Posted by Stephanie Donaldson @TwoHappyCats
Psych student with dreams of being Dr. Phil. You can read more of my reviews/ rants at kurosamareviews.wordpress.com
Stephanie Donaldson

Warning: May contain spoilers from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra

The minute Avatar: The Last Airbender ended, everyone wanted more. Thankfully, the studio delivered in the form of comics detailing how Aang continued to maintain balance in the world. We saw the troubles the fire nation had at rebuilding trust with other nations, and also the question everyone wanted answered — what happened to Zuko's mum!? With those thirsts quenched, fans then moved on to Aang and Katara's relationship — imagining their children and even what the rest of Team Avatar would look like grown up. Our prayers were almost answered in The Legend of Korra, which featured an entirely new Avatar, as well as 'Team Avatar', and also the children of our favorite members of the original Team Avatar.

Korra as the Avatar

Goofy Aang
Goofy Aang

One of the main problems of the series was that it took audiences too long to warm up to Korra as the new Avatar. Our introduction to her is literally her breaking through the wall as a child proclaiming "I'm the Avatar, deal with it!". As she grows older her attitude doesn't change, she feels entitled to do what she wants because she is the Avatar. It was a shocking contrast to the often calm (although goofy) Aang, who understand his purpose was to help others.

Korra's true turning point comes in season 3, when she faces an enemy that she almost cannot defeat. The struggles she goes through, helps audiences understand the exact pressures that she experiences as the Avatar - how perfect and strong she has to be. But this connection to Korra's character comes a little bit too late. While audiences were instantly able to connect to the struggles of Aang's character - an 11 year old boy who wakes up 100 years later to realise his entire culture has been eradicated, it takes 3 seasons to connect to Korra!

Other Characters

Bolin, Asami, Mako and Korra - Team Avatar
Bolin, Asami, Mako and Korra - Team Avatar

It wasn't only Korra that was difficult to connect to. The new Team Avatar, with Mako, Bolin and Asami appeared to be an extreme caricature of the original Team Avatar. Mako was the stern and serious Zuko, Bolin was the comic relief Sokka and Asami was the caring mothering character of Korra. These characters often went overboard, and again, were hard to find likeable like the original Team Avatar.

Another frustrating component of the series, was the portrayal of the original Team Avatar as adults - particularly Aang. It was quite shocking when Tenzen and his siblings described Aang as a distant father that only focused on rebuilding the Air Nation, with Bumi and Kya often feeling sidelined. It didn't really add up to the Aang, that audiences had known - one that looked after everyone and always knew the importance of friends and family.

Narrative Structure

Zaheer and the red lotus
Zaheer and the red lotus

In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the series was focused around defeating the fire nation. While Aang, and the rest of team Avatar did have their other crazy journeys and 'side quests' there was always an overarching goal that anchored the story. I felt without this anchor, Legend of Korra often felt all over the place. One moment Korra is battling extremist non-benders and the next she's tackling an Earth nation revolution.

As mentioned before, my favourite season was season 3 - not only for the immense character development in Korra, but also the fantastic villains. Zaheer and the other Red Lotus members wanted to use Korra's power to free Vaatu - creating freedom in chaos. I felt that these 'villainous' characters had so much to offer the series, their abilities, background and relationships with one another had so much potential to be fleshed out. I would have loved the entire Legend of Korra series to be focused around defeating the 'Red Lotus' with Amon, Unalaq and Kuvira used as interlinking 'side quests' on their journey.

While I'm not completely onboard the idea of Legend of Korra being a successor to Avatar: The Last Airbender, it definitely did have its merits. I really did enjoy the increased diversity in its cast - especially the relationship between Korra and Asami. The designs of the characters, and the fight scenes were absolutely spectacular. The series also took on a much darker tone to The Last Airbender, which was interesting. The series had so much potential to be just as good as The Last Airbender, but the charisma and connection to Team Avatar was missing as was a concrete goal that could define them.

Poll

So how do you think Legend of Korra staked up to Legend of Aang?