TV Show to Watch: Legend of Korra

Yesterday, I posted about Brave and how animated feature films need more female characters in leading roles.  Today, I want to highlight a TV Show that is truly extraordinary and exemplifies an equal ratio of male/female characters and also has females starring in strong, leading roles.  So let me tell you why The Legend of Korra is so fantastic:

First off, let me start by saying that I’m not someone who watches a lot of anime or reads a lot of manga.  I have an awareness of it because of my students, but it’s a very surface level awareness.  Some things I respect about Japanese animation is how they embrace characters of all ages, explore complex plots, and delve into human emotions.

Legend of Korra is a sequel series to Nickelodeon’s American attempt at a cartoon series in the style of Japanese anime.  The first series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, aired from 2005-2008, was a roaring success (9.0 rating on imdb.com) with high praise from both viewers and critics.  I started watching it because of my younger brother, and discovered that it was even more worth watching than Spongebob.  As great as the original animated Avatar series was, I believe Legend of Korra might be better.  Here’s why:

Plot
The plot is much more complex than your average animated show.  It deals with issues such as prejudice, rebellion, and corruption.  The premise of this series is that there is a revolution in Republic City that targets and threatens a certain population (benders) because the general people (non-benders) have long felt powerless and controlled.  As the plot thickens, we learn new characters who are actually corrupt within the structure of the government and city.  Sometimes I wonder how much of this show is going over the heads of a kid audience.

Characters
The biggest reason this show is awesome is the characters.  They each have distinct personalities and roles in the story.  The ratio of female and male characters is even, but, oh-my-lordy, the female characters ROCK.  Let me highlight three of them:

Korra

First, there’s Korra, the lead character.  She’s strong, fiesty, and tough.  She doesn’t let anyone tell her what to do, which sometimes causes her to make mistakes, but they are mistakes that she deals with herself.  She’s the essence of a strong leading lady.

Asami Sato

Then, there’s Asami Sato.
She drives fast cars.
And motorcycles.
And wears fashionable leather outfits and takes off her helmet and shakes out her long, luxurious hair.
She can fight/defend herself.
And did I mention she’s drop dead gorgeous?
She’s fabulous.

Lin Beifong

And finally there’s Lin Beifong.
She’s the Chief of Police for the entire freaking city.
The Chief of freaking Police.
She can also fly through the air, knock people out, and see through the ground/walls.
She is one tough chick with some serious integrity.



Animation
And finally, the animation is GORGEOUS.  Some scenes are actually breathtaking.  This is not the kind of animation you typically see in a TV show.  The quality is so high above everything else you see on TV, that just glancing at it, you should be able to see the difference.  The backgrounds often look like watercolor paintings.  Both city and landscape are beautiful.  Below are a few screenshots:

Oh wait, did I mention the series is steampunk?  Yup.  Airships, goggles, crazy gadgets, the whole deal.  It gives the show this fantastic edge and freshness that is so much fun.

If I did a good job and convinced you that you need to check this show out, some full episodes are currently streaming on Nick.com for free here.

I think the show would be easier to understand if you have the background from the original series Avatar: The Last Airbender, but if you don’t want to track down that series, you can read a summary here to give you a primer before Korra.  Mostly what you need to know is:

  • What is bending?  (Air-bending, water-bending, fire-bending, earth-bending)
  • What is the Avatar?  Why is the Avatar important?
If you can answer those two questions, then you’re set to watch Legend of Korra and enjoy!
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14 comments on “TV Show to Watch: Legend of Korra

  1. fakesteph says:

    I don't watch a lot of cartoons or tv in general, but I'm intrigued! I may have to check this one out!

  2. I hadn't heard of this…but I am aware of the Airbender show (though I haven't seen that either). Regardless, sounds like one awesome series and I'm glad the characters are kick-ass. Thanks for sharing the pictures…they really are beautiful animation.-Lauren

  3. LHughes says:

    I don't watch a lot of cartoons either. But this one is very fun and as well as complex ^_^

  4. LHughes says:

    I'm so glad there's a show with awesome girls on TV that isn't just a bunch of fluff!

  5. I love this post and agree with everything!! I didn't think I'd like Korra at all–and actually sort of thought I'd boycott (Initially, we thought it would be Aang and Katara's daughter, and I'm all about the chemistry between Katara and Zuko…), but I'm really enjoying it!! And I love what a strong role-model Korra is!

  6. LHughes says:

    Yay!!! I'm so glad you're a Korra fan too!!! ^_^Zuko was my FAVORITE character in the first series. I totally would have shipped Katara/Zuko.I'm going to be so sad when the first season ends this weekend. I feel like the show just started! 😦

  7. Lin <33333333333333333 ;A;I've been having some issues with Korra lately. Mainly, because it is like the "female version" of Avatar: The Last Airbender (and by this I mean, it has a female protagonist) I'm a little bit upset by the focus on the romance/love-triangle. Not that I don't LOVE THE ROMANCE because I do love me some romance, BUT I feel like there's much more of a focus on it in Korra than it was in ATLA. Maybe that's just because the writers realize that's what the watchers want. Or maybe it's instinctive for stories with woman as the lead character to have a leading man close at hand…

  8. This sounds great! And … steampunk? You've sold me!

  9. Aylee says:

    I've heard good things about this before now, but I had brushed it off because I hadn't seen Avatar yet, so good to know that I don't need to see that to get into this. The animation sure does look beautiful!

  10. LHughes says:

    I definitely think you're right that the romance is being more focused on in this series so far. I really hope it's not just because she's a girl. They did have a lot of romantic plots with Sokka…

  11. LHughes says:

    I ❤ steampunk!

  12. LHughes says:

    Avatar is a great series too, but I'm in love with Korra!

  13. I haven't watched much anime, but what I have watched, I've really loved. And I've heard Legend of Korra was really good from several sources, so I've added Avatar: The Last Airbender to my Netflix instant queue, and I want to start watching those so that once Korra goes on Netflix I'll be all caught up!

  14. Anneke says:

    I think it has more to do with Korra's age rather than her being a girl. In ATLA the characters were about 12-15 years old, while Korra is clearly 18-20 or maybe even older. Aang and crew are still very much children, and they got the first bit of romance and love in there, Sokka always in love, Aang and Katara dicovering being in love etc. Korra is more adult in some ways and more childish in others than Aang.

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