The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air (SEASON REVIEW)

After catching up on seasons one, two, and three of Avatar: The Last Airbender in quick succession I chose to give myself a break from the binge-watching. As was mentioned in a previous post, binge-watching Nickelodeon’s Avatar series is an incredibly easy task, one you may not even realize you’re accomplishing until you’ve finished the first season in under a week. But I had heard mixed reviews on the Avatar sequel series, The Legend of Korra. Naturally I didn’t want the series to taint the marvel’s I had witnessed from the original show and leave a bad taste in my mouth. But I chose to go all in this week, watching the entire first season. After all, it was the trailer for the third season of The Legend of Korra that got me to finally take the plunge and watch The Last Airbender in the first place. And whattaya know? I loved it.

Nostalgia heavy, action packed, and refreshingly new while still feeling like the same old show, The Legend of Korra is the sequel series every show dreams of having. And it’s no wonder they chose to move forward with this series, after the massive fanbase The Last Airbender has amassed, and the story they had yet to tell. After Aang, the Avatar of the original series, passes away, the Avatar spirit is born again into the body of young Korra, a girl from the Water tribe.

The scene of the world has changed. 80 years after Avatar Aang took down Fire Lord Ozai, technology has advanced to a point where it can realistically compete with the benders of the world. We are introduced to a new city, Republic City, in which Aang and friends helped unite the benders of the world with non-benders. Over time the city has become corrupted by mafiosos and other gangs. One rebel group, the Equalists, run by a terrorist leader named Amon threatens to force equality among benders and non-benders. The group claims that the source of all injustice is the oppression of the benders on those without such abilities, and that the world must be cleansed of their stain. It is revealed that Amon has the unique ability to remove someone else’s bending skills permanently, making him a threat on par (if not greater) than Ozai.

The animation. Oh my, the animation. Truly, The Legend of Korra outdid itself in every respect when it comes down to the beauty of the animation. An almost imperceptible mix of line art cartooning and cgi, no scene is presented poorly. The noir steampunk world 80 years post-The Last Airbender is one reminiscent of the 20s, 30s, and 40s Americana, but spiced up with the majestic culture of the ancient Chinese. Republic City itself borrows most from San Francisco, but also pulls samplings from other cities, like New York and Paris. This incredibly different world atmosphere is made real due to the level of intricacy the animation department went to achieve it. But really, when we talk about “animation” in a show like this, we can’t undersell the fighting. Cause wow. Each fight will knock your socks off. You thought that the creative team exhausted all the ways to possibly make bending a unique style of Kung fu? Well you thought wrong. Each fight is gorgeously lathered with slow-mo action, intense and thoughtful interpretation of elemental power, and pure awesome sauce. That’s not even mentioning that in this new world there’s a professional sport called Pro-Bending, which is one of those things you’d expect to get old really quick – but nah. Seriously a 10/10 in terms of animation.

If there’s anything not to love in this new series, it’s the fact that it’s so short in comparison to the original series. 12 episodes was but a generous sample of the glory The Last Airbender provided, seasonally. It detracted some from the necessary personal growth of the new #TeamAvatar – that team being Korra (duh), Mako (the group hunk and love interest), Bolin (the hunk’s brother, resident Sokka, and unlucky member of a love triangle), and Asami (the rich girl, who is also interested in said hunk). Did the love triangle(s) add to the story at all? Sort of? Well no, but they would’ve been welcome if they had room to fan out and breathe from the get go. But I did like the fast paced storytelling the 12 episodes necessitated – because of it we received very little filler, and a whole lot of fun.

One interesting note I’ll briefly touch upon. Avatar: The Last Airbender was the three season story arc of Avatar Aang learning to bend all four elements, each season mastering a new element. But he only started with knowing how to bend air. Instead of treading similar ground, Avatar Korra in this first book is fully capable of performing water, earth, and Firebending, but she cannot bend air. This is her journey to master that skill, to fully become the rightful Avatar whom she was born to be. I just thought that contrast was nicely done.

I mentioned nostalgia near the beginning of the review. Now, I know I am embarrassingly new to the Avatar fandom, and I can’t expect to fully comprehend the level of nostalgia those older fans who’ve grown up with the series feel when watching The Legend of Korra, but wow. Some of those cameos, and relatives, and nods really hit me. The descendants of the original Avatar team are all extremely well represented, and each does serious justice to their original counterparts. Unfortunately only Katara is alive from the original crew, but her presence and position as (essentially) the grandmother and hero to all new generations is endearing. Also I never “squee”… But did anyone else squee when they heard Prince Zuko’s voice coming from his grandson (appropriately titled) General Iroh?! C’mon, that was a total surprise for the fans if ever there were one.

In my opinion, the most remarkable thing about The Legend of Korra is that it has matured with its audience. No longer a show about kids saving the world, it’s a show about teens/young adults saving the world. The stakes are higher, the plot is deeper, and there are real casualties along the way. To mask this under the guise of it being a show for kids is astounding to me. It just goes to show how far reaching the series appeal is, with a gravitas that rivals even it’s original. Is it bad that I might actually be enjoying it more than The Last Airbender? Does that make my opinion officially moot? I don’t really care, because I’ve found my new show! 🙂

9 thoughts on “The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air (SEASON REVIEW)

  1. Love how you have reviewed the seasons of Avatar in here!
    I loved Avatar ^^ and Korra is great ^^ but what I didn’t like about Korra was it’s lack in humour. Avatar was funny even when serious we had Sokka to lighten the mood. With Korra, it’s getting kind of depressing.


  2. Book 1 of Kora is extraordinary!
    The fact that they are aiming the series at an older demographic is a great strategy to keep their loyal fans from the Avatar Series (who would be young adults now) and dwell into more mature subject matter. Aman’s revolution is similar to world events of the time such as the Arab spring, yet touch on such historical moments that involve ethnic cleansing from the Holocaust to the Bosnian conflict . Although there are eye-rolling moments in this book where the teenage love triangles echo the styles of Dawson’s creek and Twilight I didn’t mind them so much. I suppose it relates to the young love problems that their demographic can relate to.

    I suggest you get right at it and watch Book 2:Spirits and Book 3:Change.
    Without spreading an spoiler alerts I will let you know the following:

    Book 2: Very “interesting” (lack of a better word) storyline, however it lacked the character development that i enjoyed in Book 1. Lets just say, I was not impressed with the antagonist. What I felt it lacked in Character development it made up for in back story. This book really helped define the history of the series.

    Book3: One of my favorite books in all of the Airbender series! The antagonist in this book rivals the development that matches the great villains such as Azula and Amon. The themes in this book resonate with anyone that is intrigued by a the notion of a 2nd renaissance. Among all the books in this franchise this book leaves the viewer in great anticipating for the nest book in the series (book 4). Leaving it open-ended is an understatement.

    I somehow believe the writers are leaving us clues for a 3rd series of this franchise that involves Zuko. The subtle hints found through out this series point me in that direction. Let me know what you think?

    I believe there are some issues with production of book 4 between the producers of the show and nickelodeon. The last few episodes of Book 3 were not shown on television and rather streamed online. I really hope they get it all sorted out, I would be very disappointed if they don’t conclude this story.

    Geek lock your self in a room and run through the next 2 books. looking forward to your reviews. Also let me know what you think of the antagonists – same view as me?


    1. Currently halfway through book two. It’s definitely “interesting”. I loved the “Beginnings” two parter. Thought they really did that excellently. Not even sure I know who/what the antagonist is for this season, so I agree there.

      That would be interesting if they did a third series, surrounding Zuko. I’d watch it definitely. He was one of the best characters either shows produced.

      As far as Nick and the Avatar team go, apparently there wasn’t any bad blood between them. Nickelodeon is trying to get more traffic on their webseries, and want Legend of Korra to headline that lineup, which is what I’ve heard. That’s what they’re telling us anyway. I hope it doesn’t effect quality, or their goal. I’m loving this too much.


  3. Brace yourself for season two. It really takes patience to get through the first half. But the best episode of the entire avatar series is in that season. It’s called beginnings.


    1. Hmm. Well that’s definitely exciting to hear. Someone brought that to my attention in one of my previous reviews (it may have been you actually). I’m looking forward to it. Will commence bracing procedures.


  4. I was actually not such a big fan of Korea from the get-go, but season 2 of Legend of Korra was phenomenal IMO. The animation for the series is top notch (and omg the developing world!!) and I’d also give it a 10/10 on that alone.

    I think I squeed when the cabbage man showed up, tbh. But since Zuko’s been my favorite character in Last Airbender, I naturally flailed when the voice actor came in as Iroh.

    (Wait til you get to season 2. Nostalgia to the max!)


  5. I’m so happy you finally got around to this series! I agree 100% with everything you said. What makes it a great sequel is that it doesn’t try to do what The Last Airbender did but rather expand on it. My only qualm with this season is the way she masters airbending towards the end. But I can easily look past that because of the beautiful animation and engaging story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, that should’ve been left open for the next season. Let her experiment solely with air bending for a tad, and then get her abilities back.


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