You know what’s something that always bothered me about Legend of Korra. One of the major themes of the series that was supposed to set it apart from ATLA was the idea of blended families. I think, overarchingly, they did a good job showing people of different nations living together, mixing bending styles, philosophies and so on. But for individual families I feel like they’re really lacking.
Let’s take the Kataang kids. To me they were most obvious example, looking at this picture it’s hard for me to see them as siblings much less siblings that grew up with mixed parents, especially since these kids probably travelled a lot as kids. Kya looks 100% waterbender, Tenzin 100% airbender with Bumi looking like he could be from any of the nations. Just because Kya was a waterbender doesn’t mean she will fit the mold completely in both looks and personality. Tenzin is slightly more believable as he’s really trying to bring back the airbender lifestyle but still. Would it have been so hard to give Tenzin’s Katara’s skin tone? Maybe Kya adheres to the nomadic lifestyle as a healer and is a vegetarian. Bumi is a warrior, he could have Water Tribe beads in his hair, or could have airbender colors to represent his desire for peace over war.
The point is, they don’t feel like kids who grew up in a household with two very different, distinct cultures. I know kids who come from blended families and I can tell you very rarely do they fit so perfectly into one category or another.
Now with Mako and Bolin it also irked me how perfect they adhere to traditional firebender/earthbender appearance and personality. But they have more of an excuse, they lost their parents quite early and did most of their growing up together on the streets. They have distinct personalities that seem to align with their elements which makes me wonder if your bending does influence your personality or if people’s perception of you as a bender shapes it. Even so, we do see bits of familial blending. Mako’s got a stubborn, steady streak that could rival any earthbender. I can’t tell you how happy I was when Bolin learned Lavabending because!!! That’s exactly what I’d been waiting for in Korra.
I could briefly mention the airkids but I can’t go into much on them because it’s really hard to guess how much influence on how much influence their non-bender mother had on them because Pema really didn’t have a role other than produce and wrangle these kids… They at least seem to have more physically in common with their mom, take Jinora’s dark eyes and Ikki’s heart shaped face. But again, this can be explained in that they are being raised Airbenders in order to save the culture from dying out. But they do still express unique traits away from the traditional airbender (Meelo’s violent tendencies). Of all the blended we see, the airkids seem to best embody the fact that people from two different communities produce kids that are a unique mix of both cultures.
And then of course there’s the whole feeling of Republic city which did seem diverse and have a good amount of cultural blending but that’s a whole other post. This is about children of people from two different races/nations who, for the most part, seem to embody one culture without seeming realistic for someone who grew up with parents from different environments (the Kataang kids are the most glaring example with the air kids being the best). I don’t it’s just something that’s bothered me from the moment the show aired.
Earth. Fire. Air. Water. When I was a boy, my father, Avatar Aang, told me the story of how he and his friends heroically ended the Hundred Year War. Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko transformed the Fire Nation colonies into the United Republic of Nations, a society where benders and nonbenders from all over the world could live and thrive together in peace and harmony. They named the capital of this great land Republic City. Avatar Aang accomplished many remarkable things in his life, but sadly, his time in this world came to an end. And like the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the Avatar began anew.
I’m donating this drawing to the Anime Boston charity auction for the National MS Society. The convention is March 31-April 2, and the auction is on April 2. Mike and I also signed some cool stuff you can bid on too: a chibi Aang figure; a Korra poster book; and a plush Appa. I’ll post about it again when it’s closer to the event.