Legend of Korra, Beginngs part 1 & 2

I’m sure there a number of words in the English language that I could use to describe tonight’s two parter special episode of Legend of Korra, but if I had to choose one it would epic. I don’t mean the colloquial “epic,” a word tossed around so flippantly whenever something manages to exceed expectation, but the original, true epic of the Homer/Milton/Tolkien/Biblical persuasion. “Beginnings” part 1 & 2 follows an amnesiac Avatar Korra as she communicates with her past lives and uncovers origins of the first avatar, Avatar Wan. She, along with the viewers, then gets to watch his journey to becoming the first of his city to live among the spirits and eventually human to master all four elements to stop Vaatu, the spirit of chaos he unwittingly unleashed upon the world. He is joined by the spirit of peace, Raava, with whom he a friends and ethereally bonds to create the Avatar state that has become to go super weapon of the Avatar.
The voice acting behind Wan (who is pretty much the main character of this two parter) is provided by Steven Yeun of “The Walking Dead” fame who brings such a natural likability to the clever but mischievous Everyman turned messiah figure. But the true stars of this episode are the gorgeous animation and music. The background of every frame in this episode is like a still Japanese painting from the Muromachi or Momoyama periods, with their thick outlines, flat surfaces and opaque, eye popping colors. The animation of the spirits is straight out a Miyazaki movie, from their designs to their movements. The music has always been one of my favorite aspects of Legend of Korra (as well as it’s predecessor The Last Airbender), and that is no different here. The Classical Chinese instrumentation creates a beautiful, serene atmosphere to narrate this tale of spirits, and at the flip of a switch explode with energy of dread, struggle and triumph.
If there was any negative sentiment that I could attribute this episode it would be the realization I had when it ended: now that this is over we have to go back the adventures of Korra. There is definitely a part of me that wishes there were a whole show devoted to Avatar Wan and his adventures among the spirits, which is clearly a reflection of this season. While I’ve enjoyed it for the most part, the epic creation myth that was “Beginnings” provided a much needed breather from the Degrassi Drama and occasional sociopolitical thriller Korra has become these past few episodes (the later has been great, the former not so much). Here’s hoping that the revelations had by Korra at the end of “Beginnings” have remedied the frustrating character defects that weighed down her development this season. If not, at least we’ll always have the adventures of Avatar Wan to remember.

4 comments

  1. centurionxxii · October 19, 2013

    I was kind of annoyed at the whole, “SHE HAS AMNESIA!” at the end of the last episode, but then i realized it was just a set up to go into the past, so i was alright with it.
    That being said, loved these episodes, and i kind of had a similar feeling at the end. Its not that i haven’t been enjoying Korra, it’s that i enjoyed this way more. Though, if you think about it, it kind of had to be this way. They must have put a stupid amount of time into these episodes, way more than a regular episode. After all, these are the episodes that explain how just about everything came to be in the “Avatar” series’ universe. Its their origin story, if they didn’t put as much effort into it, the backlash would be horrible.
    Plus, i think the Korra story is a bit wasted, but i don’t think it’s because the writers are necessarily bad or anything. I think that being a Nickelodeon, they can’t go to places that would make the show that much better. I would have loved to see a full out Water Tribe civil war; and see Korra’s uncle play out more as a gray character where he is not evil nor is he good, instead of just making him evil. Its on a kid’s network, i don’t think they can make it so there is as much gray, things have to eventually end up black or white for the most part.
    However, the series is not over. They may have Unalaq turn out to have good intentions or something, making him more of a tragic character. Though now knowing he purposely got his brother banished, hes probably just solely evil at the end.
    But for a Nickelodeon show, they do still have a lot more complex things going on than an average Nick show, id argue even way more than “Avatar The Last Airbender.” Like, I am really liking where the character of Varrick is going, and even in these last two episodes they hit on the whole, “there can not be good with out evil, and vice versa.” So i think there still can be hope for this series to be even better by the end.

    • dapperfowl · October 19, 2013

      Yeah I love complexities of this series, with the equalist movement last season and the massive WWII homage this season is turning into.

  2. Pingback: Legend of Wan: More thoughts on Legend of Korra, Book 2 | Dreams and Deductions
  3. hyunhochang · October 27, 2013

    I just posted about this as well, and my sentiments are about identical; I liked these two episodes so much that going back to Korra is really dissapointing.

    Really, I’ve been a mite dissapointed with this book overall, which is a shame considering how good book 1 was. I hope it picks up from here, but we’ll see.

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