In the hierarchy of the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise, The Legend of Korra often gets slighted. But Korra is just as good, if not better than, The Last Airbender. Here are three reasons why our pal Max thinks the follow-up series deserves more credit.
Nickelodeon’s animated series The Legend of Korra has finally joined Avatar: The Last Airbender on Netflix (in some regions). With the future of Netflix’s live-action Avatar series in jeopardy, right now those two shows are our only window into the world of ATLA (movie, what movie?). Here’s why The Legend of Korra stands out in the franchise.
Creativity in Bending
Right from the opening scene, The Legend of Korra raises the bar on the acrobatics and uniqueness of bending. Studio Mir took over animation duties for The Legend of Korra — the same fantastic team that’s behind Voltron: Legendary Defender and the upcoming The Witcher anime. Just like those works, they make each movement in Korra even more fluid and unique. It’s the individual treatment that really stands out, giving each bender their own look and style, even when they’re doing the same kind of bending. For example, Tenzin is disciplined and nonviolent, while Korra is aggressive and confrontational. And Zaheer is, well, one of a kind.
Then, there are the secondary bending techniques, like flying and advanced metal bending, which are essential for the Avatar world. Skills like astral projection and lava bending reveal so much about each bender’s personality — as well as how far the world has come in the time since the Hundred Year War.
Korra’s Expanded World
Republic City stands out as a key location in the Avatar universe, so much so that the city itself essentially stars as a character on the show. The citizens of Republic City watch pro-bending, make “movers” (or movies), and even take part in some metal bending art. These kinds of activities help us see ourselves in the average citizen.
They also live in a world that’s more similar to ours than most of us would like to admit. For example, one of their most relatable problems is that they have technocrats making huge decisions for the world, which definitely rings true in 2020. But it’s not a black-and-white view of morality; characters grow and change just as the world does. The nuances of the journey from cutthroat capitalist to humanitarian are some of the most interesting parts of the show. For instance, Varrick and Sato change from being power-hungry jerks to people who care about the harm they cause to society.
Korra starts off as this hothead who can’t say no to a fight, and over time learns that there’s no reason to put herself in danger when there are other ways to solve her problems. She reaches some low points in her life and does what so many of us do when going through a rough patch…she gets bangs!
But through it all, she learns to centre herself and to remember that she’s still only human. This not only helps her grow as a person but also opens her up to dating Asami — one of the greatest love stories in the Avatar fandom. Knowing our limitations is a lesson that we all need to learn at some point. Most of us should just be glad we don’t have to get our asses repeatedly kicked to get there.