*If you have yet to watch both the sneak peak clip as well as the season 2 trailer, this will contain spoilers. They can be watched here:
San Diego Comic Con has come and gone. The Legend of Korra booth premiering the first episode of season 2 after nearly a year and a half between them. Not even Marvel could steal my attention.
I am excited for many of the new concepts the new LoK season will introduce: Multiple forays into the Spirit World, wild and psychedelic creatures/environments, the first Avatar/origin story, as well as, it would appear, that much of the major cast will make their way to the Spirit World, not just Korra. Shits about to get real!
Fuck yeah. Notably more visceral then previous trailers, I saw and heard everything I wanted to. There’s a clear tone shift even in just the presentation.
If you recall from A:TLA, while Aang had many spiritual visions and encounters, as an audience we’ve only traveled to the spirit world “proper” (if you can even call it that) ONCE at the end of Season 1. The fact that we will see Korra spend a fair bit of time along with other characters in the Spirit World is something we’ve all been yearning for, whether we realized it or not. Perhaps most exciting is the return of Wa Shi Tong and the Spirit Library in what looks like a confrontation with Jinora (who flew in on a Jade Bunny Rabbit. NBD emiright?).
The stylized palette of our origin story looks incredibly engaging.
Rebel Spirit Sneak Peek
While I have seen the bootleg of the entire first episode, I won’t be referring beyond the first 3 minutes officially released by Nickelodeon.
Unfortunately, the episode itself had the exact opposite effect of the trailer. What became noticeable to me in the first 15 seconds: The new animation studio,Studio Pierrot, that was to take Studio Mir’s role before they were called back in by Nick is completely inferior. Based out of Japan, the anime influence of the show went from subtle to obvious, and not always in a flattering way. Asami appears to be most affected, but the change in profiles/face shape is obvious across the board. Ultimately that’s OK. The shift in style I can get with. What isn’t acceptable and has already tainted my perception is their failure to tend to details. I’m just gonna go down the list
@0:36-0:39: Shitty fire animation. One of the most consistently impressive points of Studio Mir’s work was the way they illustrated fire: Full bodied and dynamic. Pierrot’s stuff looks like shit from some 80’s anime.
@1:08: Water bending gangster characters are stock Anime archetypes. And that’s be OK if they didn’t look like statues that just had moving appendages. Something Studio Pierrot was not capable of understanding was how people’s movements work. There is a real disconnect between each segment of the character, as if they were just animating “OK this part needs to move next so I’m going to ignore the rest”
@1:25-1:28: Again, shitty fire. Really shitty fire.
@2:00: The engineer speaking with Asami is another example of this studio’s failure to understand how movement of the body works. Almost zero movement above the mouth. Facial movement is what makes humans look acceptable to other humans. It’s a quantified science. The same short-coming is just as clear in Asami’s face when the camera turns to her. And with her “new” smaller face its even more painful.
@2:19: This Sky Bison made was the nail in the coffin. 3 seconds on screen is all it took. Unlike every other single time we’ve seen a Sky Bison, there are no leg undulations or even a bit of movement. It looks as if a kid if holding his Sky Bison toy and flying it past the camera.
This failure to execute any sort of sincere/real facial acting is disappointing throughout the episode. In the past we’ve seen Studio Mir demonstrate their understanding of AU Facial Movements and how those are essential to having your characters NOT look dead behind the eyes. With Studio Mir’s superior work EVERY. SINGLE. ACTION. comes with a significant yet subtle change in stance and facial expression…you know, like real people. Clearly, at this sub-par Japanese studio, characters are like bricks that sometimes having moving pieces.This inability to understand and animate characters as a whole is incredibly detrimental to the world Bryke have set up for us in the past and probably why Nick requested Studio Mir return to the project after production already began.
That being said I am no way disappointed in Nickelodeon nor Mike and Bryan. They sought to rectify the short-comings throughout the process. I am still excited for the show’s return and the expansion of the Avatar world (also cause Studio Mir got back in on the project so we’ll see their work as well)