Showing up Late to the “Avatar” Party

I am something of a late convert to the Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra fandom. I’ve known about Avatar for years, and I did actually start watching it at one point in college (I think I got through maybe Book I on Netflix), but I never finished it. And I had enough friends who were Avatar fans that I vaguely knew about Legend of Korra when it started, but all I really knew was that it was in the same universe as Avatar, but with a girl Avatar, which I thought was cool, but again, I didn’t really know much about it. I feel like at this point I should include an apology to all of the people who repeatedly told me I would love this show. You were all correct.

The world of Avatar (Source)
The world of Avatar (Source)

Oh boy – where do I begin with this newfound love? First of all, there’s something strangely relaxing about watching a show that you know is made for children, where no one ever seems to get seriously injured or die (except from old age). Maybe it’s the influence of watching too much Game of Thrones, but it’s nice to watch a show for once where I am not terrified that my favorite character is going to die. It’s also been particularly fun in watching Korra to be able to hear how some characters’ stories continued past the end of Avatar, even if it’s sometimes in bits and pieces. I’ll admit it’s a little disappointing in terms of diversity that everyone seemed to end up happily and heterosexually paired off, but that is what allows Korra to include so many fun descendants who take after their parents, so I’ll let it slide.

(Source)
(Source)

I love the ways that the two shows are very different from each other, but both very good. Avatar is more about a bunch of kids trying to save the world, when they would be much happier just getting to be kids. Aang is twelve when Avatar begins, and Katara and Sokka are only a few years older. Avatar felt like in some ways it was about growing up faster than you should need to, because the world you’re living in demands it, and that is a powerful story. But Korra is different – and not just by nature of the fact that Korra herself is older than Aang and company.

(Source)
(Source)

Korra starts with our heroine already seventeen, and having mastered three of the four elements. She thinks she is ready to take on the world, and frustrated that airbending doesn’t come to her as easily as the other three elements did. Arriving in Republic City, however, she becomes aware of just how much of the world she has been protected from, training under the protection of the White Lotus. While Korra is still about growing up at times, it’s also about taking ownership of the ways you have already grown up. Korra fights to stay in Republic City, to train with Tenzin now rather than later. Korra’s world is not on the verge of chaos like it was for Aang, but as I can tell from the finale of Book Two – it is a world very much in flux, and Korra has to figure out what her role is. I’m excited to finish Korra’s story and see just how much she grows by the end.

If you are like me and have spent years being on the fence about watching either of these shows, I highly recommend that you hop off that fence and sit yourself down in front of a screen to watch them. Amazon Prime currently has all of Avatar and the first two books of Korra available. Or better yet, find a friend who owns the DVDs and make a weekly event out of it! You won’t regret it. I certainly don’t.

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