Earth. Fire. Air. Water. Sexuality? The Legend of Korra fans had a crazy 2014 after Nickelodeon initially aired much of the show online, with the fourth (and final) season premiering only two months after the conclusion of the third. Seasons 3 and 4 had their strengths, but it was the final scene that really launched this show into an entirely new plane of appreciation and turned it into a standard for children’s shows.
As the series ended, Korra and Asami entered the spirit realm, hands entwined in one another’s. If you haven’t heard the news, “Korrasami,” as it’s affectionately touted among fans, is indeed canon, and was confirmed officially by the creators days after airing. I just want to say how amazing this decision is! Like most of us, I’ve been watching cartoons for decades, and I have never, ever seen anything as great as this happen. Sure, in Rocko’s Modern Life there were jokes about homosexuality, hidden or blatant, and some anime have touched on the subject. Though anime reaches a variety of audiences and is generally more progressive, few kids’ programs focus on relationships at all. Korra does reach a larger, older age group, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t commend its approach to sexuality, specifically non-heterosexuality.
Showcasing bisexuality in what is essentially a kids’ show is remarkable. Sexuality in general is too limited in scope on most kids’ programming, a medium where having characters kiss can cause a hullabaloo. In Korra, however, many romances were developed and sustained. Relationships are incredible things, and they can help people in amazing ways, but society likes to push the idea that relationships are a requirement and must happen to achieve happiness in one’s life. Korra shows us that relationships are great and can provide amazing feelings and moments one can’t experience alone, but offers the idea that personal space and alone time are also important. Korra and Mako break up, get back together, and continue the cycle for most of the first two books, and while some of it is groan-inducing, they’re still handled better than most kids shows.
Beyond romance, The Legend of Korra is a vital piece of entertainment that should be seen, not just as a stellar kids’ show (because it’s much, much more than that), but also because of its ideas and implementations of modern day ideals. It’s not reliant on dated, laughable scenarios we’ve seen a thousand times before. It may not have the strong overall story like its predecessor, Avatar: The Last Airbender, but its finishing touches and impact on the landscape of similar shows is refreshing.
In a lot of discussions and reviews of the series I’ve seen since the finale, the term “subversive” is thrown around a lot. I could easily run through a list of synonyms for that term, but it’s actually the perfect word for The Legend of Korra: it’s a subversive show, and one that nearly anyone will like. If you need diversity, want great characters, and can tolerate a bevy of adult situations, then The Legend of Korra needs to be in your life. The overarching Avatar franchise may be on ice currently, but I certainly wouldn’t count it out for long. Over the past ten years, the series has broadened the idea of what constitutes kids’ shows and has paved the way for similar programming. Check out Avatar and Korra. You owe it to the kid-at-heart inside you to do so.