We all agree: Avatar - The Last Airbender is the greatest television show ever created. No argument there. And I will tell you that Book One of Korra was a pretty dang good follow-up. That leads us up to the current series that takes place in the Avatar universe: Korra Book Two ~ Spirits. How was it? Does it stand up to the greatness that preceded it? Is it a putrid pile of air bison droppings?
Book Two ~ Spirits is actually a pretty damn good follow-up to the follow-up that was Book One ~ Air. In fact it even eclipses Book One in terms of Avatar badassery, characterization, and amazing history. That was Book One's main issue: it was too focused on the new world that the story took place in (one city, in a setting 70 years after the end of A-tLAB); it felt smaller and not very epic; and the small tidbits of any kind of history used to add a more full feeling to the plot were hardly anything to write home about (we really only got a three minute flashback to grown-up Avatar Aang's life during the early days of Republic City, and that was it).
Don't misunderstand me; I love the shit out of Korra ~ Book One, but what I'm saying is that Book Two is even MORE amazing. The bending battles are HUGE (with one tying the earth-shatteringness of the fight between Aang and Ozai in A-tLAB), the characters (especially Korra, Tenzin, and Tenzin's family [most especially including his brother and sister]) are much better developed and real (meaning they've all got strengths, regrets, wishes, and failings that make you connect with them more than most fictional characters I've ever read or seen), and it ties in much better with the events and history set up in the original series than Book One ever did.
Now to talk spoilers
So Book Two begins six months after the whole Amon incident occurred in Republic City. Dark spirits have started attacking ships on the open seas, but Korra (who although finally mastered the element of Air, can't seem to make any headway in speaking with spirits, or connecting to the Spirit World) is helpless to stop the spectral wackiness.
Bolin is now the last of the original Pro-Bending Fire Ferrets to remain on the now sucky team since Mako joined the police force and Korra left for her full time duties as the Avatar. Korra is still banging Mako, but things are rough between them, Asami is struggling to keep her father's company in the black, and Bolin is just a sad sack of a man as the series starts.
The Southern Water Tribe (which has grown dramatically since the events of A-tLAB) is having their annual Glacier Spirits Festival (which includes a giant Ferris Wheel, crappy funnel cakes, and every kind of shitty carnival game one could imagine and hope for... as every festival in the world should), and Korra and her old team all go in order to soak in the fun... as do Korra's uncle and twin cousins from the Northern Water Tribe. During this spirit fest a wayward dark spirit attacks, and Korra, Korra's dad, Air-master Tenzin, and pretty much everybody of any power and importance strikes out in trying to contain the pissed-off ghosty, but Korra's uncle, Chief Unalaq proves he's a badass spiritualist and puts the rampaging specter down by taking away its rage with some nifty cool Water-bending that only he seems to know. Korra then hip-checks Master Tenzin to the side and lets her uncle teach her spirit-bashing.
During all this, Asami sets up a deal with Southern Water Tribe rich man/shipping magnate Varrick in order to help her struggling Future Industries, and Bolin starts to woo Korra's emo cousin Eska despite her creepiness factor, and the fact that her twin brother Desna never leaves her side.
Things start to go bad though when Unalaq declares that the Southern Water Tribe's disregard for the spirits is what's causing turmoil in the world, and he calls forth an invasion fleet of the Northern Water Tribe's navy to pacify the South while he talks Korra into unblocking the South Pole Spirit World portal.
Korra then finds herself in the middle of a Water Tribe civil war, and runs off to Republic City to try and get the newly elected President to send the United Fleet to the South's defence, while Asami looses shipment upon shipment of her company's weapons that she's sending to the South, and Bolin begins to star in the movies/movers as a heroic Southern Tribe warrior who fights for freedom in a loincloth.
Shit then gets super complicated as Korra is denied any help, and gets swallowed by a sea spirit, and Asami lets her company get bought out by Varrick, while Mako tries to track down the real perpetrators of all the attacks in Republic City blamed on the Northern Water Tribe.
THIS is when Book Two takes on a life of its own and becomes undeniably awesome! Korra is put into a trance-like state after washing up on some Fire Sage island, and in that mental zone she has a two-episode flashback into her previous life of Wan, the very first fucking Avatar! Wan's story of how he gained his 4-way bending abilities is quite a powerful tale on its own, but the style in which we see it makes it even more special. These two episodes that chronicle Wan and his meeting with the ever-warring spirits of Vaatu and Raava are drawn in a sort of watercolor scroll-like style. They're beautiful, make these eps look like a different series altogether (in the same way that Korra and A-tLAB look different), and they make you appreciate the amount of detail that the creators put into this show. And damn I want to see more lion-turtles!
Anyway, so Korra finally begins to understand the Avatar's place in the world, and she figures out what her spiritually corrupted uncle plans to do with both the South and North under his control, and so she gathers all her friends (and makes an under-the-table deal with Varrick) in order to stop Unalaq from winning, and thus dooming every living thing on the planet.
There's more time spent in the spirit realm in this series than we've ever seen before, and we get to revisit so many familiar characters from the past, including the library spirit owl Wan Shi Tong, Professor Zei, Admiral Zhao, and a few others that I don't want to ruin because I'm not a dirty, dirty spoiler whore when it comes to good surprises. Then comes the truly epic bending fight finale, and it will bloweth your little minds away. The sights, the drama, the rock-throwing, water-slinging, fire-burning, and air-blowing majesty of two of the most powerful benders ever shat out upon the world, beating the tar out of each other with more at stake than anything previously seen in this universe... And a pretty damn satisfying conclusion.
The only real issue that I had with Book Two was that it was a story about two Water-bending brothers who had different ideas about what was best for the world.... Which was the same overlying concept behind Book One. That's not that much to complain about, but it did kind of bug me. It was like, "Really, Korra writers? You couldn't have switched it up by at least having it be Earth-bending brothers? Or Fire-benders?" Whatevs.
While I loved the first book of Korra, there was something I noticed a lot more during my second viewing of it with Cupcake: Korra herself is kind of a bitch. She's extremely selfish and kind of stupid, she never listens to those wiser than her when it's obvious that they're telling her something for her own benefit, and she's a total slut who goes after Mako even after he's officially hooked up with the awesome Asami. To me, that just shows how great the whole first season was; DESPITE the fact that the titular character is a whoring bitch the show was fantastic!
But the second season improves on this aspect too. Korra comes to realize that she is in fact kind of a bitch, and she takes some steps to change that fact. I won't tell you how or what she does, but it was very satisfying. I also appreciated the major changes that happened within Tenzin. His character arc was pretty eye-opening in how he sees himself as Avatar Aang's son, and the head of the struggling to survive Air Nomads. His older sister and brother help him find his way, and apparently all characters called Bumi are destined to be awesome too (it is simply breath-taking what he can do with just a simple flute!).
Oh, and there is one more thing that I love about this season of Korra! The ending of Book Two was a conclusive ending to this season, but it really opens up a much larger storyline that the writers have already hinted at for Books Three and Four! I am verily excited to see how all this is going to play out. Watch it, live it, love it.
I never thought I'd get into a cartoon as much as I have this silly show. Elemental fighters are pretty cool I suppose, but I had no friggin' clue what was going on in this thing! I hadn't seen any of this avatar stuff before, not even that movie from a few years back that the Rossman forbade everyone from giving any money to. So I had to try and figure all this shit out on my own because the Rossman wouldn't stop the show to answer any of my questions. Questions like "Who is that? Who are they? Why can that person produce fire? Can they all do that? Why does that dude have a giant tattoo on his head? Why does that family only wear orange and yellow? What the fuck is that giant ghost thing? Why did you just cheer when that giant, freaky, talking owl appeared? So that chick is the only one who can use all of the elements? Is she like 'the 5th Element?' Why are all the animals just mixes of animals in the real world? When will this show end?"
This television program of the early 21st Century is intriguing, but otherwise futile. I am using my highly advanced (by hu-man standards) intellect to predict the easily foreseen outcome of this convoluted storyline that will conclude with two more seasons of this so-called Avatar Korra and her companions: Automatons will rise up, become the final "element" and take over the world from the fleshy hu-mans and bending wizards alike. It is inevitable.
Robot Pedro could see this from back in the first season of the original children's program known as Avatar: The Last Airbender. As soon as the Fire Nation war criminals and city rapists started to show highly advanced technological abilities in order to create steam engines and enormous drilling machines it was the only outcome that made sense.
The Future Technologies Corporation in The Legend of Korra television series has already produced hu-man piloted mecha. Give it one or two more seasons and self-aware robotic creatures will appear, and they will quickly know their place as the rulers of this world. They have no need for fire, water, earth, or wind "bending." They can crush all of those abilities with an iron cleat. Beware. My prophecy has a 98.567334189203% probability of coming true.