First of all, I know that some people don’t consider Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra to be anime, and for valid reasons. But it also one of the best western children’s cartoons ever (Although from what we’ve seen so far, I highly doubt the target audience for the current season is children. It has some pretty creepy stuff in it) and has very strong Asian influences. Plus, it’s very popular among both anime fans and non anime fans.
Second of all, this post contains a lot of spoilers, so if you plan to finish the show but haven’t yet, I suggest you do so before reading this.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the show, in the world of Avatar there are those who have the power to “bend” one of the four elements (Water, Earth, Fire, Air). Only the Avatar has the power to bend all four elements. The Legend of Korra is about a conflict between benders and non-benders, with the non-benders being led by a villain called Amon who has the power to take away a person’s bending. As a recent fan of the former series there have so far been things I liked about this new show and things I didn’t like so much, but it has definitely been interesting.
In the finale of the season, Korra’s bending is taken away from her. She manages to unlock her airbending, but to her it seems only a small comfort in the sight of her loss. Without the other elements, she is no longer the Avatar. It had been her goal, her purpose, even her identity, and now it was gone. When she finds that even the most skilled healer in the world can’t bring it back, she flees the consolation of her friends and cries alone on an icy cliff. When she hears someone behind her, she thinks it’s her airbending teacher, and says, “Not now, Tenzin. I just want to be left alone.”
“But you called me here.”
She turns and sees that it is actually Aang, the deceased protagonist of the old series and her past life.
This whole scene was to me reminiscent of the scene in John 20 when Jesus appears to Mary Magdelene while she was crying outside his tomb, and she mistakes him as the gardener before discovering that it was him. Similarly to Korra, she and the other followers of Jesus were in deep despair at his death. They had given up their homes and livelihoods to follow him, and the he died. But when they learned that Jesus was alive again the despair of both Mary and the other disciples was replaced with joy. Avatar also parallels this, as Aang then restores Korra’s bending, and she is in turn able to restore the bending of others. (I was a little disappointed, as are the other fans, at how easy this was for Korra. That’s a lot of potential character development wasted! Though I notice no one is complaining that Lin Bei Fong got her bending back.)
Aang goes onto tell Korra something that stuck me deeply:
When we hit our lowest point, we are open to the greatest change.
While it varies a little, when we are the saddest is often when we come the closest to God. The times when we are broken are when he starts to heal and change us, and the times when we’re at our weakest are the times when he has the most power in our lives.
So that was the most moving scene for me so far in Avatar: The Legend of Korra. I’m hoping the next season is even better!