The Magic of Animation: Korra

Spoiler Alert!!  While I will not reveal every secret of this show, I will be getting into the details, which will give away some of the storyline and character development.  I hope I shared enough to convince you to watch the show.  There is so much more that is hard to fit into a single blog post. 😊

At the time of this writing, this show is available for viewing on Netflix (US) and available for digital or physical purchase.

World Building

The Legend of Korra is in the same universe as Avatar.  We have our four nations, all with people that can bend the different elements.  The Avatar is still the only person that can control all four elements, however in the 70 years since Avatar: The Last Airbender, there have been some major changes to our world.  Republic City, the capital of the ­­­United Republic of Nations, is our stage for the first two seasons.  The United Republic was created after the end of the 100 Years War.  It is a place for all people, benders and non-benders to live together in harmony.

Set in a “swinging-20s” era, the people of the city are modern.  Most people have cars (called Satomobiles), use bending to their advantage whenever possible, and attend Pro-Bending competitions on the weekends.  The reverence of the art of bending has disappeared.  A spiritual journey to understand your abilities is thrown aside for sport, or even worse, intimidation.  Mobs or gangs rule the streets with no real interruptions from the police. 

At the beginning of each episode, the recap is read off like a news reel of old.  Voiced by the in-character Pro-Bending announcer and always leaving us hanging.  It pulls you into each episode instead of letting your grab you last minute snack before the action starts. 

 Korra, our main character and current Avatar in this series is a bending prodigy from childhood and has almost full bending abilities by age 17.  She is older than Aang from the first show, but still has an immature (i.e. teenage) mindset in all things.  Korra hails from the Southern Water Tribe and has a polar-bear dog as her animal companion.  Korra is sent to Republic City to complete her spiritual training under Tenzin.  Tenzin is one of the few air-benders (even after the 70 years) and takes his legacy very seriously.  Korra, being the adventurous young women that she is, clashes with Tenzin’s strict rules of teaching.  After being almost hidden in the South, Korra is ready to see the world.  She has a few blunders along the way, but finds her street smarts after a while. 

Writing and Character Development

Unlike our last series, Korra doesn’t have one overarching mission.  Each season has a main villain to take down and a mystery to solve.

Season 1 and 2 (called Books) introduce our main characters and watch them grow from older teenagers to young adults.  Each character has their own challenges.  If the teen angst is getting you down, not to worry!  Tenzin has three children and they provide plenty of humor to keep you elevated.  Season 2 delves deep into the Spirit World and the origin of the Avatar. 

Season 3 and 4 are primary based in the Earth Kingdom with some traveling thrown in for good measure.  After the events of season 2, Korra has a new purpose beyond just being the Avatar.  We see a more confident Korra as she has been tested and survived the ordeal.  Korra also meets someone from the past in the woods.  Loyalties are tested once again as the struggle between political or military power clashes with the overall message of Balance in the world. 

Korra knows she is the Avatar from a young age and this brings a sense of arrogance and empowerment that gets her in trouble.  She makes friends pretty easily, but is still a little awkward at first.  Tenzin is like the uncle she never wanted; however, she does actually respect him.  Korra makes friends with Bolin, Mako, and Asami and they become the classic “Team Avatar” in this series.  One main theme that carries across the series is Korra’s continuing journey to find a deep understanding of her spiritual connection.  Each season, even with the trials going on around her, she learns more about the spiritual side of her Avatar nature.  Korra struggles balancing her personal life and her Avatar life of protecting the world from an ever-changing number of villains.  Her romantic attempts are sporadic at best.

Tenzin is everyone’s favorite dad.  Tenzin, son of Aang, and one of four air-benders in the world is Korra’s spiritual guide.  He has three children (all benders) and is married to Pema, a patient mother to the children.  Tenzin learns over the course of the series that he must be flexible.  Tenzin is often the subject of uncomfortable situations that are used for humor.  Having a young boy always running around can be stressful.  Tenzin is a member of the Council in Republic City that makes political and military decisions for the United Republic.  Tenzin is usually fighting for the memory Avatar Aang.  You could even say that Tenzin is stuck in the past, as the pressure to carry on the air-bender culture was placed on his shoulders.  He often fighting an uphill battle with the Council and a culture that refuses to treat bending with any respect.  He is a loving father of his children and shows genuine love towards Korra as well.  He is the role model you strive to become. 

Jinora is the oldest of the children and the most thoughtful.  The “deep thinker” gene runs through her character.  She is the calm one in the group.  Jinora strives to be most like her father Tenzin.  She works hard to prove herself as a true air-bending master.  Tenzin struggles with how grown-up she becomes in the short time of the series.  We learn that Jinora has a special spiritual connection.  In the later parts of the series, she uses this to overcome a problem that even the Avatar can’t solve alone.  She is the prime example of “children can be extremely wise” and this why she is my favorite of the children. 

Ikki is very excited about everything…all the time.  She has enough energy to power a small city and it extremely inquisitive.  She has the innocence of a child, but the curious nature of a journalist.  She is often a comfort to Tenzin or Korra in stressful situations.  Melo is the youngest child of Tenzin and Pema.  He is fearless.  He wants to explore the world and take down the bad guys.  There are some hilarious scenes of Melo fighting off full-sized adults and easily winning. 

Mako and Bolin are the first people Korra meet that are close to her age.  They are on a Pro-Bending team and help Korra with her Avatar duties on occasion.  Mako and Bolin are brothers that had a rough childhood.  Mako carries this with him in his daily life.  He doesn’t like meeting new people.  He thinks Bolin is too outgoing.  He is the classic older brother “I’ll take of it” type of person.  Mako likes Korra.  He has a hard time admitting it, but it’s pretty obvious as the series goes on.  This causes some serious jealousy among the group and drama ensues.  Bolin on the other hand, is super laid-back and up for anything.  Bolin is part of a movement to convince the President to take action against the villain in season 2.    

Asami rounds out the group as the fourth member of the team.  She is daughter of the inventor of the “Sato-mobile” and has an excellent break-away story later in the series.  She is the other strong female character in this series without any bending abilities.  She doesn’t let that slow her down, joining her friends to stop various trouble-makers over the entire series.  Korra and Asami are not on good terms for a while, but they both find a friend in one another in later episodes.

Quote for the Road:

“When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change” –Avatar Aang

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