So I figured I would give my two cents on the new season as it comes out, as I am a fan of the Avatar franchise. I am going to gloss over the episodes in general this time around, but will focus in on specifics in the future. Even then, this will mostly be my thoughts an an overview, I won't be detailing the plot scene by scene.
Season two is starting off stronger than season one did. They are balancing the drama and humor better, and have shown how characters have moved and changed since we last saw them (well, most of them, more on that later). Bolin is hilarious, Tenzin is as entertaining as ever and a new cast of characters is being developed nicely. Even Mako, who was annoyingly stoic in the last season to many, is proving to be more interesting.
The new characters include an extended focus on Korras family, with her father, mother and uncle(coughobviouslyevilcough) playing large roles. The other family reciving more focus is the Aang family, consisting of Tenzin, his brother and sister. They are all interesting, but more on them later. The airbender family is becoming more interesting as well, rather than simply being used as comic relief.
With all of these interesting characters, what's the issue? Korra is the issue.
|Does that smirk annoy anyone else, or is it just me?|
Look, I get it. She's a teenager, she is the opposite of Aang, being headstrong is part of her character. The problem is she hasn't grown. She hasn't learned a thing from any of her failures, refuses to listen to those wiser than her... It may have been interesting once, but it is shaping up to be the same arc as last time.
That's not to say the show is bad, not at all. In fact, all of this could be the set up to a great moment when she finally learns and evolves, realizing her failures. It remains to be seen if they go this route, but I remain hopeful. She did get some better moments in the third episode, and her anger and confusion is justified better as "I'm the Avatar and I don't know what to do" Rather than "Gah! I'm angry and know best, jerks!" She has a tender moment with her family at the end, where she apologizes for being wrong. Still, she did that in the past, and it never stuck. Hopefully she will improve as time goes on.
Now, onto the most interesting part of the third episode.
|Left to right: Bumi, Tenzin, Kya|
When one of Tenzin's daughters goes missing, the three of them go looking for her. As they talk, we find out that Aang, while a great person, may not have been the best father. He focused on Tenzin, who is the only airbender, and apparently neglected the other two emotionally.They proceed to argue and fight among themselves. This is where the episode shines. It shoes the writing teams skills at characters and conflict. It's emotional, raw, mature and intelligent. This is what gained Avatar praise, honest storytelling and real characters.
This is the sort of thing you would expect from an adult drama, but in a kids show. Personally I think it is a good thing. In the real world, families don't always get along, parent's aren't perfect and conflict happens among families. In a kid's show, you know they will come back together in the end, perhaps teaching the young audience a thing or two about family in the process. It's worth noting that they left the conflict hanging, presumably to be completed in part two.
In other parts of the show: The animation is gorgeous, and the spirits are amazing and unique. The humor is great, the world realized, and the upcoming conflicts look promising.
There is one more thing I suppose I should note. Because of my christian faith, the whole concept of the spirits bothers me on some level. Still, as a work of fiction, I think it provides unique avenues of storytelling. I don't think children will start worshiping the water spirits or anything, but parents who worry about that sort of content should be aware of it.
In conclusion: The show is strong, but it is held up by it's supporting cast, and the lead role is dragging it down. It is not a lost cause, and they could pull a great spin on it that would make it equal to the original Avatar: The Last Airbender. Let's hope they do.