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 Still Wants To Save The World
- Unlike most soft reboots/standalone sequels/spin-off sequels that tried copying their prequels or rely on Nostalgia pandering, The Legend of Korra is an original show without copying anything from its predecessor.
- 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.
- 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 new characters are well-written and likable. Many of them are descendants of 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.
- 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 a 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.
- Great writing, rivaling and even surpassing that of The Last Airbender at times.
- Excellent fights with element bending and non-Bending martial arts.
- Much more beautiful and fluid animation than 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), which later was confirmed by Bryan Konietzko.
- There are some absolutely hilarious moments throughout the show.
- Naga and Pabu are both cute pets.
- The soundtrack is amazing.
- Great voice acting for the characters. Even Seychelle Gabriel, who stars in the atrocious The Last Airbender movie released in 2010, did well as Asami, given that she does a good job on portraying Princess Yue.
- Many more emotional and heartbreaking scenes than its predecessor.
- Every season has a completely different plot so there isn't an overarching story throughout the show.
- Sometimes, the tone and pacing can be inconsistent.
- While pretty good, the finale was criticized for being rushed by many people, and it could’ve had a better pace at its hand than it did.
- Similar to Sozin's Comet, the finale was made with the continuity in mind being continued in the comics, however in The Legend Of Korra, the finale was made as if it's a cliffhanger.
- Season 2, while not terrible, is generally considered the weakest season, and one of the weakest seasons in the entire Avatar franchise and some of the lore it introduces causes inconsistencies with the 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.
- The villain, Unalaq is also poorly received as he was a generic evil villain.
- 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.
- Korra getting permanently disconnected from her past lives was heavily panned by some fans, considering it to be the scene that ruined the Avatar series.
- The love triangle between Mako, Korra, and Asami is painful to watch. The love triangle between Mako, Korra, and Bolin in season 1 episode 5 goes nowhere and is pointless.
- Some of the characterization is problematic:
- There are plenty of characters that are written badly, like Meelo and Unalaq.
- Firelord Izumi and General Iroh barely get any screentime or characterization in the series which is a shame because Lin and Suyin were focused a lot in Season 3.
- Toph Bei Fong was flanderized in this series as she's meaner and more annoying compared to how she was in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- Varrick is a pretty dumb and unfunny comic relief.
- Zhu Li, while her character arc isn't bad by any means and the twist in Season 4 is surprising, it feels very shoehorned in and her relationship with Varrick feels forced and unnecessary.
- "Remembrances" was a pretty bland filler episode in Season 4.
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, its likable 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. The Last Airbender, however, is considered to be the better show by most people, and Book 2: 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.