Sunday, November 20, 2016

Review: The Legend of Korra

I got amazon Prime a while back and found that The Legend of Korra was available so I began watching it. I've heard about Avatar, but never saw the series, only a bit of the movie.

Legend of Korra is the sequel to Avatar. You can watch it without knowing the older series. It's actually not a Japanese anime, but rather an American animated TV series. But it's very similar, both in art style and plot, so I labeled this review "anime".

The series has four seasons called "books": Air, Spirits, Change and Balance. That can be a bit confusing. Each episode is about 25 minutes long, so it's perfect for watching one or two episodes in the evening after work.

It's set in a world where some people can control elements - which is called "bending". There are water benders, fire benders and earth benders. Air benders are extremely rare, there are only five of them left, all in one family. Of course there are also lots of normal people. I also think the world has a bit of 1920s and  Steampunk feeling to it, which I quite enjoyed.

Though it's called "Legend of Korra" I don't like the main heroine too much. She's rash, impulsive and overestimates herself frequently. But I consider this very much an ensemble series. There's lots of diverse, rich characters. And when I'm about to watch another episode, I'm not loking forward to seeing more of Korra, but more of the whole gang.
Besides Korra, there's the brothers Mako and Bolin. Mako is rather serious while Bolin is a happy-go-lucky who is surprisingly good at a wide range of things. Level-headed Asami is both tech-savvy and combat-savvy. Tenzin is a strict airbender monk. One of my favourites is Lin Beifong; she's quite abrasive, but also a badass chief of police.

I didn't like the second season as much as the first. It was suspense-packed, but I got a little annoyed of Korra who was being a total brat. I understand to be fooled once by someone who tells you what you want to hear and leave your friends behind. Happens to the best of us. Twice... well, she's only a teenager. But three times? How stupid can she be? The ending of the season dragged itself like it was a Bleach fight. And in the end it didn't seem very logical.
The fourth season starts out quite dark. It reminded me a little of Buffy after she was brought back to life. Korra and Buffy do have a lot in common - the chosen one born into every generation, with her scoobie gang. But the last season has a strange pace. There's even one completely unnecessary filler recap episode in the middle of the season! And then the end gets very Superhero movie like; could have been the Avengers or something.

A lot of the "lessons learned" seem forced. The resolve to some mental problems that were build up for a while felt sudden and not believable.
And the romance between Korra and Asami that caused such a fuzz? Honestly, to me that just wasn't there. If I hadn't read about it, I'd never guessed. There just wasn't any chemistry between them, nothing in the episodes that would have made it obvious that they might be more than close friends. I guess, this being an American series, they did not dare to go that far. So if you planned to watch this, expecting this great LGBT series - don't get your hopes up.

This review sounds bad, but honestly I quite liked Korra.
As I said, I think the best about Korra is the range of characters. There's so many fleshed out characters. All have faults and strengths and their time to shine. You could to a dozen shorts, examining the life of one of them and I'd look forward to it. The bad guys aren't just bad, they do have a cause that actually seems justified (if it wasn't for the means they used).
The world building and character design is very well done, too.

And I really love the music during the ending. It's so soothing, I could listen to it on infinite loop to fall asleep. I wish it was available somewhere.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Fall season 2016 short anime reviews

Before I write about a few of this season's animes, let me tell you one thing: the best anime of this season is going to be Natsumes Book of Friends. I have very little doubt in that. But I already reviewed that anime (though not this season) - you can find it here.

Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru
This anime is about a couple of famous historical swords turned into young men to protect history from the attacks of the "historical revisionists". They are sent to certain incidents in Japanese history, but it's not enough to teach you about what actually happened at these points in Japanese history.
To be honest it feels more like someone had fun imagining the swords as boys and so tried to make up a plot to justify it. As a result the character design is very diverse and creative. But so many people got introduced so fast that I really got confused.
Otherwise it's actually quite nice to see the more day-to-day life at the mansion. As long as you don't try to remember who is supposed to be the former sword of who.

Nyanbo look like cats made out of little boxes but are actually aliens. They can't be seen by humans and they try to repair their spaceship.
The episodes are only about five minutes each. It looks interesting how they managed to include the Nyanbo in real environment.
It's cute sometimes, but most of the time rather unremarkable and boring. More than this, at times it's really stupid and sexist.

3-gatsu no Lion
This anime about a professional Shogi player teen starts out really weird. Later on it becomes more like what you'd expect, but it still has these strange surreal parts. I don't like the way the people are drawn that much (especially the mouths), but the backgrounds are really amazing.
Though I often like calm animes, I just don't understand this one. Of course, I don't understand shogi, but I also don't find the comedy parts funny - somehow I just don't "get" this anime.

Nobunaga no Shinobi
This is another short anime, with each episode only lasting about 3,5 minutes.
Chidori is a ninja girl who starts service for the samurai Nobunaga. There's lots of name-dropping of - I assume - famous historical persons. It's drawn in a very cute style, and I'm not sure how that fits with the rather violent setting.

Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari
Udon are a kind of noodles. Souta's family owned a Udon restaurant but he went to Tokyo to work as a web designer. After his father died, he comes back to clean out the house. There he meets a little kid. Thinking it's a lost child, he wants to take it to the police - but on the way, he discovers that it's actually a shapeshifting Tanuki.
Souta looks a lot like Handa-sensei from Barakamon - adding to the similar storyline the theme of food that seems to be so trendy recently. The tanuki can be a little annoying in his human child form, but really adorable in his animal form.
If the little boy doesn't become annoying, this might be one of my favourite new animes this season.

Fume wo Amu
This anime is about the editorial departement for a dictionary. Yes, a dictionary. Apparently in Japan there are different dictionaries, each with its own style and the people in this anime want to make a new one.
In my opinion, they try a little too hard to make dictionary editing look exciting with heroic speeches, special effects and dramatic background music. It's really a bit ridiculous.
The song of the ending credits is very nice, though.

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