Avatar: The Last Airbender vs The Legend of Korra

By Paige Greene
Web Content Contributor

Since the release of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra on Netflix, people have been “binge-watching” both series and comparing the two. Personally, I never had watched The Legend of Korra until it was added onto Netflix– and I have mixed feelings.

Avatar: The Last Airbender is an animated television series that ran on Nickelodeon and aired in 2005. The series follows a young boy named Aang, in a world of elemental magic where he is named the next Avatar, a master of all of the elements tasked with keeping world peace.

Throughout the show, the young Avatar faces many trials and tribulations with his friends and sky bison, Appa. The show became the highest-rated animated television series for its time and demographic until being cancelled in 2008.

Four years later, the first episode of The Legend of Korra aired. The follow-up series is set 70 years after the events of The Last Airbender and follows the next Avatar, Korra. Besides a few returning characters from original series, many of the original characters have already passed in the new series and the world is a completely different place that we saw in The Last Airbender.

One of the main comparisons is the different type of bending in the two shows. The Last Airbender focuses on the four main elemental bending types: earth, water, fire and air, while the newer series explored more alternative forms of bending than seen previously. These alternative forms include blood, spirit, and metal bending, which makes for some exciting moves in the show.

I personally enjoy the alternative forms of bending as well as the original elemental types. We only got a taste of blood bending in The Last Airbender from Katara, a member of the southern water tribe, and I wish we had gotten more. Those episodes continue to be a few of my favorites due to the thrilling and suspenseful use of blood bending. This means the exciting forms of alternative bending in The Legend of Korra makes it very worthwhile to watch and see the progression between the two shows.

Another observation is the difference in writing between the two shows. It is clear the original writers of The Last Airbender had less of an influence on the newer series, with the linear episodes and a few cringe-worthy fillers. The Last Airbender has a clear direction from the first season and nearly each episode continued the story thread. The Legend of Korra seems to have many single-story threads and no clear direction, turning many fans of the original series off.

Lastly, The Legend of Korra is clearly set for an older audience with some mature subject matters. The writers clearly did not want to lose their original fan base and wrote for a slightly older audience so that these fans could continue to watch the new show. This leads to some interesting and more intriguing storylines in The Legend of Korra.

I will always love Avatar: The Last Airbender more than The Legend of Korra. I am halfway through watching the newer series of Netflix but can say it still brings the same nostalgic feeling as watching the original series. I would say if you have yet to watch The Legend of Korra, it is definitely worth your time.

Featured image by Paige Greene.

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