Korra (The Legend of Korra)

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Korra
Avatar: The Last Airbender/The Legend of Korra character
Korra with her arms cross
First appearance "Welcome to Republic City"
Created by Michael Dante DiMartino
Bryan Konietzko
Voiced by Janet Varney
Cora Baker (child)
Information
Full name Korra
Species Human (Bonded with Raava to form Avatar Spirit)
Gender Female
Occupation Avatar
Mediator of balance, harmony, peace, order and reconciliation
Title The Avatar
Avatar Korra
Family Tonraq (father)
Senna (mother)
Significant other(s)

Mako Naga (animal guide)
Raava (Deity, personification of harmony and concord)
Incarnation:
Wan (distant past life, deceased)
Aang (immediate predecessor, deceased)
Relatives Unalaq (paternal uncle; deceased)
Eska and Desna (first cousins)
Nationality Southern Water Tribe
Age Pre-series: born in 153 AG
The Legend of Korra: 17 in 170 AG, 18 in 171 AG and 21 in 174 AG
Bending Element Primary: Sub-styles:
Hair color Brown
Eye color Light blue
Position Protagonist

Avatar Korra is the lead character in Nickelodeon's animated television series The Legend of Korra (a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender) and the current incarnation of the Avatar. The character was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and is voiced by Janet Varney.

Character overview[edit]

Korra lives in a fantasy world where a large fraction of the human population can magically manipulate any one of the classical elements: earth, fire, air, or water. The art of manipulating an element is called "bending" within the narrative. Korra is the current incarnation of the Avatar, a semi-divine, reincarnating human embodiment of light and peace, capable of bending all four elements simultaneously. As the Avatar, it is Korra's duty in life to first master all four bending principles, and use these abilities to maintain peace and balance between humans and spirits in the world.

Creation and conception[edit]

Janet Varney voices Korra

Korra's character was inspired by various female MMA fighters, as Bryan Konietzko is a fan of mixed martial arts. In addition, she was indirectly inspired by one of Bryan Konietzko's sisters. Korra was also designed to be an inversion of Aang, the title character of the preceding story Avatar: The Last Airbender. Instead of the young, spiritual Aang, Korra is a more physical character who has trouble grasping the spiritual side of being the Avatar, while Aang takes a while to master each of the elements, but connects with the spirit world instantaneously.[1]

Korra's name was settled long after her character was imagined. Konietzko and DiMartino couldn't agree to a name for her until they learned "Cora", the name of a hotel operator's dog. The name was kept, and only changed in spelling.[2]

Personality and characteristics[edit]

Unlike her predecessor Aang, Korra is described by her creators as "very tough, very headstrong, and not scared to get into a fight." [3] Although she is talented, her stubborn and hot-headed personality prevents her from easily learning Airbending or connecting with the Spirit World.[4] The Avatar traditionally has the greatest difficulty mastering the element diametrically opposed to the Avatar's native bending ability. For instance, Avatar Roku—a Firebender—took longer to learn Waterbending and Aang—an Airbender—took longer to learn Earthbending. The Waterbender Korra, on the other hand, had little difficulty with Firebending but had considerable trouble with Airbending, a situation noted to be psychological and not elemental.

Her best friend and animal guide is a polar bear-dog named Naga, whose strength helps Korra out of many dangerous situations. Although wild polar bear dogs were originally feared and hunted by Water Tribes, Korra is the first person to ever tame one.[5] Korra is good friends with her pro-bending teammates, the brothers Mako (her former romantic interest) and Bolin. She also develops a strong friendship with Asami Sato, a wealthy industrialist and Mako's one-time girlfriend. Korra has strong relationships with the family of her previous Avatar. Katara and Tenzin taught her, Tenzin's children look to her as an older sister and Kya and Bumi regard her as a friend. Korra is on generally good terms with her mother and father, but has little contact with her uncle or cousins, whom she considers weird (and her father considers dangerous). Korra is unusual amongst her past lives in that she is technically royalty: her father Tonraq was formerly going to be the chief of the Northern Water Tribe before being banished and relocating to the South.

Korra's character developed and matured during episodes 11 through 12 of the first season when she was confronted with detachment from her main three bending skills, leaving her with Airbending, which she had unlocked to save Mako from Amon. Later, she connected to her spiritual self through Aang. Once the connection to her Avatar predecessors was established, Aang was able to bestow Energybending upon Korra (as well as her main three bending skills lost earlier). Though Korra is now able to bend all four elements while being capable of entering the Avatar State, Korra is still in the process of perfecting her Airbending skills as well as having a true connection and understanding of her spiritual self to complete her training as a fully realized Avatar.

Appearances[edit]

Book One: Air[edit]

Korra with her past life Aang.

After the death of Aang, Korra was born among the Southern Water Tribe. Her abilities as the Avatar first manifest when she easily bend both fire and earth in addition to her native element at the age of four. Soon after, later revealed to be for her safety, Korra was entrusted to the Order of the White Lotus and trained under them. At the age of seventeen, mastering the other elements, the teenage Korra only needed to learn airbending from only living airbending master, Aang's son Tenzin. The elders of the Order of the White Lotus believe that Korra "lacks restraint" and should first master the spiritual side of being the Avatar, but Korra's teacher and Waterbending Master Katara reasons that her son possessed the skills to teach the young Avatar spirituality. Tenzin and his family arrive at the White Lotus compound two weeks later, only to leave due to unstable conditions in Republic City with Korra sneaking off to Republic City and is eventually taken in by Tenzin after a confrontation with a bending gang and Republic City's metalbending police force. Later, Korra meets earthbender Bolin and his firebender brother Mako, joining their Fire Ferrets pro-bending team after their previous third member quit on them. Though Tenzin disapproved, he allowed Korra to participate as her the movements required in pro-bending helps in airbending training.

In time, Korra learned the unrest in Republic City is caused by a group of non-benders called the Equalists, led by the mysterious Amon who seemed to possess the ability to permanently remove the bending others. of three members of a bending gang. While Korra continued to practice and play Pro-Bending until the champion match, having turned down the ambitious politian Tarrlok's offer to learn his anti-Equalist group, she refocused on dealing with the Equalists after they attack the Pro-Bending stadium while contending with Tarrlok before learning he is the son of the moonless blood-bending crime lord Yakone.

Soon after Tarrlok's disappearance, Amon eventually declares full scale war against Republic City, with Korra is forced to wait along with Mako, Bolin, and Asami until the United Forces can send military aid. However, only Zuko's grandson General Iroh survived the Equalists' ambush as the group split up to take out Amon on different fronts. But as Iroh, Bolin, and Asami find and sabotage the Equalists' airfield and other bases of operation, Korra and Mako learn from Tarrlok that Amon is actually his brother Noatak. With this knowledge, Korra is able to expose Amon at the cost of all her bending save airbending. However, it is seemed she lost her full bending for good, Korra's bending abilities are fully restored to her by the spirit of Aang, along with the spirits of the previous Avatars before him. She is also given the ability of Energybending. Using this newly acquired ability, she is able to undo Amon's removal of people's bending.

Book Two: Spirits[edit]

In Book Two: Spirits, taking place six months after the Anti-bending Revolution, Korra travels to her homeland alongside her friends and Tenzin's family for the Glacial Spirits Festival. She greets her uncle and chief of the Northern Water Tribe Unalaq and her first cousins, Desna and Eska, both of whom unnerve her due to their detached nature and their general dislike of her. Later during the night, Korra is attacked by a Dark Spirit which she, her father Tonraq, Mako and Bolin were able to defeat before Unalaq purifies it. Frustrated with Tenzin and Tonraq for keeping her in the compound of The Order of the White Lotus when Aang wanted otherwise, Korra chooses Unalaq as her new spiritual teacher as the saddened Tenzin leaves for the Southern Air Temple. In "The Southern Lights", learning of her father being exiled from the Northern Water Tribe for angering spirits, Korra accompanies Unalaq to the South Pole to restore the Spirit World portal located there.

But once Korra returns home after opening the portal, she finds her village under Northern Water Tribe occupation to force traditions her people threw away. Soon after her parents were unjustly arrested, Korra learns that Unalaq set up her father just like with his exile. After freeing her father, Korra and her friends flee to Republic City for support of the South in the now-ignited civil war between the two Water Tribes. But after Korra is unable to get support from the United Forces, she uses a speedboat to travel to the Fire Nation to convince them to help the Southern Tribe (due to good relations since the end of the Hundred Year War). She is then attacked by Desna and Eska, who were assigned by their father to capture the Avatar as she is needed to open the Northern spirit portal. However, Korra is attacked by a massive dark spirit and dragged beneath the waves with her cousins assuming she died.

However, having lost her memory as the exposure to the dark spirit is destroying her spirit, Korra is later revealed to be alive and washed up on shore somewhere in the Fire Nation where she is discovered by two Fire Sages who bring her to a nearby fire temple. As Korra is lowered into spiritual healing waters to cleanse her of the dark infection, she encounters her past lives before meeting the first Avatar, Wan, and learns of both the origin of the Avatar Cycle when Wan merged with the light spirit Raava to seal her counterpart: The dark spirits' leader Vaatu. With the knowledge of the upcoming Harmonic Convergence would release Vaatu through the unsealed portals, Korra heads to the Eastern Air Temple to receive help from Tenzin. But with Jinora guiding Korra into the Spirit World, it only allowed Unalaq to force Korra to open the northern spirit portal.

Soon after, Korra and Tenzin's family return to Republic City to gain assistance from Team Avatar in stopping Unalaq before Harmonic Convergence. However, learning that Tonraq and the rebels have been imprisoned, Korra's group is captured after arriving back to the Southern Water Tribe as they learn Unalaq's true goal to absorb Vaatu and become a Dark Avatar. Unable to stop Unalaq from achieving his goal, Korra ends up being separated from Raava and watching the spirit be destroyed as the Dark Avatar proceeds to attack Republic City. But with some guidance from Tenzin, Korra energybends a giant astral projection of her spirit to pursuit the Dark Avatar and retrieves a reconstituted Raava before purifying Vaatu out of existence with Unalaq killed in the process. After Korra uses the Harmonic Convergence to renew her connection with Raava, though her connection with the past Avatar incarnations are lost, she decides to keep the Spirit portals open so humans and spirits can co-exist. She gives a speech to all the Southerners about Unalaq's defeat and that the Northern fleet is returning home. She declares both tribes will remain allies, but both are now independent and Tonraq is now the new chief of the Southern Water Tribe. In addition, Korra renounces the Avatar's role as the bridge between two worlds, but declares that she will still use Raava's light spirit to bring peace. She concludes her speech with announcing that Harmonic Convergence has shifted the planet's energy and that the world is now entering a new age, as various spirits roam the skies above.

Book Three: Change[edit]

Two weeks after the events of Book Two: Spirits, which mark the beginning of Book Three: Change, Korra is placed in a difficult situation since she could no longer seek the aid of her past lives for guidance. In fact, her decision in keeping the Spirit Portals open have caused a difficult transition for the residents of Republic City when Spirits begin moving in as Korra is eventually banned from the city. At that time, it is revealed that the Harmonic Convergence had an unforeseen effect as some non-bending people became airbenders. This gives Korra a new mission to help Tenzin rebuild the nearly extinct nation of the Air Nomads after 170 years by recruiting these new airbenders. The search takes Korra and her friends to the Earth Kingdom where they attempt to convince the Earth Queen Hou-Ting to help them, only to learn she is secretly abducting her airbending subjects to serve as her private army. Korra mounts a rescue mission, parting ways with Tenzin to find more airbenders across the Earth Kingdom while he and the airbenders head to the Northern Air Temple.

At the same time that Korra began her journey to the Earth Kingdom, a criminal named Zaheer escaped with his newly gained airbending powers and freed his three allies from their custom made prisons before they resume their focus on capturing the Avatar prior to their imprisonment. Korra encounters the quartet during her stay at Zaofu, a city of metal led by Lin's half-sister Suyin Beifong who taught her to metalbend while picking up Suyin's daughter Opal when revealed to be an air-bender. When Suyin's trusted advisor Aiwei is revealed to be an ally of Zaheer who helped him enter Zaofu in an attempt to kidnap Korra, Korra's group tracks him down to the Misty Palms Oasis. Learning that Aiwei entered a mediated state to meet with Zaheer in Spirit World, Korra follows and witnesses Zaheer dispatch Aiwei. Unaware that his allies are going after her body as Asami gets her to safety, Korra learns that Zaheer's group and Unalaq are members of the Red Lotus, an offshoot of the Order of the White Lotus that formed after the Hundred Year War with the purpose to restore the world order through chaos and anarchy.

By the time Korra regained consciousness, she finds herself and Asami have been captured by the Earth Queen's troops and intended to bring them back to Ba Sing Se. They manage to escape and reunite with their allies at the Misty Palms Oasis, Korra learning that Zaheer has murdered the Earth Queen with Ba Sing Se placed in utter chaos. Matters worsen when Korra learned Zaheer took over the Northern Air Temple and, after consulting with Lord Zuko, agrees to turn herself in to save the airbenders taken hostage. However, with Suyin devising a divide and conquer strategy, Korra learns too late that Zaheer went back on his word as it results in a fight that ends with Zaheer escaping with Korra after the death of his lover P'li. From there, Korra is taken to cave that the Red Lotus stationed themselves in where the full extent of Zaheer's plan is reveal: Subjecting her to a metal-based poison that would trigger the Avatar state so Korra's death would end the Avatar cycle as part of the Red Lotus's goal to restore the world to what it was before the lifetime of Wan.

Though Korra attempted to resist while subjected to hallucinations, she ends up entering the Avatar State while breaking free. While her friends deal with Ming-Hua and Ghazan, Korra pursues Zaheer outside the cave and fiercely clashes with him before the poison takes effect. Luckily, Korra is saved from Zaheer's suffocation when Jinora and the rest of the newly freed airbenders combine their powers to trigger a massive cyclone that sucks the two combatants in, with Korra using the last of her strength to drag Zaheer to the ground with her remaining chain. Though Suyin managed to get most of the poison out of her system, the ordeal effected Korra on a psychological level. Two weeks later, allowed to return to Republic City, a wheelchair bound Korra attains Jinora's induction as an airbending master. The ceremony also doubled as Tenzin's announcement that the new Air Nomads, in the wake of the chaos caused by the Red Lotus and the chance that some members are still active, will become a traveling force for peace while Korra is still temporary incapacitated.

Book Four: Balance[edit]

In the final season, The Book of Balance, three years have passed since Korra's near-death experience from fighting Zaheer with a multitude of changes that occurred in the world. Afer Korra learned her battle with Zaheer caused her to lose her ability to assume the Avatar State, she decides to travel the world on solitude to rediscover herself and restore her connection with Raava. Korra eventually comes to the Earth Kingdom, which has begun to suffer civil strafe from two oppositions: One being Kuvira, who was formerly Suyin's bodyguard before taking advantage of the power vacuum to establish the Earth Empire, and the other being Prince Wu, the rightful heir to Ba Sing Se. Korra's search for a means to reconnect with Raava leads her to the Foggy Swamp. There, Korra receives aid by an elderly Toph Beifong in removing the last traces of the poison still in her body. Found by Ikki, Meelo and Jinnora at the time, Korra learns that Kuvira is attacking Zaofu and attempts to stop her. However, despite letting go of her fears, Korra is unable to maintain the Avatar State and escapes on an air bison back to Air Temple Island to talk with Tenzin who she believed would help her.[6][7]

Reception[edit]

Initially, Nickelodeon suspended production on the series because they did not like Korra being a girl. But, after seeing the completed first episode, they let the series resume development. Fan interest in Korra was high at the time of her announcement. During the series run, Emily Ashby of Common Sense Media claimed that Korra was a good role model, citing her dedication to her goals and open-mindedness towards new ideas. When the second season of the show began to air, there was a mild controversy about the character. Fans and reviewers alike were not happy with Korra's behavior and the way she was acting. Bryan Konietzko, co-creator of The Legend of Korra, compared this controversy to a similar one that occurred about Zuko during the run of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Korra's experience with post traumatic stress disorder during Book Four has been highly praised as a realistic approach to the subject, and Janet Varney's performance has also been praised. [8] [9]

References[edit]

External links[edit]