The Legend of Korra is available now to stream on Netflix, allowing fans to once again revisit the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Set 70 years after the end of the first series, The Legend of Korra follows the titular character, who’s the new Avatar of the four regions of the world—the Water Tribe, Earth Kingdom, Air Nomads and the Fire Nation.
Korra is tasked with keeping the peace between the four nations in the brand new Republic City—founded by Avatar Aang—which acts as a place for people of all nations to congregate.
The sequel series, which ran from 2012 to 2014, stars a cast of teenagers and young adults; because of that, the themes and conflicts are a tad more mature than those of the previous series. And for many fans, the romantic relationships formed between various characters were some of the highlights of the show’s 52-episode run.
One of those relationships was a big deal back when the show ended in 2014—and now, many new viewers will be able to get familiar with the couple that fans dubbed “Korrasami.”
Over the course of the series’ four seasons, Korra becomes friends—and then much more—with the smart and inventive Asami. It’s an early and standout example of LGBTQ representation in animation.
While “Korrasami” became canon by the end of the series, creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino revealed once the series was over that it wasn’t always intended as such.
Originally, Konietzko and DiMartino didn’t plan for Korra and Asami to end up together. In fact, Asami’s role in the series was envisioned as being much different.
In a 2014 Tumblr post, Konietzko revealed that Asami was intended to be a double agent working against Korra and the gang, but that changed as they developed her character.
“Asami was a duplicitous spy when Mike and I first conceived her character,” Konietzko wrote. “Then we liked her too much so we reworked the story to keep her in the dark regarding her father’s villainous activities.”
Those who have seen the first season know that Mako eventually develops a romantic relationship with Asami while Korra pines over him. The creators decided to break up Mako and Asami, and have Korra and Mako (whose ship name is “Makorra”) end up together at the end of season 1. But that wasn’t the “endgame,” either.
“As we wrote Book 1, before the audience had ever laid eyes on Korra and Asami, [Korrasami] was an idea I would kick around the writers’ room,” Konietzko wrote. “At first we didn’t give it much weight, not because we think same-sex relationships are a joke, but because we never assumed it was something we would ever get away with depicting on an animated show for a kids network in this day and age, or at least in 2010.”
Once Mako and Korra broke up in season 2, the creators developed the relationship between the main protagonist and Asami as a “strong” friendship. They planned to set the romantic stuff for the final two seasons, with Konietzko admitting that he didn’t want Korra to end up with anyone by the end of the series because it would feel forced. But as the duo changed Asami’s character and who she would become, they also altered the characters’ relationship.
“The more Korra and Asami’s relationship progressed, the more the idea of a romance between them organically blossomed for us,” Konietzko wrote. “However, we still operated under this notion, another ‘unwritten rule,’ that we would not be allowed to depict that in our show. So we alluded to it throughout the second half of the series, working in the idea that their trajectory could be heading towards a romance.”
As the series was nearing its end, Konietzko and DiMartino thought about Korrasami and how the network never explicitly said they couldn’t have a same-sex relationship depicted on the show. The duo didn’t want to have the series end without at least trying to make Korrasami happen, which led to the final scene of the series, featuring Korra and Asami holding hands.
“We approached the network and while they were supportive there was a limit to how far we could go with it, as just about every article I read accurately deduced,” Konietzko explained. “It was originally written in the script over a year ago that Korra and Asami held hands as they walked into the spirit portal. We went back and forth on it in the storyboards, but later in the retake process I staged a revision where they turned towards each other, clasping both hands in a reverential manner, in a direct reference to Varrick and Zhu Li’s nuptial pose from a few minutes prior.”
After asking composer Jeremy Zuckerman to change the music to be more “tender and romantic,” the final scene of The Legend of Korra was completed.
Konietzko admitted that this scene wasn’t a “slam-dunk victory” for queer representation, but he hoped that it would be something significant, that could lead to more LGBTQ characters and stories in animation. While it’s not clear if The Legend of Korra was an influence on them, there are several recent children’s animated series featuring LGBTQ characters, like Steven Universe, She-Ra and The Owl House. Back in 2014, that wasn’t the case; and six years later, fans are still talking about Korrasami.
MORE KORRA AND ASAMI ADVENTURES
While the series finished in 2014, the adventures of Korra and Asami didn’t end there.
DiMartino continued Korra’s story in comic book form, with two new arcs published via Dark Horse Comics. Not only do they extend the narrative of The Legend of Korra, but they show Korra and Asami as a full-fledged couple.
The first is “Turf Wars,” which was published in 2017 and sees Korra and Asami return to Republic City after an excursion in the Spirit World. This story pits Korra against a land developer who wants to make the Spirit World into an amusement park.
The second is “Ruins of the Empire,” published in 2019. It follows Korra and the gang as they return to the Earth Kingdom and deal with the aftermath of Kuvira’s rule. There’s one major issue, though: The Avatar will actually have to team up with her former enemy to stop the kingdom from falling into the wrong hands.
What is your favorite moment in The Legend of Korra? Let us know in the comments section.
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