With the internet as full of negativity as it is I thought I’d break my own mould (yes, I have been known to be negative) and write a review about something I love. It also just so happens that I finished watching the Legend of Korra last night. Spoiler alert: I loved it. I’ll try to keep the review as actual spoiler free as I can.
So for anyone who doesn’t know. The Legend of Korra is set in a world where people can bend (control) the elements. In each generation the Avatar (who can control all four elements is resurrected into a new life). It is a direct follow on from Avatar: The Last Airbender, after a passage of half a century or so. In that time technology has started to flourish and so along with the Benders there are now cars, mech suits, radios and all sorts of other things. At this point anyone who has read IT TAKES A THIEF TO CATCH A SUNRISE can probably see why I love this world.
I’ll jump straight into a bit about the main characters. Korra is the new Avatar. She is a headstrong, feisty young woman who is quick to jump into fights and, at the start at least, likes to solve all her problems with a fist and the fire that spurts forth. Honestly, after watching A LOT of anime, Korra is one of the biggest breaths of fresh air I’ve seen in a very long time. She’s expertly conceived both in her personality and also appearance. Korra is shorter than some women her age, but stockier with a muscular form that suits not only her calling as the Avatar, but also her own take on being the Avatar (she likes to fight).
Korra comes across as both independent, strong, and at times vulnerable. She’s a natural leader and people take heed when she takes command (and not just because she’s the Avatar), and she learns to ask for help when it’s needed as well. Her progression throughout the 4 series is a delight to watch and also touches on some very hard issues such as Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder (PTSD). I know I’m sounding a bit SQUEEE at this point, but that’s because of how impressed I am by Korra’s character. She is brilliantly designed, drawn, voiced, and projected throughout the series.
Asami is another strong female character though very different to Korra. She’s the daughter of a man who owns a company on the forefront of technological progression, and as such she comes from privilege, though she isn’t the sort of character to guard it. It turns out Asami inherited her father’s ingenuity and she often comes up with the new tech to help save the day. She’s also a combat specialist the likes of which I wish we had seen more of.
This is where I feel the problem with Asami enters in, she was often underused (actually it’s a problem with many characters and I’ll get to that later). So many times during the series I’d find myself thinking “Just let Asami loose and watch the bad guys drop like flies”, but more regularly she was relegated to driving/flying the others around.
We’ll finish off with Mako and Bolin. Two orphan brothers who grew up on the streets and became professional-benders (bending for sport). Mako can bend fire, while Bolin can bend earth.
Mako is very much the straight man and in the early series this grates. He’s just a bit dull and “too cool”. Luckily as the series go on his straight man routine becomes very rigid and that actually serves to make him more human as you realise he’s actually quite awkward around people and hides it by being so proper.
Bolin is almost as opposite to his brother as can be. He’s comic relief at times and the heart of the story at other times, but at no point does it feel forced. Bolin is bright, but not particularly intelligent, and is the type of character to say whatever is in his head. He’s a lot of fun and a character you can really rally behind when he shows his heroics.
There is also a huge list of radial characters and many of them are also expertly realised and played out. But this also brings to bear my biggest issue with the series as a whole. It is 4 series of 12 episodes (11 really in series 4) and there are A LOT of characters. Obviously we spend most of our time with Korra as she is rightly the focus. What this means, though, is that often the other characters get lost when we focus on more radial characters. There were large portions where I realised we hadn’t seen Asami for a few episodes and she wasn’t the only one. That being said, I’d loved to have seen more about the radial characters as well as they were a lot of fun. Basically I’d have just loved there to have been more.
With the antagonists we have an odd range of characters throughout the 4 series, but none seem to bring the same menace that Aman did in the 1stseries. He was a bit like Darth Vader in that he wore a mask, was near unstoppable, and was always coming for our protagonist. One thing I did quite like in series 3, however, was how the finale was turned on its head with everyone else coming together to save Korra instead of her winning the day herself.
Overall I have to say I loved The Legend of Korra. It had some missteps but, like Avatar: The Last Airbender, it proves to be a wonderful story full of fully-realised characters, a wonderful world, and story-lines that tackle big, adult issues, while remaining full of hope.
OK. Lastly I want to talk briefly about the very end of the series. This will contain a spoiler, so stop reading if you don’t want to know. SPOILER ALERT!
So right at the end we have Korra and Asami walking hand in hand into the spirit portal and then they stop and gaze into each other’s eyes. We get the distinct impression that there is more than just friendship there. This is brilliant. I loved it as an added twist. My issue with it is that I didn’t see it coming. It came out of left field. I would have loved to see a little more build up to it. Maybe I’ll have to go back and watch the series again to see if there were little, subtle clues that I missed. I just wish we could have seen their relationship blossom a bit more.