The Legend of Korra Season 4, Episode 4 ‘The Calling’ Review

Meelo puts his leadership skills to the test when he, Ikki, and Jinora are sent by Tenzin to retrieve the Avatar from hiding in the latest installment of The Legend of Korra. An appropriately light-hearted adventure ensues, complete with sky-bison transportation, wingsuits, and macaroons!

It’s immediately evident in the early stages of the episode that the writers know exactly how to write Tenzin’s kids, which is crucial to the episode’s success since Meelo, Ikki, and Jinora’s interaction is almost entirely foregrounded. The dynamic of the three kids is especially fun because they offer an alternate perspective from the regular teenage or adult characters. Meelo and Ikki get distracted and are treated like children by people they encounter, while Jinora embodies the adult figure of the group. Meelo and Ikki, in particular, receive a lot of screen-time which is a welcome change to cast focus and a reminder of how fleshed out even the supporting characters in the Avatar-verse can be. Meelo is the standout for me as the trio’s self-proclaimed leader with a brash attitude, a likening for the ladies, and a hidden talent for drawing. Aside from an Earth Empire soldier’s peculiar obsession with macaroons, Meelo’s wooing of a young girl named Tuyin is the comedy highpoint of the episode.

“What should I call you besides beautiful?” ~ Meelo (2014)

Also, did anyone notice the similarities to the original Avatar: The Last Airbender cast? Jinora is Katara, Meelo is Sokka, Ikki is Aang, Pepper is Oppa, and Pokey is Momo. Fantastic.

Of course, listening to Tenzin’s kids argue and poke fun at one another wouldn’t be nearly as entertaining had the voice actors not done such a commendable job of bringing the children to life. Too often, I hear bad impersonations of child characters by adults in animated programming. Look at 90% of anime for example, which tend to feature a child character voiced by a woman whose age probably triples that of the character she’s portraying. The voice actor/actress typically ends up forcing their voice into a whiny, high-pitched speak which sounds unnatural and, in the worse cases, annoying. Cowboy Bebop is a great series that is absolutely worth your time, but Ed might just make you pull your hair out thanks to an annoying voice actress. The Legend of Korra, along with many other American-produced animated movies and shows, takes a more realistic approach to voice acting and Tenzin’s kids are a perfect example of how it pays off.

The Legend of Korra Season 4, Episode 3 ‘The Coronation’ Review

Prince Wu’s coronations goes awry and Korra begins her “training” with Toph in the latest installment of The Legend of Korra. Book 4′s third episode titled ‘The Coronation,’ (a more appropriate title than I had initially envisioned, considering the majority of the conflict this week revolves around the coronation) does a lot right, yet could have done more right. But first, a surprise? Yes, it’s Prince Wu who really exhibits the most improvement in this week’s episode, and now that his relationship with Mako has developed a bit more, I can proclaim my support for the unlikely duo. If you read my review of the season premiere, then you may recall I found Wu’s introduction underwhelming to say the least.

Perhaps it was because his overly-eccentric and extravagant personality composed his entire character, which was more or less an empty shell at the time. He came off as obnoxious more than anything else. However, seeing his coronation fall to embarrassing pieces and watching him struggle to cope with problems that, as a prince, he’s never had to experience… It really makes me empathize, and maybe even sympathize with him a little. He also seems noticeably funnier this time around, such as with his pathetic attempts to uphold his authority (“Respect the broach!”), and when he dethrones a child celebrating his birthday. I’d also like to emphasize that Mako agrees to accompany Wu to the mall after he too is emotionally strained (by Bolin), and that’s sort of how the two begin to bond. They can relate to one another.

Beyond familiar interaction, the episode does an excellent job of bringing together characters who were either separated from one another in the premiere (i.e. Mako and Bolin), or who were never even featured (i.e. Suyin). Once again, the politics are heavily present, which I appreciate in recollection of how enthralling a plot direction it proved to be in the season’s first episode, and it’s used efficiently to create conflict between characters who are normally on good terms. A heated argument ensues when Mako and Bolin find themselves on two different sides of a potential war, and in Kuvira’s presidential suit (Wu’s former suit) Su speaks on behalf of the world leaders who attended the coronation in an attempt to convince Kuvira to step down from power. Both scenes are intense, and while Kuvira’s agenda is a little predictable as far as the story goes, the writers continue to impress me with their ability to evoke legitimate tension with political scenarios.

The Legend of Korra Season 4, Episode 2 ‘Korra Alone’ Review

Korra departs the Southern Water Tribe for a journey of spiritual healing in the second installment of The Legend of Korra’s fourth and final season, which aims to fill in the three-year gap between Korra’s fight with Zaheer and the Book 4 premiere (unintentional rhyme). I should mention that this week’s episode is an episode I’ve been asking for since the beginning of Book 2, and ‘Zuko Alone,’ the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode from which ‘Korra Alone’ derives its name, is one of my favorite episodes in the entire Avatar franchise. Unconsciously, I had already set my expectations quite high for ‘Korra Alone.’ I wanted it to be just as emotional and character driven, and pack an equally engaging story into the allotted 23 minutes, which is a lot to expect from any television series. The problem with expecting so much is that, as often is the case, we wind up disappointing ourselves. ‘Korra Alone’ is not one of these cases.

Talk about “feels…” This episode’s got them front to back. More formally speaking, the episode carries a great deal of emotional weight, with Korra driving the episode nearly exclusively (some side characters make fun appearances, but I’ll get into that later on in the review). Putting Korra at the core of the episode’s entire plot means there are absolutely no distractions from her journey, which creates a far more intimate experience than the show typically caters. And when it comes to episodes starring a specific character, intimacy is exactly the feeling I want to have.

I want to be in the same room as Korra rooting for her when she’s learning to walk. I want to witness her struggle alongside her. I want to experience the terrifying visions of herself in the Avatar State. Actually, I take that last one back… Korra’s visions are pretty freaky, but that’s beside the point, which is this: When you (the viewer) are given a perspective in the story that is near equivalent to a character (everything you see and know is the same as Korra), it’s easier to become immersed in what’s happening on screen. In my opinion, emotions are more real and the character of subject is more believable, which in turn encourages a more believable plot since the plot revolves around the character in this instance.