Why The Legend of Korra Isn’t as Good as We Hoped

Avatar: The Last Airbender was an amazing show that reshaped how people saw animation. There was a complex and nuanced plot, three dimensional characters, and awesome powers of elemental control! Also, there was Toph. Let us never forget Toph, for she is the best. Not only did Last Airbender gain the adoration of children and adults alike, it did so under the restrictions of the “family friendly” Nickelodeon channel.

Spoiler Warning: This posts discusses the general status of the characters in The Legend of Korra for the first three seasons. It also mentions changes from season to season, and vague details about a few important moments in the series.

After falling in love with Avatar, fans had to wait four long years for a sequel.* Finally a new series was announced, The Legend of Korra. There was much rejoicing, for this new show had all the ingredients of success. The original creative team was on board, the setting was going to feature a steampunk aesthetic, and the stories were going to be more mature. For added diversity points, the new Avatar was a woman of color. Bright days lay ahead!

Then the first few episodes came out, and something just didn’t seem right. Major publications lauded the show and the ratings soared, but to a certain demographic of fans, the show wasn’t meeting expectations. “Don’t worry,” we said. “It’s just first season growing pains. The second will be better.” It wasn’t. The third season did improve a little, but there was still a lot missing. Were our expectations too high? Was the original not as good as we remembered it? Or, was it more that…

The Novelty of Bending Has Worn Off

boring lesson

Bending, the control of classical elements through martial arts, is a cornerstone of the Avatar world. Cities are built by Earthbenders. Firebenders fuel industrial revolutions. Entire cultures were created around different styles of bending. It’s clear that the show’s writers put a lot of thought into how their unconventional style of magic would affect the setting.

In the first show, the audience learned about bending at roughly the same time the characters did. Aang knew a little about Airbending, but that was it. We watched as Katara struggled with her early Waterbending forms and Zuko found out that Firebenders cannot rely on attack alone. It was a flawless example of experiencing the world through the character’s eyes.

By the time Legend of Korra started, there was little left to reveal. Characters discovered new bending tricks from time to time, but the basics were old news. While the art form was still awesome, we had time to think about its implications and wonder about its use. Why do people hit by blasts of fire only get knocked down? Why don’t Earthbenders use their abilities to trap opponent’s feet? Why hasn’t a Waterbender surrounded an enemy’s head in liquid to drown them? Even if the answer is just “Nickelodeon wouldn’t let them do it,” that’s hardly satisfying.

Because bending is so powerful, it’s hard to cover all the bases on how it could hypothetically be used. In one episode of The Legend of Korra, the characters have to fight giant, steampunk robots which are nearly impervious to their attacks. Watching the show, it’s unclear why the Earthbenders don’t just open up holes under the robots and trap them. This kind of incongruity happened in the original series too, but back then we suspended our disbelief. Now we expect more.

Some of the Characters Don’t Work

dumb mako

Every important character in The Last Airbender had a major arc. Sokka went from useless comic relief to veteran battle commander. Aang left behind some of his childish innocence so he could do what needed to be done. Toph began as a bad-ass who couldn’t work with others, and slowly became integral to the team.

The same cannot be said for Legend of Korra. In three seasons, some characters don’t develop, and others are only holdovers from the original series. Then there is Mako. In the first season, Mako is supposed to be the dark and brooding romance interest, which is a troubling archetype even when done well. As it is, Mako has no personality. He has no likes or dislikes. He plays sports, but only to pay the bills. He cares about his brother, but grudgingly. He is defined by the women who are attracted to him. Because of him, the show’s attempt at a love triangle falls completely flat. It’s hard to care who he ends up with because he’s so boring.

In season two the writers made Mako a detective, and even that didn’t work. In an attempt to make him look smart and independent, they had to make other characters look incompetent. The show kept trying to reinvent Mako, and it never worked.

Asami, the only nonbender on the main cast, suffered from the reverse problem. She started out interesting, but was given less and less to do as the show went on. This was especially odd considering the setting’s higher tech level. The steampunk machinery provided many ways to work her into the plot, but instead she fell by the wayside.

Even Korra, the Avatar herself, has development issues. She begins the show extremely headstrong, using violence as a first resort to solve problems. This is in contrast to Aang’s gentle and playful manner, so it was a great starting point. Unfortunately, Korra never really moves past it. Over and over again she makes foolhardy decisions that should get her in trouble, but by pure luck she turns out to be right.

The animal sidekicks are particularly baffling. They seem tacked on, included mainly because the original series had animal sidekicks so Korra has to have them too. The difference is that Korra’s animals don’t add anything. In Last Airbender, Appa was a giant sky bison who carried the characters around. He was absolutely essential to the story. In fact, there’s a whole episode dedicated him. Momo the winged-lemur was the group’s confidant, the unspeaking listener to whom the characters could confess their troubles. In Legend of Korra, the animals only use up time. Korra’s polar bear-dog is supposed to be a form of transportation, but the characters have access to airships and motorcycles, so it never plays an important roll. The fire-ferret must be there for the cuteness factor, because it doesn’t do anything else.

Pro Bending Is Painful to Watch

Bolin Pro Bending

This one activity is so awful it deserves its own section. Pro Bending is, as the name implies, a sport which is played primarily through bending. On its own that’s a great idea. If bending existed in the real world, people would certainly play sports with it. The problem is in how it’s executed.

The game itself is terribly designed. It’s almost impossible to tell who’s winning because the rules are so confusing. Near as anyone can tell, the objective of one team is to knock the members of the other team off the back end of their platform and into the water below. Then there’s something about different zones that the players are or aren’t allowed to be in based on… something. It’s never fully explained. The scoring is even sillier: matches are played best out of four. Yes, that means there can be a tie. But wait, it gets worse! Even if one team has lost the first three games, they can win any match by knocking all the opposing players out at once. If this was football, that would be like one team getting infinity points if they could score before the first down.

Not only is that a bad scoring system, but it means the drama is incredibly obvious as well. When Korra is the only bender left standing on her team, and they’re losing three games to zero, what is she going to do? Oh look, she used the tactic that lets a losing team win with one lucky moment.

Outside of the game’s mechanics, Pro Bending also distracts from a more interesting story. The first season is only 12 episodes long, and many precious minutes are spent watching the characters play this confusing game instead of focusing on the anti-bending revolution. Which of these two sounds more interesting: violent revolutionaries who will do anything to get what they want, or two groups trying to knock each other into some water?

Worse still, Pro Bending hammers home the message that every element is the same. Whether a player is hit by searing flame or a jet of water, the result is identical; they get knocked back a few steps. We already had to suspend our disbelief about the lack of charred flesh and crushed bones; this just makes it harder. Players have no option but to trade blasts of their element back and forth. All the interesting uses of bending are against the rules. Making ice for the other team to slip on or blowing a cloud of dust into the air could be dangerous! Smashing your opponent’s head with a rock is perfectly fine.

The Avatar State No Longer Makes Sense

Here Korra uses the Avatar State to win a race against a small child. Here Korra uses the Avatar State to win a race against a small child.

This is a problem the writers set up for themselves in the original series. Back then, the Avatar State was a super powered trance Aang could enter when things were truly desperate. It made him almost unstoppable, but the trade off was that he couldn’t control it. For her first season, Korra couldn’t use the Avatar State at all, and that was fine. Things went wrong in season two, when she gained the ability to enter it at will.

The writers gave Korra an ability so powerful that she could get out of any trouble. Obviously that would destroy the story. Their solution? Make it weak without explanation! When Aang went into the Avatar State, nothing could get in his way. When Korra did it, she became slightly stronger than normal. Not only was this confusing, it was a huge let down. The Avatar State was a really cool aspect of the show, and suddenly it barely mattered. In season three, Korra seems to forget she can enter the Avatar State at all. She doesn’t use it even when she’s desperate.

Avatar’s writers are hardly the only ones to do this. In Angel, the character of Fred started as a mad genius; she was capable of devising weapons against enemies that hadn’t even shown up yet. They balanced her by making her unstable, and as she worked through those issues, she became less intelligent. The writers couldn’t make the story work if Fred was in full control of her abilities.

That was lazy writing, and it’s the same in Legend of Korra. At the very least, the writers could have introduced some kind of plot device to keep Korra from using the Avatar State in season three, instead of just forgetting about it. Even worse, they bring it back at the last second. It’s as if they wanted to remind us that Korra could have used it at any time, and she chose not to for some unknowable reason.

There Are Too Many Adults

Korra and Lin

Legend of Korra has too many characters period, but the most troublesome is how many adults are in a show where the main characters are teenagers. Last Airbender managed it’s adult characters very carefully, making sure each had a logical reason they couldn’t fight the protagonist’s battles for them. In fact, the only adult we spent much time with was Iroh, and he spent most of the show deliberately not helping his nephew.

Last Airbender could do this because the ever present war with the Fire Nation provided an excuse to get adults out of the picture. The Legend of Korra has no such device. The Avatar and her friends are surrounded by grown-ups capable of solving their problems for them.

Of course, they don’t. Each time there’s a major obstacle, Korra and her friends deal with it instead. It gets ridiculous after a while, especially in the season three climax. The teenagers are deliberately sent into danger while the professional soldiers play backup detail. This makes the adult characters look incompetent and lazy.

That would be bad enough, except that many of these adult characters are connected to the previous series. Some of them are actually characters from the previous series, much older* than when we last saw them. Zuko, the scarred prince himself, makes a poor showing because the bad guys needed to escape for the plot to work.

In a twist of cruel irony, some of the show’s best characters are the same adults who forget how to fight whenever there’s a problem. It’s enough to make you think they should have been the main characters in the first place.

The Stories Are Too Short


The Last Airbender had three seasons of 20 episodes each. The entire show was dedicated to the same story: the Fire Nation War. There was depth. There was nuance. There was growth. At the time of this writing, Legend of Korra has also had three seasons. Each season has been about a completely different story, with 12 or 13 episodes each. Perhaps you see the problem.

Almost every other issue with Legend of Korra has its roots in the show’s rushed schedule. There’s no time to justify how bending is used, so we see inconsistencies. Character arcs have to be cut short, so the protagonists don’t develop. The list goes on. Legend of Korra is trying to tell very ambitious stories, and it does not have the format to do so.

For example, the first season is about nonbenders rising up in mass against the benders they see as elitist oppressors. This is absolutely huge. It has the potential to turn the entire world of Avatar on its head. At no point in the past has it ever been questioned that benders should be in charge, or if they deserve everything they were born with. The story raises a host of poignant questions. Is the rebellion leader, a masked man named Amon, really doing this for the people? Are the revolutionaries right? Can the situation be remedied without violence? Is it possible to have an equal society when some people are born with supernatural powers and others are not?

None of those questions are answered because the first season is so short. Instead, after 12 very promising episodes, the writers deploy a deus ex machina to solve all the problems. Season two spends so little time on the aftermath of this world shaking event that it’s almost like season one didn’t happen. There are more immediate examples too. At the end of one episode, a character makes a sacrifice so others can successfully get away. At the beginning of the next episode, those characters have been captured, as if the daring escape scene never occurred. There was no time to show them being captured, so we had to accept that it happened off screen.

Season two had the same problem. One of the issues faced by Korra and her friends is whether they should arm an insurgent uprising against an unjust government. That issue is incredibly complex,* but the characters brush it off like there’s nothing problematic about it. In Last Airbender, the characters spent an entire episode debating the wisdom of their plan to attack the Fire Nation. No time for that in Legend of Korra, apparently the last thing viewers wanted was a thoughtful storyline!

Season three is so pressed for time that the villains barely get a backstory, and what they do have is blurted out in a single exposition scene. What we see of them is very good, but it’s not enough. It feels like they exist only to provide someone cool for Korra to fight. In The Last Airbender, villains, like the Firebending prodigy Azula, were developed alongside the protagonists to be fully fledged characters in their own right.

These problems might stem from production decisions outside the creators’ control. If Nickelodeon will only give them 13 episodes, then that’s what they have to work with. They may not have known when making season one if there was going to be a season two, hence the need to tie everything up with a bow. However, the show is still much less than it could have been.

The people behind Avatar are very talented, and you can still see that talent shining through. There are some very good parts in Legend of Korra, it’s just sad that they are overshadowed by story elements that just do not make sense. On the bright side, a fourth season is coming up, and there were some very promising signs toward the end of season three. Here’s hoping that my next article about the Avatar universe will be more positive.

Update On Season Four


The news is finally good. Season four is excellent storytelling and a thrill to watch. The protagonists are all in top form, even Mako. The plot is tight and fast moving. The politics are well thought out. The drama is excellent.

How did the creators accomplish this? They did what Legend of Korra should have been doing since the beginning – they used what had come before. Season Four’s villain was actually introduced in season three, so they didn’t have to start completely from scratch.

The story also builds directly off of the previous seasons. Korra is still struggling with her trauma from being poisoned and nearly killed. The setting is in chaos from the Earth Queen’s death and the spirit portals opening. There are even a few nods to events from all the way back in season one. It’s wonderful.

There were a few smaller changes as well. There was a three-year time jump after season three, which allowed the writers to reset some of the show’s less spectacular characters and drop the teenage drama elements. Several side characters were left by the wayside to free up screen time. However, the primary improvement was in using what they already had. The show finally felt like it was building towards something bigger, and it was.

Like the show itself, Korra finally got the development she deserved. The final chapter of this Avatar’s story will ensure she is remembered as a storytelling success. Oh, and the show acknowledges that same-sex relationships might exist. Good for them.

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  1. Brandon Kier

    Not to be rude or anything, but I’m honestly wondering if you’ve even watched the show at all. It sounds like you just read some wikipedia plot summaries because you have everything wrong.

    First of all, Mako is the perfect character. He’s a master mind that only pretends to be indecisive so he can play other people off one another. When he was a detective no one believed him because he was using subconscious cues to convince them he was wrong while he was pretending to convince them he was right, so he could save the day by himself and get all the credit. He is super deep and he has layers.

    Also, it doesn’t matter if there are four rounds in a pro bending match, ties don’t happen because the writers WON’T WRITE THEM. duh.

    And those professional soldiers were only put on backup detail because everyone knew the villains would make a sneak attack on everyone else while the teenagers were off supposedly facing danger.

    I guess I really just think your whole premise is weak. It’s just an animated tv show, it doesn’t need to “a complex and nuanced plot” or “characters that develop” or a “thoughtful storyline.” Those are just in the way of people pushing each other back and forth until they fall in the water. That’s the real reason people watch.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Oh no, my arguments are undone! Great hubris cometh before the fall and what not!

    • Randy

      This…is a joke, right?

    • Air nomad Reese

      All of my friend hate Korra and I say this same thing to them almost al the time.

      You made a amazing point and I am with you 100

  2. Claire

    I think the problem Korra suffers from most is that most people have such a rose coloured glass idea of Last Airbender. The original series had it’s fair share of deus ex machina (Lionturtle, Guru Pathik. the white lotus society), which we overlooked becuase we were young. Hence it seems unfair to come down so hard on Korra for theirs.

    As for the bender thing, Konietzko and DiMartino have established a style for their world, one which is fairly optimistic even when at it’s most serious. And even when they explore the darker elements, they still leave themselves enough rope to pull the universe back. Changing that changes the entire tone of the world. Not everyone wants to see opponents screaming in agony as they’re burned to a crisp or exploding in a monsoon of blood. If they did, it would become like so many other shows which just become great gorefests (like Supernatural). They can either change the tone to fit the rules, or change the rules to fit the tone. And they have gone with option that most suits the style of the stories they want to tell.

    I think every universe suffers from incompetent adults. In nearly every show, the central characters are shown to be super competent at whatever the plot requires

    As for pro-bending,it’s a mcguffin. I has no purpose beyond giving the central characters an excuse to meet.

    I will admit that the shows has a number of problems (such as the disconnect between seasons) but it feels like many of the problems listed here are and are just more the show filing to live up your exacting Critic Standards

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I certainly won’t say you’re wrong to critique a post of mine that’s critiquing something else, but I will say that I only watched Last Airbender quite recently, so I was only a few years younger than I am now.

    • Ari

      I feel like bending could have continued to improve, from a narrative perspective, without making the show super dark or gory. I think Oren was saying that Kora didn’t do anything interesting or new with bending, and the longer the show went on, the harder it was to suspend our disbelief as to why all these benders, from sinners to saints, weren’t doing anything new.

      I do agree with you that pro bending was there primarily as a story device, albeit a very uninteresting one, but I don’t think that gives it a pass to be boring. Pro bending was a perfect environment to show us how bending had evolved between the two shows. It could have shown us levels of integration between the elements that we hadn’t seen since Aang’s final avatar state in the original series. Hell, even the simple change of making the tournaments something besides single elimination would have been an improvement, as the good guys could actually lose a match without being kicked out of the tourney.

      • Oren Ashkenazi

        Probending should have been the most amazing sport we’ve ever seen. It was the perfect opportunity, as you said, to highlight all the new ways bending was being used 70 years later.

        Water boiled into steam with Firebending and then used as a screen by waterbending to hide the final team members advance.

        Mud sent onto the opposing team by waterbending and then hardened by earth bending to stick them in place. The possibilities are almost endless.

    • Avatar Fan

      The Legend of Korra is a disgrace in my eyes. There isn’t really even good music during the attacks. I also don’t like the fact that Korra is just, well, Korra. She’s bossy, annoying, and way too tough. Aren’t water benders supposed to be the ones that try to stop conflict instead of causing it. There is no war going on, no reason for her to really learn the elements all at once. Who uses the avatar state to win a race against a child?! Doesn’t she know the horrible cost if she’s killed in the avatar state?! I only watch The Legend of Korra to find more out about Avatar. The show reeks of lazyness, and lack of intrist. In avatar everything was focused towards the war, and in Legend of Korra, there is no war going on, random people just try to take her. And FYI, Mako is a horrible person. He gets on my nerves. The people that made this show could’ve at least made this show enjoyable…

      • HONOUR!!!

        While I do agree LOK is not as great as ATLA, there are a few points I disagree with:
        1. No, not all water benders try to stop conflict. There are good and bad people from every culture, whether you like it or not. That would be equivalent to all white people are nice in the real world. And that’s not really true(no offense though, I’ve met nice white people)
        2. While, yes, there was really no reason for her to learn all the elements, she had to either way. How about Roku? He didn’t know there was gonna be a war, but did he restrain from learning them? The Avatar’s responsibility is to restore balance in the world, and while that does extend to stopping wars, it’s not the only function.
        3. In ATLA, they didn’t focus entirely on the war. They had other concerns too, like finding Appa. The only difference is ATLA handled it greatly, while LOK…er…not so much.

  3. spencer

    I think part of what made the original special was one villain and one foil built up from episode one. As Oren sort of brought up. Korea sort of seems directionless by comparison. It’s the uprising then it’s the spirit world then it’s the airbenders but each idea is never fully explored. Any one of these concepts could have been the whole series because I honestly think they are all cool ideas with great potential to develop the characters and the world.I think the aftermath of harmonic convergence could have been fascinating as the denizens of republic city and the spirit world learned to live with one another. This could have further differentiated republic cities culture from the rest of the avatars world. Going further than “we don’t like vines” could have been really cool

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I could not agree more. There are great ideas in Korra, but none of them get the time they deserve.

  4. Chupacabro

    Despite its indubitable flaws, I would argue that Korra is at the very least equal to its predecessor. I do not see why our suspension of disbelief should vanish when watching Korra’s adventures if we held them for Aang.

    We must remember that while Korra certainly makes a lot of leaps of faith in its series, Aang had us swallow an entire armed conflict in the last episodes where there were 0 casualties. I’m talking one country vs another with soldiers that can control the elements and at best we saw a couple of bruises. Sokka’s desperate attack against the Fire Nation should have been akin to the Allies storming the beach of Normandy and realistically it should have left a least a couple hundreds dead from each side. Same goes for the Fire Nation attacking the wall of Ba Sing Se.

    But hey, I was willing to overlook aaall that because ‘It’s a Nickelodeon show, they ain’t gonna show that kinna stuff’, and I don’t see why I should expect people in Korra getting decapitated with ice blades or something all of the sudden because it’s slightly more mature.

    Overall, Korra suffers from the very same problems that Aang did. Namely these two points:

    There are very forced romantic moments that don’t work. While Mako’s relationship with Korra and Asami are quite nauseating, I won’t say that I wasn’t rolling my eyes at Aang’s awkwardly cliche dealings with Katarra.


    The characters present are shown to be wise and mature for their age but still make some very critical errors in judgment in order for the plot to advance. Just like before when you thought Aang was going to take his role as the Avatar seriously he made some very flimsy choices, so does Korra seemingly loses all the wisdom she acquired in previous seasons to resort to her ‘let’s bash heads in’ mentality. Although Korra has the added problem that she ends up losing more often than not for the sake of drama.

    Ultimately, yes, Korra has a Mako but Aang had a Zuko who was quite infuriating as well (although not as much as Mako admittedly), it still has a lot of difficult to swallow moments and it still has characters suddenly forget all their lessons and resort to hormone driven choices just because apparently someone thought that would be more interesting to watch. But! Korra, just like Aang, still offers so much more than other shows. It’s true that they are trying to cram as much material as they can in such a short time and because of it many of the stories fail to be explained properly, however that is more a problem with the developers and not the writers themselves.

    In an ideal world Korra would have had at least double the number of episodes.

    It’s not a perfect series by all means, but neither was its predecessor and because they are both so revolutionary I am willing to cut Korra a lot of slack.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      You make a lot of good points, Chupacabro, but I can’t go with you on Zuko being almost as bad as Mako. I loved me some scarred prince, myself.

  5. Korrafails

    The reason why ‘The Failures of Korra’ doesn’t fly is the main character itself.
    Almost every other character is completely fine and likeable in this show besides the Avatar herself.
    You know the one thats either being manipulated, beaten to a pulp, outsmarted, captured? Or the fact that she never learned from her mistakes and continues to make the same over and over again?

    I guess if she wasn’t getting her ass handed to her over and over again and actually grew as a character, she might be likeable. However she doesn’t, and its gotten quite tiresome.

    • nedra

      You nailed it! Korra was the problem. very poorly written.

  6. Blythe

    Stumbled across this via Pinterest, and it summed up my frustration with Legend of Korra soo well! All the plot holes and cliches… I was so frustrated that bratty, stubborn, irresponsible Korra got to be right about everything and save the day without any significant character change and development (read: loss of brattiness). Also, love triangles and evil uncles are just taking it too far. I had it after season 3. I’ll confess I only watched that much because of Tenzin. But they even really messed up the potential that Tenzin’s kids had, in my opinion…At least the effects were decent. Thanks for writing!

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      If you have some free time, I do recommend watching season 4. It’s much better than the first three seasons, on par with the first show.

    • Jesus

      We are halfway watching season three and it is abysmally horrible!
      An avatar what has forgotten how to enter the freaking avatar state even when she thinks her Dad was killed right in front of her eyes?? Wtf??

      Korra, the absolute worst avatar ever, stubborn, a bully and never, ever learning, NOT EVEN ONCE, from her stupid mistakes. And what happened with all the adults? They are supposed to be so powerful, trained by and children of some of the most powerful benders from the previous avatar series.

      The only character we truly love is Boulin, comic relief and great background story and then, whoa, he can lava bend, great stuff.

      But Korra, well, she just pisses me off. Way to go writers, this has so many plot holes it is more empty space than a plot.

      And the way Mako and Korra broke up was ARTIFICIAL. Writers keep doing this as a cheap way to increase dramatic tension, but there wasn’t any reason for their breakup at all! Where do they get these stupid ideas from anyway?

      Very disappointed to be honest. Four red lotus powerful benders for sure, but kicking every single white lotus member’s arse ALL THE TIME, and also very powerful benders like Lord Zuko (who fire trained with Aang with the Fire dragons!!!) and they hand his butt to him. Katara’s daughter, who should be one of the most powerful water benders in the whole planet, never, EVER landing a single shot against the fire lotus benders and always, ALWAYS losing.

      It gets so tiring!!!

      Way to destroy an amazing universe……

      Note: the comic books depicting and telling the story of what happened after the original avatar cartoon series are a GAZILLION times better than Legend of Korra.

  7. D. Rodrigues-Martin

    Great article. I agree that it’s nice book 4 has some significant carryovers from book 3, but I still thought it was unsatisfying.

    The show was plotted badly because the true villain of the Avatarverse was introduced and neatly tucked away in season two. Season two needed to be how the series ended. Book 4 felt like the end of the Kuvira plotline, not the end of Korra.

    For the rest, you raised a lot of intriguing points I hadn’t considered.

    I’ve written on this at some length here:



  8. Kat

    We tolerated the Deus ex Machinas in ATLA because it’s got a witty, self-referential tone, whereas Korra is trying to go for the “dark, gritty and conflicted” mood as far as I can tell. When the characters are witty, lively kids and Sokka defeats that overpowered guy who can firebend with his mind by throwing his boomerang at him, you can tell that the authors used it as a shortcut to get him out of the way even though it’s unrealistic but it fits the mood of the show so you don’t mind.

    Also, most of the ridiculous flaws in how bending is handled can be ascribed to the characters’ youth/inexperience/moral or emotional conflict, because most of them are still inexperienced (Katara), have dilemmas about violence (Aang) or are mentally unstable and riding on the wave of their anger (Zuko). They are never, aside from Toph, toted as the top of the top when it comes to bending. The benders in LOK are all supposed to be extremely skilled.

    The bending loses its novelty because in the original series it’s treated as a highly honed skill that has the subtlety and precision of a martial art. You kind of gain the same reverence for it that the characters have. The bending in LOK is just punching with elements.

  9. 3Comrades

    I just finished Korra, and I admit I must be in the minority but I loved it much more than Last Airbender.

    The first one was a bit kooky; and I felt constant animal hijinks + Aang’s silliness +Sokka was a bit much. I get why people loved it, but I had to force myself to finish it and never felt impressed.

    On the other hand, I loved Korra to the point that I adored every character. I liked the villains and felt they made good points, I like the balance of team Avatar and how it told a story over time so we could see them develop. I absolutely adored the adults and how it tied them to the world and the community at large.

    I think Korra and Airbender are such different shows that people didn’t know how to react. Other than sharing a world, they have very little in common. Personally? I think that was a poor choice financially, but can’t help but be glad since it got me into something I’d otherwise have ignored.

  10. maybell1938
  11. ATLA Fan

    I’ve only watched some parts of it. I’m not gonna ruin my picture of this universe. I was hesitant because I was intrigued at what Aang built, thats it. Additionally, an industrial revolution is a bit “gross,” as my older brother and a fellow ATLA fan puts it. Why I like to consider myself open minded, I can’t help bit agree to a slightly minor sense. I would rather leave it knowing there might be a revolution, and just imagining a world like today with bending elements. It just leaves things simpler.
    Nah. The original show is the best. The cast, perfect. Especially with the comedic relief of Sokka, the oh so great tea-loving Iroh, and even Aang with his facial expressions in season one.
    With that being said, I’m just gonna purchase the comics once I finish ATLA again with my brothers.

    • Kahasai

      The comics are amazing and touch on some important topics, such as the fate of Zuko’s mother.

  12. Tifa

    When I was little, we could only get three channels, and two of them were fuzzy. Otherwise I probably would have grown up watching The Last Airbender. Now I’ve finally got around to watching it, admittedly years late, but I like it very much. I’m halfway through season 1.
    [We still only get three channels, even at our new house, so my mum and I watch stuff online instead.]

    I always find it amusing when reading the comments here, when people question if you’ve read/watched/played/ectc the story you’re commenting on.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      Woot, I hope you’re enjoying it! I really liked Last Airbender, and it amuses me too. It’s like, what’s the problem with just saying I’m wrong? Why they gotta make unverifiable claims?

  13. GreatWyrmGold

    I watched the first season of ATLA as a kid, but not the rest. (I think my family switched to a Nickelodeon-less cable package between seasons.) As a young adult, I watched the whole series, followed by LoK, and was disappointed. So…yeah, not just nostalgia clouding things.

    If I had to diagnose the core issue keeping LoK from being great, I’d definitely point to the length and schedule. The first season has a core conflict at least as interesting as ATLA’s, if it had the time to blossom properly.
    From what I’ve heard, the writers absolutely had no idea whether or not there would be a “next season” while they were plotting out each individual season, so they couldn’t exactly plan a plot against a singular villain that would take 3-4 seasons. But “tension between Benders and non-Benders” doesn’t need to be tied to a singular antagonist the way imperialism does, so I don’t get why season 2 didn’t build off of the tensions introduced in season 2, with a new demagogue promising the muggles that they could end Bender oppression. Each season could have Korra &co understand the rifts better and end with another systemic change to mend them, after beating up the latest villain in a climactic showdown.
    I wonder why they didn’t do that? Did they worry it would retread too much of the same ground, or that it would seem “unrealistic” for the problems Amon capitalized on to continue after his death?

  14. Zuzu tha jerkbender

    LOL i didn’t even watch it. i knew it was stupid but i wanted to go deeper?

  15. Schwinn

    I love the fact that most of the cast is adults. This is actually one of my highest praises for the show. I wish more cartoons and children’s entertainment would give interesting and dynamic roles to the adult characters, especially in ways that intersect with the younger characters.

  16. Tifa

    So I’ve never watched Avatar before, and today I started a marathon. I’m halfway through season 1 at the moment, and I plan to continue on with Korra after finishing Avatar. Are there any Korra episodes that are particularly “bad”, or skippable? Thanks in advance.

    • Oren Ashkenazi

      I honestly don’t know if there are any specific episodes you can skip, since part of the issue with Korra is that it’s too much story crammed into not enough episodes, but you could probably just start with season 3 if you like. Seasons 1 and 2 are pretty inconsequential to the later show, reading a plot synopsis would be enough.

      • Tifa

        Good to know!

        • Joey

          I know you probably already finished it, but season 1 is actually a really interesting season if you go into it with an open mind! Blood bending, along with the anti-bending movement, goes to show just how advanced and deep rooted the needs of the people get ignored. Also, pro-bending was honestly a cool way to show more of Korra’s character (how else could she learn air bending, if not in an unethical way?)

          Since you’ve probably already seen it, what’d you think?

          • Tifa

            If you mean me, I actually really enjoyed the whole show for the most part, Meelo and Eska notwithstanding.

  17. Nicholas

    Great summation of the Avatar series. I recently re-watched The Last Airbender and was again blown away at how fleshed out the plot and character development was in the show. Even as an adult, I find it very entertaining and I appreciate the deeply philosophical expositions from the many different characters, especially Iroh.
    Then I watched the first season of Legend of Korra, and I was disappointed at the apparent downgrade of all those elements that made The Last Airbender so enjoyable. Having fewer episodes surely made a difference, but so did the quality of the writing. It focused more on the mind-numbing action and less on plot development. The pro-bending game in the show is a good example of that. I also noticed that even though the series seemed to take on a more mature plot in some ways, the comic relief was poorly executed, consisting of a lot of childish potty humor and jokes that were just not funny at all. The romance in Legend of Korra was also painful to watch and for all the wrong reasons. Much of it wasnt believable, and it doesnt help when the characters involved are hardly likeable. I doubt I will even bother watching any of the other three seasons of the show.

  18. Kamua the earthbender

    I am not liking the Legend of Korra, mainly because every bad character is so strong and all the good “guys” are so weak. When the twins where bad they were strong but then season two rolls around and they get the crap beat out of them buy one water bender. The fire king and his dragon even gets beat really easy. Why is it that the bad “guys” automatically have more power than the good “guys”?

    • Cay Reet

      It normally shouldn’t be that obvious, but a good balance between the “good guys” and the “bad guys” is always with the “bad guys” having more power. With that imbalance, the “good guy’s” eventually victory has more weight to it. Normally, though, it’s not too obvious and only on an underlying level.

  19. Lielda

    I agree, she never seems to change.

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