Week 4: Relationships in Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra
Day 10: Friendship in Avatar Land
Day 11: Teen Romance in Avatar Land
Day 12: Siblings in Avatar Land
Day 11 is for how awkward everything is, always.
All screenshots from Avatar Spirit.
There’s at least one important spoiler in this one for Korra.
Korra showcases some pretty dysfunctional romance that should have remained friendship and some not entirely dysfunctional friendship that eventually turns into romance. The only two unrelated people in Team Avatar who haven’t dated are Bolin and Asami. Bolin and Asami’s friendship remains unplagued by hormones and memories of past romance. But that’s it.
Sure, Korra and Bolin went on one date – but Mako is a whole other story. Man, that guy.
- Korra and Asami’s friendship starts shakily (since Korra’s pretty sure Mako should be with her rather than Asami), and remains at least somewhat shaky because here’s their relationship history:
- Korra likes Mako. He likes Korra back but doesn’t want to admit it because they’re on a Pro-Bending team and it would get in the way.
- Mako dates Asami.
- Korra confesses that she likes Mako; Mako says he doesn’t feel the same way.
- Korra goes on one date with Bolin and then kisses Mako (who kisses her back.)
- Asami eventually finds out about the kiss and gets mad.
- Mako and Asami break up because Asami realizes that Mako’s feelings for Korra are deeper than he’s admitting.
- Mako and Korra date.
- Mako and Korra break up (and she trashes the police station).
- Mako and Asami date.
- Korra gets amnesia and thinks she’s still dating Mako, who plays along because, well, she’s the Avatar.
- Korra figures it out, everyone breaks up (Mako and Asami were probably already broken up at this point though, because, well, how could you not).
- Mako is SUPER awkward around both girls and Korra laughs about it with Asami and it is THE BEST.
- Then there’s an entire clip show about their rocky relationship past in which Prince Wu comments on everything.
- Then, you know, Korra and Asami.
Korra and Asami have a pretty steady friendship throughout books 3 and 4, and the closer we get to the finale the more we see that Korra thinks of Asami as a person she can really trust and be herself around. Asami is super supportive. It’s nice. The final scene between them as they go off on a vacation to the spirit world is them holding hands, which is not ambiguous, but nobody really thought they’d end it like that. And that’s probably because everything between them up until that point could easily just be read as a supportive friendship.
But if you compare it to Aang and Katara’s version of a supportive friendship that has romantic moments and then turns into a full blown romance by the end, there isn’t much difference. It’s just that we’re used to a heterosexual couple being the endgame, and that’s why the final Korrasami scene caught everyone off guard.
But before the nice ending with healthy romance, there’s also the mess that is Bolin and Eska in Book 2.
This has never been funny. Eska and Desna are hysterical on their own, sure, but this romance is just one big nope pie.
But that’s what’s great about Korra. Despite how dysfunctional this all is, they all remain friends and supportive of one another until the end, which is both an optimistic way of depicting this, and also kind of realistic, and also kind of important. Things do eventually get better, teenagers who are bad at romance.
At least, Korra seems to think they do.
Just look at Bolin! He ends up with Opal.
Much better. And while he’s happy with Opal, Eska is busy running the Northern Water Tribe, which is probably great and should have its own spin off.
The romance in The Last Airbender is comparatively boring because it’s wholesome and cute and understated, except for those weird moments in which Aang gets a little uncharacteristically jealous. Sure, we feel for Aang, but he’s 12 and responsible for saving the entire world, so if he could have just relaxed about what was going on with his love life that might have given him a little bit of peace.
Of course, then there was that Sokka/Suki/Zuko tent thing which will never stop being funny.
We went the entire post without mentioning the secret tunnel song because that gets its own discussion when we talk about music.