And with this last non-anime entry, I’ll be getting back to posting recommendations for actual anime series and films shortly.
- Trailer: Book 1 Trailer
- What it’s about: The follow-up to the massively popular Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra follows Aang’s successor: a headstrong teenage girl from the Water Tribe named Korra. While she lacks Aang’s spiritual centre, she nonetheless excels in the more physical aspects of her identity and is eager to begin fulfilling her duty as the Avatar. Blocking her progress, however, is her ongoing struggle with mastering the fourth and final elemental magic of Airbending. With the only surviving airbenders housed in Republic City, far away from her childhood home in the Water Tribe, and with mounting rumours of civil unrest requiring the attention of the Avatar, she sets out to find her destiny.
- Why you should watch it: In one sentence: it’s a more grown up version of A:TLA. The morality is more ambiguous, the conflicts less one-sided, and the characters older and explored in greater depth. At the same time, it doesn’t hesitate to draw heavily on the established lore and the fantastic visuals and soundtrack of its predecessor. Korra herself is an interesting character. Her inexperience with diplomacy and sheltered childhood causes her to lean heavily upon the combat-oriented aspects of her nature to pull her through any conflict. But this is a new age: a mechanised, democratic age. Is there any place for the “spiritual balance” role of the Avatar today?
- Caveats: There are a few nits to pick. The writers’ insistence on including a love triangle (until the excellent third season) has a definite negative influence on the plot. Not enough time is given to flesh out the antagonists for the first two seasons, largely due to funding constraints (it was never made clear whether they were getting another season or not). Korra as a character stumbles more than she progresses, falling back into old habits only to relearn the lessons that earlier episodes should have instilled in her.
- Themes: Spiritual balance, and the ongoing struggle between tradition and modernity. Finding one’s place. Each season has its own motifs and themes, usually personified in the villain character and their particular motivations.
- Similar works: The Twelve Kingdoms, Romeo x Juliet, Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic