It’s my bedtime when I’m starting this, so I’m sorry it won’t be long, but for the 10th January (LJ | DW) shoroko asked for my thoughts on Avatar: The Last Airbender / the Legend of Korra, which I really don’t know if I can do justice this late, but I will, because I was asked to!
Although I will say, it is hard at the best of times for me to give thoughts on Avatar that don’t amount to incoherent hand flaps and I love this franchise so muuuuuuch, because that’s not fair. Neither cartoon is perfect. They both have flaws. And the one I am most personally attached to is possibly the more flawed, and sometimes I want to hit them, if it were possible to hit cartoons. But then I realize how much I love them and I hide from the internet’s right and just criticism of them both,
But I love Avatar, a lot. A lot.
I love Aang, because he is excitable and distractable and incurably optimistic. I love Korra because she is self confident and headstrong and rushes straight in without think. I love that both Avatar shows are about children with great power and even greater responsibilities, who have to live up to the image the world holds up to them. Aang evades and Korra barges in, and both are scared and pushed around, and both turn around to the world and decide that no, actually I’m going to do things my way.
Aang has a counterpoint in his one time enemy turned friend Zuko, who also has to deal with the world’s expectations, and struggles to find his own path and make his own decisions when faced with the burden of a family’s expectations. Korra has… a boyfriend who is a jerk and who gets a weird plot that should be about a girl who has to live up to the expectations given to her by her social status, her financial power and her political leanings, but instead is all about… well, Some Guy. This is less interesting. But hey, can’t have ladies hogging the storylines, right? Everyone knows men can’t pay attention to women.
I love the world building – I love the idea of a world built around four elements, I love that the powers are tied into actual real martial arts and there’s a constant spirituality and it all looks and feels so constant, even when the two shows are separated by 70 years.
I love the supporting characters – even though I think the last season focused a little too much on the wrong characters. I love the way it manages to be a show centred on young people in a world run by adults, without making the young people any less important.
I really like the themes of growing into power in a world that’s real, complicated, and changing. Of changing the world and being changed by it. Of facing the world’s expectations and redefining those expectations to suit your path. And the fact that it’s consistently funny, and always pretty to look at – well, that’s a bonus.
Aaaaand now it’s even later and I want to write MORE. But it’s been a long day at the museum and… bedtime.
(I love Avataaaaaaaaaaaar.)