Korra and Asami, sitting in a tree....

3 min read
jollyjack's avatar
By jollyjack
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Yeah, I know, Book 4 of Legend of Korra ended back in 2014, but I’ve only just had the chance to watch it.

I’ve voiced my love of the Avatar series before, and I’ll do so again, now. It’s still one of the best cartoons ever to surface. Sure, there’s a lot of anime that comes out of Japan that looks slicker, but either something is lost in translation or the Japanese just aren’t good writers, because the stories and dialogue are usually dire.
Avatar brings us the best of both: quality animation and quality storytelling.
It has me scratching my head as to why more Western animation studios haven't tried to mimic it.

Having finally reached the conclusion of Book 4, though, there is a little something that irks me, and that is the way the relationship between Korra and Asami was handled. Or rather: how it wasn’t.
A romance between two characters (regardless of gender) across a story is something that should be built up to. It is the pay off. Becoming a happy couple is as much of a triumph as bringing down the villain, and requires the same kind of journey to reach if it is to feel authentic and not just tacked-on.
You want people who arrive at that point to be thinking “Finally! They’re together!” not “Oh. So they’re a couple now? OK”.
Look at relationship that we saw between Korra and Mako across the first couple of seasons. It was interwoven into the wider conflicts, and we actually SAW the ups and downs, the break-ups and make-ups.
Compare that to the relationship that “built” between Korra and Asami. It seems to consist only really of Korra telling Asami she wrote her some letters, and that’s it. Sure, Korra also tells her that she missed Asami, but she tells that to damn near everyone at some point.
Not having had the opportunity to watch Book 4 until now, I’d obviously heard about Korra and Asami becoming an item, and I was interested to see how it would be handled. It’s a little disappointing to see that…..it just wasn’t. I really wanted to see their relationship grow closer over the course of the series (and by that, I don't mean: one planting a kiss on the other). In order to reach the point where they hold hands and enter the Spirit Portal at the conclusion, they should have been inseperable over preceding episodes, but they barely spent any time on screen together. And then it’s just over.
I don’t know when the writers decided Korra and Asami were to become romantically involved, but they obviously didn’t have the courage to spring the news on Nickelodeon until the last minute (if at all). As a result, it feels like the storytellers are just shouting “Oh, by the way, they’re in love” [insert car-door-slam/engine rev/tire screech here], which is kinda disrespectful to the characters, and not as “brave” as some people are claiming.

Published:
© 2016 - 2020 jollyjack
Comments172
anonymous's avatar
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CPT-HAZE's avatar
CPT-HAZEStudent Digital Artist
While this is a valid criticism, I think a lot of it had to do with a potential conservative freakout and boycott of the series it wouldn't have the means to contest. What you have to understand is conservatives in the US are mentally children that want government small enough to fit in your bedroom. They cant stand the idea of 2 woman/man's pee pee parts touching, so they take their repressed homoerotic rage out on anything they deem supporting the "Gay agenda". Saving it for the end was probably the only thing they could do to keep Nickelodeon from pulling it for being too "controversial" .
white-tigress-12158's avatar
That is beautiful. Your speech I mean. Right on and amusing.
Greed-kun's avatar
The creators said on their tumblrs that they were too afraid to ask Nick if they could've done it until they were actually writting the finale, at which point Nick basically said that they would've allowed had they asked earlier
18thSkaven's avatar
Yeah it's convenient for Nick to say after the fact. But I bet if they'd asked at the time it would have been a far different story.
axlflow57's avatar
Yeah, as much as I love the Legend of Korra and the idea of Korrasami, I was still disappointed at how quickly they just developed that love story, I did notice it in the first few episodes of book four though, the constant writing to Asami only and the partly awkward meeting of the two, I even assumed there was gonna be a book 5 just to develop the love affair, but nothing. But Legend of Korra is still by far the best animation tv series I've seen.
MacElf's avatar
MacElfHobbyist Writer
The creators of the show released letters after the finale aired expressing their views on this relationship, actually. You should still be able to find both statements if you search for them. 
pieceofpiecake's avatar
you're right. i recently watched the last season of korra as well and i was aware of people mentioning some korrasami relationship. while i was watching the show, i tought they lied and i never noticied anything between them, until the very last scene.
Nova-rek's avatar
Nova-rekHobbyist Filmographer
Do I am the only one to think about the fact that Korra will have any legacy, that her blood line is over?
It's so sad...
Ksterstone's avatar
KsterstoneHobbyist Traditional Artist
Unfortunately, it's still somewhat of a taboo to have same sex couples in cartoons. Steven Universe and Adventure Time were both called into question for theirs. Nickelodeon is more than likely trying to keep their heads down -so to speak- as much as possible.
PotatoOni's avatar
PotatoOniHobbyist Traditional Artist
They stated in a blog post that they didn't planned this in advance but decided on it sometime during the writing process. As a result we get a good basic set up in season 3 but a massive lack of meaningful interaction between the two beyond that wich in turn cheapens everything quite a bit. In fact, I myself had to rewatch season 3 and 4 afterwards to actually see if there was any build up to this.

Another factor might've been that Nickelodeon is run by brain dead monkeys who arbitrarily decided to extend the show beyond season 1 leaving the writers in a pretty bad spot. They couldn't plan it out like ATLA and also didn't have enough episodes (given the pacing issues they seemed to always had problems fitting their story into the 12/13 episodes format) so they seemingly had to decide wether or not to continue the story or do character building. None of the writers on LoK where bad (in fact most of the writing team of ATLA returned) but they where severely hampered by the messy production.

ATLAs story was a chicken that followed a trail of corn carefully layed out by the writers, LoKs story was a chicken Nickelodeon decapiated and the writers desperatly tried to catch in order to feed it. Still, I love this headless chicken and appreciate what it did differently from the previous one. Also it has police blimps and every show with police blimps is awesome.

On Anime:
They're usually mass produced with not really that much care put into the writing (seriously, I've been binging Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated and its writing is far superior to the average Anime). And publishers have a strong tendency to only greenlit things they know will sell so theres also a massive lack of creativity and originality in Anime. Basicly, the Anime industry is like EA. And if you thought KorrAsami was shoehorned in, you really should look at some of the romances in many Anime. They often have even less build up, if any, and are even more fanservicy.
Aikurisu's avatar
AikurisuProfessional Digital Artist
When I found out about this relationship I pretty much groaned and gave up interest in the show.  Your description only confirms how I figured it was shoehorned in.
zewhatcher's avatar
zewhatcherProfessional Writer
Never saw Korra, I tajke it back, saw part of an episode and she... Rubbed me the wrong way so I never picked it up. Now I'm glad I didn't. 
BJPentecost's avatar
BJPentecostProfessional Digital Artist
I watched it all the way through but I feel pretty much the same as you. Korra was obnoxious and the whole show felt like some weird political propaganda reel mixed up with pointless stupid drama. I didn't really like any of the other characters either except Tensen. Avatar: TLA was way, way better IMO.
Carbonian's avatar
CarbonianProfessional General Artist
Their relationship is well built... in the fundom. Not in the show itself. For me, writing letters, exchanging smiles, cozy and personal conversations and holding hands after some super hard battle for the world doesn't equals with love. The problem is every time somebody highlights the many problems with this relationship he is called homophobic, biased conservative. But that's hardly the case. It's just shitty, forced and undeveloped. And hiding between "Nickelodeon wouldn't fund a cartoon featuring LGBT relationships" is not a good excuse. If you can't tell a story good, you don't tell it. It would be much better if they just left this open for our imagination.
This was not brave. Not brave at all. Brave would be breaking away from Nickelodeon, fighting hard to gather funds and sponsors and do this show how ever they want. Too bad they made the safe choice. And made a sequel not worthy of the the first series.
I loved this sequel. Not saying it was bad. But it has so many problems. Not just this failed Korrasami ship.
Mangetsu20's avatar
Mangetsu20Hobbyist Writer
It was sloppy writing. 

Don't get me wrong, as clunky as the beginning for not as interesting characters compared to the predecessor (Avatar: The Last Airbender) LoK suffered from what I can only presume was a jumbled mess of writers butting heads, not knowing what exactly to do with this new cast or where for them to go. It was pretty obvious Book 1 was supposed to end with Korra and Mako. So when Book 2 rolled around, the relationship triangle we were annoyed with in Book 1 was messed up so much that Mako ended up being slated as "scumbag" even if it wasn't his whole fault. Hell, the whole "romance" aspect was more like a dramatic heel turn at the end of Book 4 if only because all I saw was a progression of a best friendship developing between Asami and Korra, both characters I felt should have had better care handled in other departments outside of the relationship issues. Then, the ending happens and it overall was okay if not possessing a weak end for the main villain of that Book. The Wedding of Varric and Zhu-Li was great, it was a nice happy occasion and I liked how Mako made up with Korra despite all that happened (not to mention Bolin with his gf). But it just gets...awkward, with Korra and Asami. Before there were a few moments that perpetuated awkward in Book 4 to where I was like, "Is Korra just being shy cause she's insecure or not conscious of herself or are the creators trying to push something?" which turns out, that's what it was. I mean, what the Hell? Without telling anyone they just hold hands and stare into each other's eyes as if they have some sort of...connection? It's sloppy and a pretty low-ball to get sympathy for a series that had such a split fanbase that the ratings was only saved cause "Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual Victory in Children's TV!" 

Ugh, glad I got that off my shoulders. There is a HOST of problems this series has in which it failed to live up to expectations or misused the lore of the old series to no benefit of the current but I did have fun watching it. I'm just...disappointed how it all ended up. A promising series with little to no good pay-off. I can't recommend this series to any Avatar fan because of how frustratingly sloppy it is in execution and resolution. Thanks for bringing it up, Jolly ^^
ex-he20brine's avatar
ex-he20brineHobbyist Artist
Or maybe straight men should butt out of the discussion when a queer romance between women are involved.
LazyTherian's avatar
LazyTherianHobbyist Traditional Artist
That is a retarded view point you have there. You may want to pull your head out of your ass.
ex-he20brine's avatar
ex-he20brineHobbyist Artist
Explain?
bico-kun's avatar
bico-kunHobbyist Digital Artist
I know I, for one, had that "Finally! They're together!" reaction. I started thinking they'd make a cute couple back in Book 3 when they did start getting closer, and I really started shipping it hardcore early in Book 4. Bryan Koenietzko apparently did like the idea of Asami being Korra's love interest as far back as Book 1, but they didn't seriously consider it as plausible due to the culture at the time, especially working under Nickelodeon. Bryan said that by Book 3 they were going for a strong friendship at first, but, in his own words, "The more Korra and Asami’s relationship progressed, the more the idea of a romance between them organically blossomed for us." Therefore, they started hinting at it really low key, such that you'd probably only pick up on it if you're already in the mindset that anyone could be non hetero. They ended up saying "f*** it" at the end and fighting to include a more unambiguous getting together, which Nick agreed to, though they ended up actually going farther than Nick approved since the series was ending and they really wanted to make it as clear as possible under the circumstances. I think it makes more sense if you think of it more as the Spirit World trip basically being the equivalent of asking someone you've been crushing on for a bit out to coffee. They haven't had any obvious romantic buildup because they haven't been in a relationship, and are basically just opening up to the idea of being in a relationship with each other at the show's end. I agree it would have been nice to have more relationship development in the series proper, and Bryan admitted in his explanation post that it was not the level of representation that he wanted, but it was definitely a step forward from the straight-up queerbaiting most Nick cartoons would have done.
ProjectZuel's avatar
ProjectZuelHobbyist Digital Artist
I didn't mind it much but I think that's a also a problem: I didn't care. It just happened and I thought "ok, that's cool I guess". It doesn't bring down the series but it feels like the creators tried to sneak it in. I've only watched season 2 - 4 last month so I wanted to see how their relationship panned out so was disappointed with the lack of build up.
Wondersam's avatar
think it was more so to make the show support the gay hearing trial going on at the moment that korra and asami where to be the flag bearers of same sex marriage in kids tv
Nohvarr's avatar
Actually.....there's some characters in the Cartoon "Steven Universe" that could be seen as same sex and have been "Married" for a very long time.
Wondersam's avatar
steven universe is a show about lesbians

but the first lesbian couple was marcalene n bgp who had kissing scenes outside of america
B-E-Furry's avatar
WELL, from what I head at the time, Nick basically said that they'd end the show. There wasn't a whole lot of choice.
anonymous's avatar
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