Thank You and Farewell to Avatar and The Legend of KorraDecember 27, 2014
About 9 years ago, I stumbled upon an episode of a cartoon. It was about a goofy little bald kid with arrow tattoos who was found frozen in the South Pole by a brother and sister. I remember seeing that first episode, but I hadn’t caught the name of the show. I wouldn’t see it again until the next year, when I saw those same characters on a new adventure travelling to Ba Sing Se.
This was my first encounter with Avatar: The Last Airbender, and the beginning of what I now understand to be the pillar of my passion and creativity. I found the show on On Demand and absorbed every episode until I was caught up to Book Two. I was in love with everything about it: the art and animation, the characters, the story, the world – there was nothing about the show that you couldn’t enjoy. I spent the next year re-watching every single episode. I would read up on as many pages of the official wiki as I could, I played every online game about the show, and I asked for the additional books and games as birthday and Christmas gifts. The Avatar world became an essential part of my life. By the time Book Three started airing here in Canada, I was a superfan. My sister had even made me my own Avatar poster and Katara costume for my birthday and Halloween.
During my last year of elementary school, I followed Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, Suki and Zuko as they went on their final journey. I didn’t have much in the way of friends back then, but I had the world of Avatar. I had interesting characters that looked as diverse as the world I live in, characters of different ages and backgrounds with various motives and world views, and male and female characters that didn’t feel the need to stick to stereotypes.
The series finale left me fulfilled yet heartbroken. What was I suppose to do without my beloved characters whom I had grown to love and learn from? Not only that, but I would be starting high school next year, and my friends in the real world were still non-existent. At some point I bought the Book One Collector’s Box Set, and through watching their special features I met the show’s creators: Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino. Two friends who had sat down and created this incredible world that I loved. I became fascinated by them, by their work and their creativity. I had ideas like that; I had worlds and characters in my head. It was through watching them that I learned perhaps my ideas had value, perhaps I could write them down and create something just as amazing. I discovered I wasn’t the only one in love with the Avatar world. I met others who were also fans of the show – people who are still my best friends today. I felt motivated to return to the show and discovered The Track Team, who composed the incredible music for the series. The creative team of Avatar helped me realize that I wanted to be a storyteller, and they helped inspire me to be creative and passionate about what I do.
Eventually, The Legend of Korra was announced. The Avatar world was back! The Legend of Korra wasn’t about the old Aang Gaang but it was the next best thing, and it never forgot the original world it came from.
I recall reading a quote by Bryan Konietzko that early on, some Nickelodeon execs were worried about backing an animated female-led action show. Even I was a little worried at first – not because she was a woman, I was quite excited to see another woman of colour – but because I thought nothing could ever live up to the standards of Avatar: The Last Airbender. In the end, The Legend of Korra didn’t really need to live up to its predecessor, it really did become its own show. Sure, we were in the same world, we still had bending and nations and Avatars, but this series spoke to a more modern time. The world had evolved; Republic City was a mixture of nations, a home of advancements in transportation and machinery. Everything was new but never felt strange because the show never forgot its roots. Agni Kais and Earth Rumble matches turned into pro-bending tournaments, Toph’s invention of metalbending became the very core of the city’s police force, lightning generation became the tool for power plants.
I learned to love The Legend of Korra just as I had with Avatar: The Last Airbender. I followed Korra, Mako, Bolin and Asami – the new Team Avatar – as they made their own journeys and arcs, always reminding us of the past team but never feeling like a rip-off. We had characters like Lin, Suyin, Kya, Tenzin and Bumi, who were all the children of the Gaang but were very much their own people. We even got a glimpse of the fate of our old team through flashbacks and episodes starring an elderly Katara, Toph or Zuko. The Gaang left their mark, but still made way for a new generation. Even characters like Varrick, Zhu Li, Kai, the airbender kids and the other Beifongs got their time in the spotlight. We were introduced to so many characters throughout the seasons and got to know them all, to see them grow and change.
Korra never had an Ozai, she didn’t have a single endgame that she was striving towards for the whole series. Instead she had several obstacles and adversaries that would challenge her in many different ways – provoke her, frustrate her, break her, terrify her. The gentle air monk that was Aang needed to learn how to be a powerful force to be reckoned with and be prepared to do what’s necessary. With Korra, we already knew she was fierce and ready for battle, and we instead spent the series watching as she learned to be spiritual, understanding, introspective and a peacekeeper who could resolve conflict with more than just violence. We got to see a new Avatar’s journey and live in that world for just a little bit longer.
And now it’s with a heavy heart that we see The Legend of Korra end. But we have 9 years of believable characters, powerful women, compelling storylines, beautiful art, epic action, imaginative concepts and mythology, spellbinding music, and some terrific writing. It’s been an incredible journey – both within the show and in the community of fans and artists that it has inspired. These shows meant everything to so many of us. The creative team of Avatar almost never missed their mark, and they ended the series with such grace that I couldn’t help but feel satisfied. We got another two years of this amazing world, and while I hate to see it go I think Bryan and Michael deserve a nice vacation.
I hear the spirit world is nice this time of year.