The Ending of Korra, And More Like Ass Effect (Amirite)

June 29, 2012 § 1 Comment

Once again: this is also available at my new site

Let’s not beat around the bush here: endings have been coming down the pipe. I am interested in those things!

For those of you who don’t know it, I am a huge nerd who cares about cartoons and video games. Because those things matter

In any case, Mass Effect first! For those who are worried: there are actually very few spoilers in this post. It’s all good, ladies and germs, but be wary.

So here is what I think about Mass Effect 3. I already talked about the endings here, and my opinion was that they sucked. My big problem with them was that they didn’t really reward the player for what they had played through, suffered through, and wanted. And, what really got me was that the endings were also very bad.

They were, in fact, so bad that people donated money to a charity because they hated the ending so much. How much? $80,000. People who had already paid $60 for a game that they wanted to love gave away more money because of how much they hated it.

In response, Bioware released new, extended endings that filled in plot holes, resolved character issues, and actually made the endings work. In fact (with the exception of some really bad photoshopping during the synthesis ending), I actually like these endings. Not only does it wrap up the ending in a way that’s satisfying and actually enjoyable, with the gross exception of the “refusal ending”, if these had come out first, I would have had no problem with them. But they didn’t.

Bioware, I have one thing to say to you:you shouldn’t have fixed your crappy ending.

Yes, I know. It kind of doesn’t make sense, but this isn’t about the quality of the ending. I’ve been over that and they’re terrible. But when you make a story, in the paraphrased words of…shudder, Joss Whedon, when you release something, it’s out of your hands. That’s really, really scary. I’m always terrified that I’ll read something I put on my site, with my name on it and it will be objectively terrible, but that’s the risk content producers take. Sure, I can go back and edit some things, especially in case of errors. In that sense, I can sympathize with the writers who felt that their “vision” for the ending wasn’t realized.

But what a few extra seconds of CGI can’t fix is how that ending impacted us.

You get one chance to make a first impression. It sounds trite, but it’s true. What has been seen cannot be unseen. No matter how good the new endings are, no matter how satisfying and viscerally appropriate they feel…they are always the second course, served up with profuse apologies and blame-shifting.

No, Bioware, I’m afraid this won’t sell me. No, Dr. Ray Muzyka and Casey Hudson, I’m sorry, but you don’t get to say you’re working “to maintain the artistic integrity of the original story while addressing the fan feedback we’ve received”; you’re not. Artists are brave by necessity, and nothing you’ve done has been brave. You pushed out crap, you got called on your crap, and you got scared and swallowed that crap, hoping we wouldn’t notice the smell (apologies for the metaphor). I didn’t like the endings: tough beans for me. It’s your game. But now that you’ve shown we can complain and you’ll change what you made for us, the paying customer, well, that doesn’t smack of artistic integrity to me. It smacks of managing a customer’s experience.

Don’t misinterpret what I’ve said: feedback is incredibly important to an artist. That’s why I’m constantly asking everyone for it. But feedback comes before the finished piece, not after. You don’t get “take backs”, you get ideas for the next time.

You know what else would have maintained “the artistic integrity of the original story”?Not putting out crap in the first place.

Now onto something much more fun!

“And he thinks what he says on his blog matters! He got two views on Sunday! Two!”

The Legend of Korra is a show set in the universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender and follows the titular (doh ho ho) Korra, who is the new Avatar. I won’t bore you with the details, because frankly, you should have already watched the whole series, but it is, literally, a Saturday-morning cartoon.

And it freakin’ rocks.

I don’t have much to say about the story, but what I do have I’ll say quickly: it’s a very typical Young Adult story. There’s a love triangle, (somewhat) contrived situations where it’s up to the kids to save the day, and its primarily about kids, coming of age, and having to be the people to deal with the world instead of the adult figures they’ve been looking up to (or down at).

That sounds harsh, but it’s well-written, funny, and incredibly well-animated.

It’s also over.

I’m sorry, Bolin, but your brother is so much hotter (because he’s a fire bender. Get it? Get it?)

This show, however, managed to end well. The story threads were all wrapped up, character relationships were finalized and mostly (with some exceptions) came around in an arc. Even the bad guy is revealed, dethroned, and…dealt with.

Yeah, it should have been called “The Legend of Bolin”

They, uh, only did one thing I didn’t really like, and in this case, is the perfect foil to Mass Effect 3: they ended everything. Originally, this had been planned as a one-season show, but it has apparently been renewed for another season. This is, surprisingly, a problem, because quite literally every plot thread has been wrapped up.

Ok, maybe two (helping everyone who was chi-blocked and the inevitable anti-Equalist backlash), but the world is in stasis right now. Where will it go? Uhh, where can it go? There aren’t many threads to pick up on. This is one well-knit sweater of Korra.

I’m sure people who care a lot about this show can find where I’m wrong, but I submit that you can wrap up an ending too cleanly. My original rage at Mass Effect was that nothing got answered and we suspected the worst, and my raised eyebrow at Korra is that everything got answered and I suspect the best!

That said, it’s a very YA way to end a story, so I’m not surprised (or really annoyed. They had a target audience, and they hit it. Props,Korra team). I guess this is the fact that I’m a huge nerd talking now: I really liked this program, ostensibly aimed at children, so much that I wanted it to be deeper; more adult.

I…worry about how that makes me feel. In any case, go watch Korra. NOW!


John just found a tumblr devoted to shipping Korra and Bolin; please excuse him.


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§ One Response to The Ending of Korra, And More Like Ass Effect (Amirite)

  • duxcorvus says:

    I went and watched Korra; and boy is it bad like wow is it bad. You know that my main thing is characters and most of the characters in Legend of Korra aren’t actually people. Also there are times where their behavior with each other has zero impact 30 seconds later.
    All and all I found it very sloppily put together and it didn’t have a proper flow; something can be terrible but enjoyable because it carries you along and flows well.
    The Legend of Korra pulled me out of itself every about 4 minutes; something would happen or a character would do something that would be completely disjointed and left me sitting there going “Really? Really? Why?”

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