Friday, June 29, 2012

The Legend of Korra Season 1 Reflections Part 2

Part 1 found here.

Asami was underserved, which was surprising because she had some serious issues to deal with. Her father was keeping a double life from her only to give up on her for his revenge. Then her boyfriend cheated on her, after she told him he makes her feel safe. She was betrayed by the man who raised her due to his anger and hatred, and by the man she fell in love with because he was not honest with her. At the end of the show she’s all alone, with no one standing next to her (literally, she’s standing behind everyone else in the final shot). The next couple of months to year are going to be difficult for her. She needs someone solid in her life to stand by her, and it would be interesting to see how she deals with it going forward.

Tenzin/Lin Beifong
Tenzin was not a rewrite of the old sage character. He didn’t have all the answers, and there were times you get the feeling he wished his dad was still around to help and give advice. There were times he missed opportunities to guide Korra on her journey by sharing some of his father’s struggles, but he did care, and he was a rock to those around him. He had good faith in those he trusted, and you know he would put his life on the line for his family and friends. I’m not saying he wasn’t wise, he was, and he knew the importance of being patient, but he was no Iroh or Roku. 

Powerful, confident, unwaveringly brave, Lin was a Beifong. But she was not a rehash of her mother Toph. When she finally got some air time, she showed her skill, knowledge, power, and bravery. When she made mistakes, she did not shy away from taking the blame, and more importantly, she made every effort to correct them (like freeing her officers). Her sacrifice for the last airbenders was heartfelt. She may have been scared, but once she chose a path to protect the man she loved and his family, she did not turn back. She was a great addition to the cast, and quite frankly, I’d be happy if the show just focused on her adventures in Republic City from now on.

Republic City
Republic City was a modern setting in an ancient world. It had mystic, magic and darkness. It reminded me a lot of the world of Harry Potter; there was always more to it, but it was just out of sight, and left to the imagination. Like Manhattan, from a glance it’s perfect, with tall sleek structures, and its citizens walking together in harmony. But once you get a little closer, you see the shades of grey; the poverty, the forgotten, the downtrodden, and the corrupt. Republic City felt alive, and I hope we get to delve further into this fascinating world.

Anyone Else?

Tenzin’s kids were great, but underused, or were they great because they were underused? Either way, I would like more.

Gen Iroh II was a bit of a letdown. Sure he was a skilled bender, but he didn’t seem to be a very good general.

Pro-bending was much like Quiddich, fun in short bursts, but shouldn’t be over used. I would like to see it return in moderation.

The old Gaang were only present via Katara, in two episodes, or flashbacks with Toph, Sokka and Aang (who also made an appearance at the very end). I would like more though. How did Sokka die? Did he have children? What happened to Suki? Will we see Zuko and Toph again? I expect Katara to maintain the same level of interaction in the future (possibly leading to her death), and Aang to continue to guide Korra much like Roku did for him.

Naga and Pabu need more airtime. Some of the funniest bits from the last show came from Appa and Momo, and Naga and Pabu definitely could fill that void.

This was a good start for a new setting in a familiar world. Season 1 came and went too quickly, and now that Nick knows the shows staying power, I hope for longer shenanigans in future seasons. Staying focused on the main story is important, but some of the best episodes from the last series were standalone, and the show could benefit with more time. I can't wait for what's next to come.

1 Sentence Review: American Reunion

American Reunion feels stuck in 1999, feeling slow and clunky, giving me ample time to floss.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Legend of Korra Season 1 Reflections Part 1

Following up any show that has established itself over numerous years, with well rounded and loved characters can be a difficult thing; just ask George Lucas. So when Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko announced that they were to reenter the Avatar universe anew, one would be forgiven for raised eyebrows and a little worry. But when April 14th, 2012 rolled around, long time fans were not disappointed. Below I’m going to focus on some of the main characters who populated this world, and how well I felt I got to know them.

This young avatar was unlike any other we had ever seen. Since a child she knew who she was, proudly bouncing around her home bending three of the four elements at the tender age of four with confidence and pride. She got in our face, and made sure that we knew she was a whole different ball game to what we had become comfortable with, and that was very refreshing. Even after leaving her home, there was a great level of confidence in herself, despite the fact that she was venturing into a world of unknown with little to no experience all alone. 

When Korra did meet road blocks, like Amon, and was taken down a peg or two, she had enough courage and strength to look within and face her fears. And when backed into a corner, she had enough fortitude that she was able to break through and come out on top. She followed her gut, rarely backed down, but wasn’t overly reckless. She was a smart thinker, quick witted, and willing to trust and depend on those around her. Sure she made mistakes, but she’s young, so that’s just par for the course. And lest I forget, yes, she was a sexy character, but that was not her defining trait. 

Yakone was dead at the beginning of this series, but his shadow loomed all over it. He was maniacal, manipulative, unrelenting, and an all out powerful bender. His desperation for control was so all consuming it not only cost him his power, but ended up costing his children their lives. He was a force truly evil.

Noatak along with his younger brother Tarrlok were sympathetic characters. Both were powerful benders, but never had the freedom to be anything other than Yakone’s pawns, and the choices they made took them on vastly different paths. Tarrlok’s charming and greasy exterior was built so that he could mask his tragic past. He looked to manipulate politics, grabbing power when he could, and followed a route of many fascist leaders. As he became more powerful and oppressive, he became more like his father, something he realized, and regretted, far too late.

Noatak created Amon as a means of stirring revolution by preying on the down trodden and weak to create an army. The genius of Amon was that for his people he was trustworthy, resolute, and seemed to genuinely care them. Both Noatak and Tarrlok’s downfall was inevitable, and it’s mainly due to the fact that the only reason they were on their paths was due to their father. This wasn’t a life they chose, but one that was thrust onto them. Their death was dealt with the level of seriousness that was required of two characters that had such a tormented youth. It’s a shame, but they would have always lived under Yakone’s oppressive shadow.

Bolin didn’t have much to do this season. He had many funny lines and observations, and the few times when he took charge, he came out on top showing a level of confidence in self one can only get when they have lived from day to day. His one big fall from grace (his girl kissed his brother) he dealt with by not letting it destroy his character. He didn’t whine and moan, but powered through it; quite an admirable trait. In the future, I would like to see more from him, because he was adorably charming. 

Mako was initially sold to us as a Bruce Wayne type character. Brooding, cold, almost condescending at times; he came off as a prick. However, he turned out to be such a flip flopper. Sure he had talent when it came to bending, but his character had no back bone. When Korra was captured, his true feelings for her came gushing out, but does that mean that if she wasn’t captured he would have been happy spending the rest of his life with Asasmi while leading Korra on? I didn’t really get his motives; he seemed to be like a leaf in the wind, just going with the flow. Maybe I missed something?

Part 2 to follow later

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Legend of Korra – Endgame

Part 1 review here.

While Korra has learnt the truth about Amon, Team Iroh assaults the airfield in order to stop the planes from attacking Bumi. Here, Iroh once again walks his troop’s right into a trap. When you know the enemy has harnessed electricity as weapons, and you see giant metal poles sticking out of the ground with no visible wires, realize that the best options are to go over or under the poles, not between them, because that’s how you end up shocked and in a prison cell. Come on man, you’re a general! 

After a prison break thanks to Naga, Asami gets to deal with her daddy issues aided by Bolin, and Iroh does his best Human Torch impersonation. Hiroshi Sato had truly been driven mad by the loss of his wife, so much so that even his daughter could not persuade him to change. It was a shame; the world could use a man of his genius. Meanwhile, Iroh used his fire-bending to fly, which was awesome, and really the first time all episode he looked in control. Watching him struggle to fly the first plane he took over was realistic, but I liked how he quickly adjusted himself to the cockpit and took out the remaining planes. It reflected well on his fast thinking and bold actions, but if he wants to truly earn the name Iroh he still has a lot of work to do.
Time to go all Wolverine on those planes
While all this is going on, Korra confronts Amon at his rally, revealing all the truth. It’s a good thing Amon has a mask otherwise everyone would have seen his shocked expression. But of course, in a room full of supporters, no one believed the young Avatar. The big surprise though was the reveal of Tenzin and his kids captured. It was shocking to see them gagged and bound to polls; Amon truly looked like a predator on the hunt. A quick fight ensues and we finally get to the main event, Amon Vs. Korra (and Mako).

This was not a long drawn out battle like when Aang fought the Fire Lord. It was much like Amon’s character, quick and decisive. Amon (and Yakone) might be the most powerful bender the series ever had. I expected him to subdue Korra and Mako quickly, but when he had Korra bent over, with his thumb placed on her forehead, I expected her to discover her Avatar State and take him out, much like Aang did with both the Fire Lord and Yakone. But I was genuinely surprised with his success. With her bending gone, Korra was backed into a corner, and this forced out her air-bending. This was a sink or swim moment for her, and she overcame her problems with force and confidence, exactly her style. 
Air Punch
With his blood-bending no longer affecting Korra completely, Amon gets forced to use water-bending to escape, in full view of his followers. Revealed for the liar he was, the Equalists movement is sure to collapse. Noatak had created such a strong and resolute character in Amon. He had gravitas, and with his mask, a distinctive look. Undoubtedly there are others within the group (like the Lieutenant) who could try to gather the remaining Equalists, but this reveal severely hurts the movement, and its people’s faith. A brief stop to pick up Tarrlok, and the brothers make their escape in a speed boat. It here we get the most touching and darkest moment this series (including the Last Airbender) has ever had. 

Noatak and Tarrlok clearly still loved each other immensely, with Noatak professing a desire to start anew. As the music lowered and we see Tarrlok pick up the shock glove and uncap the gas tank, telling Noatak “it’ll be just like the good old days”, I was feeling quite sad. Tarrlok’s character had so much growth over this season, and the sad truth is that no matter how far they went, they were always living in their father’s shadow. They never had a chance to be anything other than instruments of revenge, chasing shadows their entire life. With a single tear from Noatak, as if he knew what had to be done, Tarrlok commits the murder suicide by blowing up the boat. It was a fitting end to two of the best characters the Avatar universe has ever had.
Together again, for one last time
Back in the Southern Water Tribe, Katara fails to heal Korra. Severed from her bending other than air, Korra heads to the cliff to be alone. When Aang was believed to have been killed by Azula, he felt so isolated and like a failure. At his darkest moment, Avatar Roku (with moon spirit Yue) came to him to give him advice and comfort. The two of them helped Aang find peace with his failure, and this allowed Aang to ready himself to stop the war. This time it was Aang’s turn to provide the comfort (with a posse of past Avatars including Kyoshi!!!), and he did so by unlocking Korra’s bending. With her full connection to the Spirit world, she entered the Avatar State, and became a fully realized Avatar. With the ability to give back bending, we get the most significant moment of the episode; the return of Batlin (now my dreams of a Lin Beifong show can happen!). 
The Dark Knight Rises
Other notable moments include Mako and Korra officially professing their love for one another, Korra’s parents make a cameo appearance, and Korra Avatar Stating with Aang’s theme music in the background. This was a superb episode, and I can’t wait for more to come. Republic City is huge, and there must be plenty of stories left to tell (like dealing with the remaining Equalists and other gangs). But if Bryan and Michael decide to take the show on the road, that would be cool too. Either way, I can’t wait for more. What a perfect way to end Book 1. 
What, no glowing arrow tattoo?

The Legend of Korra – Skeletons in the Closet

What a show. There were a lot of questions that needed to be answered, and we were not disappointed. At times this miniseries felt rushed, with an abundance of missed opportunities for stories focusing more on side characters, but it did help focus the show on Korra and Amon, making it a very well told and personal affair. This story was nicely wrapped up in this two part final, starting with General Iroh’s assault on Republic City.

While Team Avatar (living underground with the Tramp from the series premier) is conducting recon around the harbor, they see the United Forces sailing into a trap. For a man awarded the titles of not only General, but also Iroh, I expected more. No general will send his entire fleet into the harbor of hostile territory at once. Usually a smaller reconnaissance ship is sent into enemy territory to find mines and determine threats. Iroh lost most of his fleet in the opening minutes due to this glaring blunder, However, I might be a little too harsh; he did take out three planes single handedly, and it was a beautifully choreographed naval/aerial battle.
It's a trap!
Inevitably, Iroh is saved by Korra and the two regroup with the rest of the team to plan. It was surprising to see this huge fleet reduced to just one member. Sure they had Aang’s oldest boy Bumi and his fleet waiting in the wings, but why did they make the effort of showing the rest of Iroh’s fleet in the first place if they were to be taken out in the opening minutes. I’m sure the remaining soldiers were up to something, but we never saw any of what they did. It feels like a missed opportunity as we didn’t get to see a full scale battle within Republic City. 

Once the Team calls for Bumi’s help, they split up into two groups; Korra & Mako; Iroh, Bolin & Asami; each going to their individual destinations to complete their missions. Korra and Mako go to Air Temple Island to bring the fight directly to Amon. Making their way to the attic to wait for Amon’s return, Korra and Mako stumble upon Tarrlok locked away, and it’s here the former blood-bender steals the show by revealing Amon’s true identity as Noatak, the oldest son of Yakone. Yakone’s shadow has loomed over this series since we first heard whispers of his name mentioned by Tarrlok episodes ago. His battle for control of Republic City against Aang was well known among the citizens, but remained mostly unknown to Korra. This battle, it turns out, spilled over to the next generation. 
Yakone equipped with a new face
As children, Noatak and Tarrlok seemed close, and even though Noatak was clearly more talented than Tarrlok (much like Azula and Zuko), there was no animosity between the two. Any wedge that arouse between the brothers was due to Yakone. One can only imagine the hatred and venom that Yakone would have spewed about the Avatar and the people of Republic City, and clearly this fueled the two brothers to make the decisions they made. Almost chained to their fate, the two put Republic City in their sights; one through politics, and the other through revolution. It also explains why Amon went out of his way to put Tarrlok in his paddy wagon while letting the Lieutenant deal with the Avatar in the episode “Out of the Past”. Clearly he still cared for his little brother but was not going to let him get in his way. But the huge difference between the two was not just talent, but when Noatak blood-bending Tarrlok. Tarrlok knew what it felt like to be blood-bended, and he hated it. If Noatak had experienced the same sensation, he might have not gone down the path he chose. If given the chance, these two kids could have accomplished anything, but Yakone ruined them, proving to be Korra’s true villain even after his death. 
These two were never given a chance
The music and animation continued to be beautiful. Clancy Brown (of Lex Luther fame) did a great job voicing Yakone, as did Dee Baker with Tarrlok. I need to take a break to watch the Euros (England Vs. Italy!), so part two of the review to follow shortly.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Legend of Korra – The Empire Strikes Ba… I mean Turning the Tides

A lot continued to go wrong for the good guys this episode, with the remaining council members and metal bending police taken out of the picture in the opening minutes. Team Avatar had to save Tenzin, and Naga had a short lived action moment. Asami tried confronting Mako about his feelings for Korra, but he avoided answering her concerns. He should show both Asami and Korra a little more respect, they both deserve to know where they stand so they can get on with their lives. The White Lotus even showed up again, and true to their cause, they sacrificed themselves for the Avatar. 

This gave room for the air-benders to shine. Tenzin has not had enough chances to flex his muscles this series, but when he has, it’s always been fun to see his take on some of Aang’s moves. When the Equalists came to take him, he took them out with style and held is own against insurmountable odds when surrounded by Metal Gears. But he wasn’t the only air-bender this episode; his kids got to have some fun too. They showed the skill, determination, and fearlessness that kids genuinely excel at. Clearly they know there is trouble, but probably not what’s at stake, which allows them to go into battle throwing caution to the wind to protect their “dad’s ex-girlfriend”. Jinora, Ikki and Meelo did well, each having a very different style of bending. Jinora kept her distance with a strong blast, Ikki got up close, and Meelo was all over the place with well placed fart-bending. It’s interesting to see that these third generation air-benders have each developed their own unique style.
Tenzin and his kids about to show us what air-benders are capable of
And now for the elephant in the room; the fall of BatLin. Lin went out this episode exactly as I would expect a Beifong to go out, kicking more ass than most people and refusing to cooperate with the enemy. She weaved her way around the enemy taking them out until she was backed into a corner, only taking the aid of Tenzin’s kids as a last resort. Then, Lin made her final sacrifice and charged down two airships to help Tenzin and his family get away. The stakes were high; we knew what will happen to Lin once captured, and I genuinely feared for her. 
Battered, but not yet beaten
The final shot of her bound in front of Amon was difficult to see. It was even harder to watch when he took away her bending. In just a short few episodes, I’ve really come to like Lin. Toph was my favorite character from the last series, and we had two full seasons to get to know her. Lin has not had that luxury of time, but from what little we saw, her character shown through, and I hope there is more to come. And I agree with Meelo, she’s my hero too, not the one Tenzin deserved, but the one he needed. Her courage better be rewarded.
This Dark Knight shall rise once again
Other than that, there wasn’t any scene this episode that was there just for fan service. Everything served a purpose. From the call to the United Forces, to Tenzin’s new boy Rohan, to the final, huge reveal, there wasn’t a wasted second. And what a reveal! When I heard that Dante Basco was returning to the show, I assumed it was to voice Zuko. But the final shot, with the United Forces navy advancing to the city’s aid wet the appetite. What took me overboard was hearing the words General Iroh once again, and this time a General Iroh (Zuko's grandson?) voiced by Dante. It might take a while for me to get used to hearing Zuko’s voice coming out of someone who isn’t Zuko, but I’m stoked. Dante can bring the heat in terms of voice acting, so I can’t wait for more. 
Ever since Iroh went to jail he's been looking better and better
But this introduction did more than just tickle my nostalgia bone, it reminded me that this is a huge world, and that there are many other people who populate it, and who knows just how powerful they are. So I have a warning for you Amon. A General Iroh is coming, are you ready? This was another great episode.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

1 Sentence Review: Prometheus

Humans traverse the universe only to meet Space Assholes all the while frustrating this viewer.

                 These humans                                           This asshole

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Legend of Korra – Out of the Past

So much for Tarrlok vs Amon; the son of Yakone did not have a good episode. First he gets exposed for his web of lies and his blood-bending, but when he escapes Tenzin, team Avatar and Batlin, then tries to escape with Korra locked in a box, he was undone by Amon. Tarrlok’s blood bending was exceptional. Not only was he able to subdue Korra last week, but in this episode he took on an air master, two chief of police, the council, Team Avatar, and a bunch of chi-blockers including the Lieutenant! His level of mastery is quite unlike any other water-bender ever seen in the Avatar universe (stronger even than Katara!). However, despite beating all these people, Amon still bested him and robbed him of his bending. Just what kind of power does Amon have?
Tarrlok, I get the feeling your dad would have handled this better
Speaking of Yakone, we finally found out who he was and the trouble he tried to cause thanks to Korra's visions. The water-bender was a mobster kingpin, trying to take control of Republic City through its seedy underbelly. When eventually caught and tried, Yakone blood-bended his way out of the situation. He was so powerful he was able to lift Toph off the floor, levitate her towards him, while subduing Aang, Sokka, and a room full of other people (my guess; Yakone vs. Amon = Yakone win). Like his son, he was eventually beaten (by Aang) while trying to escape. With his bending taken, his story has seemingly come to an end. However, Aang energy-bended in the middle of a street for anyone to see. Is this where a young Amon first got his taste of energy-bending? I feel this story might not be over yet.
Aang doing his Avatar thing
During all of this, Tarrlok had lied to everyone and blamed the Equalists for Korra’s disappearance. Lin springs into action, freeing team Avatar, recruiting Tenzin, and then kicking some major ass. Lin has proven that she is more than just a Toph clone; she’s quite her own person not living in her mother’s shadow. From here she kicks more ass than should be allowed, finding tunnels via earth-bending, opening metal doors, finding an underground prison, freeing her police officers, and leading everyone to escape, all the while being injured. She is exceptional, and I would love to see Bolin train with her to become a better bender. 
We need a Batlin TV show
Mako was really concerned with Korra’s disappearance, and Asami noticed the urgency in his actions. You can tell that she feels like she is losing Mako to Korra, and I felt a little sorry for her. She does seem to love Mako, and Mako is clearly torn between Asami and Korra. Time will tell what happens to all these relationships, but for now there is a wedge between Mako and Asami, even if he is unaware of it. Mako went to some extremes this episode, holding up a chi-blocker and threatening him with fire. This is the kind of behavior that is driving Amon. When Korra does finally escape from Tarrlok’s/Amon’s gasp and is found by Naga and taken to the rescue team, Mako quickly runs to her side and gently picks her up, cradling her in his arms and putting her into the sky bison. It’s a tender moment, but in full view of Asami. 
Dude, Asami's in the next shot
Other standout moments this episode included hearing a 40 year old Twinkle Toes, Chief Toph, and same old Council Leader Sokka (with boomerang and Sparky Sparky Boom Man shoutout). Also, Aang’s giant air ball (not as cool as Tenzin’s air wheel) and Bolin trying to pee in jail. Finally, little Meelo once again had the best scene when he answered the phone and informed the person on the other end of the rudeness of calling at six in the morning. Meelo, I could not agree more; well said sir, well said indeed. Another great episode. 
Meelo is clearly the center of this universe

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

E3 2012

E3 is one of my favorite times of the year (right after my birthday). I generally call it summer Christmas. I always watch the three major press conferences, and even though I only own a PS3, I always get caught up in all the announcements. Over the years it’s become so much easier to follow along on all the surprises from the convention floor through various sources. Below are my thoughts on the major three conferences this year.

Microsoft went first this year, and they started very strong with Halo 4, and boy did it look amazing. I haven't seen a 360 game look this good. After this, game wise, it was mostly 3rd party multi-platform games that took center stage. From Splinter Cell to Tomb Raider, followed by South Park, RE6 and ending on COD Black Ops II. All looked good, but there is no exclusive out of these (outside of DLC) that could nudge XBox above the competition. Each of these five games are coming to PS3, and WiiU, so I fail to see why they spent so much time on them. The other exclusive games Microsoft showed failed to have more outside of trailers. Fable, Forza, Gears of War, and those 3 XBox Live Marketplace games; it would have been great to see more other than trailers. And what happened to Rare? Remember Rare. They made Conker. F**k you for killing that studio.

Other than games, SmartGlass seems like it could be useful, but time will tell if it works the way Microsoft advertised. I liked sports on the 360, but whats up with the lack of real Football? The Nike section was boring, as was all the Kinect enhanced experiences; I could care less. And that's the problem Microsoft has had in there last couple of conferences, they start strong, end well, but have a poor, mostly forgettable, middle. And this year they started too strong, making their end fall a little flat. Had Microsoft started with the Black Ops II demo (a multi-platform game), and ended on Halo 4, their big exclusive, they could have really stole all the attention of the people leaving their conference. They get helped, and hurt, from the over reliance on 3rd part games, and because of poor pacing and too much Kinect I can only give Microsoft a C-.

Master Chief facing down the lack of 360 exclusives all by himself once again.

Sony followed later in the day. Like Microsoft, they too started strong with the reveal of Beyond Two Souls. The game looked beautiful, and you could see the improvement since the studios last game, Heavy Rain, and I really connected with the police officer who was trying to help Jodie. After this, Sony went a little safe; they mostly showed games already revealed. From Battle Royal to GOW Ascension, finishing the show with the Last of Us. Last of Us showed well, and it's not too surprising, it's Naughty Dog, and they are one of the best right now. However, Battle Royal felt flat. The gameplay was cool, but what's up with only showing two new characters? This is E3! One of the characters they showed, Drake, was a given. What about other characters like Snake, Viewtiful Joe, anyone from Final Fantasy? I feel they missed an opportunity here. Then, for some reason, they spent time showing Far Cry 3 and Assassin's Creed III. That's great, but I can get those games on the 360 and WiiU, and I already saw them at the Ubisoft conference, so why waste time? AC III Liberation was revealed, but they did not show much outside of the trailer, which is a shame. 

Sony then showed Wonderbook. It's a cool idea, and I was genuinely surprised by the J.K. Rowling announcement, but it's very casual. I also doubt parents will shell out $350+ for their kids to play Wonderbook, but I guess Sony thinks they can convince people. So where was the new stuff Sony? Where was a new Syphon Filter, or a partnership with Konami on a new Metal Gear? Sure Last of Us is a new IP, but it's from the house of Uncharted, so I know how it's going to play. GOW is GOW, it's hasn't changed that much over the years. Battle Royal was the only new hardcore game Sony showed, and they showed it last month. Like Microsoft, Sony had a soft center. They did not waste as much time on useless things like Nike Work Out and other crap Microsoft showed, but they spent too much time on PS Move (Wonderbook did drag its heels). Vita showed some new games and functionality such as being a controller, but where was the COD trailer? Where was the AC III gameplay? Where was Bioshock Vita? By playing it safe, and preempting themselves last month, I can only give Sony a B.
Hey Jodie, I didn't see anything else new up there when I looked.

Finally, Nintendo brought up the rear by revealing all about the WiiU. They did preempt the conferences by posting a 30 minute video where they discussed some of the WiiU's controller functionality. They also reveled a very XBox 306 looking controller with a reverse PS3 button layout. But when it came time for the actual conference to begin, I expected big things, and sadly, most of what I got was either uninspired or at least a year old. Nintendo began well with showing off their greatest asset, Shigeru Miyamoto. But all he brought was Pikmin 3. New Super Mario Bros U looked exactly like all the other Super Mario Bros, and I feel for the guy who is relegated to playing on the Pad Controller while his friends are playing the game. For some reason, Wii fit was shown. Thanks for that Nintendo. The 3DS was relegated to about 7 minutes of show time, but they had some great looking games like Paper Mario and Luigi's Mansion.

3rd party wise, Ubisoft came with Zombi U, and the brief demo looked great. It was definitely the best of the show. Scribblenauts is fun, but am I going to have to pay $60 for this game? Rocksteady had Batman AC, a game that came out last year, and I see no reason to care about the WiiU enhanced version. I bet the same thing could be done using the PS3/Vita. Nintendo closed the show by showing off, for some reason, the Playstation Home. I found this a troubling move as the last time I checked, Playstation Home was only available on the PS3. Why would Nintendo spend so much time on it? It did look a little different (very Disney Channel), but no-one uses Playstation Home right now, and I fail to see why Nintendo working on it will bring any new people to Sony's virtual space. Well, I guess they know more than I do. Reggie was Reggie, which is generally a good thing, and as stated before, Miyamoto is awesome, but what about Zelda, Mario, or hell, a new IP (too much to ask for)? The show was just boring. I give them a B-, if only for the fact that they have a new console, and for Zombi U.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Is Yakone a Multi-Bender?

During the last episode of Avatar, some serious revelations were made, such as Tarrlok being a blood-bender without a full moon. Just after the Korra Vs. Tarrlok flight we get some glimpses once again of Aang during the trial of an unknown assailant who I believe to be Yakone. The people in the courtroom appear to be in distress as it looks like they are being blood-bended. Even Aang struggles. In my review I wrote how I believed this to be the actions of Yakone, but I got thinking, how can he attack everyone at once?
The trial of Yakone
The first thing that made me rethink my position was the level of blood-bending that was going on in the room. This courtroom was packed with people, and they all looked affected. Trying to control Aang (the Avatar), Toph (greatest earth-bender ever), and Sokka (Mr Ladies Man) would be difficult enough, if not impossible, not to mention all the other people in the room, and possibly some other metal-bending police. This could not possibly be the actions of one person, unless that person has power on par with the Avatar.
A struggling Aang
So I've been thinking, what could have happened. Looking at a picture of Yakone, it looks like he does not have blue eyes, a trademark of water benders from the Northern/Southern water tribes, or green eyes like the Foggy Swamp benders. His eyes appear to be grey, like an air-bender. However, I could be wrong as the pictures I've seen of Yakone are not entirely clear due to Korra's visions being blurry. So my immediate thought is that Yakone has the aid of some rouge water-benders who know how to blood-bend. That would help to explain the success in the level of attack and is most likely what happened. But then another idea popped into my head. 
He's quite smug for now
Every week I listen to the "Republic City Dispatch" podcast. It's a great podcast where the hosts (Da7e, Devindra, and Matt) sit and discuss episodes of Korra and throw around ideas. It's a lot of fun and you should check it out. On one of the episodes, Matt came up with an idea that Korra might not be the Avatar, but someone who can multi-bend. At first I thought that this cannot be true as Katara, in the opening credits of the original series, stated that only the Avatar could bend all four elements. However, what if that information was incorrect. Not everything is known about the Avatar and the spirit world. It's more than possible that a spirit gave another person powers similar to the Avatar. Now I'm not saying Korra is not the Avatar, I believe she is. What I am saying is it's entirely possible that Yakone might be more than just a water-bender. We know next to nothing about the event that preceded Korra by 40 years, but we do know that Yakone was serious trouble, even for Aang. If he could multi-bend like the Avatar, he would be more than a match (kind of like a checks and balance system) for Aang. At this point the only thing separating the two would be the Avatar State which should still be exclusive to the Avatar. I cannot stress enough that this is only an idea. Hopefully all will be revealed in the coming episodes.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Legend of Korra – When Extremes Meet

Wow, this episode was a hell of a lot of fun. The new Team Avatar formed, having a very American Graffiti vibe. The four teen members rode in Asami’s car, and with some stylish driving and bending, caught recently escaped Equalists. It was good to see the four of them gel together with such confidence and precision while causing minimum collateral damage. Unfortunately, there is a possibility of some tension bubbling under the surface as Asami finds out about Korra’s crush on Mako (she was none too pleased), and this could prove costly in the future creating divides and questionable loyalties.
Introducing the New Team Avatar
As Tarrlok took over the Metal Bending Police, the new Team Avatar chose to get in the way. Tarrlok has proven time and again to be smarter than those around him, and has easily manipulated most to his will. He puts a swift end to Team Avatar by arresting Bolin, Mako and Asami, and out maneuvering both Korra and Tenzin (who has proved to be useless against Tarrlok on the council). It’s still unclear what he wants with all the power, but it’s obvious that he will stop at nothing to gain more.

This power grab included rounding up non-benders and forcing a curfew on them. It was reminiscent of Nazi era Germany with curfews enforced on the Jewish population, eventually sending them off to concentration camps. No good can come from Tarrlok’s actions, and this will just send the free non-benders right into Amon’s arms. Korra too had big problems with Tarrlok’s actions, but she was rendered powerless with her team arrested. I’m not sure if Tarrlok is working with Amon, or if he is just trying to use the situation to his advantage, but unless benders outnumber non-benders, he is setting himself up for a fall.
Rounding up innocent people has never led to anything good
For the first time since getting beat up by Amon, Korra had to face her deficiencies. She is clearly frustrated with her lack of air-bending (despite mastering the movements) and has no affinity with the spiritual side of being an Avatar. Once again she felt isolated, and there really doesn’t seem to be anyone who can help her. Sure Tenzin is a master air-bender, but even his spiritual side pales in comparison to Bumi’s, Iroh’s and countless others from the last series. Those characters had a real connection with not just their fellow man, but with nature itself. It’s possible I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill because we have not spent enough time with Tenzin, but I’m finding him very inadequate for Korra’s training; he’s just not as wise as I was expecting.
Korra feeling all alone
All the preceding moments led to Korra confronting Tarrlok, and one of the most intense fights the series has had to offer commences. I was never under the impression that Tarrlok would be a good fighter (he seemed too slimy), but boy did he kick some ass. His affinity with water-bending rivals that of Katara. Ice bullets, water shield, and of course, the blood-bending. Wow! I was unsure if Korra knew about blood-bending, and still I’m not sure she knows how to do it, but she knows the basics; like needing a full moon. Not Tarrlok though. Without a full moon he whips Korra around like a rag doll, eventually knocking her out and smuggling her out of the city!!! Man Tarrlok’s not to be messed with, and I have a feeling he could be a match for Amon if they ever fight. While Korra’s knocked out, we see a little more of adult Aang, Sokka and Toph being rendered helpless by a menacing looking, blood-bending (!!!) Yakone. Yakone (who I have assumed was a fire-bender because, well, you know why) bears a striking resemblance to Tarrlok. Could they be father/son? Or could Yakone be immortal???
Is this the mysterious Yakone(?)
With Korra gone, Bolin, Mako and Asami arrested, it will be up to Batfong and Tenzin to handle things in the next episode. I can’t wait. One standout moment this episode is when Team Avatar is just hanging out by the car listening to the police scanner for trouble. It was so natural, and they looked like a pack of teenagers up to no good. Other standout moments involved Tenzin’s kids especially Meelo with his farty flirting ways. I didn’t realize how much I missed them and how much more I want them on screen. If the season was longer there would no doubt be an episode dedicated to each of them, but alas I doubt that will ever be. Oh, and Bolin vs Ikki. This was a great episode.
Meelo stealing the show