The Legend of Korra returns to the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender seventy years later. The world has progressed from a Japanese-styled feudal state to something resembling 1930’s America. Despite the series’ title; Korra’s role as Avatar is less one of legendary messiah, and more political figurehead.
Bending is the ability to control the elements with one’s mind. Either air, water, earth, or fire; or in the case of the Avatar, all four. Only some people in the world have this power. They didn’t ask for it, they didn’t develop it; they were simply born with it.
People with bending abilities have an advantage in the world. Indeed, some use their powers to exploit and terrorize non-benders, as is the case with the organized crime families, or ‘triads.’ Even when wielded by a benevolent bender, the power differential between those with powers and those without remains. It is as if one group in society is allowed to carry guns with them everywhere, and another group is prohibited.
In response to this situation, the non-bending political-turned-terrorist movement known as the Equalists begins to take root. For them, ‘balance’ can not be achieved by agreement, it must be fundamental. To be equal, everyone must have an equal amount of power. It’s a pessimistic view of humanity, that those with bending powers can never be trusted to treat non-benders as equals, and yet it’s true.
To that end they use science to create weapons and martial arts that challenge the abilities of benders. These actions are presented as evil within the series; but how can something that simply levels the playing field be ‘evil?’ Is power only ‘good’ when it is held by one of the elite (even when many of those elite use that power for evil)?
At one point, the city council (who all happen to be benders) decide to address the Equalist threat through collective punishment, forcing curfews on all non-benders; an action that serves only to radicalize the remaining non-benders who were, until then, still on their side.
Benders may save humanity from time to time; but they only save them from other benders; if bending never existed, would everyone be better off?
The Legend of Korra has are a lot of illusions to America’s class struggle and to the Israel/Palestine conflict, though it’s kept at arm’s length. More interestingly, it isn’t heavy handed. The issues are not presented as good and evil, or right and wrong; but as complicated situations in which everyone truly believes that they are doing the right thing.
The Legend of Korra was initially conceived as a 12 episode miniseries (it’s since been expanded to 52 episodes). Thus, the episodes included in this two-disc release contain a complete and stand-alone story. The creators of Avatar, who returned for this sequel series, did not rest on their past success by recreating it. Instead of another old-fashioned adventure, they gave us a modern political / action story. It still feels like Avatar, but it has been elevated. Like Harry Potter, the series has matured along with its audience.
The Blu-ray looks fantastic. Colors are vivid and the black lines are as sharp as can be. I couldn’t detect a single artifact or blemish. Extras include a behind-the-scenes documentary and audio commentaries on every episode.