The Legend of Korra is set roughly 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Avatar Aang has passed, and now Avatar Korra of the Southern Water Tribe is responsible for restoring balance to the world. Her first challenge will be facing the Equalists, a rebel group based in Republic City who believe that benders are abusing their powers to oppress non-benders and want to level the playing field.
Book 1: Air
Many Avatar fans will start The Legend of Korra on a tentative note. The reality is that the success of The Last Airbender is hard to follow, and the writers know this. They use the classic writing move of creating a main character who is the polar opposite of Aang, so no one will mistake Korra for a cheap Aang knock-off. Unfortunately, this means Korra is an aggressive, angsty teen, and I am not a fan. She yells at people constantly as though that will solve her problems and screams at villains “You can’t do this!” as if she’s so entitled she actually expects them to listen. Other characters think she’s strong and “tough as nails.” I personally think she has a lot to learn.
However, there are enough good points to the season to make it worth watching. There are a number of great new characters, including Tenzen as Korra’s mentor and other new friends. Naga isn’t as great of a companion as Appa, but I do love the secondary animal, Pabu. The allusions to The Last Airbender are on point, and I also love the pro-bending element.
Book 2: Spirits
Book 2 is a frustrating let-down, and when I tried to watch the show when it originally aired, I stopped after this season. Why watch more than two seasons of a show you don’t like, right? Here, Korra continues to act with an aggressive attitude I simply cannot find appealing. Worse, she’s a fool. While I can’t say much about the plot without spoiling it, I can confidently say that half the problems that occur in this season are of Korra’s own making. However, the show never acknowledges this and continues to frame the action as if Korra is making wise, necessary decisions, and everything is the villain’s fault. The combination of Korra’s anger and ignorance is too much for me, and the only real highlight is what viewers learn about the first Avatar. However, the show gets better afterwards.
Book 3: Change
Book 3 is good. Korra has a theme of introducing a new villain each season, once again differentiating itself from The Last Airbender, which had an overarching plot for all three seasons. I might argue that the villains here are so powerful they’re almost boring (can anyone defeat these people?), but they definitely have a unique philosophy and method of operating. It’s refreshing. This season also has a lot to offer in terms of personal development for many of the characters that viewers have come to know and love. Finally, there are air bison, and no one can say no to that.
Book 4: Balance
The opening of Book 4 will have viewers scratching their heads and asking themselves whether angry Korra or emo Korra is a better look. (Seriously, can I just have Aang back?) It also has the problem that the characters, once again, look foolish for overlooking an extremely obvious plot by the new villain. However, this season does manage to continue on some of the high notes from Book 3, and it also continues to introduce old favorite characters from The Last Airbender.