In just hours, the Avatar universe I have grown to deeply love will be closing its spirit portal to our world with the series finale of The Legend of Korra. To no surprise, I have already started to feel the pre-separation anxiety akin to what I experienced as the release date of the final Harry Potter novel neared. Despite several hefty road bumps the show had to deal with (the budget getting cut as well as the show being pulled off air to be released exclusively online), it was able to push out what I believe is the best season yet. There’s no doubt in my mind The Legend of Korra will go out with a bang, and will have all of its fan base feeling all the “feels.”
Korra has always been more than just a kid’s show to me, and this is not just because I was *technically* an adult when the show first came out. I still remember the first picture of Korra released, with her back turned to us and with Republic City, the 1920s-esque steampunk metropolis, in the background. You couldn’t see her face, but there was still a lot you could glean from that picture — she was brown-skinned, incredibly muscular, and her clothing and hairstyle made sense for an action-fantasy heroine. There was no unnecessary baring of the midriff, and she favored functional ponytails over flowing lochs that would have mystically fallen into place after kicking bad-guy ass. Even for me in my baby feminism stages, that was pretty impressive.
Oh yes, and she looked like me.
Having a woman star in an animated action series is a big deal, having a woman of color star in an animated action series is huge. The fact that Nickelodeon was skeptical about backing this show with a female lead because they thought that would limit the audience speaks to how groundbreaking it was. I lauded the fact that I finally had a character I could comfortably cosplay without people commenting that I wasn’t the right skin-tone for the costume (really? If y’all wanna complain, give me a larger pool to pick from). Especially after M. Night Shamalyan’s whitewashing of the Airbender franchise in his… erm… interpretation of The Last Airbender, we needed a Korra. We still need more Korras.
This is not to say that as a series, Korra didn’t have its issues. The first season had me on the fence with writers handing out deux es machinas like they were gift baskets, and the second season confused me with… more deux es machinas and an anti-climatic ending that I STILL can’t figure out (fairy Jinora? Giant blue Korra? Where were we??). I also firmly stand by the fact that there was NO place for rom-com drama and the whole mess with the Makorra in the first two seasons of that show (shippers, take a deep breath).
But, by the time we get into the third season, Legend of Korra seemed to have really settled into itself. Korra matured from a hotheaded, impatient, and at times grating character, into a calmer, complex woman who grew to see her Avatar role as more than just glowing eyes and glorified fighting. We saw Korra lay down her life for the preservation of a nation, and suffer incredible trauma that required years of endurance and humility to overcome. We saw the depth and complexity in the third season’s villain Zaheer that we wanted to see in the first season’s Amon.. Now, we have badass heroine going up against a badass villainess, whose coldness and tactical thinking are reminiscent of the fan-favorite Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender. The episodes for this season have just been getting better and better, and I can’t wait to see what the finale has in store.
Though I am sad that our journey with Korra is coming to an end, I appreciate the time we have had with her, and she will always have a special place in my heart. Avatar Korra, thank you for showing us that we don’t need to be slender and effeminate to be heroines, that we have room as women to be complex, multifaceted individuals who endure great mistakes as well as great triumphs, and as you learned on your Avatar journey — it’s not just about the fights we win, it’s about always striving to get back up.
Anjali is a writer and visual media enthusiast. As a child, she convinced herself that she was an alien adopted by a human family. Still not entirely sure of her home-world origins, she occasionally disappears into fictional universes created by herself and others as she quests for clues to her past. Follow her rants and musing on Twitter: @anjapatel