Korra

A Hugo for Korra

I’ve done my own award eligibility post, talking about Invisible. Now I want to push something else, because I believe this past season of Legend of Korra deserves to be on the Hugo ballot.

I wasn’t familiar with Avatar: The Last Airbender when the first season of Legend of Korra came out, but I watched a few episodes of Korra, and I was hooked. Then I went back to watch Avatar. By the time I finished, I was a hardcore fanboy for life.

The Legend of Korra has had its ups and downs. I wasn’t as happy with season two, but season three started to turn things around.

And then the fourth and final season came out last year, despite some bumps and troubles from the network, and holy crap! This season was amazing. The artwork and animation was gorgeous, showing the blend of our world with the spirit world. The story took on PTSD and empire-building and compassion and redemption and family and war and so much more, and it avoided going for easy answers or resolutions. And then there was that final episode, where the writers finally Did the Thing!

Tenzin - Woohoo

I want Korra to win a rocket. I suspect the odds are against it, but I firmly believe this show and its creators have earned a spot on that ballot.

The Hugo Award Categories address serialized TV works:

Works such as TV series, comics and sometimes even whole novels are sometimes published in multiple parts making up a complete story arc. The individual elements of such a story arc are always eligible for their year of publication. However, voters may want to nominate a complete story arc. In such cases it is the publication date of the final installment of the series that counts for eligibility purposes.

Season four aired between October and December of 2014, so both the full season and all individual season four episodes are eligible for the Hugo.

I believe the entire season deserves to be nominated:

Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form): Legend of Korra, Season Four. Created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko

I would also encourage people to nominate individual episodes for the Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) category, if you have a favorite. To be honest, I’m still struggling to try to pick one. I’m leaning toward the final two episodes. And since you can nominate up to five things in each category, why not both?

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Legend of Korra, “Day of the Colossus.” Written by Tim Hedrick.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Legend of Korra, “The Last Stand.” Written by Michael Dante DiMartino.

ETA: A number of people are also recommending the second episode, which directly addresses Korra’s trauma and PTSD. I agree that this was one of the strongest episodes of a very strong season.

Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form): Legend of Korra, “Korra Alone.” Written by Michael Dante DiMartino.

I think Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of the best shows to ever go on television, and in it’s final season, I think Korra finally matched the quality, the artistry, the thoughtfulness, the storytelling, and the power of its predecessor.

If you’re eligible to nominate, I’d encourage you to check the show out (if you haven’t already), and to add it to your ballot.

Please feel free to link and share this post.

Legend of Korra, Season 4, Episodes 8-10

Season four of Legend of Korra is kicking serious ass. The humor, the writing, the characterization and development, everything has leveled up for this final season, and I’m really enjoying it.

Episode 8: Remembrances. This was the Legend of Korra clip show. Creator Bryan Konietzko explained that as a result of serious budget cuts, “We had two options: 1) let go a significant number of crew members several weeks early, or 2) make a clips episode. We never considered the first option. We weren’t going to do that to our crew, and even if we were callous enough to do so, we never would have been able to finish the season without them.”

Well, this was one of the most entertaining clip shows I’ve ever seen. I loved the pop-up chibi-style heads interrupting with questions and snide commentary in the first part. The second segment with Korra and Asami was great for another piece of character growth. But it was the final segment, where Varrick rewrites the entire first three seasons into a mover-style show with Bolin as the star, that was truly brilliant.

Also, I would totally watch Varrick’s mover about these four. (Click for full size.)

Korra 4x8

Episode 9: Beyond the Wilds. Any episode that opens with angry spirit vines and a tourist announcing, “I’m gonna poke it with a stick!” is a winner for me. But there were so many great moments and lines in this one.

  • Korra using earthbending like a laser pointer to play with Naga.
  • Varrick’s explanation of the superweapon. “Like a regular weapon. Only super!”
  • The fire nation’s refusal to go to war. I love the way you see them acknowledging their history, and being so cautious about never going down that road again.
  • Bolin’s line, “I love you guys … and I really want a hug again.”
  • Opal’s refusal to take any of Bolin’s romantinc scheming BS. Go, opal!
  • Asami and Varrick. Much as I like Varrick’s development this season, it was great to see that the show and the characters aren’t just forgetting everything he’s done until now. Asami wrist-locking the weasel and driving that point home was perfect.
  • And I loved Korra’s confrontation with Zahir. They’ve done such a great job of showing her struggle with PTSD. She’s fighting so hard, making real progress, but then every time her trauma resurfaces, you see her getting more despondent and frustrated. It feels so honest — there’s no quick fix. She thought facing Zahir would get her over her fear, but he showed her it wasn’t that easy.
  • But we also see Zahir’s regret for what happened in the wake of him murdering the Earth Kingdom queen last season. Korra’s victory wasn’t just in going to face Zahir, it was in choosing to let him help her.

Episode 10: Operation Beifong. Beifong reunion! Zhu Li being badass! Yes, please!

  • “What’s up with him?” To which Lin Beifong responds, “He’s an actor.”
  • I don’t know if we’d met Juicy the Bison before, but this was the first time I’d really registered him. He reminds me of a pathetic cat we used to have named Smoosh, a flat-faced beast with skin fungus and other problems who was constantly sneezing and snotting. So I’m loving Juicy the bison, as well as Opal’s commentary about the airbender-bison bond being permanent. You can’t change bisons. She checked. (But you know they love each other.)
  • I’m so glad that after three and a half seasons, Zhu Li is finally developing into her own character. I’ve hated the relationship between her and Varrick from day one. But she was clever enough to ingratiate herself to Kuvira and sabotage the progress of the atom bomb spirit vine weapon. And when caught, she all but spat in Kuvira’s face. Sweet!!!
  • And then we get Team Beifong, with Toph eventually joining in (as we all knew she would) to kick ass. Not even Kuvira wants to chase after that crew. Kuvira keeps her cool on the outside, but you know deep down she’s saying, “Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit. Please don’t make me fight the woman who invented metalbending.”

I’m really enjoying this season. My only dilemma now is whether to race through the final few episodes, or to space them out and prolong the enjoyment.

In Which John C. Wright Completely Loses his Shit over Legend of Korra

ETA: Good morning, all! For the new folks, please know that while disagreement is fine, I don’t have much patience for trolling, sock-puppetry, and for showing up in my space to act like a douchewagon. Comments that can’t handle that will be fed to the goblins.

ETA2: And to forestall certain individuals’ whining about “free speech,” please see this post: Freedom of Speech 101.

ETA3: As of April 2015, it looks like Mr. Wright has deleted his post. It’s archived at the Wayback Machine, however.

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To the shock of nobody who’s ever read his blog, John C. Wright is Very Unhappy with the ending of The Legend of Korra, in which Korra and Asami, two female women characters of the same girlish gender, hold hands while walking off into the spirit world together. Wright links to an article which confirms the romantic relationship between these two women, and writes:

“A children’s show, of all places, is where you decided to place an ad for a sexual aberration; you pervert your story telling skills to the cause of propaganda and political correctness.”

Sokka What

I assume Wright’s blog post was written over the course of several days, as he would have needed time to swoon over the horrific perversion of two women holding hands. Not to mention having to counsel his poor, traumatized children.

Keep in mind, this is a show that not only had explicit male/female smooching, but has also shown a woman being suffocated to death via airbending, the imprisonment and torture of Korra, the suicide of a season one villain, and plenty of other instances of brutal violence. But this is what Wright feels he must “protect” the children from.

Wright continues:

“You were not content to leave the matter ambiguous, no, but had publicly to announce that you hate your audience, our way of life, our virtues, values, and religion.”

The delusionality is strong with this one. Watch as he attempts to speak for an entire audience, many of whom were screaming with happiness at the Korra/Asami revelation.

Go watch this video of fan reactions. Look at the joy on those people’s faces.

These are some of the people he’s trying to speak for. Do they look like people whose way of life, whose values and religion and virtues, are so incredibly fragile that they can be hurt so badly by a several-second clip of two women holding hands, or the idea of two women falling in love?

Mister Wright, you do not speak for the audience of this show. You speak for yourself, and perhaps for a small group of intolerant bigots who can’t accept the slightest acknowledgement or recognition of relationships you personally disapprove of, for whatever twisted reason.

“Mr DiMartino and Mr Konietzko: You are disgusting, limp, soulless sacks of filth. You have earned the contempt and hatred of all decent human beings forever, and we will do all we can to smash the filthy phallic idol of sodomy you bow and serve and worship. Contempt, because you struck from behind, cravenly; and hatred, because you serve a cloud of morally-retarded mental smog called Political Correctness, which is another word for hating everything good and bright and decent and sane in life.”

The Phallic Idol of Sodomy. Also known as the Ypsilanti Water Tower:

YpsilantiWaterTower

I went to grad school in Ypsi. It’s amazing I escaped with my heterosexuality intact, spending two years in such close proximity to the PIoS!

A part of me wants to ask what happened to Mr. Wright that a couple of bisexual cartoon characters could send him into such an apoplexy of hatred and rage. What happened to make you so afraid, sir?

But before we get into that, I have to ask how you came to the conclusion that a relationship between two women was all about phallicism and sodomy. I think you might be a little confused as to how things work. Does someone need to sit you down and have “the talk”?

Sokka Facepalm

Wright concludes his rant by saying:

“I have no hatred in my heart for any man’s politics, policies, or faith, any more than I have hatred for termites; but once they start undermining my house where I live, it is time to exterminate them.”

Right. There’s nothing hateful about calling people “disgusting, limp, soulless sacks of filth,” or comparing them to termites and calling for their extermination.

Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are shows about overcoming hatred and violence and fear. How can you claim to be “a lifelong fan” when you hold so much hatred and intolerance in your heart?

Aang would be so disappointed in you. I suspect Korra would simply turn her back on you and your irrelevant, close-minded views.

I know I’m not going to change your mind. I’m not going to break you out of your little world, or get you to see that the rest of the world is moving on without you. I doubt I’ll make any difference in helping you to see how much Korra and Asami matter to people, how important a step this was. I doubt you’ll recognize LGBT people as human beings with as much value and right to love and happiness as you or me.

But I can damn well make sure you understand that you do not speak for the audience of this show. You are not the mouthpiece for fans. Speak your poison in your own name if you must, but don’t tarnish the rest of fandom with your bile.

On that note, I’ll leave you with a couple of fan-made gifs.

Korrasami2

Korrasami1

Legend of Korra 4×2: Korra Alone

Legend of Korra
4×2: Korra Alone

Full episodes available at Nick.com.

Episode Summary (from the Avatar Wiki): While being haunted by a shadow of herself in the Avatar State, Korra reminisces about the hardships she went to in the course of three years. In 171 AG, she retreated to the Southern Water Tribe in an attempt to heal her body and her mind. After two years and with Katara’s help, she was able to recover physically, though continued to have visions about Zaheer and the attempt on her life. In 173 AG, she set out on a journey across the world to reconnect with Raava, though to no avail. In 174 AG, while wandering through a small Earth Kingdom town, she decides to confront the vision of herself and ends up losing. However, when a small dog begs her to follow it, she does so and after passing out in a swamp after a new confrontation with her Avatar self, she wakes up in the home of Toph.

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Legend of Korra 4×1: After All These Years

Legend of Korra
4×1: After All These Years

Full episodes available at Nick.com.

Episode Summary (from the Avatar Wiki): In the three years after the Insurrection of the Red Lotus, Republic City has come to terms with the spirits living in the metropolis, Kuvira and Baatar Jr., along with their supporters, have traveled the Earth Kingdom in an attempt to reunite it under her militaristic rule, and the Air Nation assists there where needed. By 174 AG, Asami Sato helped modernize Central City Station and Prince Wu is groomed to ascend the vacant Earth Kingdom throne with Mako momentarily serving as his bodyguard. Meanwhile, Kai and Opal stop a robbery in the State of Yi, though are unable to restore the town’s supply lines, leaving the reluctant governor no other choice than to agree to Kuvira’s terms for help and hand over the town to her command. Korra was set to reunite with Team Avatar in Republic City, but has been traveling alone for the past six months, making a rough living with earthbender cage fighting while hiding her identity as the Avatar. More

Legend of Korra: Chapters 11 and 12

Legend of Korra
2 x 11: Night of a Thousand Stars
2 x 12: Harmonic Convergence

Full episodes available at Nick.com.

Episode Summary (from the Avatar Wiki): At the South Pole, Tonraq and his rebels are defeated by Unalaq and his forces. Meanwhile, in Republic City, Bolin prevents four waterbenders from kidnapping President Raiko and his wife. After a brief battle, the earthbender forces one of the man to reveal Varrick as the mastermind behind it all, leading to his arrest. With Mako’s allegations proven correct, he is released from prison. Korra and Tenzin and his family return to Republic City to gather reinforcements to travel South in order to stop Unalaq from freeing Vaatu and destroying the world. When Raiko refuses to send the United Forces, Mako, Bolin, and Asami accompany them instead on Varrick’s battleship.

After leaving Jinora’s spiritless body in Katara’s care, Korra and her friends attempt to break through the Northern defenses in order to reach the Southern spirit portal. Although initially unsuccessful, they manage to enter the Spirit World, where Bumi, Kya, and Tenzin leave to find Jinora’s spirit, while Mako and Bolin hold back Unalaq in order to give Korra the time to close the portal. However, when Harmonic Convergence starts, Korra had not yet managed to close the portal and Vaatu manages to break free from his prison inside the Tree of time.

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Legend of Korra: A New Spiritual Age

Legend of Korra
2 x 10: A New Spiritual Age

Full episodes available at Nick.com.

Episode Summary (from the Avatar Wiki): After successfully arriving in the Spirit World, Korra and Jinora get separated. Jinora ends up at Wan Shi Tong’s Library, where she is captured by Unalaq. Korra finds herself in a dark forest as a four-year-old, where she encounters Iroh’s spirit. With the help of the former Fire Nation general, she helps a lost dragon bird spirit, who in turn helps her to find the spirit portals. There, she is forced by her uncle to open the northern portal, lest he destroy Jinora’s soul.

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Jim C. Hines