Dee Discusses: The Legend of Korra Book One: Air

Posted: April 6, 2015 by Dee in Avatar, Dee, General Media, legend of korra, Television
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There are spoilers for this show and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Duh.

It’s difficult to divorce my knowledge of the end of the show from the beginning, so I probably won’t attempt to. Although I can talk about the pitfalls of this season for sure. After the success of Avatar: The Last Airbender (A:TLA from now on), fans were definitely not done with this amazing world they created. It wasn’t a surprise when a follow-up was made in the form of The Legend of Korra (LoK from now on). This series only intended to be one season, letting fans see the future for their beloved characters, and to show the continuation of the Avatar cycle. Nickelodeon then decided it wanted more, so this first season is clearly written as a one-off. You can tell in the way it was structured that they had in mind an end, and they were forced to think quickly of a continuation. Because of this they struggled a little in season two, but by the end I loved this show, perhaps even more with A: TLA. I think it’s because it was adult from day one. Their audience grew up, so they aged the characters with it, and they were able to get away with more. It also didn’t hurt that it starred a badass female character, and I always like supporting heroines.

Korra gets chosen as the next Avatar once Aang dies. This is many years later and he and Zuko built a place of peace called Republic City. There all the leaders of the world came together occasionally to meet, but it was independent in a lot of ways, despite being on Earth Kingdom land. There is the Airbenders Island too, where Aang’s family lived as they repopulated the airbender line. Korra figures out her powers early and masters them early too, in contrast to Aang struggling for the show to find his strength with them. The only one she hasn’t mastered at the beginning of the show is Air. Korra is a huge contrast to Aang in some ways, but similar in others. She has a great sense of humor and she’s boisterous the way he is. Social. Active. Loyal to a fault. At first she starts out immature, but she grows into her maturity and responsibility as an Avatar. What she lacks is a spiritual connection and a certain calm that Aang had, although that’s due to how he grew up as an airbender. She is very spirited and temperamental. She’s also very sheltered, so it makes sense she would be excited and rebellious and go to Republic City despite Tenzin telling her no. Tenzin is Aang’s son and the only master airbender, but things are difficult in Republic City so he chooses not to train Korra yet. She’s impatient so she shows up anyway and quickly becomes a fish out of water.


There are two major storylines in season one, and they intersect eventually. There are little ones, and the growing of interpersonal relationships, but mostly they come down to two. One surrounds the pro-bending where Korra gets to use her powers and learn about the people in the city. She meets her friends Mako and Bolin, and eventually Asami. Korra grows up and gets in a relationship and has some shady cheating going on with Mako. It’s so interesting to see season one again knowing where those kids end up, especially with Asami since they first met as rivals for the same man. Pro-bending teaches Korra about airbending eventually too. The other major storyline is Amon and the nonbenders. A rebellion begins from the nonbenders who resent the class system they find themselves in, which never really came up in A:TLA. Because they were at war and that wasn’t really a factor. But all these years later in peace, it’s become clear that benders are actually treated better and have more power than nonbenders. Amon takes advantage of this to start a rebellion, because man is that guy crazy. But terrifying! And powerful. He has the ability to take away other people’s bending. I do feel like they didn’t go as far as they could with addressing the very real concerns of nonbenders, unfortunately. It got so wrapped up in how Amon was super evil.

Tarrlok is introduced and he’s already clearly a bad guy. I do like where they eventually went with him and Amon, as they are brothers and both were basically abused by their father, forming them into who they became. The ending of these two characters is firm and unbending, and it’s rather grim. They go out together, because Amon is a monster, and his brother enabled that. I was shocked when they killed those two, and it was an indicator that this show was not going to pull punches. It also made the hero lose in a serious way: Korra temporarily loses her powers. I believe originally they didn’t intend for her to regain her powers in the end of the season, which would’ve been a rough way to end the series. Once they got the second season they had to rewrite, but that’s what annoys me. They knew they had time, so why not wait until season two to give her them back and cause the Avatar State? This was an early sign that the show tried to make every season get a singular story arc and then closure. A:TLA had a complete storyline all the way through, and LoK would’ve definitely benefited from the same.

Amon_taking_Korra's_bendingSo what is there to say about this? First of all, I have to give it up to the animation. Holy crap is this one of the most beautifully animated shows in the world. A:TLA was always great, but it had a very colorful and cartoonish style. On purpose and for good reason. Right off the bat you could tell LoK was going to be different. It was grittier and more realistic in its design. They clearly learned from their experience and wanted to be more ambitious with the look in this. Korra is a great character and very flawed. I will defend her forever against naysayers, because I love exactly who she is, and who she ends up being. They introduced great characters like Tenzin and his family, Lin who is Toph’s daughter, and we did get to see Katara and a glimpse of Aang and Sokka. I really wished that we could see more about Tenzin, Lin, and that generation. They could’ve had their own show, I swear. Korra grew up in season one, and they all did. I was so glad Asami ended up turning against her father, since it seemed like the perfect way to make her into the bad girl of the group.

Speaking of, let’s be honest, the love triangle (and square with Bolin) was the worst part of the show. We all hated it. Aang and Katara’s relationship was the most irritating part of A:TLA for me, plus squicky. It’s just that everything needs to be love triangles these days, and I never felt like Mako and Korra had good chemistry. I didn’t like how it came about, with how cheating was basically happening. It didn’t put any of them in a good light, and I’m okay with characters having flaws, but it was grating. There was so much good stuff going on in the rest of the show, so that was irritating. Plus as I said before I didn’t like she immediately got her powers back. I’d say those are my major complaints. Otherwise this was an excellent start. We set the stage for the current time, the serious tone, the general characters, and beautiful animation. The question was what do they do, now they had an unexpected second season? To be continued!


  1. […] boy. So as I discussed in the season one review, they originally intended to only do one, and then they were renewed and had to figure out what […]


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