Some observations on Mako, Makorra and Masami from Legend of Korra

I don’t understand the weird hatred that some people have for Mako. It makes no sense to me for people to be profiling Mako against ex-boyfriends who have abused them. Understandably, Mako has flaws but he has never been an abusive character, neither to Asami nor Korra. Treating Mako as a paragon of the perfect boyfriend is reducing his character. Mako is not meant to always be a perfect boyfriend; he is meant to be a perfect love. Which Mako actually succeeds in doing. Mako is  a character: three dimensionally, he isn’t only supposed to be only be a love interest and that what made his and Korra’s relationship so interesting. They were both characters in their own right trying to make it work. And it succeeds and succeeds on many levels.

I think people are not addressing something that is extremely important. Korra and Mako are not “perfect” boyfriend and girlfriend. Not in the traditional sense anyway. Mako was made to mature before his adulthood so he has certain needs and styles of showing affection that is pretty non-generic. In fact, Korra, due to growing up mostly alone, is not really indoctrinated to popular social cues in the dating game herself. This allows an esoteric dialogue between them. One must not always look at a character as a reflection of themselves or what they would do. It can’t really be valid because of differing circumstances. I mean, Korra didn’t plan to kiss Mako beforehand neither did Mako plan prematurely to return her kiss in a full-fledged way. It happened for other circumstances.

The relationship had some mature circumstances thrown at it. It isn’t fully a  standard teen romance and that is why Makorra shined. For example, Mako said it made “more sense” to be with Asami. This attitude clearly showed that like many people Mako thought that dating Asami would be prudent because Asami is, ironically, the “perfect girlfriend.” Asami is the person you can’t really be gut-wrenchingly honest with, if you are a person like Mako, because Asami behaved like a socialite. Mako aspires to be like her: content, confident and secure. However, you will notice that Mako easily opens up to Korra because Korra and Mako challenge each other and can easily be comfortable with each other. This may be intimidating at first to a person in Mako’s position who has faced so many hardships in life that reservation has become second skin and instinct to him at first.  Then when Korra got kidnapped Mako realised what was really important was Korra and that confidence, security and contentment would easily follow if he is honest with himself.

Mako’s “crimes” against Asami are also something that young people, of all genders and sexes, accidentally do, it is not innately an evil trait that makes him inevitably  a cheating low-life. Despite Book 2 I saw Makorra as  a real substantial relationship that had real complex issues involved in it. That is why I loved it. Mako evaluated Korra’s actions and Korra evaluated his which is what true loves  actually happen to do. You evaluate to make them better; the best they can be. Mako, as Korra, had some real true complications. Raiko cornered Mako into confessing about Korra but this was not really exacerbated by him from the get-go not finding Korra’s United Forces recruitment a prudent idea. Mako was essentially right. We know with experiences with Aang that Katara was his natural council and that he did less than wise things too out of being rather emotionally hyperactive or too invested. Katara was not always agreeing with Aang, in fact, in one of the most important journeys of Katara’s life Aang refused to join saying that she should forgive her mother’s murderer. Of course, I loved Zutara better because I think Zuko may understand Katara in some cases better but after much thought I must say that Aang was wiser here. Yes, Katara didn’t forgive the man but she couldn’t kill him either. Killing isn’t in Katara’s nature and Aang instinctively knew that. Like Mako instinctively understood that in her zeal to fix things as the avatar Korra forgets about repercussions about her actions. This was the first thing that happened in Republic City when she arrived. Korra went overboard with the Triple Threats making Lin question her tactics.

Where Aang does not engage in action and can pretty much be passive in his avatar duties (while more prudent in his interpersonal relationships) Korra is the antithesis. Katara gave advice to Aang to be more an engaged avatar while Mako gives advice to Korra to not be an overzealous one. I think both relationship types matter and both are full realised characters in their own right due to be able to do something like that. Mako and Katara are not merely cheerleaders. They have the capacity to understand and judge things via a rubric of their own values and ideas which are consistent with the avatars they know but they do think a bit more ahead at times.

In relation with Asami, she is the perfect girlfriend, as in socially she is. She does all the socially right things.  But she doesn’t really know people deeply or innately enough to have a bond with them. I mean you will notice Asami is generally nice to everyone like in a way it was Mako’s reservation to everyone just opposite tandem. But she doesn’t really ask Mako much things or even Korra. Like she never does ask what Korra did when she was away all these years even when in the garden having tea and she never asks Mako in the carriage what it must have been like to be alone and fend for himself. She, just reaffirms her own feelings, says she feels safe with Mako and then later with Korra says that  she would be unhappy if she didn’t come back after the last battle. Asami has this flaw but it was focused a lot more on Book 1 and by Book 4 well she isn’t really focused on much so it became a bit relegated but it’s still there.

So, Mako is not intrinsically a bad character. I think he has been give a bad hand and is always trying to play it well. I really respect a character who struggles through homelessness, poverty, bureaucracy, prejudices (due to his past criminal history), frustrations at being a good detective and not being able to play things out well and still care about people, care and empathize about the ones he loves and also work hard to become a more competent detective and person. Mako isn’t the socially perfect boyfriend: Mako is an all-around individual.

 

 

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Written a lot about this — Korra and Korrasami with Makorra

I  actually posted a lot about this on Tumblr as fans are well, indignant or disappointed. Many are fans who are gay or who intensely love or ship gay pairings were offended by Bryan’s statement of “hetero-lens” due to its widespread spectrum implicit in the arena of homophobia. I, on the other hand, thought the comment was meh to  me because it didn’t really  feel I was in that category. This reviewer who has spent the majority of 2014 being indoctrinated into queer or even heteronormative homosexuality to the point that TPAB actually thought that all I watch is otome or queer animes is pretty much salient with the fact that I am/never was homophobic. I enjoyed some of the pairings in the otome show, saw potency in them and actually critiqued the execution of those shows.

I even wrote one of the longest reviews on this blog on critiquing and also praising Sekaiichi Hatsukoi which is a gay anime which pulled no punches.  I really liked Queen’s Blade which is a lesbian anime, though a bit directed towards guys, had all the lesbianism, no holds barred, in its glory for the whole series. I loved Maria Watches Over Us which is a lesbian anime directed towards girls. I loved Cardcaptor Sakura and thought that Tomoyo loving Sakura or even Touya loving Yukito to be very well handled. I wanted Touya ending up with his teacher not because she was female but because I liked teacher-student pairings at that time but really hated the other character liking her teacher and marrying him after her high-school graduation :/ though it was a totally heterosexual pairing. Because though it was not illegal it wasn’t to me tastefully written. I actually like Domoki liking Watanuki in xxxHolic and don’t like those other girls who fancy/like Watanuki aside Yuko Ichihara. And even that after layers of interactions and understandings comes about.  One of my favourite anime, also directed towards girls is Revolutionary Girl Utena which shows Utena and Anthy as bisexual characters and mostly lesbians, full frontal, in the animated movie retelling Adolescence Apocalypse.

So, this opinion and article will articulate most of my feelings on the series and also on the pairings that survived. It will be long, span paragraphs and I decided after half-writing it I should also push this through some pages so please bear with me. Thank you if you read all throughout the way  and Thank you for reading a bit. Honestly, this article took a long time to write — I was exposed to more material, got tired and procrastinated or cogitated a bit more. Yet I wanted this to be a comprehensive read of what I thought about Korra the series, the character and also Korrasami and Makorra. I will put briefly that I had higher hopes for the series but they were not met and as you will see this is more than any shipping or anything else.

It has to do with how  TLA was handled and how LOK was handled: both  are different shows and may deal with different things but have some core elements. It is the same way  you might judge a reboot or even the different installments  of the Final Fantasy series. It  was mostly how  LOK was written independently in itself. How  it  was budget cut a lot by both Nick and how Bryke had many problems with Nick that eventual made this an internet only show that was also facing cancellations. So much so that Book 3 and Book 4 followed one after the other. Also, though  I personally have nothing against Bryke I do think as writers and creators who were facing a lot of pressure that they did do some mistakes and mess up. Also Nick initially did not like that Korra was a girl and wanted her to be a guy because the Aang formula was pretty much potent still and in these series people  for some stupid marketing reason and cultural biases want the main protagonist being a male and not female.

The TLA team was larger, had more writers and obviously many discussions amongst Bryke and those other people so many more ideas and expansions of concepts  were apparently plausible  and executed. Bryke originally wanted Toph and Azula to be guys and also wanted a love triangle between Katara, Aang and Toph so obviously that idea was scrapped by many  others pitching in their ideas. Asami was initially also meant to be a villain I wouldn’t have minded if that happened because I think Spysami is pretty more interesting than thinly written Korrasami. Or, she may have been a double agent that would  have proved volumes about her dexterity in general. Makorra was, as I read from Tumblr,  described as the perfect pairing by Bryke themselves and how Korra and Mako were right for each other and “soulmates” — so I think Bryke’s Korrasami was done almost like a last minute thing. In fact, I don’t think they did away with Makorra either which is telling in the  finale episode. I think they were confused at what to do really and thought that keeping both pairings open but focusing a bit more on Korrasami was the only thing they could do to “salvage”  the series because before this finale  many people had heavily, explicitly, inexorably critiqued Legend of Korra both critics and fans alike.  So, LOK had a lot of problems since Book 1 that had  to do and nothing to do with Makorra and pairings and stuff.

I won’t  lie that I fast-forwarded to  the last scene in LOK to see what happens because by this time I was kinda bored and wanted to know what happens to Korra and by Book 3 and 4 the hints of Makorra were pretty high I wanted to see if they patch up, after some time of course because  some time even passed for Kataraang to happen. I was impressed with the spirit portal which became like the equatorial region of their world and that was awesome.I loved the  last scene music and ambience but the pairing made me very unhappy because it was just too rushed and scatterbrained to be a beautiful buildup.

So to continue, though some fans of Makorra are homophobic; most of us  aren’t. This is due to the fact we come to this show after years of watching anime shows from its infancy dealing with heteronormativity, queer sexualities (both straight and gay), performativity, and also the construction/reconstruction of identities. So, as most of us  are in our late teens and twenties or even forties we are already nonplussed by homosexuality rather accepting it wholeheartedly as a romantic-sexual outcome. We have relegated our “hetero-lens” a long time ago even before The Legend of Korra or The Legend of Aang/The Last Airbender premiered. I have criticised Korra on numerous occasions and none of them were solely on ships. As listed below:

Legend of Korra, Book 3: “Change”  Criticism

Korra Season 3 Comes to An End

I am not partial. I have enjoyed gay pairings and straight pairings with equal zeal. I am not infected with “hetero-lens” — also I have accused Korrasami of a “hetero-lens” too. That one is that of heteronormativity. As a friend of mine stated gender or a critique of gender was not established in Korra. Korra is, as Anime Live Reactions put it eloquently, stereotyped as a strong woman/person of colour becoming bisexual and lesbian to validate her strong, “tomboy” existence. Asami’s sexuality has always been a game. She is a doll, a feminine debacle, and having Korra, a masculine, pair up with her reinforces a heteronormative way of looking at things. It essentialises that the  avatar spirit is  a “male” spirit with or without past lives because Wan, the first avatar, pretty much is shown to be in a relationship with Raava, a female spirit.  Lesbianism, gayness or even straight-on  heterosexuality is not about binary images but heteronormativity and performativity does reduce it to such.

Korra cannot be alone or be in a heterosexual relationship because that also incinerates the  heteronormative way of looking at heterosexual relationships. Makorra ending in a bad note now encapsulates and also mediates on the fixation that strong men and women cannot mix. This stereotype is nothing new. If Mako and Korra could end better we would not point fingers at this rather Bolin and Korra’s chaotic end was foreseen on a lack of attraction on Korra’s part and even Bolin does not date Eska due to her domineering and inhospitable personality. Korra and Bolin are strong and do have chemistry but they end amicably, on good terms, there is hardly any name-calling and finger-pointing between them. Bolin does not  ever bring up that Korra broke his heart by kissing her brother nor that he wanted Korra to apologise much because they went through things that allowed forgiveness and friendship to happen. Ironically, even Bolin and Eska’s breakup  and later encounter seemed both comic but also reasonable and realistic. It was apparent that they both have considerably, without a doubt moved on. The way Mako and Korra interact are still as lovers even by the end of Book  4  breakup or no breakup  they just do, both context and subtext affirms it as a romance with mutually concerted feelings — it’s pretty confusing.

Legend of Korra Book 4: ‘Day of the Colossus/ The Last Stand Review

With all the  Korrasami and what not tags being interjected I  decided I had pretty much had it with Legend of Korra. I was disappointed from Book 3 though I was suspect from the beginning. The way they treated Mako and Boilin was deplorable the way they treated Makorra was horrendous and then how  they progressed Korra’s character was deplorable. All of these things were pretty stupid and so  sexist (both for men and women) All I can say that I hope fanfictions come about that end these :/ at the  very end is one of the only partly unbiased write-ups I had read. 

You can celebrate any ship and not celebrating it is not homophobic unless you actively declare that gay couples are bad or something — I don’t do that what I must state here is that this is preposterous and the perpetrators of bad writing and scapegoating a same-sex canon but also annoyingly allowing Makorra to continue is pretty much a bad move. I literally was like WTF? Guess what even I did see the signs I also saw signs of Borra. I saw Boilin like Korra a lot but Korra did not choose Boilin because Boilin is someone Korra can’t be personal with — Mako even till the end was a person Korra could rely on in battle and also in well psychological positions. Asami goes and helps gives Korra support as a cheerleader but she hardly does things to help her much. I mean even if Korrasami happened give it more than just her bring Korra tea (which is a good improvement i respect I admit that and also love, both platonic and romantic, because in Book 1 when Mako wants to give  Korra tea she  seethes and say bol it himself). Yet it is not so strong enough as Mako keeps on professing love to actually get going. I just feel no one cared about both relationships. As someone said online it is pseudo-lesbian though she was happy because no relationship straight and gay can happen with just flirtations ill scripted and nothing pretty much well fleshed. Many people would say that as it is a gay-ship it needed cover but even Katara and Aang had stronger non-verbal ways of romancing that people may not have  deemed cool enough for a coupling.  The potential was there but it was not nicely done as even subtle Makorra. In fact I wasn’t even thinking Makorra (though at first I loved them) when the first times Korra looked at the stadium and Mako looked at the island dotingly but that was a good nonverbal gesture they actually well made good use of. All I can say it’s not groundbreaking, it’s actually pretty gender normative and totally unfair to Asami.

All Korra can say is that she dated all the people on Team Avatar what a bunch of crap  :/

Not to mention that she is dating the ex of her ex and what more is that Asami cannot also get out of this viscous love triangle and choose her own road. Pretty much pathetic.

Some thoughts:

It’s something official for me that Avatar people cannot for the life of them write satisfying romantic endings. First, they  somewhat rushed Aang/Katara relationship then they hinted strong at Korrasami but also hinted Makorra. What I want to say is that none of this isgroundbreaking at all for anywhere. Please don’t flame hear me out. They just did to extend a novelty. They did this to make bandwagon people happy. Korra and Asami are so friendly with each other they have less chemistry than Korra did with Boilin.  Also, by doing this they essentially showed how the avatar spirit is more or less a “male” spirit.

This sort of thing is frequent in yaoi literature. Korra is a girl and if she is bisexual marvelous but by accentuating the differences between Asami as a “girly-girl” looking person and Korra as a more masculine person they pretty much made the whole relationship heteronormative as usual. If Korra ended up with Kuvira eventually I would have appreciated that even as they are each others’ equals. So is Mako and Korra to many extent. They made Asami pretty much soft and feminine  like 90% of the time to complement Korra’s “masculinity” but they also wanted some space for Makorra. I would have respected this relationship more if it was even eventually developed with Jinora as she became older. Because the sort of understanding Jinora had with Korra and Korra had with Mako is pretty elementary in any relationship.

Also, by showing they migrated to  the spirit world was also indicative to that “yin | yang” feminine and masculine presence in a heteronormative stance. They won’t ever show Mako as a “feminine” though at many points this season he is and Korra is “masculine”. I realized that it is also pretty cruel to suggest that strong woman can’t be anything aside bi or lesbian — this is pretty common in mainstream culture. Strong men are either made so macho that you have to think them as totally straight and strong women are shown to be either gay or bi or something. Both of these procedures are quite conforming to mainstream tactics.

I love Shoujo-ai and Shounen-ai couples when they make sense. In fact, one of my favouritecouples is Anthy and Utena from Revolutionary Girl Utena, both are girls. What I loved about them is that they broke away from their heteronormative practices to be the “one” for each other. In the end, Utena was not a masculine person or feminine person neither was Anthy.

The Korrasami ending was just like Ginny/Harry in Harry Potter — it was poorly executed had no flair and was shoved right at us.  This pairing was non-existent and had no bearing until the end as well. Asami hardly knows Korra and they hardly know each other other than friends so I found this relationship so thin.  Can I accept it? If it develops more I can but I just don’t see as romantic. Also, it’s just too predictable. It was a cop-out. You know if Emma from Once Upon a Time ended up with Regina that would be more pretty because to me it is a good relationship and also because they have had more actual revelations with each other. This was just lazily written. Also there was no natural chemistry even when Korra and Asami were sitting together at the end and talking about life together.

The only pretty part was how they looked at each other in the end. I seriously still thought that was an over-exaggeration.

Yet this is not to offend Korrasami fans.  In fact though I liked Makorra I will be honest — if they executed Korrasami better and dropped all those heteronormative markers like they did with an anime like Revolutionary Girl Utena I would be very, very , very happy. But they totally messed it up. Also, I had a feeling that after Book  3 they wanted a new male character to  be Korra;ss love interest it was kinda showy of that but then decided on Korrasami at the end. It pretty much looked like that.

This is just me showing how Korrasami made no sense.  It was literally just a deux ex machina that Bryke put at the end because he had to make fans happy some way.

Yup, Avatar series  can’t write good love stories.

I wrote this  and I know it is important concerning how biased and well sequestered all LOK ship fandoms are:

 

Why shipping violently is bad


I can see that there is a  collective immaturity or even ferocity in shipping in LOK that was not so prominent in TLA and not so prominent in many fandoms. I think this is also due to ages of people participating and also ages of the shows. I mean Naruto came to an end but many fans were not rabid about their disappointments nor were they gloating. It was show that  stayed around for a long time.

Makorra fans are acting too  angry, understandably, but still very badly executed. Korrasami fans  are using this to validate themselves, be mean to Makorra fans and basically annotate every Korra/Asami scene into Korrasami which even Borra and Makorra fans  can’t do because  there was good development at times so no need.

This culture of ships and shipwrecking is very toxic. I mean do not just like a fandom ‘cause it;s  cute like it because it has substance, Like other fandoms that are not your OTP also for that think on it and don’t hate easily. I can see that many shippers are young people and also as this LOK is younger and had lesser episodes than TLA people in scarcity of time, episodes, space and writing decide to exaggerate or expunge things.

Please be respectful. Makorra and Korrasami are pretty much both canon.  Korrasami is about to happen (or not fully) and Makorra happened and might continue (or never again) both even in the end Korra showed signs of both interest in Mako and also in Asami. Maybe, as she is exploring herself she wants to see who she can fall in love with truly as her OTP.

No need to say a pairing validates you or not because I think if you are gay or straight your relationships are better than how both these ships were written. Also look at Korra and Mako and Asami as characters independent of these relationships.

I also wrote this:

I think Korrasami is also a revenge of Bryk against studio and Nickelodeon. It just feels like they wanted to say “fuck you” to the studios that always tore apart their ideas, made them cancel, made them fire crew members, make them cut out things. I do not know if the Korrasami kissing alternative ending is the original endings but apparently that was changed. In all honestly Bryke is killing two birds with one stone: making fans happy and also giving a hell lot of trouble with those studios. This make good sense as they cannot work on Avatar soon and I think it is also because of those suidio problems mostly. I feel bad for whatever Avatar endured. Korrasami assuages the pain for them in a way but it also shows how all their creativity to even make both Makorra a bit work better and Korrasami a bit written better was thwarted. What problems LOK had to face.

I saw others also comment:

tsubakies:

destroy the idea that female characters need to be punished in order to receive character development.

destroy the idea that the only way female characters can become better people is if they go through nothing but pain and suffering in their lives.

(via seekingserenity126)

 

vvivaa:

honestly I’ve clearly offended a lot of people, but I’m not sorry. No matter how you look at this, this was bad writing, bad writing for makorra, bad writing for korrasami, bad writing just in general for korra and all these characters, and this is how the show ended. I’ve been here since 2012 defending this show throughout all the crap and now there’s nothing left so, especially knowing they changed the ending….yeah I’m going to be upset.

(via seekingserenity126)

But I  guess what I also disliked was anonymous someone pretty much not getting stuff that I had clearly written:

Anonymous asked:

So a masculine girl is not actually a girl by what you’re saying. Yes the masculine female/feminine female thing is a stereotype but there’s actual couples like that, saying that stuff is hetereonormative is just hilarious

etheraxis:

Not many.  Not so standardized as the mainstream way of looking at it. It is heteronormative. By making Asami pretty much a bimbo throughout the series and Korra a jock is heteronormative be it a straight or gay representation. They didn’t do that with Aang and Katara. Katara is a very balanced person and so is Aang. Also they have both similarity and differences.. Guess what they are both benders, both spiritually inclined elements (air and water) both at the end stronger people with each other and also independently. You do not see this with Korra and Asami it recycles the same bogus trifle that Mako and Korra was accused of sprouting. Just some sentimental hugs. Asami is not integral to Korra’s development as an Avatar as much as Mako was in Books 1, 2 and even 3. Nor was she there so much before Book 4 in the development of her personhood. It is a very badly executed relationship like Makorra. They just want people of the young generation who never knew mainstream homoerotica squeal over this. It is stupid to think people are that simplistic. Once I remember that a guy commented how a villain of Final Fantasy X-2’s dress was so hot and a girl commented that it makes her look like a herpes infected hooker. As a stereotypical response he said that maybe as she is  a girl so she is saying that. Then that girl said that she was bisexual girl and implying so she knows female sexiness. Korrasami should have been better written if it was to be canon. Not mitigated into something typically expected. A girl with muscles, masculine girl, is usually depicted to be queer for all the wrong reasons just like an effeminate man is. These are tropes that persist so nothing innovative was done with Korra. She as a “male” spirit bounded with a female spirit.  If it was better written I would have no complaints. I wanted Katara to end up with Zuko but easily accepted her with Aang because they were not lazy, they wrote very well how a crush became a love. This is lazy writing.  You like it that’s great I would have loved it if they didn’t put in mainsteam cultural biases of how same-sex couples are like.

I don’t hate Korrasami. I hate how all relationships was written in LOK. It was stupid.  A canon lesbian relationship needs to be beautifully written not so “oh I hug you and you hug back” — Asami was pretty much a effeminate bimbo. I hated how  they wrote her. Here best action scenes were in Book 1 and 2 then went downhill. Korrasami the way it was written is the stereotypical way of writing or looking at female/female relationship with one “masculine” and “feminine”. Korra may have told her insecurities to Asami but this was not stressed (or developed) what was stressed is that Korra is looked at as a “man”. People cannot write any relationship nowadays without a heteronormative circuit be it straight or gay. That is what got to me. I would have loved Korrasami if it was not so rushed and written with the same care as Kataraang was written. It was written badly. I am happy if you shipped them because I am always happy if a shipper’s couple becomes canon regardless of it was mine or not. But it was a cop-out as in how it was written. Because of that they also  did not completly extinguish Makorra. Mako and Korra still have chemistry. Mako loves Korra still (she does too) and possibly is thinking of courting her in future. Which is kind of sad. That they don’t know what to write. This sort of bullshit is not new think of Cloud from FF7 and you get the same results :/  Korrasami  should have more intricately written because if it is to be the canon relationship the writers should show it better.

Anonymous asked:

how butt mad are u right now lmao

Apparently, not as much as you. Firstly, speak properly. By being so thoroughly aggressive you allow discussions to go nowhere.  You can tell me what you love about Korrasami aside the generic “cute” slogan. Secondly,  stop being overly sarcastic with people who do not agree with you. There is nothing “wrong” about a pairing like Korrasami if it was beautifully executed. It was not. It was a cop-out even at this point if  she dated Boilin that would be a cop-out too. If she dated Mako it would partially be a cop-out but Mako has been changing as Boilin. So yeah in the end none of the relationships were balanced. It was lazy storywriting.

It is pretty obvious that that was attempts at bullying but it is true what I said. You want  a strong same-sex couple then make Kuvira available  even from Book 3 and you get this better.  Or write Asami better and then we can appreciate it more. Asami was supposed to be a villain first, then she is a hero but still  compared to Sokka and even Suki pretty badly developed and she is basically just a socialite who wears clothes and acts nice.

I don’t know  for sure if the kiss ending was the original but apparently the original ending was changed and I think it was either Korra going off by herself or with Mako but to make fans  happy these conclusive matter was dashed and to keep spectacles alive.

All the materials  above are from tumblr.  All I can say is that I thought about them a lot before coming to that conclusion. Korrasami, the way it was depicted, was a gender normative, heteronormative way of looking at a same-sex  relationship  that conforms to  the very gender roles that  we assign males and females. Korra is pretty much the yang male spirit and the effeminate Asami is the yin  female in  the crudest of forms.

Just pitiful and so upsetting.

 

Legend of Korra Book 4: ‘Day of the Colossus/ The Last Stand Review.

 

Legend of Korra Book 4:Balance Episodes 1 & 2

Korra came back early.

Was it anticipated. No.

I was genuinely, pleasantly surprised 🙂

I was not happy with Season/Book 3 and I was hoping that Korra Book 4 would be better. So far, it is. It is asking integral questions about authority and also how misshapen and totalitarian authority can be when power is not rightly exercised.

As fans has suspected Kuvira from Book 3 is the main antagonist of this Book. Like Ozai and also Hyoung-Ting, Unalaq and Amon (won’t include Zaheer as he was not trying to be leader rather just get rid of the Avatar), Kuvira has become corrupt with power. In so far that she is now exiled from the Metal City of Zang Fu (I think that was what it was called) and is trying to reunite the Earth Kingdom and being labeled as “The Great Uniter” by her supporters and enemies alike, both with admiration and disdain.

This is shown in Episode 1 titled “After all these Years” which is taking place after three years of the Book 3 climax. A lot has happened, Republic City has finally accepted Spirits and the Spirit Wilds are flourishing with a good coexistence (we also see the homeless guy that Korra met on the very first episode make good friends with many; funny that he is still homeless right though?) .  Asami has become a person charged with a trans territory rail line construction which she successfully completes that allows Ba Sing Se and Republic City have constant travels. She is hit on by Prince Wu whose Aunt was Hyoung-Ting and though he is not as eccentric as his aunt he is as prideful and foolish. Mako is ordered to be his bodyguard and this is a job that he wants desperately to get out off though does properly (though by the penultimate moments of this episode we hear that Wu wants Mako too much to be his bodyguard and personal relations to be secured doesn’t allow Mako to get out of it).

The Air Nomad are now dressed differently. Their clothes now accentuate a wandering nomadic aerial mobile design as in acrobatic with gliders attached to their clothes like stunt performers. Kai has grown up and is in a long distant relationship with Jinora and Opal with Boilin. Boilin has become from comic relief to Earth Kingdom soldier, so has Varrick and Ju-li. Batar, Opal’s oldest brother is engaged with Kuvira, which is also a cause of family friction. Opal thinks Batar and Kuvira has betrayed her mom. If you guys recall Suyin was anti-monarchy all the way and now her own are beelining for it — not a good situation.

Opal and Kai has come to aid a kingdom that are being attacked by robbers. Ever since Zaheer killed Hyoung-Ting we saw Ba Sing Se in chaos and now still some remnants remain. Opal and Kai are not warmly greeted as the village leader wanted more recruits but they show themselves capable of administrative fair ways of solving a situation. This is antithetical to Kuvira who has a lot of authoritative power. She captures a bunch of bandits by putting metal around their arms eyes and feet then bundling them up as heavy sacks (how Nowatak and Torlak were shown to abuse wolves in Book One). Then when one of the bandits try to apologize she even seals her mouth with metal. Then she says the only way they can save themselves is by relinquishing this lifestyle and just opt to join her. The bandits, fearing for their lives, do as they are told. Kuvira smiles that despot’s smile of triumph.

Then she attempts to bully the village leader into signing a contract of protection (like Yakuza and Mafia and dirty politicians do) saying that she will help them with food, water and troops only if he supports her. There is a campaign for her also by many people who want her as new Earth Queen and not Prince Wu (leading to  a humourous pie in the face in crowd where Mako saves the dude and reminds him, while he gasps, that he is allergic to bee stings not strawberry). The village leader rejects her offer.

There is a gulf between Opal and Boilin because of this. Opal is angry at her brother and Kuvira for ditching her mother, the matriarch of the steel clan and also going so far out away from all the clan stood for (and then suddenly hearing they are engaged made her angry). She does not like Boi8lin helping Kuvira but Boilin believes reuniting and helping the Earth Kingdom is his calling. Then Opal and Kai attempt to get supplies but they are stolen by robbers (bet Kuvira was behind that) prompting the village to sign the contract making Opal become more frustrated and Boilin more confused.

The end shocks everyone. Everyone thinks after three years Korra is finally making a full recovery reappearance to Republic City. Tonrak is surprised and says that Korra has been writing for six months from Republic City and that she is okay and doing well.

So, where is Korra?

Hair cut short. Using only one bending style. Earth. And Wearing green clothes of the Earth Kingdom she is fighting in a cage match of sorts with another woman but loses. The owner comes and angrily gives her due but of course  says she lost him some. Then remarking that she loves “like that Avatar girl” and what happened to her. Korra truthfully answers she doesn’t know.

While in episode we see the ravages of power and totalitarian that Zaheer and even Amon was afraid of (yeah their execution was batshit crazy but not all their ideas were) we also see the vulnerabilities and caustic repercussions that comes through poverty. The fact that in three years no one is really helping these villages is sad.

Also while Kuvira is getting mentally and physically strong, psychologically preparing herself for power, authority and the confidence she is earning in getting a chance to be Queen — Korra has lost a lot of Avatar qualities and is now shown to be unstable and weak. I think this is why they decided to pair off two women in the end as a form of acceptable dichotomy. After all all the main villains has been male and she defeated all of them but none of them were once her protector and comrade but now this one is. This fight I think is going to be the most important and difficult fight that Korra will ever fight as both the Avatar and Korra.

This is where, if the series pulls it off,  LOK is going to be more mature than TLA. Yes for once they got some stuff down after Book 2 right. Yes, more mature. Because Balance isn’t about I think learning any new bending or just making a tyrant pay for their crimes. It’s about Korra keeping her title, spirit, selfhood, body and soul intact, focused, preserved, synchronized and finally evolved. Because all the battle she is fought now has attacked her personhood in these ways and it has made her break — Kuvira may do more damage than all three guys combined. How will Korra survive this? Will she herself break the Avatar chain to show that people can make hope for the future without avatars? I am actually excited to see what happens.

That is why the episode 2 is rightly called “Korra Alone” (a nod to ATLA’s “Zuko Alone”) and like Zuko who decides to travel alone to reclaim his title and earn it as noble, just prince of the Fire Nation Korra too now reclaim herself and also earn her Avatar title. Korra’s body is so badly undone after the poison that she can’t walk and she can’t properly eat or sleep. Her mother becomes rightly worried and says though they had agreed not to interfere with her recuperation she is not getting better so she must go and visit Katara.

It is a grueling process of recovery with Katara. She gets frustrated but when after six months of physical therapy at least allows her to walk she decides to go off to Republic City because she wants to be Avatar again. Actually, she first loses with fire benders in a training (a nod to first season’s first episode where she was able to completely take each and every one out) then on her journeying she loses to common bending thieves (a far cry from Book One Korra who takes on Triple Threats and actually throws a fire bender throw  a store’s glass window). Not to mention what also gets to her is that Tenzin thinks that she should not be ashamed of her convalescence but Korra isn’t used to feeling weak. Unlike Aang who fostered a sense of vulnerability losing his culture, kin, fellow benders (which Katara mentions as a sense of spirit uplifting so Korra can finish her therapy)  Korra has been strong o entitled to strength so she cannot understand how weak feels.

This was the epiphany I was waiting for the entire Book 3 so I am happy Book 4 delved into it. Korra has been avoidant of her weakness in situations; she tries to forget Amon, Unalaq and even the Red Lotus but she can’t anymore. Korra must acknowledge that she is human and that she has both weakness and strength. She must acknowledge her spirituality. Of course, Korra doesn’t necessarily at first. After losing the fight with bandits she cuts off her hair to sever her ties to Avatar position and throws away her water tribe arm band and decides to fight in underground Earth Kingdom battles. She had tried to meditate in the Spirit World’s tree of time unable to reach Raava. The spirits, a cute yellow and green one especially, wants to help. But Korra refuses. Like Zuko she is used to feeling alone or doing things alone.

This episode was a masterpiece in showing Korra; of all the Books this one episode actually did a magnificent character sketch on Korra. Who and What she is and feels. Korra thinks by fighting she can reclaim herself and that is where she errs. The spirits have rightly realized that Korra’s problem is spiritual.

Korra’s mind now emits an old, poisoned still long-haired Korra all wild as she was in the end of season 3 and that Korra is winning the battle because she is strong and ruthless with a vengeance. Korra encounters her especially when she is weak or is in horrendous doubt about what to do. And she gets beat up a lot by this chaotic Korra projection.

The yellow and green spirit, disguised as a dog, comes to Korra and growls at the chaotic emittance making Korra realize that this is real. The spirit wants Korra to acknowledge that her problem is spiritual. Then he skillfully if not without a fight with chaos Korra leads her to a periphery between Spirit and Normal world where Korra succumbs to her wounds and collapses. Person who helps her get better as she awakens after some time is none other than an old Toph who affectionately says it’s good to see “Twinkle Toes” again.

This was a very well written episode. I am happy they finally acknowledged that Korra needs a spiritual overhaul. But one thing I think as a fan I notice is that Zaheer is not really her only “mad man” that enabled a weakened Korra. All her opponents till now has gotten through to Korra in a bad way. In this way I think LOK is more mature than TLA because Ozai did not feel so personal to Aang as all these villains were. Now I wanna see how Kuvira and Korra fight.

It was nice what Katara said to Korra during her therapy that she doesn’t know what is beyond the pain but wouldn’t it be interesting to know?

Korra now must become a balance of both her as a person and Avatar and to do that she must be united in mind, body and spirit. And maybe then in the end she might be the last Avatar. The world’s balance might be decided as a new era of people being people and the Avatar cycle coming to a fruitful and good end.

Korra Season 3 Comes to an End: Season 4 may reconstruct the entire meaning of being an “avatar”

Well, Legend of Korra Season 3 or “Book 3: Change” has finally finished. I feel a sense of relief. Like after a tsunami has decimated something I am a survivor. Kind of like the opening level credit start of Tomb Raider (2013) or as I call it Tomb Raider: Survivor when Lara emerges out of a caving-in tunnel to open skies but wounded, alone and really messed up. Yeah, ironically, Korra must have hated her own season because at the end of “Change” she is very physiologically changed and somewhat psychologically scarred. This season should have been called “Air” or “Return of the Air Nomads” (aka like Star Wars) because the only visible changes are that Air Nation is now coming back and that two individuals are at the crossroads of something big — those two are Korra and Jinora.

As usual this review will be Spoiler heavy weight champion so caution and tread carefully (like how you held SHIFT button in those old Tomb Raider games to cross spiked grounds and not fall off ledges).

This season was, as I mentioned before, the worst season of the Avatar franchise. It had some great concepts but lacked the execution, momentum, clarity and elocution to actually address and tackle the large problems it has been throwing. One of the best things about LOK was that it focused on different conceptual arcs (not side-stories but actual arcs) on the flaws and complications of the world. However, it muddled them like a bad dish served rancid and cold after a sand-storm and blizzard passed and you could feel the icicles and dust in your mouth as you chewed the abomination flaunted as food. I am seriously feeling sorry for the youth and kids of the post-00s and 90s generation because they are given really bad ideological stirrings and told that it’s discourse and analysis of it.

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Season 3 was more focused on Jinora and the air benders. Zaheer and the Red Lotus crew of P’Li, Ghazan and Ming-Hua really have no place in the story but to add a temporal dimension to the cast of bending potency meaning that they have accelerated the growth of bending in its subdivisions. Like Zaheer knows how to fly and make air-bound asphyxiation techniques and fog camouflage well, Ghazan knows lava bending, P’Li can combustion bend with her mind and Ming-Hua can do awesome things with water that even challenges her body as she is armless. For a group that yearns a more secure and spiritual base in their actions they sure have been made into bunch of really crude villains. Also unlike Season 2, Korra does not mature with her interactions with them. Rather, the Red Lotus was so useless as even plot phenomenon in this season. They are not necessarily evil. In fact, before they killed Hyou-Ting no one even said “evil” much and the show attempts to force us to accept them as villains by calling them “low life” and “terrorists” reiterating these concepts so vulgarly that it is like total coercion on the producers’ part. Ozai was called king but he was apparently a bad person by his actions and words — no one had to be convinced he was bad through propagandist ways of attempting to seduce our intelligence via coaxing and skillful mind-rape.

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When Zaheer finally captures Korra he says he doesn’t want nations or states, or warriors or what-not. The Red Lotus want that people can live peacefully without a symbol of bending or non-bending , or a specificity of nation but rather on hard work, love and integration of people. Yeah, maybe the way he was trying to do that was obscene or too extreme but his ideals are not really warped. We see that his lover P/Li was saved by him from becoming an instrument of battle by a warlord. Yes, for people like them it is difficult living in a consumer driven world where skills are molested by the overarching monarchy and hegemony of power-hungry individuals or collectives. Zaheer, unlike Ozai, truly believed that the Avatar caused pain or rather did more disservice to balance than service. And truthfully, Wan, Roku, Kiyoshi, Aang and Korra all do MESS UP BADLY. They interfere or at times don’t involve themselves in things that causes more damage.

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So, yeah I didn’t want The Red Lotus to kill Korra and I do not agree with their methods but they have a good enough reason to want to change social orders and all that. But instead of ever doing anything to talk to them or even see their side Korra just outright attacks them and says really stupid things to them. What also got exacerbated was how the writers made sure that Korra can find no alternatives to actually salvage the situation and make it good. The killing of the earth queen and the riots of Ba Sing Se and the air nation held hostage did nothing to anything. It was obvious that Red Lotus (which is bigger than Zaheer and co.) don’t care about anything besides changing social order and so Korra should have fought them on that regard like she did in Season 2. Yes, her personal self is also intertwined in the fight yet this time it felt that she was just fighting to save herself making the season a very weak portrayal of the term “avatar”.

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One can argue that self is very important and that survival of your life is very important. I do agree. I just feel that it was a very messy and unconvincing fight for the narrative cycle of the mythology. It was good to see however that Vaatu has still that modicum of influence of making an avatar lose it as any evil does when you are feeling despair. Basically, Vaatu is like a demonic or devilish Mephistopheles (read Dr. Faustus) who is goading or prompting a human to make wrong choices as in self-destruction so basically Satanic in many ways. I was quite irked that Raava being so endearing and well responsible for the avatar’s well-being can’t help her fight off despair when she really needs it (so much for being a engaging light spirit of principles). This reductionist storytelling is the entire problem of Season 3. Unlike the intensities of Books 1 and 2 Book 3 dabbles on such mediocre methods of storytelling and execution that even Zaheer’s downfall makes no sense. Zaheer was written into the script just so Korra and Jinora can have this bump me up some ladder of hierarchical temporary and flimsy progression.

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I do not see any reason for Zaheer to even matter as much as he did. He just didn’t. He was a nada in this series main highlights of introducing other geographical and geo-political locations of the avatar mythological world. This could have been via other ways and Korra traveling had nothing to do with Zaheer. I do not see how this Book was like Legend of Aang/ The Last Airbender in any way. If they were thinking that “Book 1:Water” then yeah there was a lot of metal bending and lava bending and water bending (metal can be a subset of water bending in liquid form and so can lava). But even the journeying was minimalist compared to TLA and also the narration was. Korra didn’t need The Red Lotus because technically and even in many ways The Red Lotus were not really interested in wiping out the Air Nation who after the finale has decided to continue with their nomadic roots but help people of all nations and stop corruption and misuse of power whenever they encounter it. Tenzin does say that unlike their ancestors they will be more involved in worldly affairs. I cannot celebrate this because it is as ambiguous, in a negative sense, as what Zaheer was saying. It was if you think on it.

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Exactly how can you combat structuralized and conformed violence and injustices without any creed or code to back you up? Also, The Air Nomads where, as they shown in TLA, the most unwavering and inflexible people alongside the corrupted Fire Nation. In fact, Aang broke that trend. By being more involved but not so much to intrude and by marrying a water bender (he would have married Katara even if there were other airbenders because Aang was like that) and by making a multicultural society that values diversity but keeps cultural influxes and heritages. Aang escaped because the Air Nomads where too disciplined and rigid. They may not have craved power as tbut they did not like different views as no one could do things outside of tradition. They were deeply powered by the rigidity of asceticism. Aang is hardly an ascetic. Aang fell in love, intermixed with other cultures, ate much (not little but with restraint), traveled, learned other cultures and even married another tribe person, Katara. The Air Nomads have to understand that not everyone like traveling or even living an ascetic-lifestyle and that should also be respected. It was because of this that Tenzin had trouble recruiting people in the beginning. True that Air Nomad culture is rooted on more spiritual principles as the Water Tribe and that is quite beautiful but Tenzin was adamant to make sudden large changes in people’s lives. That is hardly fair concerning that most of those people are already scared.  The Air Nomads can have different kinds of nomads as real world cultures do have.

Though it would be helpful if the Air Nomads do revise their policies and living accordingly as the Water Tribe and Fire Nation did. The Water tribe is a very flexible culture even if it has its disparages and cultural problems. In Book 2 the Water tribe revised its need to have both incorporeal aspects with corporeal ones. One good thing is that Air Nomads are also adding corporeality with incorporeality too. But like Water Tribe they must review and rethink all the time while keeping core principles. The Water Tribe’s adaptability has always made me love it. From TLA to LOK I have seen that it has gone through many phases and faces but has a natural way to balance itself more or less. The best part was that Korra agreed with Unalaq, not his methods but that the world needs spirits and humans to coexist and thrive. The Air Nomads are still young and thus need to learn how to intermix and adapt.

One point I did not like is that cultural discourse is absent from this timeline. Even within the Earth territory Zao Fu is a fiefdom. No one within the Earth territory challenges the Earth Queen. Suyin with all her metal benders is as useful as rusted steel. Not to mention there is no meeting with delegates of other nations. It is true that Zuko and others shouldn’t just invade another country (because invasion is as anarchic as it sounds; it usually makes things worse. People get displaced because raiding and arresting many cities and structures happen mostly alongside of that) but with all their fame and council powers they can’t even talk or help Ba Sin Se citizens? And what about Raiko too? All these rulers do mostly do things for themselves. They are more interested in trade and commerce than actyal equity amongst people. Nationalism was being properly maintained by even such a wide geographical span as the Earth Kingdom so if there are people like the Red Lotus it would make cultural sense and socially logical because none of these leaders help the non-thriving or the destitute. Republic City and Zao Fu are both quite prosperous but Ba Sing Se was like roadkill. As I mentioned in my previous article it was awful.

My friend and I agreed that by showing Ba Sing Se uprising as “bad” was a big slap on the face on protesters worldwide who stand for humanitarian and equity causes. Yes, it was violent but so was the French Revolution, you know the one that gave birth to modern day Western democracy and democratic legislation. They were suppressed people who were bereft of proper food, homes and also medical and social empowerment of course they would not be gentle and bovine when Hyou-Ting was assassinated. They would go stark mad or even start pillaging. They need assets so that they can have some comfort. Also this is a collective anger and resentment towards the system. They are breaking it by doing these wayward things. They will trash the palace even if some decide not to steal because they will not let the monolith to their suffering stand.

This goes into a discussion on the Red Lotus. It was obvious at the end that Zaheer was an agent of the Red Lotus, his commandeer of sorts but not its head. P’Li, Ghazan and Ming-Hua were equally in power as commandeers as him but they were still just a circuit or rather just a positioning of current affairs within the organization. It was clear that Zaheer is not the main leader and like any loyal agent he just did things with the ideologies he was handed down. And these ideologies or missions is all over the place like a bull going apeshit in a china house. Zaheer first admonishes order and says that the original state of the world is chaos (if one understands even some minor astronomy or mathematics they will know that our nascent or naive view of equilibrium is not how the universe works).  It is designed to incorporate both chaos (as in astral bodies hurling amongst each other and supernovae and hypernovae and pulsars and all that hard-boiled ionic bonding and radiation is happening and by God that is the tempo it is designed) and order — yet of course the magnitude in which these are overridden and synthesized it feels pretty chaotic and out of order at how we look at it. So Zaheer is partly right about universe being “chaotic” however does that excuse his large-scale based plans? Not really because that level of “ordered riots” may actually dissolve the positive chaos that the world requires. Is that positive chaos present in all the current nations? No, it is not. Korra can revise laws and work to show solidarity amongst humans and spirits which was her entire reason for keeping spirit portals open which resulted in a great change and that was the return of the airbenders.

Yet when Zaheer captures Korra his ideology is that supreme rulers and nationality only severs human contacts and that people should be free of that kind of nationhood and just love, thrive and protect whom they love without any superficial allegiance hindering them to do so. Zaheer’s ideologies are not farfetched or bad. Yes, as I reiterate his methods are poor and stupid or rather the Red Lotus’s are. But this strengthening social ties and emotional ties doesn’t feel like extreme anarchy or chaos. It’s like the screenwriters had no idea what to define the Red Lotus with so like a headless chicken running around and sporting Kill Bill stylized blood all over the place we are left on both intellectual and personal scarcity. The viewers may be children but they are not dumbshits ok. Neither are the young adults and adults and so that is VERY POOR writing.  Not to mention that Lahima’s void is like achieved by Zaheer via losing P’li. That was like putting Lahima, the airbender, as a pretty isolated and socially inept person. So to gain flight you must lose everything that is important to you? It is obvious that Zaheer loved P’li a lot. I would trust that his love is not limited on a temporal plane. So, yeah that makes no sense either. It was just lazy writing.

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Change was good with the final two episodes. I liked that Jinora shaved her head and became an airbending master. Though personally I always like Aang and Zuko with hair. I mean the tattos don’t need to be hidden as they are strikingly present on the forehead. Jinora was looking like young Aang as she emerged as young master in the ceremony. This is the first time they had held such an inauguration for a master because last time even Katara did not have such an honour, nor did Sokka and Zuko’s one was less intense. I am happy they have decide to elevate another character so high alongside of the avatar as TLA hardly did that. If they had done this throughout the book I would consider it claiming fully its title name, but hadn’t so there is that. But Jonora seems happy to finally able to take on air nation responsibilities. She is the first air master as Tenzin and she has done all she can to deserve that title (now I guess its Bumi’s turn and the other kids):

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One person ascends but another descends a bit. Korra is obviously broken. This Book showed a very psychological and physiological effect on Korra that Aang had faced when attacked by Azula all those years ago. I think people want to think this is Zaheer and the toxins fault. To me it is not really them. The poison has aggravated a situation already present from the time Korra had fought Amon. This is the culmination of all her weaknesses and shortcomings and anxieties amalgamated with the poison’s negative effects. Korra, like Aang but more potently, has realized that she cannot do everything as avatar or with that title. All her hot temper, all her bending and all her gusto can be translated into failures if she has spiritual board or innovative way to pull them together and make them flow. This season had another good point which was carefully fumbled in the fog of things, the interstices of different bendings. Like Suyin taking out the brunt of the poison in Korra as Jinora said tactfully that it was metallic and Suyin did it with liquid metal sort of prowess. Korra does need to learn alternative styles and subsets of bendings (Though Boilin is a lava bender I do want him to try metal bending next).

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Her single tear, long and lingering, is both her relief that the Air Nomads have returned and also self-loathing for not being able to fend off for herself and do more than she could. Korra is deeply dissatisfied with herself. It is shown in her face. She is also angry that everyone wants to protect her now or criticize her or wants her as savior because I think she is realizing that she needs top travel and learn more subsets of bending maybe even new bending if necessary. You can see that she is annoyed even by her mother’s maternal affection. She is unable to walk and unable to feel happy. As fans has noticed she is clear VERY DEPRESSED. It is a long time coming PTSD. Culmination of all she faced. Aang also went through this period many times. First after Katara realizes he had abandoned his responsibilities and then when Azula was almost successful in killing him in avatar state. I hope in Book 4 they shows Korra rehabilitation process and if she will learn anything spiritual or rather will she be redefining what an avatar means?

All this time she has used and abused the avatar title and took some refuge or used it as a defense mechanism. Her fighting and conflicts has enabled her to realize that she cannot do that anymore. Her enemies or opponents are strong like her even if they can or cannot bend and she must, like Aang, involve her own self and originality and spirituality into being an avatar that is she not a tradition or a lineage or anything but just her. She needs to focus on what she can learn and also rethink on how she can help The Red Lotus by maybe administrating a new system that helps everyone. Yes, they are portrayed as terrorists and we can say their methodology is extreme but their concepts were tactile and decent and just. Korra must now balance these ideological with the remarkable people with her. She has lost a large chunk of her confidence. Which is good. Because that confidence was cockiness rooted in being an avatar and not understanding or learning new things. So, she can reconstruct for herself an identity and a strength that has more meaning and even reconstruct what it means to be an avatar in her time because she can physically fight all she wants but some battles need to be managed with spirit and dexterity and innovation.

 Pretty much Season 3 was a whole pile of messes which only made some substantial things in its last scenes. It really had nothing going for it. I now just want to see Book 4 so that I can see how they make Korra convalesce and return to top form but both spiritually and mentally along with her physicality. In fact, if she learns how to fight without much bending that would be pretty neat too. Yet, that is the problem. I hardly know what half-baked plan these so-called creative team is on with. I guess, I have see it to find out.

P.S. I think Makorra is still canon which is another good thing.

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The Legend of Korra Book 3: Change criticism. The show is hitting really sour notes at its end

The first time I was watching Legend of Korra Book One I was really thrilled. A female, muscular, taller probably kick-ass avatar — yeah that’s cool! Sign me up!

Yeah.

That was then.

Book One had a lot going for it but the mettle to the crucial spine of the series was suffering a dry spell in creative development and persistence in that development. I am not going to compare this series to Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend Of Aang but I know some points I should. In ATLA there were vast paces to character growth and really beautiful martial arts, accompanied with great themes and not to mention even distinctive only one episode characters. ALOK lacks all of these — ALOT. Yes, it is fun. Yes I loved it in the series premier when Korra was so strong that she grabbbed a firebender and threw him into a shop window. Yes, I loved that she engaged with her love interest from the start. It made sense for young adults to be a bit more upfront about feelings at times. What I did know is that that is all this series was going to amount to.

Seriously.

There are so many flaws in the character of Korra. Yes, I watch the series. Yes, it has some good points and has some continuity but it lacks momentum and it lacks ideas. It has some good originality I will give it that. But it horribly suffers in execution not to mention that Korra is, to some extents, a misogynistic character. She was supposed to be the opposite of Aang that means she was to be more physically inclined than Aang but as Aang I thought that she would, by the end of the penultimate book, learn to be more of a spiritual person. In fact, all of her major challenges and enemies literally challenged her spirit. Her avatar spirit, her own Korra spirit and all that lay between it. I thought she would be matured by now. Instead, she has reverted back to a silly, non-wise, elitist Korra of Book One. Yes, while it may be Book Three Korra has shed the intensity and her wide level of thinking that she acquired in Book Two. Basically, she is being masqueraded as a beautiful muscular air-head. Her physicality is so focused on that I feel it getting on my nerves. A man or woman does not need to have social ideal body types to face sexism. Korra may be modeled after female wrestler types with a spiritual purpose but she is like wrestlers only a visual performance as one critique in Tumblr had pointed out.

Not to mention that Season Three is a pile of messed up garbage in terms of plot execution and even a ready base for the antagonist who has been denatured into just the stereotype mustached villain of old. After Season Two I was expecting more solid bodied and spiritual discourses in the series. Instead we got cheap villains who have a very weak goal and not to mention they are already labelled by fans as terrorists even before they did much because that is how freaking cliched this season is. Amon made you think and so did Unalaq. The Red Lotus have no strength and even their ideology has feels like a child’s endgame. Not to mention naming Zaheer the antagonist an Middle Eastern Arabic and pretty much a Muslim name is very, VERY RACIST.

His other teammates names are also rooted in other religions that are not necessarily Eastern but half Asian or Central Asian origins. They are far more exoticized than the other characters. This Red Lotus wants anarchy. They believe that the White Lotus are fools (to a large extent they are right) for becoming mercenaries rather than  do what their original creed and code was. They hate the way some of the leaders run things and mentions even corrupt leaders such as the Earth Queen Hyou-Ting and President of Republic City  Raiko who have truthfully failed their citizens. They want to assassinate them. Korra at first tries reasoning with Zaheer saying that he has spirituality and that as a new Airbender he can really help the world. However, Zaheer is adamant. Korra gives up too easily. Zaheer quotes one line by Guru Lahima who is a guy that Zaheer really liked and was an Airbender too and she just shuts up. Freezes actually. I mean, she doesn’t even try. She has seen the hierarchical destruction of Ba Sing Se by the Earth Queen and yet she doesn’t even figure that because of such stern cases of oppression Zaheer may have become attuned to a society without systems. She may be the avatar but she hasn’t seen Ba Sing Se before and known its actual socio-cultural climate. Zaheer does ironically have more experience. Neither did Mako and Boilin who realised, amidst the slums and poverty, that their father may have left the city due to the structured chaos and inequality present in its “rings” like society. Where the upper ring holds the Queen’s court and is surrounded by opulence, by triviality and corruption where food is plenty and not shared with the citizens (in fact when they meet their cousin hawking food it is distinct due to its spoiled and un-fresh character; the food is rotten. French Revolution anyone?). So by trivializing this scene, making it only a comedy and no social conscionability held you are actually making fun of democracy and of people’s right to eat. And ALOK is supposed to be a children’s show originally? It fails as a children’s show and it thinks that young adults are a bunch of dummies smitten only to graphically exoticism and visual pornography. It is low and very patronizing to think that about your viewers especially their fandom and their interests has been catalyst to many decisions you made. So, 1984 defined: television being a cataract and vibe to propagandist modes to even influence in a show that is meant to persevere righteousness and social balance? Yes ALOK becomes like Big Brother silencing the masses to ever question teaching children that questioning or even finding a middle ground between two oppositions is socially and even ethically wrong? Dubbing any dissenters as “terrorists” and then when seeing that fan reaction to the Red Lotus was so favourable that you have Zaheer perform assassination and make hostages out of innocent Airbenders. It feels they are forcing him to be very orthodox old age random villain stuff. They are coercing us to hate Zaheer more potently than we should. It feels very like mechanically done. I have only disinterest in him. The guy is written boringly.

So, anarchy is that?  Does even an amount or paucity of research go into ALOK? I use paucity because the research of this topic feels non-existent. The villain, reduced to some bad gestures, is an archetype that in a semi-postmodernist era of television or even on a postmodernist scale that most innovative writers and shows are attempting to debunk, to leave leaving that cocoon and just attempting to transport and do a small journey if necessary. Neither does Zaheer or any of his teammates have this. Unfortunately, neither does Korra. Her narrative is very feminine oriented. Wanna know how? Aang has a chance of growing and thus his growth getting stunted is a very chauvinistic philosophy if it’s only applied to males. Thankfully, Thank God literally, that they made characters like Toph who also grown a lot in the series. But yes in ATLA the major characters growing were mostly male. Here there is a female narrative of losing already established power. Which in itself is not misogynistic but I fear that it has a misogynistic and misandrist portrayal.  Korra is always defined as an avatar. Unlike Aang who is a person other than an avatar Korra can only ever be an avatar. It feels suffocating that Korra is always declaring that she is an avatar in the lineage of bending and that she can do this and she can do that. Best part of Aang was that he was physically a terrible avatar, (I think Korra may have a larger height than Aang in her full mid 40s adult self like Kiyoshi) as in aside airbending he sucked at other types of bending which was a promising concept. Korra did make really marvelous progress in bending in that she learned very early energy bending and then spirit bending which Aang did not most probably know. But Aang had different aspects to him as a person; he grew up as a person and also as the avatar. Korra’s growth is stunted and in a orthodox, sexualized, male-gaze oriented feminine way she is only trying to save the little shards of avatar-ness that she possesses that makes no sense.

Korra is reluctant to grow beyond “avatar-ness” in fact she bases her entire existence only to that role alone and that is a very reductionist and sexist way of reading a woman. Women are not only titles or only vessels for power; for God’s sake Korra is treated as that.  Very archaic and arcane methodology of viewing women is established to formulate her. It is pitiful that a strong female character protagonist is being homogenized into nothing but muscle and athlete pornography. Not to exclude that Asami, the other female character in the show, and a nonbender is totally sexualized. I do not remember Sokka meeting such treatment nor was he reduced to a bimbo in ATLA. In fact, Sokka was a very strong character. They are only scratching Asami on the surface of her inventiveness, technical and technological knowledge and dexterity to provide creative solutions. I love her unwavering loyalty to her friends and her ability to not be a begrudged youth or scorned women but these narratives are hardly explored because Asami is always a frivolous depiction of some Fire Nation beauty (it seems she has Fire Nation roots as both Sokka and Katara were Water Tribe Warriors, my bro always called Sokka a Water Warrior). None of other things about Asami is shown. Not to mention that Sokka is a very humane and human character who learns to be an able warrior for his people and the cause; he proves the essential need of nonbenders as much as Ty-Lee and Mei, and Suki had shown in the first show as they have different methods and valuable tactics of fighting. Asami is just stereotyped as the beauty and mitigated as the forlorn princess of a once rich corporation; add more layers and you make her Blanche from A Streetcar named Desire and have her go insane in the end.  Not to mention in Season Two she appropriated a Civil War in a nonchalant business tone on her corporation getting saved (sound familiar, isn’t this what corporations are criticised for aren’t they?). This transaction way of looking at war and not caring about lives is a problem of the modern age and instead of compassion and love that is displayed by Sokka, Asami acts as ruthless as Amon in what she thinks is delivering justice.  A friend even mentions that Asami must relegate her “Oh, I am daughter of a rich father” mentality and go on with her life. She is not merely future industries heir she is her own person and can make her own judgments. If she even scraps up the company to build another she can if she feels her father has already tainted the principalities it use to first employ. This show focuses too much on blood and secular lineages that have no bearing and only builds up the status quo of inequality and malformed individuality, and individual collective.

Not to mention that Boilin and Mako too have no chance of growing besides chauvinist archetypes of The Casanova and The Fool. A fan had mentioned that Boilin is too reduced as a comic relief and that it makes no sense to do so and I totally agree. You already have Varrick as a comic relief and the pet Pabu you don’t need to make a main character constantly be a comic relief. Boilin singularity is that he is The Fool and he played this card even in Season Three. In Season Two he reconciled with an abusive girlfriend without even critiquing that her possessiveness and superiority complex is neither charming nor helping her as a person. Boilin is always falling in love and rarely having fun in his love affairs. Mako on the other hand is known only as a dating agent, like a detergent. His singularity is that he is Korra’s boyfriend or Asami’s one time boyfriend and love interest.  Frankly, he is only known to be The Casanova. Such misandrist portrayal of a young, sensitive man is highly crap. Like really sexist. Mako clearly has his own dimensions too. The only title graduation he had is being with police and becoming detective. I was like what about his personal journey? Doesn’t he have other goals? Katara did and so did Sokka. Boilin got some time as Nuptuk and that was important but Mako hardly does anything by himself. We see him doing that in Season Two a bit investigating Verrick but he hardly keeps it up when he just ups and down kisses Asami. So basically this guy can only think with his dick? It is true I like MaKorra and that I really want them to be together but this is just plain ridiculous! Why are Mako and Boilin  so silly? So completely non-growing? All these writings on them are truly very limited.

I digressed with normal critique to further extrapolate the banality of Season Three. Korra is still a muscle-head, preferring to always take physical action rather than sorting out things in a non-linear holistic way that challenges her character and even her physicality. This is what Season Two exemplified that mere muscles alone cannot defeat spirits as she even lost in avatar state enabled. Season Three started with such promise of having her fight both physically and spiritually, mentally even because the Air Nation is not going to be rebuilt on brute force alone it needs ingenuity and also a large amount of spirit and dedication to do so. Korra must also attune to herself as having no avatar state which is very beautifully challenging. It always introspection and an innovative that even rivals and surpasses Aang’s progress. Instead Korra bemoans like a drama queen whore left, right and center of having no avatar state and skillfully dismissing time to ruminate and also gain referential or even observation-based knowledge about the world. In her ordinariness now she can better communicate with the people and feel what they feel. None of this connection is shown. Korra immediately faces physical dangers that she can somewhat overpower. Her only physical challenge is that she had to learn metal bending (and chastise Mako for hurrying her as a fugitive escaped because she was still a noob at it which doesn’t add much really).  Zaheer and the others are so scatterbrained that they hardly pose as credible foes. Like Wile Coyote they make randomized, nonsense violent gestures without much speculation at what the hell they are doing. For a pseudo-wise guy Zaheer surely is an ignoramus and his girlfriend P’Li, his comrades Ming-Hua and Ghazan are equally ignoramus with him. Apparently I got this from Korraspirit in tumblr but guru Lahima’s quote was this:

I was once asked what it means to enter the void. I will tell you. An airbender may meditate for a hundred years trying to detach herself from the world, but she cannot do it. Humans cherish human life, and by that they are bound to this world. The only way to abandon the world is to abandon one’s humanity. New growth cannot exist without first the destruction of the old. The void is found in the sowing of death. From that death springs life on the wind.

-Guru Laghima

I do not understand how he quotes in brief and also have a girlfriend and just think that disorder is order when Lahima just does not care about humanity in general. Lahima is like a very orthodox or fanatical ascetic who is probably angry at something and mouthing that off. It makes no sense to even think he presupposes anarchy because anarchy itself is so human and he doesn’t care about this and does Zaheer even understand this. It is just very perplexing that Zaheer will just say one line of this to Korra (which I emboldened) and have Korra, even a layman in Lahima studies, not even question that an air nomad may not have meant such a thing as they are very centered and spiritual people like the Water Tribe (more corporeal clans are Earth and Fire in this universe from my understanding).  And that maybe he means at the end of one’s life one has to shed his or her humanity as in his human skin but they are still human spirits as Iroh.  Another study may show that Lahima may have been upset living as an Air Nomad and must have become a bit angry at the cloistered way many air nomads lived and he felt that it rejected humanity in many ways because many criticise asceticism, its severity as deprivation so he could have just been reflecting on that. Korra has no knowledge of both present or past histories of socio-cultural conduct so she cannot even evaluate the statement Zaheer made. It is a shame really that Korra cannot even ask Tenzin or someone close to him that why an airbender would say this as an airbender has inspired Zaheer and that says a lot. No, that narrative is excluded too. It feels painfully like a betrayal when the inventors of a show presume that we are so dumb to just swallow any crap they give. It feels like we are the daft emperor who are given “clothes” and wear the masterpiece of nothingness and expose raw idiocy. I think the show creators take us for that. It makes no sense. Any of it. A friend and I agreed that this the worst season of Avatar ever both combining ALOK and ATLA and that it spews out stupidity is quite apparent. The weakening of characters and story is a travesty to a potential richness this story has.

I still watch it hoping for changes and just watching. I am not so interested in it anymore. I am just curious on how this train wreck will end. I think the show cannot write or handle female protagonists and is just waiting for this ALOK to end so that they can get a guy avatar to come back. After all these narratives are so chauvinistically handled that in this day and age you feel insulted to see that your personhood regardless you are a man or woman has become reduced to this crap.  They can make another female avatar  who is fire or earth based I actually want to see them do that. Make the next avatar a girl too and that would be interesting and if they can make it multidimensional like ATLA it would be great. But then again these cultural politics have little merit to discuss things. They just want to do stuff that hardly makes sense or even culturally, psychologically, sociologically and individually satisfying or engaging. They want to marry cliches, overused stereotypes and go along with whatever garbage handed to them to preserve status quo. To preserve totalitarian ideologies and do stuff that makes no sense.

ALOK has bombed this season. They want to make it out alive they must rethink and add layers to a potentially rich story.