setting.
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The Legend of Korra’s second season promises spirits and an overarching sense of spirituality, most familiar to Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it delivers on those promises. Book 2 is at its best when spirituality is heavily featured, and luckily, there are plenty of spirits to go around, but that doesn’t prevent a number of less admirable aspects from tainting a chunk of the experience. One of the more interesting dilemmas is the overall plot. Book 2 started off strong out of the starting gate. The spirits were cool, the animation was great, the plot was moving forward, and then… “Civil Wars” happened.
“Civil Wars Part 1″ is the turning point of the season, and not in a good way. In retrospect, it’s actually a bit shocking how much goes wrong for the entire season in just “Civil Wars” alone. The animation takes a noticeable dip from the premiere (oddly enough since the episodes were animated by the same studio), the main villain turns completely two-dimensional, and the story is segmented into two unequally interesting halves. In fact, the storytelling problems are the most persistent in damaging the season’s first half and it carries into the next two episodes.
Basically, any installments that fall between (but don’t include) “The Southern Lights” and “Beginnings Part 1″ suffer from unnaturally sporadic plot organization. More specifically, anything set in Republic City comes off as contrived in comparison to its Southern Water Tribe/Air Temple story counterparts, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Actually, each individual subplot is rather good, despite their impact on the main story, and even manage to flesh out some key characters.
Tenzin in particular, receives a whole new layer of depth through his relationship with his siblings and children, and undergoes a major emotional arc over the course of the season. Mako, likewise, has a solid developmental arc of his own as a rookie cop under Chief Beifong. It’s important to note, however, that not all of our favorite returning characters get the rock star treatment.
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As I focus on the positives of Book 2, I want to also bring up a few of the negatives as well. In order to ensure that the tone of this blog does not get too negative, I will alternate the positive and negative posts so you get a feel for both sides of the coin. Today, I wanted to focus on the Asami’s character and talk about why I thought her role in Book 2 was poorly written. I had high hopes for Asami this season mostly because I thought the situation Book 1 created for her set her up perfectly from a developmental standpoint.
Asami, without both her mother and father, was given the heavy burden of putting Future Industries back on top. The season started off well for her when they showed her in contact with Varrick, but as Asami’s screen time began to dwindle, so did her likelihood of development. After Varrick agreed to help get Future Industries back on top, Asami’s role in Book 2 was minimized a great deal.
The next time Asami’s character made any significant impact on the Book’s plot was when the Varrick-plot came into play. As Mako, Asami and the Triple Threat Triad used Varrick’s ship to set up a Sting operation, Future Industries was robbed.
This was an exciting moment from a character development standpoint because it looked like Asami would finally take the spotlight. Her company was robbed and it looked as though it would be up to her to catch the culprit. Instead, it was Mako and Bolin who took the reins and eventually found Varrick to be the culprit of the crime.
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