The Legend of Korra
The Legend of Korra is an animated TV cartoon aired on Nickelodeon from April 14, 2012 to December 19, 2014. Initially serving as a 12 episode spin-off to Avatar: The Last Airbender, the show was extended into a full sequel with four seasons.
70 years after the events of The Last Airbender, the world has changed drastically, technology has evolved a lot, and a new nation, The Republic City, has been founded as a central city where Benders of all elements and non-Benders can live together to symbolize how the world has become more united since the 100 year war. Tragically, spending a century frozen in Avatar State took a toll on Avatar Aang's body over the years, eventually causing him to die prematurely in his late 60s. Luckily Aang's third son Tenzin was born as an Air Bender so the culture is still alive. As per tradition, a new Avatar was born, a South Water Tribe girl named Korra. At age 18, Korra has mastered all elements except Air so she's scheduled to move into Republic City to learn Air from Tenzin.
However, Korra quickly realizes that she's completely untrained at the spiritual side of being the Avatar and is a rather incompetent Avatar in a world that expects her to live up to Aang's legacy. Now, Korra must learn what it truly means to be the Avatar while facing several villains that threaten to break the world's balance yet again and raise an important question: "Does this evolved world even need an Avatar anymore?" Amongst those villains are Amon, a communist leader with the terrifying power to turn Benders into non-Benders, Korra's uncle Unalaq who wants to conquer both the physical and spiritual worlds, Zaheer's gang of anarchists aiming to take down every goverment in the world, and Kuvira, a dictator that turned the Earth Kingdom into a facist regime.
After many hardships and facing dangerous enemies, Korra eventually matured into a fully developed and responsible Avatar, and is now remembered as one of the most influential Avatars in history, having more positive changes to the world than any other Avatar before in the few years she's been around since first arriving at Republic City. Korra repaired the relationships between Benders and non-Benders, brought spirits back to the world, indirectly created a second generation of Air Benders, and helped the Earth Kingdom evolve from an archaic and disorganized totalitarian regime into a more democratic nation. With those accomplishments Korra has proven that the Avatar is indeed still needed in the more modern world of Bending.
Why It Rocks
- Most of the characters from the original appear either as spirits or as elders, but they don't steal the spotlight from the new characters.
- The show faithfully represents how the Avatar world has changed since the first series. The setting and the technology presented takes inspirations from the 1920s to semi-1940s, with only a few exceptions such as the mech tanks or the spirit laser cannon.
- The gap in technological evolution between Legend of Korra and Last Airbender also mirrors the technological evolution in real society with minor variations which can be explained as technology evolving faster due to Element Bending contributing to the industrial revolution in the Avatar world.
- The new characters are well written and likable. Many of them are descendants from the original cast.
- Korra is a strong female protagonist with great character development. At the start of the show she's spoiled, selfish, and an utterly incompetent Avatar, and at the end she's a fully fledged matured Avatar who puts others over herself.
- All of the villains are well crafted characters with true goals and legitimate arguments regarding problems in the world that makes their motivations understandable despite being evil, compared to Fire Lord Ozai who was a very one-dimensional power hungry tyrant.
- While The Last Airbender predominantly had Firebenders as antagonists, The Legend of Korra mainly features villains from each of the other elements; with Amon, Tarrlok, Unalaq, and Ming-Hua being Waterbenders, Zaheer being an recently new Airbender, and Ghazan and Kuvira being Earthbenders. P'Li was the only Firebender villain.
- Additionally, each of the main season antagonists indirectly succeeded in their goals to some extent; Amon's anti-Bending revolution ended the oppression against non-benders, Unalaq convinced Korra to reunite the human and spirit world, Zaheer put an end to the oppressive rule of the Earth Queen, and Kuvira's actions made Prince Wu abolish the Earth Kingdom monarchy in favor of a democracy.
- Each season's main (and major) antagonist is an allegory to major conflicts and ideologies in Early 20th-century of human history:
- Amon: Communism and oppression of minorities.
- Unalaq and Vaatu: Theocracy.
- Zaheer, P'Li, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua: Anarchy (especially Anarcho-green and primitivist ideologies).
- Kuvira: Fascism, with few elements of Maoism given her 'Earth Empire' was based on early Modern China, especially the end of Warlord era and the early years of Communist China aka 'Mao era'. There are also some minor allusions to Adolf Hitler's rise to power.
- In addition, each season has at least one secondary antagonist or supportive character that also serves as an allegory:
- Tarrlok: Corrupt politicians.
- Varrick (Season 2 only): Greedy capitalists that cause conflicts for the sake of making money.
- President Raiko: Incompetent politicians or radical non-interventionist, that refuse aid in International issues.
- Queen Hou Ting: Monarchs that abuse their power and leave people in poverty and disorder.
- Poisoned Korra Hallucination: PTSD caused by a near-death experience
- King Wu: People who undeservedly obtain power due to their lineage rather than any actual merit.
- The show's theme of "is the Avatar needed anymore?" itself is an allegory to how reliance on technology has slowly been replacing religious beliefs in society and the topic of tradition vs innovation.
- As of Season 3, the Air nation is no longer near-extinct and at the end of the show is slowly being rebuilt.
- Good writing, sometimes rivaling that of The Last Airbender.
- Excellent fights with element bending and non-Bending martial arts.
- Beautiful, fluid, and animation, like its predecessor. And the show is now in widescreen and HD, which makes it even more beautiful.
- This is the first Nickelodeon show to have a bisexual character (Korra and Asami started dating at the end of the show)
- There are some absolutely hilarious moments throughout the show.
- Naga and Pabu are both cute pets.
- The soundtrack is great.
- Great voice acting for the characters.
- Some very emotional and heartbreaking scenes from time to time.
- Every season has a completely different plot so there isn't an overaching story throughout the show.
- The Finale of the show, while great, was rather rushed.
- Season 2 is generally considered one of the weakest seasons in the entire franchise and some of the lore it introduces causes inconsistencies with previous canon. The plot of the season is also overbloated with too many plot threads going on at once and not enough time to flesh out each of them. And the villain, Unalaq is also poorly recieved. It didn't help that the animation is downgraded compared to season 1 until episode 7, as it was animated at a lower-tier team at Studio Pierrot instead of Studio Mir like the rest of the series.
- The love triangle between Mako, Korra and Asami is painful to watch. The love triangle between Mako, Korra, and Bolin in episode 5 goes nowhere and is pointless.
- Mako tends to be a pretty poorly written character.
The Legend of Korra was positively received as a worthy successor to The Last Airbender, it was praised for how it explored the lore of the series following the events of the original show, it's likeable characters, and the faithful integration of the original cast. A big strong point of the series was noted to be the main antagonists of each season being more dimensional characters with depth compared to the main villain of the first series.
However The Last Airbender is still generally considered to be the better series between the two by fans, and Book II: Spirits was received worse than the rest of the series.
The reason the show omitted the word "Avatar" on its title was to avoid potential trademark issues with James Cameron's Avatar movie.