A:TLA was hugely influential for me. I was in my late teens when I first watched A:TLA and was just graduating from high school. I decided then that I wanted to be a writer. The things I value most in a narrative were informed by the show. Of course the show wasn’t perfect, but it had many, many fantastic qualities. It had detailed world building, great continuity, nuanced characterisation and wonderfully done character development. For the most part, it explored serious issues in a thoughtful manner and could be very, but was ultimately a hopeful narrative.
And Legend of Korra … does the opposite of pretty much all those things. The shows handling of social issues and its characters (especially its lady characters) is extremely incompetent and problematic. Instead of creating poignant, well developed relationships of all kinds, the story gets bogged down in rushed plot points and pointless love triangles. I now feel embarrassed to say that I looked up to Bryke as writers. They’ve ruined the world they created through their horrible writing. LOK has made is extremely apparent that they weren’t responsible for the overall amazingly written A:TLA. It was Aaron and Elizabeth, Giancarlo Volpe and other writers that responsible for that.
I still have the narratives I found after A:TLA, such as Princess Tutu and the FMA manga and Brotherhood. They never betrayed me, and are now my forever narratives.
Yeah, it’s…not good. I fucking loved ATLA and I really wanted to love TLOK, but it is just not very good. The characters are flat and boring, and they keep making stupid mistakes that they never learn from or make up for, and I’m not sure if any of them even like each other. The plot is unfocused and poorly conceived. The Spirit World (while I still love the creature designs) has become much less interesting with every new element they add to it.
It is just
same uggggh. me and strangeandamazing are like the same person. But seriously it DOESN’T FEEL LIKE KORRA, MAKO, BOLIN, and ASAMI are even friends. like whhhhhy. Nobody has any development.
YEAH THAT’S THE PART THAT REALLY KILLS ME, especially considering how the relationships and the characters in ATLA were fucking precious. Like, Aang was friendly to everybody and clearly head-over-heels in love with Katara since the first episode, and he and Sokka goofed around together. Sokka and Katara bickered like regular siblings but were clearly very close, and Zuko and Azula had a terrible terrifying sibling relationship that made perfect sense once we saw how they grew up. And then Toph joined and everybody fought for a while (except for Sokka who just hung back and rolled his eyes), but you could totally see where everyone was coming from and their issues were resolved in ways that made sense.
Right now I’m just thinking about how just the episode The Chase handled everything so much better than TLOK. It had a coherent internal plot that worked with the overarching plot: the characters are travelling and on the run from the Fire Nation; Azula and co. are terrifying and so relentless that the protagonists can’t get any sleep; everyone’s patience becomes more and more strained the longer they stay awake until finally they all split apart; in their own ways they realized that everyone had been at fault and eventually came back together and fought against Azula. It’s not all that complicated, but it had a place in the narrative (fighting the Fire Nation, introducing Azula to the protagonists, showing them travelling). But it also made plenty of time for tons of character development. At the very beginning Katara tries to get Toph to help the group, who misunderstands and thinks that Katara’s offering to help Toph and so refuses - ending up with two (awesome female!) characters with different but totally understandable perspectives clashing over something simple. And that misunderstanding escalates until they’re both ready to murder each other, and Toph manages to hit Aang’s rage button so even he starts to argue with her (that button being of course anything tied to the Air Nomads - especially Appa - which is an important character trait that is demonstrated consistently from their first visit to an Air Temple in season 1 and through all of the later seasons).
And then of course there’s that scene where Toph meets Iroh, and these characters who would have been enemies if they’d met a season before sit down and have some tea together. Those two entirely different characters (a young girl and an old man from different cultures, one who the audience knows to be a hothead and the other possibly the chillest man on the Avatar-planet) very quickly reveal a great deal of character depth in their motivations and fears through simple interaction with each other. And that one conversation alone gave the audience a better understanding of the characters than two and a half seasons of The Legend of Korra has managed to do with any of its characters.
Of course, after the character development, The Chase still had time for an incredibly well-choreographed three-way fight scene and end on a heart-wrenching cliff hanger.
WHERE IS ANYTHING RESEMBLING THIS IN KORRA. I mean, Mako and Bolin are brothers; they must have…some sort of relationship, right? But it never shows in the way they interact. And Korra and Asami are…friends? rivals? Are they both still aware that the other exists? It’s really hard to tell. Korra and Mako spent a lot of time arguing with each other, but they must have liked each other a little? I think? It never really seemed like they cared about each other all that much, but the romantic issues are some of the worst parts of the show, so I doubt that anyone was sad to see them break up. And then the plot…I can’t write about the plot. I don’t know what the fuck is the deal with the “Harmonic Convergence,” or why we’re supposed to pretend that that has anything to do with Varrick or Future Industries. The show right now is two poorly-conceived plots smooshed together, and I don’t care about either of them.
That was a excellent summary of why The Chase is a great example of how much better one episode of A:TLA handled its characters, relationships and plot than all of TLOK has.
And it reminds of how better the relationship with Toph and Katara was handled than the relationship between Korra and Asami. Toph was a tomboy like Korra, and she didn’t initially click with the more traditionally feminine girl in the group either. But unlike Korra, Toph’s differences with Katara came from her clashing perspectives and misunderstanding, rather than her being ‘too girly.’ And Katara and Toph’s relationship was further developed after that point, and not pretty much left to the wayside Korra and Asami’s. Also, there was never love triangle.
It is so depressing. I wanted to Asami get an arc where she found a new family with Korra, Mako and Bolin. And when she clashed with the group, it would have been over her perspective as a non-bender. She would try to get the benders to consider how the Equalists have a point. And Korra would try to help the non-benders gain more rights in society.
We also could have had Mako and Bolin form a family unit outside of each other. They would have found other people in their lives they could rely on as family while still having a close brotherly relationship. And Korra could have learned how to better do her job as the Avatar, as I mentioned before with Korra and Asami. She would learn about the world outside where she grew up, and learn empathy for non-benders and people living in poverty. But that was all glossed over for the sake of love triangles and multiple, convoluted plot points.
In A:TLA, the characters and relationships really were precious! Found families were such a huge theme. The characters had complex, individual relationships with each other that helped make each character feel well- rounded. But in Legend of Korra, many of the characters act like complete assholes to one another and don’t get along most of the time.
alll of this