Both shows were good, but here are just some thoughts.
One of the most distinguishable difference between The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra is the world the Avatar lives in. We can compare it to our own world – the real world – and we can see the apparent similarities and minor differences.
Watching The Last Airbender was like being transported to a whole new world. Living in the city, I have never wondered how other people of other religions or/and other beliefs or/and other races lived their lives different from mine. I’ve always assumed… everyone lived the same. People go to school, then to work, sometimes they fall in love, they get married, have children, and then their children go to school, then to work, etc.
The Last Airbender was, from the very beginning, an adventure. I experienced things I know I will never experience in real life – like ride a boat in the middle of the North Pole, or sled on a penguin. But it gets deeper. As I watched, I learned more about the Air Nomads – the monks – and their beliefs.
As I went from the Southern Water Tribe to the Earth Kingdom, I noticed their differences, and how these differences collided.
Take, for example, how, when the Southern Water Tribe found out about Aang’s mission, they were determined to fulfill it. Then, we fly to the Earth Kingdom, where their general was mad enough to suggest that Aang rush to the Avatar State and forget about tradition.
That kind of attitude was understandable. Wrong, but understandable. Why? Because they’re at war. Some were determined to follow tradition, no matter the circumstance. Others were determined to follow the shortcut.
This show gave me an understanding on how terrible war is to people. It doesn’t just kill lives, it kills minds too. The person you are before a war can never be the same after. Sometimes, that’s for the better (see: Zuko, Iroh), but other times, it’s for the worse (see: Azula, the Puppetmaster).
The Last Airbender showed me the causes and effects of war, but it also taught me how to be a child again; it taught me how to always have hope. That’s what it’s all about.
And it is so different from The Legend of Korra.
I am actually thankful for the change, because it makes sense. We ended The Last Airbender with a war being over. It’s all in the past, just as how the World Wars are past for us. There is no remnant of it still living, nothing except the heroes’ living relatives.
But I will always prefer The Last Airbender more.
The world of Legend of Korra has buildings and cars and planes and streets with street food and parks and people not being allowed to fish in the lake in the park. It reminds me too much of the world I’m living in now…
…and I’ve never liked anything close to reality.
The Equalists can symbolize the communists in our day. I mean, look at the similarities.
The one thing I love the most about the show as a whole is Team Avatar.
Let’s discuss the team as a whole. Let’s begin with The Gaang, as I love to call it.
[A/n]: Technically speaking, I don’t think Suki and Zuko are a ‘major’ member in the Gaang, so let’s rule them out for now. (I have nothing against them. You have to understand that I have to describe the team from the beginning til the end, not just… well, the end). Zuko is… complicated. More on him later.
We have Aang, Katara, Sokka and Toph. I love each one of them differently. They have proven to the world that they were not just a bunch of kids. Katara, Zuko and Toph became a master at their own bending, by discovering metalbending and bloodbending. Sokka and Suki proved to the world that you don’t need to have bending abilities to be a badass and a hero.
But what I love the most is how they interact with each other independently. We had one episode that showed the clash between Katara’s and Toph’s personality, we had different scenes that challenged Sokka and Katara’s brother-sister relationship. We saw Aang and Katara fight to keep their feelings to themselves, and focus on the war. We saw Zuko fight to gain their trust, how Aang accepted him easily, how Katara didn’t. We heard their thoughts as Aang asked if they could accept Zuko in their team. Some did out of sympathy, others did out of nonchalance, most did out of duty.
Zuko has, in some way, always been in Team Avatar. He was the driving force that pushed the original three – Aang, Katara and Sokka, to fly on Appa and begin their adventure. He was the reason they were driven to become a team. While Azula and the Fire Lord were significant factors to drive them forward, Zuko was the reason there was someone to drive forward in the first place. The way I see it, Zuko was the catalyst. [A/n]: Or maybe I’m just biased and I love Zuko too much. To each his own, I guess.
We saw these children grow – our little babies who, before they met each other, were looking for their own destiny and who, after everything they’ve been through, did.
And nothing can be more sweet, or more painful, than seeing your little babies change. *wipes tear*
Legend of Korra, on the other hand, starts with a team of teenagers. Gone are the sweet innocent eyes and cheeky smiles. What is replaced are a pair of determined eyes – so determined to prove their worth to everyone else, everyone else who looks down on them – and playful, teasing smiles.
Some might not like Legend of Korra because of the love triangle in Team Avatar, but I think it’s kind of realistic, and I applaud the middle-aged men who created them. With the war gone and away from everyone’s mind, of course people have more than enough time to think about getting involved, and that’s not a bad thing.
In retrospect, this can actually complicate matters in the team realistically, and if the writers’ goal is to make the show more realistic, then they’re doing a pretty good job.
In The Last Airbender, we have one mission: Defeat the Fire Lord.
Along the way, we meet new people, we face new problems, and with that we come up with new solutions, and summed up all together, we get one big finale that sums everything and everyone up. Every episode has been leading to the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai, and we had it. Once the mission was done, so did the story of Aang, the Last Airbender.
In The Legend of Korra, it gets more exciting. There was no mission. There was only one goal for Avatar Korra in the beginning: finish learning and mastering all 4 elements.
At the end of Book 1, she ended the Equalist movement, saved Republic City from a vengeful, powerful energybending man, and learned airbending along the way.
At the end of Book 2, she learned more about the spirits than any of her past selves could (except for Wan, maybe), defeated her uncle from destroying the world, and joined the Spirit and Our world into one.
In The Last Airbender, each short story has been leading to one big whamming finale.
In The Legend of Korra, each season is on its own, and the next is always a mystery.
Also, the villains in the sequel change every book. They fight more with words, and manipulation is their ultimate skill.
While the Fire Nation was the Last Airbender’s only villain in the majority of the whole show, Legend of Korra had the Equalists, and Tarlac. Now that both are defeated, we can expect that there’s going to be a new one in the upcoming book/season.
What I like the most about The Legend of Korra is how, unlike other sequels, the past isn’t trying to haunt the present anymore (something like the episode Avatar Day, where Aang was blamed for something Kyoshi did years ago).
The Main Character:
Aang was a peaceful airbending kid who never wanted to be the Avatar. He was a great, loving friend, and a caring boy to strangers. Even when there was a war raging on, even when the fate of humanity was hanging on his shoulders, he was still a kid, and he was still able to find time to laugh, to fool around, to smile.
Korra is a fierce waterbending teenager who, since the day she was born, has been more than ready to show people that she is the Avatar. Every single day of her life, she is reminded of the fact that she is the Avatar, that she is powerful, that she is special, that she’s not like everyone else.
That’s true, but their difference in upbringing made them so different.
Aang was stuck in ice, but the moment he woke up, he became good friends with the first people he met. He revealed that he had friends before – a firebender named Kuzan, and a monk named Gyatso, and probably more. He’d lost his people, and that grief settled over him. You can see it sometimes in his eyes, every time it is mentioned.
Korra has never experienced that kind of grief. She was surrounded by her family, taken care of by the people around her… but notice how easy it was for her to leave, without saying goodbye to anyone. Notice how she wasn’t pulled into a long embrace by anyone other than her parents when she returned to the Southern Water Tribe.
There’s a possibility that she’s never had friends before she met Bolin and Mako.
Differences aside, Aang and Korra are both challenged to lead the path of the world they live in, even at such a young age. As they are children, sometimes their sentimentality puts the whole mission they’re in in jeopardy. They lack the rational and logical thinking that an adult possesses.
But if there’s one thing that the whole show has been teaching us, no matter who the Avatar is, it’s that you should always trust the instincts of children. The kids of our generation, in our world, may not be powerful benders or warriors, but each child has the creativity and uniqueness that adults most often lack.
And most of all, it shows us how greatly a child can forgive, trust, and love. I think more adults should watch Avatar, just so they can see that.
Maybe, once they do, they can forgive, trust and love a child just as, or even more than, a child does.