Legend of Korra all is forgiven.
Stephen beat me to the punch on writing about this seasons Korra and probably for the best because I would’ve been much less kind to it than he was. My feelings in a nutshell: while I get why Korra is acting so out of character I think a little more exposition or something as to why would’ve made her more sympathetic, that and the fact that I feel that the plot this season was rushed, a bit messy and contrived to me made me question last week whether or not I still wanted to follow this thing.
Then Friday happened.
I’m going to say spoilers but I’m also going to say that if you can head to nick.com right now and watch Beginnings parts 1 and 2 right now if you haven’t yet. It’s okay they’re short. No I don’t care of you’ve never seen Korra or Avatar the Last Airbender, go watch this now because it’ll be one of the best things you do today I guarantee it.
You back? Okay.
First off let me talk about the art. Avatar has always been big on its Anime influences so the art has always been spectacular, but these episodes the artists went with a traditional Japanese watercolor style for most of the backgrounds and bending. On top of that we get to see a ton of spirits with designs that look straight out of Myazaki films (Howe’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke). If you’re at work just watch it with the sound off and enjoy the visuals.
Next we hit the story. In 45 minutes we get the origins of the Avatar, bending and the conflict between the spirit world and the mortal that really pulls the rest of the series thus far together and builds towards the rest of the season. So this wasn’t just a fun aside with Wan the first Avatar but an integral piece of the story that adds context to the season thus far.
My last piece is Wan’s death scene. When you see it or if you have I want you to think of this painting by Arnold Friberg of Mormon and Moroni on Commorah. In both images we have great warriors whose ultimate goal was peace at the end of their lives in presumable failure. But a higher power reassures them that their mission isn’t over and that all hope is not lost. For me to see a piece in a TV series focused on Asain philosophy touch on a piece from my own spiritual world that I’m so familiar with, that takes the show to a whole new plane of emotional depth and wonder.
So I am happy to say that as a person losing his faith in the Avatar I have recovered from my own fan crisis and found a new piece of spiritual insight in one of my favorite franchises.