so guess what i’ve been watching…
Mother Fuckas be sleeping on The Legend of Korra. TLoK, as I may refer to it here, is the sequel series to Avatar: The Last Airbender that premiered in April. Why it is not called Avatar: The Legend of Korra is beyond me. The new series takes place seventy years after the original’s finale. Aang has died, leading to the existence of a new Avatar (Korra); Katarra unfortunately has not died, leading to an atrocious series introduction featuring her character as an old woman (just as annoying as when she was a young woman); and technology has now progressed significantly to a point in time comparable to 1920s America.
This time around, the Avatar has already mastered three of the four elements and all that is left to learn is air (so, the opposite of the original series). Korra travels to the recently-founded metropolitan mecca, Republic City, to train with Aang’s old-man-of-a-son, Tenzin. There, she encounters the popular sport of pro-bending, and discovers a bubbling anti-bender resistance led by a shadowy non-bender named Amon.
A few episodes in, nothing past that basic series description has unfolded. The show plays as a more traditional anime, focussing on the teenage Korra and her two teenage pro-bending comrades Mako and Bolin, and the love triangle that inevitably unfolds between them. Along with that comes a heavy focus on pro-bending, which is a cool concept for the updated series mythology but not much more. There’s nothing explicitly bad about the show. It’s definitely entertaining, but with stakes that, so far, are much lower than those of the original series, it’s sort of only operating as an epilogue.
And though the creators clearly are attempting to develop a unique identity for TLoK, it doesn’t help that the characters are all rehashes and mash-ups of character from The Last Airbender. The president of Nickelodeon described Korra’s character as “hotheaded, independent, and ready to take on the world,” which is completely true and ridiculously annoying. Her character is 100% just a combination of Katara, Zuko, and Toph. It’s as if the creators decided the best way to differentiate this show from the original is to make the lead the exact opposite of Aang. Supporting character Bolin is very much a replication of Sokka, and Mako is more or less Zuko.
The mysterious antagonist Amon is the most interesting part of this show. For one, mysterious masked villains are always a guaranteed success. Look at the Teen Titans animated series, for example. Unlike Slade from TT, who was never unmasked as his actual identity would have had no emotional weight within the context of the animated series, Amon has the potential to have canonical resonance as someone from, or descended from the original series. Besides his identity being withheld, he also possesses the ability to take away a bender’s bending, a power previously only available to the Avatar him or herself. This raises the question that, if Korra has her bending taken away (a plot point that has been foreshadowed at every possible juncture) what will happen to the future Avatar lineage?
Stakes risen. The show is fine. Korra is obnoxious and should have her powers taken away and be embarrassed that she failed all of the benders in the world, but once some more plot details are revealed and the season gets underway, TLoK should be as captivating as Airbender was. The anti-bender angle of the show was a good call on the creator’s part, and the series will likely end similar to Digimon, with everyone gaining bending abilities and being happy… and loving each other…Some heart warming bullshit like that.