Being a fan of Japanese anime, I rarely watch American cartoons. This is both because I am usually turned off by their, well, cartoony and unrealistic art style, plus the fact that on average the stories are just less interesting to me. I’ll admit to a major bias here, which probably came about because I watched hundreds of hours of western-style cartoons when I was young and got tired of them.
The other day in the bookstore my eyes caught sight of a thick hardcover book with a beautifully drawn cover. I flipped through it and was surprised by the quality of the art, despite the fact it had some american influences, especially in the character design. It so happens this was one of the art books for the Nickelodeon series The Legend of Korra, which ran several seasons from early 2012 to the end of 2014.
Initially I decided to try watching the first episode because it was free on Amazon Prime with my subscription. I was really impressed by what I saw, with a well-crafted world, excellent visuals, music, as well as voice acting. Unexpectedly, my 4-year old son also really enjoyed it, and after a few episodes he was asking for more after each one ended, despite the fact that the series was clearly made for an older audience, probably late teens. There is a lot of fighting and physical violence, though very rarely do characters die and there is rarely, if ever, any blood.
So my son and I really got into this series and continued watching it little by little, and a few months later we have finally finished all the episodes. I’m not going to go into a detailed review of the storylines and what I liked or disliked about the series. But I will say that despite some weak points, the series as a whole was definitely worth watching.
At this point you may be wondering why I am writing about this American-made cartoon on a blog about Japanese things. The reason is that this series has there are many influences from Asian cultures, for example the setting has many aspects of China, and there are characters who have Japanese-sounding names so are probably supposed to be Japanese. However, more so than the those are the many nods to Japanese animation in terms of the art style employed. Some of this may be because the art was done by two Asian studios, Korean and Japanese. I’m not sure if it was purposeful or not, but several parts reminded me of scenes from Ghibli movies, which I generally consider a good thing.
If you considering seeing this series, it’s probably better if you start with it’s precursor, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, which I’ve also heard was pretty good. Seeing them out of order isn’t ideal since some parts of the story from Avatar are revealed in The Legend of Korra. There was a live action movie about the The Last Airbender, but I’d heard many horrible things about it, so it’s probably best to stay to the source material instead.
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Avatar: Why Legend of Korra Didn't Work as Well as Airbender
After the overwhelmingly positive reception of Avatar: The Last Airbender, a follow-up series set in the same world was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, The Legend of Korra, while certainly not unpopular, failed to live up to fan expectations. "It's good but not as good as Airbender" is about the highest praise generally bestowed upon the sequel. Struggling to toe the line between having its own identity and keeping the charm of the original series, Legend of Korra ultimately failed to do either one very well.
Understandably, the creators felt Korra should be as different from Aang as possible. In an attempt to not be repetitive, this new Avatar is introduced having already mastered the elements that Airbender had spent three seasons on. If Airbender is about a kid who doesn't want to be the Avatar, then Korra had to be about the Avatar who doesn't want to be a kid.
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The Legend of Korra's Missteps
The downside of having Korra's journey begin with Water, Earth and Firebending already under her belt is that the protagonist is overpowered from the start. Legend of Korra chose to deal with its too-powerful hero by nerfing her several times throughout the story. She has her bending taken away, mercury poisoning saps her strength and she is inexplicably unable to best a Metalbender in combat. The brash young fighter's consistent futility in battle hurts her credibility as the Avatar, considering how powerful she's meant to be as a master of all the Elements.
Legend of Korra also spends too much of its time winking at fans of The Last Airbender. Appearances of elderly versions of Katara, Zuko, and Toph come off more as "remember how great the first show was?" rather than being vital to the plot. Aang's legacy as a parent is perhaps the biggest trigger for fans in all of Korra. The idea that he was not the best father is too rich of a storyline to only be briefly discussed. If the sequel is going to spend so much time on the lives of Airbender's characters, fans will begin to wonder why the creators didn’t just make more Airbender instead of Korra.
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The cast of Legend of Korra simply don't compare to their predecessors. Bolin is actually too similar: he is basically Sokka copy-pasted into an Earthbender. Korra's animal partner, Naga, doesn't have much of a personality, while Appa was so expressive that he got his own absolutely heart-wrenching episode. Whether it's fair to say or not, Legend of Korra has no character like Zuko. Generally considered one of the greatest redemption arcs ever written, Korra lacks that character whose journey enraptures the entire audience.
RELATED: Avatar: How Amon's Bending-Removal Technique Actually Works
In Defense of Legend of Korra
To its credit and benefit, Korra was certainly a more mature series. Korra had to face down an anti-Bending revolution, save the Spirit World from evil incarnate, survive a group of extremists trying to end the Avatar cycle, and stop an imperialist Earth Kingdom conqueror. Meanwhile, Aang just had to train to eventually beat up an evil guy. Korra surely suffered much more than Aang did, having to save the world multiple times while he only had to do it once.
If the story of Legend of Korra feels like it starts and stops a few times, that's because it does. Out of four seasons, only Season 3 was produced with confirmation that there would be a following season. This means the finales of Seasons 1 and 2 also needed to serve as satisfying series finales, given the possibility the show would not continue. The result was an uneven pace and some plot points that feel slightly forced.
None of this is to say that Legend of Korra is a bad series, in fact it might actually be a great one. Unfortunately, the legacy of Avatar: The Last Airbender is too much to live up to. From its iconic cast, incredibly satisfying character arcs, and brilliant world-building, Airbender is a stunning achievement in storytelling. Tasked with attempting to catch lightning in a bottle a second time, The Legend of Korra simply had too tall of an order from the start.
KEEP READING: Avatar the Last Airbender: A Guide to the Graphic Novels
How the Forgotten Legend of Super Saiyan 5 'Goku' Broke the Hearts of Dragon Ball FansAbout The Author
Ryan is an enthusiastic fan of the movie and entertainment industry, particularly interested in the creative process. Some people need a white noise machine to relax at night, Ryan needs an audio commentary. Making a living by talking about the movies and shows he loves is his dream. You can find him complaining about Rise of Skywalker on Twitter as @RickeySpanish because even his Twitter handle is an American Dad reference.
The Legend of Korra
American animated television series
For the video game and comic books, see The Legend of Korra (video game) and The Legend of Korra (comics).
The Legend of Korra (also known as Avatar: The Legend of Korra) is an American animated television series created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko for Nickelodeon. A spin-off of DiMartino and Konietzko's previous series Avatar: The Last Airbender, which aired from 2005 to 2008, the series is animated in a style strongly influenced by anime. The Legend of Korra ran for 52 episodes ("chapters"), separated into four seasons ("books"), from April 14, 2012, to December 19, 2014. It has been continued as a comics series.
As with its predecessor, the series is set in a fictional universe in which certain people can manipulate, or "bend", one of the four elements: water, earth, fire, or air. Only one individual, the "Avatar", can bend all four elements, and is responsible for maintaining balance in the world. The series follows Avatar Korra, the successor and reincarnation of Aang from the previous series, as she faces political and spiritual unrest in a modernizing world.
The main characters are voiced by Janet Varney, Seychelle Gabriel, David Faustino, P. J. Byrne, J. K. Simmons and Mindy Sterling, and supporting voice actors include Aubrey Plaza, John Michael Higgins, Kiernan Shipka, Lisa Edelstein, Steve Blum, Eva Marie Saint, Henry Rollins, Anne Heche and Zelda Williams. Several people involved in the creation of Avatar: The Last Airbender (such as designer Joaquim Dos Santos, writer Tim Hedrick and composers Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn) returned to work on The Legend of Korra.
Like its predecessor, The Legend of Korra received critical acclaim. The series has been lauded for its writing and production values, and has been nominated for and won awards such as the Annie Awards, a Daytime Emmy Award, and a Gracie Award. The series was also praised for addressing sociopolitical issues such as social unrest and terrorism, as well as for going beyond the established boundaries of youth entertainment with respect to issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation. The series' final scene, intended to depict the beginning of a same-sex romance between Korra and Asami Sato, was unprecedented at the time and has been credited with paving the way for LGBT representation in children's television programming.
Main article: List of The Legend of Korra episodes
The Legend of Korra was initially conceived as a twelve-episode miniseries. Nickelodeon declined the creators' pitch for an Avatar: The Last Airbender follow-up animated movie based on what then became the three-part comics The Promise, The Search and The Rift, choosing instead to expand Korra to 26 episodes. The series was expanded further in July 2012 to 52 episodes. These episodes are grouped into four separate seasons ("Books") composed of twelve to fourteen episodes ("Chapters") each, with each season telling a stand-alone story. Beginning with episode 9 of season 3, new episodes were first distributed through the Internet rather than broadcast. The Legend of Korra concluded with the fourth season.
See also: Avatar: The Last Airbender series overview
The Legend of Korra is set in the fictional world of Avatar: The Last Airbender, 70 years after the events of that series. The people of the world belong to four nations: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. The distinguishing element of the series is "bending", the ability of some people to telekinetically manipulate the classical element associated with their nation (water, earth, fire, or air). Bending is carried out by spiritual and physical exercises, portrayed as similar to Chinese martial arts. As a result of a genocide in the series's backstory, there is only one living family of airbenders at the time of the series.
Only one person, the "Avatar", can bend all four elements. Cyclically reincarnating among the world's four nations, the Avatar maintains peace and balance in the world. The Legend of Korra focuses on Avatar Korra, a seventeen-year-old girl from the Southern Water Tribe and the successor of Avatar Aang from The Last Airbender.
The first season is mostly set in Republic City, the capital of the United Republic of Nations, a new multicultural sovereign state founded by Avatar Aang after the end of The Last Airbender. The 1920s-inspired metropolis is described as "if Manhattan had happened in Asia" by the series' creators, and its residents are united by their passion for "pro-bending", a spectator sport in which two teams composed of an earthbender, waterbender, and firebender throw each other out of a ring using bending techniques. Rapid technological growth has displaced the spirituality of bending, and what was considered a renowned martial art in Avatar: The Last Airbender is now commonplace, with benders in Republic City using their abilities to commit crime, compete in spectator sports, and fulfill everyday jobs. The second season adds the southern polar region, home of the Southern Water Tribe, as a main setting in addition to Republic City, while the third and fourth seasons take place largely in the Earth Kingdom.
The first season, Book One: Air, sees Korra move to Republic City to learn airbending from Tenzin, Avatar Aang's son. She joins a pro-bending team alongside the brothers Bolin and Mako, and befriends Asami Sato, heiress to a leading engineering corporation. The ambitious politician Tarrlok enlists Korra to fight the anti-bender uprising of the "Equalists", led by the masked Amon, who strips benders of their abilities. Korra and her friends, aided by police chief Lin Beifong, unmask Amon as a waterbender himself and Tarrlok's brother, ending the Equalists' coup.
In the second season, Book Two: Spirits, Korra's uncle Unalaq, chief of the Northern Water Tribe, seizes power in the southern tribe. While Korra's friends seek support against Unalaq, Korra learns of the first Avatar, Wan, who fused his soul with the spirit of light, Raava, to imprison Vaatu, the spirit of darkness. Unalaq frees Vaatu during the Harmonic Convergence, a decamillennial alignment of planets, and unites with him to become a dark Avatar. After defeating Unalaq, Korra chooses to leave open the portals between the material world and the spirit world, allowing a new coexistence of spirits and humans.
The third season, Book Three: Change, begins as nonbenders begin developing airbending powers as a result of Harmonic Convergence, and Tenzin, Korra, and her friends attempt to recruit them to re-establish the extinct Air Nomads. One new airbender is Zaheer, the leader of the anarchist Red Lotus society. The Red Lotus assassinates the Earth Queen, throwing her kingdom into chaos, and captures Korra to attempt to kill her and end the Avatar cycle. They are defeated by Korra's friends and the new airbenders, but Korra is severely injured and psychologically traumatized.
The final season, Book Four: Balance, takes place three years later. Korra slowly recovers from her mental and physical trauma. The metalbender Kuvira, assigned to reunite the fractured Earth Kingdom, declares herself head of the new, authoritarian "Earth Empire". Kuvira builds a spirit-powered superweapon and attempts to conquer Republic City. When Korra and her friends destroy the weapon, defeating Kuvira, the blast creates another portal to the Spirit World. The series ends with the prospect of democracy for the former Earth Kingdom, as Korra and Asami leave together for a vacation in the spirit world.
Cast and characters
Main article: List of Avatar: The Last Airbender characters
Korra (Janet Varney) is the series' 17-year-old "headstrong and rebellious" protagonist, and Aang's reincarnation as the Avatar. Her transformation "from brash warrior to a spiritual being", according to DiMartino, is a principal theme of the series. The character was inspired by Bryan Konietzko's "pretty tough" sister, and by female MMA fighters, notably Gina Carano.
The series focuses on Korra and her friends, sometimes called "Team Avatar": the bending brothers Mako and Bolin, and the non-bender Asami. Mako (David Faustino), the older brother, is a firebender described as "dark and brooding" The character was named after the late Mako Iwamatsu, the voice actor for Iroh in the first two seasons of the original series. His younger brother Bolin (P. J. Byrne) is an earthbender described as lighthearted, humorous, and "always [having] a lady on his arm". Asami Sato (Seychelle Gabriel), the only non-bender among the leading characters, is the daughter of the wealthy industrialist Hiroshi Sato.
The other main characters are the airbending master Tenzin, one of Aang's grown children (J. K. Simmons). Tenzin's family include his wife Pema (Maria Bamford) and their children Jinora (Kiernan Shipka), Ikki (Darcy Rose Byrnes), Meelo (Logan Wells), and Rohan. Jinora is calm and an avid reader. She is an airbender and joins the main cast since season 2; Ikki is described as "fun, crazy, and a fast talker"; Meelo is hyperactive; and Rohan is born during the third-to-last episode of Book One; Republic City police chief Lin Beifong (Mindy Sterling) and Korra's animal friends Naga and Pabu (both Dee Bradley Baker, the voice of a number of animals including Appa and Momo in the original series). Pabu was inspired by Futa, a famous standing Japanese red panda.Jeff Bennett as the voice for Shiro Shinobi, fast-talking probending match announcer in Book One. He also does the voice-overs for the short recaps during the opening sequence of each episode.
The romantic interests of Korra and her companions are less in the foreground than in Avatar, and feature mainly in the first two seasons. In Book One, Bolin pines for Korra, who is interested in Mako, who dates Asami. By the end of the season, Mako has broken up with Asami and entered a relationship with Korra. This ends around the end of Book Two, during which Bolin suffers from an abusive relationship with the waterbender Eska. In the fourth season, Bolin dates the airbender Opal, while Asami and Korra become closer friends. The series' final scene indicates a romantic connection between them. Mike DiMartino wrote that the scene "symbolizes their evolution from being friends to being a couple". They both are in a relationship in comics.
Book One: Air features two main adversaries for Korra: the Equalists' masked leader Amon (Steve Blum) who has the power to remove a person's bending-powers, and the ambitious, charismatic politician Tarrlok (Dee Bradley Baker), who resorts to increasingly repressive methods against the Equalists. Tenzin's parents Katara (Eva Marie Saint), and Avatar Aang (D. B. Sweeney), main characters of the Avatar: The Last Airbender series, also made recurring appearances, along Chris Hardwick and Kate Higgins voiced Sokka and Toph Beifong, also made guest appearances. Amon's lieutenant is voiced by Lance Henriksen, and Asami's father Hiroshi Sato by Daniel Dae Kim. Sato's character, the self-made founder of Future Industries, was inspired by Theodore Roosevelt and by the Japanese industrialists Keita Goto and Iwasaki Yatarō.Richard Epcar as the voice for Saikhan, captain of the Republic City Metalbending Police Force. Both Amon and Tarrlok are identified as the sons of mob boss Yakone (Clancy Brown). Korra is also supported by General Iroh (Dante Basco, who voiced Zuko in the original series), a member of the United Forces who is described as "a swashbuckling hero-type guy". He is named after Iroh, Zuko's uncle in the original series.
Book Two: Spirits features Tenzin's and Korra's families, including Tenzin's elder siblings Kya (Lisa Edelstein) and Bumi (Richard Riehle) as well as Korra's father Tonraq (James Remar) and mother Senna (Alex McKenna). Book 2 also introduces John Michael Higgins as the corrupt businessman and inventor Varrick, with Stephanie Sheh voicing his assistant Zhu Li, along with Korra's uncle Unalaq (Adrian LaTourelle), aided by his twin children Desna (Aaron Himelstein) and Eska (Aubrey Plaza), and Vaatu (Jonathan Adams), the spirit of disorder. Spencer Garrett joined the cast as the voice for Raiko, the president of the United Republic. The season also explains the Avatar mythos though the first Avatar Wan (Steven Yeun) and Vaatu's polar opposite Raava (April Stewart). Making a few appearances in Books Two and Three, Greg Baldwin reprises Iroh from the previous series. Set six months after the events of the first season, Book Two: Spirits sees Mako as a police officer, Asami in charge of Future Industries, and Bolin leading a new pro-bending team with little success.
The anarchist antagonists introduced in Book Three: Change, the Red Lotus, comprise the new airbender Zaheer (Henry Rollins), the armless waterbender Ming-Hua (Grey DeLisle, who previously voiced a dark spirit), the combustionbender P'Li (Kristy Wu), and the lavabender Ghazan (Peter Giles). Supporting characters include the Earth Queen Hou-Ting (Jayne Taini), the retired Fire Lord Zuko (Bruce Davison), Lin's half-sister Suyin Beifong (Anne Heche), Suyin's trusted advisor Aiwei (Maurice LaMarche) and her captain of the guards Kuvira (Zelda Williams). New airbenders are also introduced in the season including the young thief Kai (Skyler Brigmann) and Suyin's daughter Opal (Alyson Stoner), both of Earth Kingdom origins and the love interests of Jinora and Bolin respectively. Jim Meskimen voices a Republic City merchant and later airbender named Daw, as well as Suyin's husband, the architect Baatar. Jason Marsden as the voice for Huan, second oldest son of Suyin, along Marcus Toji voicing Wei and Wing are the twin sons of Suyin. Greg Cipes as the voice for Tu, the cousin of Mako and Bolin, along Susan Silo voices a their grandmother Yin.
The final season, Book Four: Balance, features Kuvira as Korra's antagonist at the head of an army bent on uniting the Earth Kingdom. The cast is also joined by Sunil Malhotra as Prince Wu, the vain heir to the Earth Kingdom throne, and Todd Haberkorn as Baatar Jr., Suyin's estranged son who is Kuvira's fiancé and second-in-command. Philece Sampler voices the aged Toph Beifong, another returning character from Avatar whose young adult version was voiced by Kate Higgins in Books 1 and 3. April Stewart was cast as Zuko's daughter, Fire Lord Izumi, in a minor role.
The art design of Republic City, described as "if Manhattan had happened in Asia," was inspired by the 1920s and incorporates influences from American and European architecture from that time period. Elements of film noir and steampunk also influenced the city's art concept. The design for the metalbending police force is based on 1920s New York City police uniforms, crossed with samurai armor.
The fighting styles employed by characters in the original show Avatar: The Last Airbender were derived from different distinct styles of Chinese martial arts. Set 70 years later, the fighting style in the multicultural Republic City has modernized and blended, with the creators incorporating three primary styles: traditional Chinese martial arts, mixed martial arts, and tricking. The pro-bending sport introduced in the series was inspired by mixed martial arts (MMA) tournaments.
Chinese martial arts instructor Sifu Kisu consulted on Avatar: The Last Airbender, and returned as a consultant for the fight scenes in The Legend of Korra. MMA fighters Jeremy Humphries and Mac Danzig were credited with "providing a lot of the moves you'll see in the Probending arena," and Steve Harada and Jake Huang provided the stylized flips and acrobatics of "tricking" to the series' fighting style.
The Legend of Korra was co-created and produced by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino at Nickelodeon Animation Studios in Burbank, California. To illustrate the length of the production process (about 10 to 12 months per episode) and the overlap of the various phases, Konietzko wrote in July 2013 that their team was already developing the storyboards for the first episode of Book 4 while the last episodes of Book 2 were not yet finished.
Production of the series was announced at the annual Comic-Con in San Diego on July 22, 2010. It was originally due for release in October 2011. Tentatively titled Avatar: Legend of Korra at the time, it was intended to be a twelve-episodemini series set in the same fictional universe as the original show, but seventy years later. In 2011, the title was changed to The Last Airbender: Legend of Korra, and again in March 2012 to The Legend of Korra. The premiere was eventually delayed to April 14, 2012. South Korean animation studio Mir was involved in the pre-production, storyboarding and animation of the series which allows the studio more creative input on directing the martial arts scenes that the series and its predecessor are known for.
According to animation director Yoo Jae-myung, Nickelodeon was initially reluctant to approve the series and suspended production because, according to Konietzko, conventional wisdom had it that "girls will watch shows about boys, but boys won't watch shows about girls". The creators eventually persuaded the channel's executives to change their mind. Konietzko related that in test screenings, boys said that Korra being a girl did not matter to them.
The creators wrote all of the episodes of the first season themselves, omitting "filler episodes" to allow for a concise story. Once the series was expanded from its original 12-episode schedule to 26 and then to 52, more writers were brought in so that the creators could focus on design work.Joaquim Dos Santos and Ryu Ki-Hyun, who worked on the animation and design of the original series, also became involved with creating The Legend of Korra, as is storyboarder Ian Graham. Jeremy Zuckerman and Benjamin Wynn, who composed the soundtrack for the original series as "The Track Team," also returned to score The Legend of Korra.
The second season, Book Two: Spirits, premiered on September 13, 2013, and concluded on November 22, 2013. It consists of fourteen episodes. Animation work was done by the South Korean animation studio Mir as well as the Japanese animation studio Pierrot. Studio Mir was expected to solely work on Book 2, but executive director Jae-myung Yoo decided that Studio Mir would animate The Boondocks instead because the animation process was less rigorous. Pierrot was eventually called in to fill the void and animate Book 2. According to Jae-myung Yoo, Studio Mir was later contacted and re-asked to animate Book 2. Yoo feared that, if Book 2 failed, Studio Mir and Korean animators would have their reputations tarnished for Pierrot's failures. Consequently, Studio Mir accepted the offer and worked alongside Pierrot.
The third season, Book Three: Change, aired its first three episodes on June 27, 2014, soon after some episodes were leaked online. It takes place two weeks after the events of Book Two: Spirits. Episodes nine to thirteen were streamed online, rather than being broadcast as a television program.
Book Four: Balance, the final season, was produced in parallel to the previous two seasons. The crew, at one point, worked on approximately 30 episodes at the same time: post-production for season 2, production for season 3 and pre-production for season 4. Some production steps, such as color correction and retakes, continued up until the date of the series finale, December 19, 2014. Season 4 started online distribution a few months after the third season's finale on October 3, 2014. After Nickelodeon cut the season's budget by the amount required for one episode, DiMartino and Konietzko decided to include a clip show, which reuses previously produced animation, as episode 8 ("Remembrances") instead of dismissing many of the creative staff. Studio Mir was helped by its companion studio, a subunit called Studio Reve, while working on Book 4.
Concerning the development of the much-discussed final scene intended to show the friends Korra and Asami becoming a romantic couple, Bryan Konietzko explained that at first he and DiMartino did not give the idea much weight, assuming they would not be able to get approval for portraying their relationship. But during the production of the finale they decided to test that assumption, approached the network and found them supportive up to a certain limit. They decided to change the final scene from Korra and Asami only holding hands, to also facing each other in a pose referencing the marriage scene a few minutes prior and the pose made by Aang and Katara in the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The Legend of Korra was produced mainly as traditional animation, with most frames drawn on paper in South Korea by the animators at Studio Mir and scanned for digital processing. Each episode comprises about 15,000 drawings. The series makes occasional use of computer-generated imagery for complex scenes or objects, most noticeably in the animations of the pro-bending arena or the mecha-suits of the later seasons.
While The Legend of Korra was produced in the United States and therefore not a work of Japanese animation ("anime") in the strict sense, The Escapist magazine argued that the series is so strongly influenced by anime that it would otherwise easily be classified as such: its protagonists (a superpowered heroine, her group of talented, supporting friends, a near-impervious villain who wants to reshape the world), its themes (family, friendship, romance, fear, and death) and the quality of its voice acting as well as the visual style are similar to those of leading anime series such as Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Bleach or Trigun. A notable difference from such series is the absence of lengthy opening and ending sequences set to J-pop songs; to save broadcast time, The Legend of Korra's openings and endings last only a few seconds. The series mostly abstains from using the visual tropes characteristic of anime, but does occasionally use exaggerated facial expressions to highlight emotions for comic effect.
As in Avatar, the series adds to its Asian aesthetic by presenting all text that appears in its fictional world in traditional Chinese characters, without translating it. For example, on the "Wanted" posters seen in the episode "The Stakeout", the names of the protagonists are written as 寇拉 (Korra), 馬高 (Mako) and 愽林 (Bolin).
The Legend of Korra is set to music by Jeremy Zuckerman, who previously wrote the music for Avatar: The Last Airbender with Benjamin Wynn. For The Legend of Korra, Zuckerman is the sole composer while Wynn is the lead sound designer; the two collaborate with Foley artist Aran Tanchum and showrunner Mike DiMartino on the soundscape of the series. Konietzko and DiMartino's concept for the score was to blend traditional Chinese music with early jazz. On that basis, Zuckerman composed a score combining elements of Dixieland, traditional Chinese music and Western orchestration. It is performed mainly by a string sextet and various Chinese solo instruments, including a dizi (flute), paigu (drums), a guqin, an erhu and a Mongolian matouqin.
A soundtrack CD, The Legend of Korra: Original Music from Book One, was published on July 16, 2013. Music from Korra and Avatar was also played in concert at the PlayFest festival in Málaga, Spain in September 2014. The series's soundtrack was nominated as best TV soundtrack for the 2013 GoldSpirit Awards.
On July 16, 2013, Nickelodeon and Sony Music Entertainment's Legacy Recordings released The Legend of Korra: Original Music from Book One. To date, it is the only soundtrack officially released for either The Legend of Korra or Avatar: The Last Airbender.
|3.||"In a Box"||1:37|
|4.||"An Impossible Crime"||2:11|
|5.||"Being Patient / Beifong’s Sacrifice"||4:20|
|6.||"Asami and Mako Dine"||1:10|
|7.||"On the Lam"||1:19|
|8.||"Hittin’ on All Sixes"||2:40|
|9.||"Good Ol’ Days"||1:41|
|12.||"Korra Confronts Tarrlok"||3:00|
|16.||"A Peaceful Place"||2:03|
|17.||"Left My Heart in Republic City"||2:40|
|20.||"Republic City Under Attack"||4:03|
|21.||"Hardboiled…Afraid (Separate Ways)"||1:20|
|23.||"Asami and Hiroshi / Korra Airbends"||4:24|
|25.||"The Legend of Korra End Credits"||0:31|
|26.||"The Legend of Korra Main Title"||0:28|
The first season (Book One: Air) aired in the United States on Nickelodeon on Saturday mornings between April 14, 2012, and June 23, 2012. Unlike its predecessor, the series was broadcast in high-definition. It was broadcast in other countries on the local Nickelodeon channels beginning in August 2012.
The second season (Book Two: Spirits) began airing on Nickelodeon in the United States on September 13, 2013, on Friday evenings. The season ended on November 22, 2013.
The third season (Book Three: Change) began airing on Nickelodeon in the United States on June 27, 2014, also on Friday evenings, two episodes at a time. The broadcast was announced one week in advance after several episodes of the new season were leaked on the Internet. After the first seven episodes aired to low ratings, Nickelodeon removed the last five episodes from its broadcast schedule. The remainder of the episodes were then distributed online via Amazon Video, Google Play, Xbox Video and Hulu as well as the Nickelodeon site and apps.The Escapist compared The Legend of Korra to Firefly as "a Friday night genre series with a loyal fan following built up from previous works by the creators that is taken off the air after the network fails to advertise it properly or broadcast episodes in a logical manner." Series creator Michael DiMartino said that the series' move to online distribution reflected a "sea change" in the industry: While Korra did not fit in well with Nickelodeon's other programming, the series did extremely well online, with the season 2 finale having been Nickelodeon's biggest online event.
The fourth season (Book Four: Balance) began distribution in the United States on October 3, 2014, through Nick.com, Amazon Video, iTunes and Hulu. Beginning on November 28, 2014, with episode 9, the fourth season was officially premiered back on television on Fridays on Nicktoons.
The Legend of Korra is broadcast subtitled or dubbed on Nickelodeon channels outside of the U.S.
In Germany, the first and second seasons received a German-language broadcast on Nickelodeon Germany. The third and fourth seasons are broadcast in 2015 on the German Nicktoons pay TV channel. In France, only the first season has been broadcast on Nickelodeon France and J-One. A fandub project to complete the French dub was launched in 2015.
In 2017, the Kenya Film Classification Board banned The Legend of Korra, together with the cartoon series The Loud House, Hey Arnold, Steven Universe, Clarence and Adventure Time, from being broadcast in Kenya. According to the Board, the reason was that these series were "glorifying homosexual behavior".
Streaming and home media
Since August 14, 2020, The Legend of Korra is available for streaming on Netflix in the United States.
All episodes of the series have also been released through digital download services, DVD and Blu-ray formats. The DVD releases contain extra features such as audio commentary from the creators, cast and crew for some episodes, and the Blu-ray releases contain commentary for additional episodes.
The following table indicates the release dates of the DVD and Blu-ray versions of the series:
|Season||Episodes||DVD and Blu-ray release dates|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|1||Air||12||July 9, 2013 (2013-07-09)||October 28, 2013 (2013-10-28)||September 4, 2013 (2013-09-04)|
|2||Spirits||14||July 1, 2014 (2014-07-01)||October 20, 2014 (2014-10-20)||August 20, 2014 (2014-08-20)|
|3||Change||13||December 2, 2014 (2014-12-02)||April 27, 2015 (2015-04-27)||December 17, 2014 (2014-12-17)|
|4||Balance||13||March 10, 2015 (2015-03-10)||November 16, 2015 (2015-11-16)||August 5, 2015 (2015-08-05)|
|The Complete Series||52||December 13, 2016 (2016-12-13)||February 15, 2017 (2017-02-15)||March 12, 2017 (2017-03-12)|
The series premiere averaged 4.5 million viewers, ranking it as basic cable's number-one kids' show and top animated program for the week with total viewers. The Legend of Korra also ranks as the network's most-watched animated series premiere in three years.
Book One: Air drew an average of 3.8 million viewers per episode. This was the highest audience total for an animated series in the United States in 2012.
Book Two: Spirits premiered with 2.6 million viewers. Suggested explanations for the reduced number of broadcast viewers were: the long period between seasons, a change in time slot (Friday evening instead of Saturday morning), the increased availability of digital download services, and generally reduced ratings for the Nickelodeon channel.
Book Three: Change aired on short notice in June 2014 after Spanish-language versions of some episodes were leaked on the Internet. The season premiered with 1.5 million viewers. After declining TV ratings in the third season, Nickelodeon stopped airing the series on its main network and shifted its distribution to sister channel, Nicktoons and online outlets. The online distribution is where the show had proven to be much more successful.
|Book One – Air||4.55||4.55||3.55||4.08||3.78||3.88||3.45||2.98||3.58||3.54||3.68||3.68||N/A|
|Book Two – Spirits||2.60||2.60||2.19||2.38||1.10||1.95||1.73||1.73||2.47||2.22||1.87||1.87||2.09||2.09|
|Book Three – Change||1.50||1.50||1.29||1.19||1.18||1.28||1.33||1.08||N/A|
The Legend of Korra received critical acclaim for its production values, the quality of its writing, its challenging themes and its transgression of the conventions of youth entertainment.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the show currently has an average score of 89%, based on critic reviews. Its first season holds a score of 91% with an average rating of 8.25 out of 10, based on 11 critic reviews, with the website's critical consensus saying, "The Legend of Korra expands the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender with narrative substance and crisp animation – and progresses the drama and action with a female lead." The second season holds a score of 67% with an average rating of 8.35 out of 10, based on 9 critic reviews. Both Book Three: Change and Book 4: Balance receive the score of 100% based on 9 critic reviews, with average ratings of 9.5 out of 10 and 9 out of 10 respectively.
Style and production values
David Hinckley of the New York Daily News wrote that the "visually striking" series is "full of little tricks and nuances that only true fans will notice and savor, but nothing prevents civilians from enjoying it as well." Writing for Vulture, Matt Patches highlighted the second season's loose, handheld-style cinematography – challenging for an animated series – and the "weird, wonderful", wildly imagined spirits fought by Korra; "a Kaiju parade with beasts that mirror velociraptors". Max Nicholson for IGN described the third season as "easily the show's most consistent season to date, delivering complex themes, excellent storylines and unmatched production values." And Oliver Sava, for The A.V. Club, characterized it as a "truly magnificent season of television, delivering loads of character development, world building, socio-political commentary, and heart-racing action, all presented with beautifully smooth animation and impeccable voice acting".
The styling of the setting – a fusion of Asian and early 20th century American elements – was noted by critics as "beautiful and innovative", but criticized for cultural appropriation by a non-diverse creative team and voice cast, and for jettisoning "authentic cultural traditions in favor of embracing white industrialized civilization".
Writing and themes
Before the first season's finale, Scott Thill of Wired hailed The Legend of Korra as "the smartest cartoon on TV," able to address adults' spiritual and sociopolitical concerns while presenting an "alternately riveting and hilarious ride packed with fantasy naturalism, steampunk grandeur, kinetic conflicts, sci-fi weaponry and self-aware comedy." In The Atlantic, Julie Beck characterized the series as "some of the highest quality fantasy of our time", appreciating it for combining nuanced social commentary with Avatar: The Last Airbender's "warmth, whimsy, and self-referential wit". Brian Lowry of Variety felt that the series "represents a bit more ambitious storytelling for older kids, and perhaps a few adults with the geek gene."
At TV.com, Noel Kirkpatrick commented favorably on how the second season of "one of television's best programs" handled the necessary quantity of exposition, and on its introduction of the theme of conflict between spiritualism and secularism. Covering the third season, Scott Thill at Salon described Korra as one of the toughest, most complex female characters on TV, despite being in a cartoon, and considered that the "surreal, lovely sequel" to Avatar "lastingly and accessibly critiques power, gender, extinction, spirit and more — all wrapped up in a kinetic 'toon as lyrical and expansive as anything dreamt up by Hayao Miyazaki or George Lucas". David Levesley at The Daily Beast recommended the series to those looking for "beautifully shot and well-written fantasy on television" after the end of Game of Thrones's most recent season, noting that in both series "the fantastical and the outlandish are carefully balanced with human relationships and political intrigue".
Several reviewers noted the sociopolitical issues that, unusually for an animated series on a children's channel, run through The Legend of Korra. According to Forbes, by telling "some of the darkest, most mature stories" ever animated, The Legend of Korra has created a new genre, "the world's first animated television drama". Thill proposed that the Equalists' cause in season 1 reflected the recent appearance of the Occupy movement, and DiMartino responded that though the series was written before Occupy Wall Street began, he agreed that the show similarly depicted "a large group of people who felt powerless up against a relatively small group of people in power." Beck wrote that The Legend of Korra used magic to illustrate "the growing pains of a modernizing world seeing the rise of technology and capitalism, and taking halting, jerky steps toward self-governance", while portraying no side of the conflict as entirely flawless. Alyssa Rosenberg praised the show for examining issues of class in an urban setting, and a guest post in her column argued that the struggle between Korra and Amon's Equalists reflected some of the ideas of John Rawls' "luck egalitarianism", praising the series for tackling moral issues of inequality and redistribution.
Writing for The Escapist, Mike Hoffman noted how the series respected its younger viewers by explicitly showing, but also giving emotional weight to the death of major characters, including "one of the most brutal and sudden deaths in children's television" in the case of P'Li in season 3. By portraying Korra's opponents not as stereotypical villains, but as human beings with understandable motivations corrupted by an excess of zeal, the series trusted in viewers to be able to "resolve the dissonance between understanding someone's view and disagreeing with their methods". And, Hoffman wrote, by showing Korra to suffer from "full-on depression" at the end of the third season, and devoting much of the fourth to her recovery, the series helped normalize mental health issues, a theme generally unaddressed in children's television, which made them less oppressive for the viewers.
Gender, race and sexual orientation
Summing up Book Four, Joanna Robinson for Vanity Fair described it as "the most subversive television event of the year", noting how much of the season and series pushed the boundaries of what is nominally children's television by "breaking racial, sexual, and political ground": It featured a dark-skinned female lead character as well as a bevy of diverse female characters of all ages, focused on challenging issues such as weapons of mass destruction, PTSD and fascism, and was infused with an Eastern spirituality based on tenets such as balance and mindfulness. Levesley also highlighted the "many examples of well-written women, predominantly of color" in the series. Oliver Sava at The A.V. Club noted that the series had "consistently delivered captivating female figures"; he considered it to be first and foremost about women, and about how they relate to each other "as friends, family, and rivals in romance and politics".
Moreover, according to Robinson, the series' final scene, in which Korra and Asami gaze into each other's eyes in a shot mirroring the composition of Avatar's final moments in which Aang and Katara kiss, "changed the face of TV" by going further than any other work of children's television in depicting same-sex relationships – an assessment shared by reviewers for TV.com,The A.V. Club,USA Today,IGN,Moviepilot and The Advocate. Mike Hoffman, on the other hand, felt that Korra and Asami's relationship was not intended as particularly subversive, but as something the writers trusted younger viewers, now often familiar with same-sex relationships, to be mature enough to understand. Megan Farokhmanesh of Polygon wrote that by portraying Korra and Asami as bisexual, the series even avoided the error of assuming sexual orientation, as many other TV series did, to be a strict divide between "gay" and "straight". In 2018, io9 ranked the series' final scene #55 on its list of "The 100 Most Important Pop Culture Moments of the Last 10 Years". As Korra was made widely available again on Netflix in 2020, Janet Varney called her role as the voice of Korra "the most profound and meaningful part of my career" on account of the impact the ending had on queer fans.Vanity Fair said that the show's creators "fought hard" for the ending with Asami and Korra, which has "plausible deniability that it’s all platonic."
The Washington Post and Vulture have since credited The Legend of Korra with changing the landscape of LGBT representation in western animated children's cartoons, paving the way for more overt queer content in shows such as Adventure Time and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
The first season of The Legend of Korra received numerous accolades. It received two nominations for the 2012 Annie Awards; Bryan Konietzko, Joaquim Dos Santos Ryu Ki-Hyun, Kim Il Kwang and Kim Jin Sun were nominated in the category of Best Character Design in an Animated Television Production, and the first two episodes were nominated in the category of Best Animated Television Production for Children. The series was also nominated for the "Outstanding Children's Program" award from among the 2012 NAACP Image Awards, which "celebrates the accomplishments of people of color". IGN editors and readers awarded the series the "IGN People's Choice Award" and the "Best TV Animated Series" award in 2012, and it was also nominated for "Best TV Series" and "Best TV Hero" for Korra. The series also took second place (after My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic) in a TV.com readers' poll for the "Best Animated Series" of 2012. The first season also received three Daytime Emmy Award nominations, winning in the category of "Outstanding Casting For an Animated Series or Special."
The second season received fewer awards and total nominations than the first; it was nominated for three Annie Awards in 2014, winning in the category of "Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production." It was nominated for two more IGN awards, being nominated for "Best TV Animated Series" and winning the "IGN People's Choice Award" for the second year in a row.
The third and fourth seasons, combined into one entry, were nominated for six IGN awards, winning the "People's Choice Award" for the third time in a row, as well as "Best TV Animated Series" for the second time, "People's Choice Award for Best TV Episode" for Korra Alone, and "People's Choice Award for Best TV Series" for the first time. The third and fourth seasons were nominated for two Annie Awards; "Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Children's Audience," and winning "Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production."
|Book 1||2012||IGN's Best of 2012 Awards||Best TV Series||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|Best TV Animated Series||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|IGN People's Choice Award for Best TV Animated Series||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|Best TV Hero||Janet Varney (Korra)||Nominated|
|2013||Annie Awards||Best Animated Television Production for Children||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|Best Character Design in an Animated Television Production||Bryan Konietzko, Joaquim Dos Santos, Ryu Ki-Hyun, Kim Il Kwang and Kim Jin Sun||Nominated|
|2nd Annual BTVA Awards||Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Vocal Ensemble in a New Television Series||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series — Action/Drama||Janet Varney (Korra)||Won|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Eva Marie Saint (Katara)||Won|
|Best Male Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series — Action/Drama||JK Simmons (Tenzin)||Nominated|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Steve Blum (Amon)||Won|
|Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Dee Bradley Baker (Tarrlok)||Nominated|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Mindy Sterling (Lin Beifong)||Nominated|
|Daytime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Special Class Animated Program||Joaquim Dos Santos, Tim Yoon, Ki Hyun Ryu, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko||Nominated|
|Outstanding Directing In An Animated Program||Joaquim Dos Santos, Ki-Hyun Ryu, Andrea Romano||Nominated|
|Outstanding Casting For An Animated Series Or Special||Shannon Reed, Sarah Noonan, Gene Vassilaros||Won|
|NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding Children's Program||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|Young Artist Awards||Best Performance in a Voice-Over Role (Television) – Young Actress||Kiernan Shipka (Jinora)||Nominated|
|Book 2||2014||Annie Awards||Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Children's Audience||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement, Directing in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production||Colin Heck||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement, Production Design in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production||Angela Sung, William Niu, Christine Bian, Emily Tetri, Frederic Stewart||Won|
|IGN's Best of 2013 Awards||Best TV Animated Series||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|IGN People's Choice Award for Best TV Animated Series||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|3rd Annual BTVA Awards||BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series — Action/Drama||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series — Action/Drama||Janet Varney (Korra)||Won|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||April Stewart (Raava)||Won|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||April Stewart (Raava)||Won|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||John Michael Higgins (Varrick)||Won|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Guest Role||Jason Marsden (Aye-Aye)||Won|
|Book 3 & Book 4||2015||IGN's Best of 2014 Awards||Best TV Series||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|IGN People's Choice Award for Best TV Series||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|Best TV Animated Series||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|IGN People's Choice Award for Best TV Animated Series||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|Best TV Episode||"Korra Alone"||Nominated|
|IGN People's Choice Award for Best TV Episode||"Korra Alone"||Won|
|Annie Awards||Best Animated TV/Broadcast Production for Children's Audience||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement, Storyboarding in an Animated TV/Broadcast Production||Joaquim Dos Santos for "Venom of the Red Lotus"||Won|
|Daytime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Casting For An Animated Series Or Special||Shannon Reed, Sarah Noonan, Gene Vassilaros||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Mixing — Animation||Justin Brinsfield, Matt Corey, Manny Grijalva, Adrian Ordonez, Aran Tanchum||Nominated|
|Gracie Allen Awards||Outstanding Animated Programming — Production||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|4th Annual BTVA Awards||BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Vocal Ensemble in a Television Series — Action/Drama||The Legend of Korra||Won|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Male Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series — Action/Drama||PJ Byrne (Bolin)||Won|
|Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series — Action/Drama||Janet Varney (Korra)||Won|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series — Action/Drama||Janet Varney (Korra)||Won|
|Best Female Lead Vocal Performance in a Television Series — Action/Drama||Seychelle Gabriel (Asami Sato)||Nominated|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Henry Rollins (Zaheer)||Won|
|Best Male Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Maurice LaMarche (Aiwei)||Nominated|
|BTVA People's Choice Award for Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Philece Sampler (Toph Beifong)||Won|
|Best Female Vocal Performance in a Television Series in a Supporting Role — Action/Drama||Zelda Williams (Kuvira)||Nominated|
|31st TCA Awards||Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming||The Legend of Korra||Nominated|
Like its predecessor series, The Legend of Korra has a broad fandom, including on social media and at fan conventions. Most fans are young adults, according to The Escapist, but many are children and younger teenagers.
According to Merrill Barr writing for Forbes, few series "boast as vocal a fan base as The Legend of Korra", including such popular series as Game of Thrones and Orphan Black. In January 2015, after the series ended, the media reported on a fan petition to have Netflix produce a series in the Avatar universe garnering more than 10,000 signatures only in 2015.
The A.V. Club and io9 noted that the live-action TV series Warrior, for which NBC ordered a pilot in early 2015, has a premise almost identical to that of The Legend of Korra: It is to be about "a damaged heroine" who "works undercover with physical and spiritual guidance from a mysterious martial arts master to bring down an international crime lord" in a "contemporary multicultural and sometimes magical milieu".
In an interview with GLAAD's Raina Deerwater, Noelle Stevenson, creator of the series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power talked about queer representation in animation, situating The Legend of Korra alongside Steven Universe as an inspiring series that has taught young fans to expect "nothing less than a variety of solid queer representation and central queer characters.".
See also: List of Avatar: The Last Airbender media
Main article: The Legend of Korra (comics)
The Legend of Korra is continued in a graphic novel trilogy series written by DiMartino and published by Dark Horse Comics. The first trilogy, The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars, was drawn by Irene Koh and takes place immediately following the series finale, focusing on Korra and Asami's relationship in the aftermath of Kuvira's attack. The first volume was published on July 26, 2017, the second volume was published on January 17, 2018, and the third and final volume was published on August 22, 2018. A sequel, The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire, was published in three volumes in May 2019, November 2019, and February 2020.
Hardcover art books detailing each season's creative process have been published by Dark Horse, similar to the art book published about Avatar: The Last Airbender:
In July 2013, Nickelodeon published a free interactive e-book, The Legend of Korra: Enhanced Experience, on iTunes. It contained material such as concept art, character biographies, animatics and storyboards.
In March 2013, PixelDrip Gallery organized a The Legend of Korrafan art exhibition in Los Angeles with the support of the series's creators, and later published a documentary video about it. Another art exhibition supported by Nickelodeon to pay tribute to The Legend of Korra and Avatar was held from March 7 to 22, 2015 at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra, California.
An adult coloring book, The Legend of Korra Coloring Book (ISBN 978-1-50670-246-9) with art by Jed Henry was released in July 2017.
Book One: Air was adapted as two novels by Erica David, aimed at readers ages twelve and up. The novelizations were published by Random House in 2013:
- Revolution (ISBN 978-0449815540), adapting episodes one to six, published on January 8, 2013
- Endgame (ISBN 978-0449817346), adapting episodes seven to twelve, published on July 23, 2013
Main articles: The Legend of Korra (video game) and The Legend of Korra: A New Era Begins
Activision published two video games based on the series in October 2014. The first, titled only The Legend of Korra, is a third-person beat 'em up game for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and Microsoft Windows. Despite the game's developer PlatinumGames being known for well-received action games, the game received mixed reviews. The second game, The Legend of Korra: A New Era Begins, is a turn-based strategy game developed by Webfoot Technologies for the Nintendo 3DS. Nickelodeon also makes several Adobe Flash-based browser games based on The Legend of Korra available on their website.
IDW Publishing released a series of board games based on The Legend of Korra. The first is an adaptation of the series' pro-bending game; that was financed through Kickstarter and released in fall 2017. Korra is a playable character in the fighting gameSuper Brawl Universe for iOS and Android, and is a playable character in the racing gameNickelodeon Kart Racers 2: Grand Prix for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and Microsoft Windows. Korra also appears as a skin for Skadi in Smite.
A 12-inch figurine of Lin Beifong, as well as a graphic t-shirt, was announced at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con.Mondo released a figurine of Korra and Asami holding hands in March 2018.
In 2013, before the premiere of Book Two: Spirits, Nickelodeon released three animated short videos online titled Republic City Hustle that cover part of the lives of Mako and Bolin as street hustlers before the events of the first season. They are written by Tim Hedrick, one of the writers for Book Two: Spirits, and designed by Evon Freeman.
In August 2012, Variety reported that Paramount Animation, a sister company of Nickelodeon, was starting development of several animated movies, with budgets of around US$100 million. According to Variety, a possible candidate for one of the films was The Legend of Korra. Series creator Bryan Konietzko later wrote on his blog that no such movie was in development. In July 2013, he said that he and DiMartino were far too busy working on multiple seasons of the TV series in parallel to consider developing a film adaptation at that time.
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The Legend of Korra hits Netflix on August 14, the first time since its original 2012-2014 run that the cult hit cartoon — a follow-up to the beloved animated fantasy series Avatar: The Last Airbender — has been available on the streaming giant. But as exciting as that is for new and returning viewers, they shouldn’t expect more from the Airbender sequel. Korra is very different from its predecessor, and for all that some fans fiercely love and defend it, just as many consider it to be a blight on Airbender’s sparkling record.
In fact, while Airbender became one of the most influential animated TV shows of its generation, Korra may be one of the most controversial of its own.
Where Airbender garnered universal acclaim for its multicultural world, critique of colonialism, and respectful, allegorical portrayal of different Asian cultures, Korra was roundly and loudly criticized upon release — for everything from having an “unlikable” female protagonist, to its sloppy writing and messy plot arcs, to an Americanized worldview that undermines its predecessor’s themes. And where Airbender was Nickelodeon’s critically renowned crown jewel throughout its run, Korra was persona non grata by its fourth and final season. Nick ultimately yanked Korra unceremoniously from TV and wrapped the show up exclusively through the channel’s website.
This troubled history has soured Korra’s legacy. Now, as the show arrives to Netflix with a still-divided Avatar fandom, the context of 2020 reframes much of its themes and politics. Korra may be the same Korra we greeted in 2012 — but it may be even more difficult to grapple with now.
Korra’s polarized reception was mired in sexism from the beginning
Korra, like its title character itself, had a lot to live up to. The Peabody-winning animated fantasy series Airbender has been a beloved favorite ever since its original three-season run on Nickelodeon from 2005–2008. Set in a fantasy world mainly based on Asian cultures, Airbender was acclaimed for its sensitive multicultural storytelling, which revolved around a team of “benders” — people who can manipulate the four elements — using their powers to stop an aggressive, militarized nation from its violent conquest of neighboring countries. In addition to carefully avoiding harmful Orientalist tropes, the show took pains to depict its various cultural allegories as distinct. And with a pre-planned, three-season story arc, it got to deeply invest in both its world-building and its characters over time, allowing it to evolve organically to a deeply satisfying conclusion.
After all of Airbender’s success, however, came the disastrous 2010 M. Night Shyamalan’s live-action film adaptation. The movie spent years battling widely publicized fan backlash over its racist casting (coining the term “racebending” after the show’s element “benders”). When it was released in June 2010, the finished product turned out to be a giant artistic embarrassment. Fans were eager for the franchise to overcome the film's ignominy, and the show’s creators, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, were eager to change the conversation — so in July 2010, they announced the coming Nickelodeon cartoon sequel, with this now-famous art preview of the next Avatar: Korra.
Legend of Korra was an ambitious follow-up — much like its main character. If Airbender’s main character, Aang, is a lovable, sweet-tempered boy, Korra is an irascible, cocky, rash teen girl. Aang is a lovable all-powerful kid who grows steadily into his identity and powers; Korra has to learn to be the Avatar through a series of grievous mistakes and errors in judgment. With swagger, braggadocio, and seemingly endless willpower and strength, she sported traits that would make her an ideal traditional hero — if she’d been a traditional male hero with a traditional male hero arc.
But Korra has things much harder than Aang. As a teenager, she’s desperate to ascend to her full powers; she’s rash and immature, often lashing out at people and events that hold her back. Her over-reliance on her physical strength remains an obstacle as she grapples with fear, vulnerability, and, later on, severe PTSD that leaves her largely having to rebuild her sense of self — and sidelined for most of the final season.
That weakness is hardly what we’re used to seeing from our larger-than-life fantasy heroes. Compared to Aang, who was happy-go-lucky and loved for it, many viewers considered Korra to be a terrible hero — despite her no-holds-barred physical prowess and aggressive fighting style.
Janet Varney, Korra’s voice actress, told Vox she disagreed. “I always found her lovable, even when — maybe especially when — she was making mistakes or failing." Because of the nature of animation production, she said, “By the time of Korra’s Book [or season] One release, I had already recorded the whole season and had come to know and really love Korra. So I really only had one way I could imagine portraying her going forward into future Books: to continue to honor her humanity, which included all those qualities some folks decided made her … less ‘likable.’”
Varney said she really hadn’t been aware of the backlash against the character when the show was airing. “My [fandom] experiences were primarily the ones I was having at conventions, and they were overwhelmingly positive,” she said.
“Once in awhile, someone would come up to me after a panel to tell me all the ways they hated Korra, but it was really easy to just say, ‘Sorry she’s not your cup of tea.’ In that environment, with so many intelligent, thoughtful, empowered fans from so many different cultural backgrounds talking about what they loved about the show, I truly thought those people were in the minority. ... It was only years later that I started to truly grasp how divisive the show and character were for people.”
Much of that disdain for Korra is gendered. Aang is a sweet, silly, brave 12-year-old boy; Korra is a teenage girl who bucks traditional female gender roles in prioritizing independence over romance.
“I really do think a lot of hate towards Korra is rooted in internalized misogyny,” Irene, a 19-year-old Korra fan from Atlanta, Georgia, told me. “Characters from Avatar like Zuko and Aang made many bad decisions but get praised for growing from them. Korra makes mistakes, but gets bashed before haters even take the time to see how she’s evolved as a person. It’s beyond me.”
Korra’s character arc sees her grow out of many of her flaws. And for all the show allows her to be abrasive, it also gives her lots of nuance and complexity — particularly when it comes to presenting her mental illness.
”[In] season four, that PTSD storyline is so good and so sad,” Oliver Sava, who reviewed the show for the AV Club,told Vox. “It really did feel groundbreaking for a ‘children’s show’ to really wallow in trauma for episode upon episode. Halfof the season was [Korra] just totally broken. Which I think ties into that ‘likable female character’ aspect — it’s a sort of intense vulnerability that I feel women aren’t allowed to show.”
Compounding the character’s subversive femininity was the show’s controversial queer ending — an implied relationship between Korra and her former rival-for-love, Asami — which drew equal backlash and praise from fans. Though their romantic relationship —ship name Korrasami — was so barely there that the creators had to confirm it had actually happened after the fact, Korra had one of the first implied examples of queer relationships in children’s animation.
“I flipped the fuck out at the end of Korra,” Sava told me. “I went crazy. I did not think that they would ever, ever in a million years do that. And I mean, [queer viewers] are starved. ... We want representation, we’ll take it. And ultimately, that final scene — yes, it’s only one scene, but it changes the entire show, the entire context of all the scenes that come before. And I think that’s very important.”
Varney also emphasized what a game-changer Korra’s queerness is. “I’ve since been to conventions in really conservative towns where I have been crushed by the hostility towards Korra’s queerness, and by association my own,” she said. “But those moments are critically important to experience in order to be a part of the continuum that takes us culturally forward. To being better. In all the ways.”
Not all of Korra was as meaningfully progressive as its controversial strong, queer, female lead. Many of its other lofty goals of reimagining the Airbender world received criticism, and rightfully so.
Airbender brilliantly deconstructed colonialism. Korra may undermine its work — even as its themes are more complex than ever.
Because Airbender’s time frame was roughly analogous to the mid-19th century, the creators decided to place Korra in a more technologically advanced era. So they pushed its setting forward about two generations, time-stamping its alternate universe somewhere around 1920 and infusing it with a steampunk-fantasy vibe. Where Airbender had been set in a largely rural world with only minimal technological development, Korra mostly took place in urban settings.
Korra’s setting is beautiful and innovative, but it’s also come under fire for having racist overtones. In a recent Medium essay, writer Jeannette Ng criticized the way Korra leans into a heavily Americanized version of the future. In the piece, she points out many ways in which the show jettisons authentic cultural traditions in favor of embracing white industrialized civilization, all while arguably failing to explore the lingering traces that colonialism has left on the world of Airbender.For instance, its focal city, Republic City, was drawn from an odd combination of Shanghai, Manhattan, and Vancouver, with its culturally Chinese signifiers largely thrust into the background or rarely acknowledged.
“Everything about how [Korra] writes the future of the cultures feels wrong and insulting,” Ng told me. “It is obvious now when comparing it with The Last Airbender that it just stopped really using cultural shorthands from other cultures as part of its storytelling.”
Ng also pointed out that many elements of the show, especially today, draw comparisons to the Hong Kong resistance movement. “My reading of it cannot [but] be coloured by the conversations right now happening about colour revolutions in Hong Kong,” Ng told me. “I can’t help but keep seeing uncomfortable parallels between how the politics of Earth Kingdom get discussed and how my own city is repeatedly proclaimed as dead and riotous and ungrateful.”
Others would argue that many of the criticisms Ng and others level at the show are part of the show’s embedded critique of the power structures it’s presenting. Irene pointed out to me that the show features “concepts like egalitarianism, anarchy, fascism,” and that among the show’s varied villains are morally gray anarchists who can’t be easily written off as evil or unsympathetic.
The show’s politics have also often been criticized for being a messy, unclear hodgepodge of mixed themes and messaging that fails to do little more than prop up an idealized version of colonized society.
Even more damning for Ng is the bottom line: Korra fails to resonate with her and her other friends of Asian diaspora the way it does for Western viewers. “[Korra] makes me think that all the things I liked about Airbender happened accidentally,” Ng said. “It’s a sequel that retroactively makes the work that came before worse, because now I think, ‘Oh, all the things I thought were good are just ... [accidental].’”
“I think this comes down to behind-the-scenes representation,” Sava said. “These creators aren’t Asian. Of course that Euro influence has [appeared], because that’s their background. Maybe if there were more Asian people in positions of power on the show, there would be more authenticity.” (Airbender did have a credited cultural consultant of Asian descent, Dr. Lee Siu-Leung; Lee is credited on Korra as a translator only.)
Korra’s lack of a more diverse crew and creative team may have been a byproduct of other strains on the production — because the show seemed beset with hurdles from start to finish.
Korra faced production hurdles from start to finish — for being too “risky”
Airbender had the full support of Nickelodeon for a pre-planned three-season story that allowed it to develop organically. Korra, by contrast, always seemed to be going a step too far for the show’s parent network; the show seemed to be as rebellious as Korra was. Its fate was always uncertain from season to season, and that precarious state saw competing narratives emerge — one version where the creators failed to replicate what made Airbender great, and one where Nickelodeon never fully embraced Korra and ultimately buried it along with all its potential.
The likelihood is that both factors are partly true. To start, though the show was announced in 2010, Nickelodeon reportedly delayed the show’s production because of its wariness over a female Avatar. In a 2013 interview, Yoo Jae Myung, who headed Korra’s Korean animationstudio, Studio Mir, stated, “Nickelodeon was reluctant to produce this animated series at first ... the production was suspended just because its protagonist was a girl.” (Nickelodeon has not confirmed this report; Vox has reached out to Nickelodeon for comment.)
DiMartino and Konietzko largely tried to write the first two seasons of Korra on their own, without the assistance of the large writers’ room that strengthened Airbender. Though they did eventually draft two former Airbender writers, Josh Hamilton and Tim Hedrick, as well as Airbender writing assistant Katie Matilla, the show got off to an uneven start. Its first two seasons focused a lot of attention on messy love quadrangles that many fans hated. While Korra started out getting high ratings, its season two premiere lost nearly half its viewers, and by the end of season two — generally considered the show’s roughest and rockiest — many more viewers had bailed.
Korra had to fight both a reluctant Nickelodeon and an angry, divided fanbase for its entire, messy run. It didn’t help that Airbender was seen as a children’s show at its core, despite its myriad heavy themes, while Korra was much darker and often described as more “mature” to its commercial detriment. Those themes — ranging from social uprisings and terrorism to villains who actually win victories, leaving heroes vulnerable and defeated — were a big risk for a kids’ show airing on Nickelodeon. And as the story careened along, the show and the network’s relationship started to break down.
Korra’s final season didn’t even get to air on TV —halfway through season three, just when many fans believed the show was at its creative peak, Nickelodeon pulled it from its TV schedule, citing declining ratings. Instead, the last half of season three and all of a truncated season four were only released online.
“You could really feel the fandom becoming very discouraged by season four,” Sava told me. “Not at the quality of the show but at how it was being treated. You could tell that [Nickelodeon] didn’t really care that much for it.”
Varney, however, told Vox she felt the creators had been true to their artistic vision. “I had no doubts about the integrity of the creators’ vision from beginning to end. Mike and Bryan and the team they assembled, including profoundly gifted people like [co-executive producer] Joaquim Dos Santos, are incredibly thorough, precise, and have very strong ideas about their world and their story arcs. From my perspective, they stayed their course.”
She also said that from her perspective, she saw only support from Nickelodeon. “It actually hurts my heart to know that people think of that whole thing as Nick ‘washing its hands of the show,’” she said. Though she admits to being “confused” by the decision to move Korra off the air and onto the Nick website, “Nick was still doing a ton of publicity, marketing, taking us to [San Diego Comic-Con and New York City Comic Con], etc., so I never felt at all like they were washing their hands of us.”
But she understood how the network shifts looked to fans. “I bet I would have felt exactly the same way — no matter what the intentions were behind it all. Certainly in the years since, that still comes up when I’m chatting with fans of the show.”
Perhaps even more telling than its promotion of the show, however, is that these days, Nickelodeon barely acknowledges Korra’s existence. Though there’s a lone landing page on the Nickelodeon website for Airbender, it makes no mention of Korra at all. Not until April 2020, just before Airbender’s Netflix release, did the company finally create a YouTube channel for Airbender fans — as if the entire franchise, and Korra in particular, are giant afterthoughts despite their successes.
All of this confusing history just makes the show all the more primed for a timely cultural reappraisal. But if many fans both new and old are looking forward to the Netflix release, plenty more are gearing up to re-wage old battles.
If Airbender was beloved, Korra is hugely divisive — and people are already fighting over it prior to the rerelease
When Airbender arrived on Netflix in May, it was an instant hit. It reentered the cultural conversation faster than you could say “Yip-yip,” trending at the top of Netflix’s Top 10 for weeks and renewing conversations about the series’ lasting influence and impact.
Given this success, it’s hardly any surprise that Netflixquickly followed up on Airbender’s buzz by announcing in late July that it would soon be adding Korra to its library. The news sparked much rejoicing among Korra fans, many of whom hadn’t seen the show since it aired, as well as new Airbender fans eager to see the sequel.
But if many fans were overjoyed by the news, many others were disgruntled. Even before Korra’s streaming debut, open conflicts have sprung up across the Avatar fandom, with many fans lamenting that they don’t have a sequel focused just on their original favorite characters — Airbender’s Avatar Aang and his friends.
Additionally, many fans have been rehashing the old comparisons between Aang and Korra, often with the requisite sexism and homophobia embedded in the arguments against Korra. And other critiques are surfacing: In addition to cultural critiques like Ng’s, the show’s been dinged for its “overwhelmingly white” voice cast, its argued lack of memorable characters, and for just not being as much fun as its predecessor.
Irene told me she’s torn on what to expect when the show regains the internet’s attention once Korra starts streaming. “On one hand, I’m super ecstatic that so many more people can get the chance to watch Korra now that it will be more accessible,” she said. “On another hand, I just know there’s going to be even more nasty comments from Korra haters who don’t even want to try to give the show a chance.”
The most important thing, though, is that the haters won’t ruin her love of the show. Korra, for all its faults, is still a gorgeously animated, action-packed, engaging drama, with a female protagonist who’s flawed, funny, resilient, and relatable.
“She’s such an interesting character,” Irene told me, “because she starts off as this brash, hotheaded girl who’s constantly defying orders, but after going through so much emotional turmoil she learns from her mistakes and develops into a much better person who is compassionate towards others. We rarely see female characters in television that are as strong-minded as her, and it’s refreshing to see a character who isn’t perfect and who has room for development.”
Irene also said she hoped viewers would give the show time to develop. “The vast majority of people agree that the storylines in [season three and season four] are much more entertaining, action-packed, and emotionally riveting,” she said.
For Varney, Korra’s arrival to Netflix isn’t only an opportunity to grow the fanbase, but to inspire more people.
“Put simply, being on this show has so far been the most profound and meaningful part of my career,” she said. She credits the show, and Korra’s character, with bringing her into contact with countless fans who drew inspiration from Korra’s survival of trauma, her queer identity, and her strength.
“Maybe it sounds cheesy, but there is nothing, just nothing better than that feeling,” Varneysaid. “When someone — and there have been so many, so wonderfully many! — tells me they got the courage to come out to their parents because of Korra and Asami … I mean, that just wrecks me in the best, best way.”
Varney told me her hope is that more people get to experience Korra in a new context.
“Now that the show may be accessible and seen by people for the first time ... ultimately my hope is that now more people get to see the show and be moved by it, inspired by it — maybe to see how flawed Korra is and take comfort in the idea that you can be a mess and still be a hero. If more of that happens, I’ll be really glad.”
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Anime avatar korra
Avatar: 10 Anime Characters Korra Would Be Friends With
In The Legend ofKorra, Korra has a tough outer shell but is a softie on the inside. She trains hard and fully accepts the role of being the Avatar when first presented with the knowledge. But as time goes on, the true hardships of being the Avatar start to wear on her, both physically and mentally.
RELATED: Avatar: 10 Anime Characters Aang Would Be Friends With
Her strength comes not only from herself but those she surrounds herself with. For Korra, her family and friends are the most important people in her life. But there's a side of Korra that's also very energetic and occasionally gets into trouble. Just because she's the Avatar doesn't mean she doesn't have fun.
10 Connie & Korra: Mischief Seems To Follow (Attack On Titan)
Connie Springer from Attack on Titan adores his friends and would do absolutely anything for them. Just like Korra, he knows how important the people that surround you are. But Connie is also just like Korra for other reasons.
The two of them would get into so much trouble together. The friendship they develop would be similar to the one Connie shares with Sasha. Connie and Korra would be a dynamic duo, taking the serious moments as they come and filling every other second with laughs.
9 Rin & Korra: Fear Won't Control Their Friendship (Blue Exorcist)
In Blue Exorcist, Rin knows what it's like to have people look at you differently. When his friends find out who Rin's father is, the dynamic changes at first. They became afraid of him and what he could do. Korra knows what happens with fear and how it can completely impact your relationship with yourself and those around you.
RELATED: 9 Times Korra Was A Better Avatar Than Aang
Korra and Rin would become friends through their understanding of fear. They each have experience with what the other person is feeling and would help each other through that.
8 Kyo & Korra: Fire Meets Fire (Fruits Basket)
There's no denying the passion these two can show when they set their mind to something. Kyo from Fruits Basket and Korra would develop mutual respect for each other. The classic head nod you give a friend when passing by in the hallway would be how they communicate daily.
They both would have a hard time opening up initially, trying to put on a cool act in front of the other. But with nudges from their other friends, the two would find they have more in common than they thought and become comfortable friends.
7 Nobara & Korra: Strong And Still Look For Fun (Jujutsu Kaisen)
Jujutsu Kaisenhas a long list of strong and powerful women, Nobara being up there with the best of them. Nobara and Korra would become friends through admiration. Both display immense power and only work to become stronger. They would train together but also take off days.
Nobara would drag Korra shopping while Korra would take Nobara to a pro-bending match (both getting a little too into the game). As friends, they would train hard but would also fully enjoy their time off.
6 Misaki & Korra: Seeing Past The Strong Front (Maid Sama)
Both Misaki Ayuzawa and Korra are a little aggressive. They each have their own reasons for putting out this strong front, but it's intimidating. As friends, they would respect the shield they're both putting up but would also understand the other side of it.
Both Korra and Misaki are working their hardest every day. Though some days are better than others, they would see this internal struggle in each other of the need to do and be better. Their friendship would consist of them both looking out for each other.
5 Sakura & Korra: Punching Won't Solve Everything (Naruto: Shippuden)
Korra would be in awe of Sakura's brute strength shown in Naruto: Shippuden. And she would also try to get Sakura to train her to do the same. The two would lean on each other in hard times. And when Korra is struggling, Sakura would look high and low for her to help.
RELATED: Legend Of Korra: 10 Biggest Losses Of The Series, Ranked
Sakura would remind Korra that not every situation can be solved with a strong punch. She would stay by her side while Korra worked on getting better. And Korra would do the same in return. These two worked hard to prove their worth, and neither would let the other back down.
4 Black Star & Korra: Challenging For Friendship (Soul Eater)
Soul Eater's Black Star would immediately see Korra as someone he needed to defeat. Their friendship would be an odd one, with random competitions at every turn. But Korra and Black Star would find their friendship through these challenges.
Korra would be a little put off by Black Star at first. She wouldn't take him seriously and would get irritated by his need to surpass god. But eventually, as she learned more about who he is, Korra would develop a soft spot for the kid.
3 Yusuke & Korra: Winning The Unwinnable Fights (Yu Yu Hakusho)
Korra would find herself in admiration of Yusuke's want to fight strong people. In Yu Yu Hakusho, Yusuke is always looking to fight the strongest guy out there to determine his strength. Even if it seems like he won't win, that doesn't stop Yusuke from at least trying.
RELATED: The Legend Of Korra: 10 Times Korra Needed Backup
For Korra, she trains to be a strong Avatar, but she has seen her fair share of fights where she doesn't have the upper hand. Seeing how hard Yusuke fights would be impressive in her eyes. Yusuke would acknowledge her hard work and find ways to help her become stronger.
2 Cyborg & Korra: From Friends To Family (Teen Titans)
Cyborg and Korra would be two peas in a pod. In Teen Titans, Cyborg finds a family who truly accepts all parts of him, robotic and human. They would start as friends, but their relationship would turn into a sibling dynamic.
Cyborg would act like an older brother to Korra, being goofy and serious when needed. Their relationship would become that of a family bond, each looking out for the other.
1 Oikawa & Korra: Fighting To Be The Best (Haikyuu!)
In Haikyuu!!, it's evident how Oikawa works hard to be good at what he does. The same goes for Korra. There are moments where it seems to come easy for them and moments where the audience can see how hard they're working. Korra and Oikawa would be friends by respecting the other's determination.
Though they may not talk to each other much, they would always congratulate the other on good work and remind them how hard they each worked to get to where they are. Their friendship would be a reminder that they are seen by others.
NEXT: Avatar: Korra's 10 Closest Friends, Ranked
Next10 Anime With Satisfyingly Sad EndingsAbout The Author
Abby is a Lists writer for CBR. With a B.A. in English, she's always had a love for stories, especially the ones best told through anime. In her free time, she enjoys reading books and attempting video games. In her opinion, the best thing about all those aforementioned are the worlds and characters you meet along the way.
Any animation that is not made by a Japanese production company is not anime, according to the English definition of the term.
To Japanese people in Japanese, the Japanese words 「アニメーション」 and 「アニメ」(animeeshon, shortened to anime) are used to describe any animation, whether made in Japan or made in other countries, such as Disney.
It is important to distinguish between the Japanese word used by Japanese in Japan to describe all animation from all countries, as compared to the English word which is distinct from that in meaning. The English word only refers to animation that is made by a Japanese production company. It includes many series which were almost entirely animated in Korea by Koreans, but done so for a Japanese production company. Look in the credits list at the end of many anime TV series and you will see many Korea names; since the company is Japanese, it counts as anime, even if the animating work was largely accomplished by non-Japanese people. If the exact same Korean animators created an animated series produced by a Korean company, it would not be anime according to the English definition of the word.
Korean comics are called manhwa. There are a handful of American publishers that might market a graphic novel to you as "manga made in America," but that is actually an oxymoron. The English word "manga" only refers to comics produced by Japanese publishing companies. Japanese people do not usually use the Japanese word 「漫画」 (manga) to refer to comics from other countries; instead they say 「コミックス」 (komikkusu). Again, you could be a non-Japanese living in Japan and having your comic published in a Japanese manga magazine, and it would be real manga, because of the company, regardless of your own ethnicity. But if you are ethnically-Japanese publishing your comic outside of Japan, it is not manga.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that neither the English word nor the Japanese word contain anything related to art style. This is also true of words such as shounen, shoujo, seinen, josei, and so on: within each, there is a wide variety of art styles. For example, compare the art style of Kaitou St. Tail to NANA, to Kiko-chan Smile, to Ace wo Nerae, to Zetsuai 1989. They are all shoujo, but they do not look alike, and there are respective shounen series that look more like one of them than the other.
Shounen, shoujo, seinen, and josei are words that can only be used to refer to sub-genres within Japanese comics and animation; they cannot be applied to animation produced in America or any other countries. Rather than genres proper, they are simply technical groupings of marketing targets: was this series targeted at young adult women, or not? You can promptly tell which type it is by which area of the Japanese bookstore the manga is in.
According to Energetic Heartbeats,
What is Shoujo?
Shoujo (girls') is not a genre itself - it's the marketing strategy. Shoujo simply means that the title was originally marketed to a female audience in Japan. Nothing more than that. Shoujo includes its own genres that cannot be found in their original form within the shounen world, including mahou shoujo, shounen ai, yaoi, yuri, and others.
Shoujo is not limited to only anime and manga. The word is also used for audio dramas and novels. . . . Pretty much any film genre you can think of has been represented in shoujo.
What is Not Shoujo?
Shoujo is NOT a type of art style, nor a type of story element. It is not even neccessarily work by a specific creator. For example, the beloved team CLAMP is responsible for outstanding examples of shoujo manga and anime, but has also created shounen manga. What's the difference between the shounen manga and the shoujo manga? The shounen series was serialized in a manga magazine aimed at male readers.
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