Avatar: The Series, The Sequel and The Hate
At this point, we all have heard of the show, Avatar: The Last Airbender. And it is safe to say that the majority of viewers, new and old, have been in love with the show ever since. For those who have not watched it, but are still reading this article, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you that the show is definitely something you will not regret watching.
I could go on and on about the masterpiece that is the show; from the amazing character development of various characters, the mesmerising visuals, and the beautifully composed soundtrack by Jeremy Zuckerman. Even so, this is not that kind of article, because we are not here to talk about The Last Airbender.
Today, I am here to talk about its sequel, Avatar: The Legend of Korra. People may or may not have heard of it. However, if they did, it is highly likely that what they heard about the show, was all negative, explaining their hesitation in watching it. I am here to set the record straight.
Spoiler warning: If you have not caught up with Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra, I strongly advise you to do so and then come back to read this article, as it contains spoilers for the shows. Viewers discretion is advised.
With the spoiler warning out of the way, here is some of the most commonly found “criticism” that me and my friend sourced against The Legend of Korra.
- Korra is a Mary Sue.
- Korra is the worst Avatar.
- The writing and pacing are horrible.
- Korra is an annoying protagonist who doesn’t grow throughout the series.
- They retconned the origin of Bending.
So without further ado, let us begin with point 1: “Korra is a Mary Sue.” Now, to explain why I think this is a lie, it is important to know what a ‘Mary Sue’ is. A Mary Sue can be defined as a “term used to describe a fictional character, usually female, who is seen as too perfect and almost boring for lack of flaws.”
Now, does this work for Korra? Actually, it does not. Korra is not a Mary Sue, mainly because we see that she is not perfect. She has flaws. A perfect example is from the pilot itself, where we see that she had troubles mastering the element of Air due to her hot-headed nature. She was not able to do anything with Air because of how opposite Air was to her personality, which Tenzin said himself. That is also why she could not pass the Leaf exercise that Tenzin showed Korra in season one.
Now, for point 2: “Korra is the Worst Avatar.” People call her the Worst Avatar mainly because of what people think she did back in Season Two. For those of you who do not remember, in the finale of season two, Korra lost her connection to her past lives because of what Vaatu did to Raava. Many fans blame Korra to be responsible for what happened, but the blame goes to the wrong person. Truthfully, the blame should go to Vaatu and Unalaq, as they forcibly tore Raava out of Korra and damaged her to the point that she got disconnected with her past lives, and was too hurt and weak to stop them.
As for point 3, I do agree that the writing was far from the best, but in the writers’ defense, it was the best they could do considering the situation they were in. As mentioned in an interview with Yoo Jae-Myung, the show’s Art Director, in 2013: “Nickelodeon was reluctant to produce this animated series at first because the protagonist was a girl.” This was just one of the many hurdles the show had to overcome. Another hurdle was that Nickelodeon allegedly ordered three extra seasons, when the show’s creators were initially expecting to finish the series with one. To make matters worse, they did so when they were already more than halfway done with the production of what was thought to be the last season. Thus, causing havoc in regards to spreading the original story across the now, newly-appointed, three seasons. That is why season one and several starting episodes of season two felt all over the place.
Another reason people call out the show’s ‘bad writing’ is its portrayal of Avatar Aang and the type of father he became. Viewers of the show were up in arms when they found out Aang was far from an ideal father figure, and that he spent more time with his Airbending son Tenzin than his other two children, Kya and Bumi. Most people forget that even though Aang was an Avatar, he was still human, and as we know, humans are not perfect. He, himself never had much of a long-lasting father figure in his life. So, him being the perfect father is completely unrealistic even in the world of Avatar.
At the end of the same episode, where we learnt more about Aang’s children, they agreed that he just was not perfect. Aang also wanted to keep his heritage alive, so his spending time with Tenzin, the only other Airbender, made sense. Keeping his origins alive was his biggest dream, which has been stated on numerous occasions by multiple characters in the show.
Now for our second-last point: “Korra is an annoying protagonist who does not grow throughout the series.” This could not be further from the truth, because back in Season One, Korra was a hot-headed, punch-first-ask-questions-later type of girl. Her actions stemmed from hasty decisions, and she was never the planning type. However, as she experienced more of her storyline, she no longer was as hot-headed, nor in a way, self-absorbed, as she was at the beginning. Towards the end of the series, she became more compassionate, which we see on numerous occasions, like when a new bender was on the bridge ready to end it. Korra sat next to him and showed empathy, which we had previously never seen from her before. Or in the series finale, when she risked her life to save Kuvira using the Avatar State, which, in my opinion, the old Korra most definitely would not do.
As for the last and final point: “They retconned the origin of Bending.” This is a point many fans (and even haters) of the show are usually confused by. For more context, in Avatar: The Last Airbender, we were told that Sky Bisons, The Moon, Dragons, and the Badgermoles, were the original Airbenders, Waterbenders, Firebenders, and Earthbenders, respectively. However, in Legend of Korra, we were told that the Lion Turtles gave the humans bending. So, the question arises: Who are the original benders?
The answer is simpler than most people think. The answer is still the same one we got in Avatar: The Last Airbender, but what we learned from Legend of Korra was just an expansion to the existing lore. The Lion Turtles actually gave the humans their bending, but they learned to control it from the original benders. Similarly to how Toph learned Earthbending from The Badgermoles and Zuko, Aang, and The Sun Warriors learned about true Firebending from The Dragons.
Hopefully, these points cleared up some misconceptions that you might have about The Legend Of Korra. And now, I hope you see the show in a new light, and you no longer hate the show for all the wrong reasons. So, please revisit the show and see whether these same reasons still apply, and remember to never let the people online steer you in a particular direction of judgment and opinion. Make your own opinions on the show once you have watched it, because hating the show without even watching it has proved to be quite popular.
Now, I will end this article in proper Avatar fashion, quoting our beloved Uncle Iroh:
“Even in the Material World, you will find that if you look for light, you can often find it. But if you look for the dark, then that is all you will ever see.”