Titles: The Avatar
Former Member of: The Fire Ferrets
Featured In: The Legend of Korra
Voiced By: Janet Varney
Let me first begin this review by stating that there will be some spoilers for the first few episodes of the current, and sadly last, season of The Legend of Korra. I sincerely suggest you watch those episodes, and the plenitude before them, before reading this review. That being said, let us begin by my admitting that when I initially heard that Avatar: The Last Airbender was getting a sequel series and one that featured a girl as the next Avatar, I had mixed feelings. Most if not all of the teaser art for the series featured more background fodder and lots of shots of Korra from behind, keeping her face completely out of view save for one that showed her leaping headfirst into a fight with a bunch of cops and looking like she was having the time of her life with it.
Initially, I presumed Korra to be something of an… adrenaline junkie of sorts, always leaping headfirst rather than thinking things through or conceiving a plan. It was with these reservations that I watched the first episode of The Legend of Korra and within all of a single sentence from a toddler-aged Korra felt head over heels in love with the character.
Not literally but the point stands that any sort of reservations I had were thrown bodily out the window. I can count on one hand how many characters just clicked so instantaneously with me and most of them were from a time where I was innocent to the common formulas is storytelling. Korra’s attitude as a toddler and as girl in her late teens was just… just so right it can’t be described with mere words but these:
Korra is human.
I don’t mean just in the literal sense that she is a human being gifted with the power to bend not one but four of nature’s elements but that she is by far the most emotionally human character I have ever seen in an animated series to date. She grows and develops throughout the series in ways that were, frankly speaking, startling to see in a kid’s cartoon.
When she started have nightmares about Amon, a man set on bringing equality to the world by eradicating bending through his own super advanced blood-bending, Korra tried to confront him on her own terms but was defeated with ease. Rather than brush off the confrontation or even get angry over the fact that she had lost so easily, she cried with relief and fear, hugging her mentor tightly as she confessed to being afraid of Amon, of having her bending taken away from her when her readily had the chance to do so.
Yet, this occurred as far as back as season one of the series. A more recent example, and again I warn of SPOILERS, is that Korra, in the three years following the events at the end of season three… Is currently suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. She has literally gone through so much unadulterated hell in such a short time that she is suffering from a disorder that generally occurs when one has gone through several traumatic events such as warfare, serious injury, and/or threats of imminent death.
Korra’s powers are a result her being bestowed with the soul of Raava, a spirit whom represents harmony and concord, and whose existence allows Korra the ability to bend all four elements of earth, fire, air, and water. Korra has further increased her skill set to include the ability to metal-bend and energy-bend, which in turn is the ability to take away and grant people the ability to bend, particularly in those whose bending was taken via Amon’s methods.
Prior to the events of season two, Korra the ability to communicate with and borrow the knowledge and skills of her previous lives alongside their combined power when she accesses the Avatar State, a state of power that is, essentially, next to impossible for most normal people, benders and non-benders alike, to combat against and win.
Her weaknesses are those of any human, particularly one her age. While she had grown up and was taught by the best of the best Master Benders of the respected elements, Korra’s teachings leaned towards the older ways of combat and so she was not initially experienced in more modern methods of bending, particularly those found in the competitive sport of pro-bending.
If there is one weakness that I find glaringly obvious in Korra, as far as being one that she has to sincerely try and overcome, it’s that she oftentimes puts too much of the weight of the world on her shoulders. Avatar or not, she is human and even her predecessor, Aang, had the help of his friends in ending the Hundred Year War.
Of Korra’s enemies there aren’t many to name but each are so distinct that I cannot do them justice by describing them in a mere paragraph or sentence. Thus, I shall simply state my favorite of the bunch and my reason why. Amon, the water-bender whose skill in the arts of blood-bending are so great as to sever one’s ability to bend with a mere touch, is my favorite villain of the series not for the aforementioned abilities but because… He’s voiced by freaking Steven Blum, that’s why!
Korra’s greatest triumph, thus far, in the series for me has to be when she allowed the Spirit World and the Real World to remain open and connected to each other as they had been so many lifetimes ago. Before the First Avatar had shut the connection to try and limit the discord rampant throughout humanity at the time.
When the Spirit World was first introduced, I had thought it to be a place of the Afterlife given the frequency that Aang had been dragged there via his past life Roku, but when it became apparent that both realms were intimately connected despite the primary gates being locked tight, I couldn’t help but cheer when Korra decreed her intention of keeping them connected as they ought to have been.
Overall, Korra is my third favorite hero of all time and my favorite heroine with none being close to tied to her. Of the many animated characters throughout the decades and the plenitudes that I’m sure are to come in the future, it is my sincerest hope that Korra’s name is shared amongst the many greats that have stood against the test of time again and again with no chance of being forgotten.