The Unicorn Scale: The Legend of Korra

By Luis Gallegos

April 16, 2023



As a fan of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, I was thrilled when its sequel, The Legend of Korra, was released in 2012. The show, which follows the journey of Avatar Korra as she navigates political unrest and spiritual growth in a world grappling with change, not only captured my attention with its stunning animation and complex characters but also with its nuanced exploration of sexuality and gender identity. Let's take a closer look at how The Legend of Korra broke new ground in queer representation and why it remains a beloved piece of media for many members of the bi community.

The show takes place in a fictional world divided into four nations: the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads; where there are "benders" capable of manipulating and controlling the element of their nation. The series takes place in the same fictional universe as its predecessor and is based on the life of Korra, the reincarnation of Avatar Aang. However, the Avatar is capable of bending the four elements and embarks on a quest to master them by traveling the world, with the intention of saving it, of course.

Take into account that from now on there will be SPOILERS for all seasons of the show. But seriously, if you haven't seen The Legend of Korra by now, have you been living under a rock? Lastly, if this is your first time reading our Unicorn Scale and you have no idea how we rank, you can learn more here.

Either way, let's continue!

Korra is very different from Aang, a shy, peaceful, and even fearful child airbender; in contrast to the teenage waterbender who is impatient, impulsive, and assertive — and in my opinion, a personality more suited to someone from the Fire Nation. All of this helps the viewer detach from the previous story and welcome the sequel. While they may differ in many ways, both of them have a great sense of humor and enthusiasm, and are always surrounded by friends who lend a helping hand during their adventures.


Throughout the series, Korra forms close bonds with two main characters: Mako, a charismatic young firebender who takes charge in any situation and serves as the typical male protagonist; and Asami, the cunning and competitive daughter of one of the most famous inventors of her time.

Mako is first introduced during the first season of the show, while participating in a Probending match — essentially a dodgeball match using bending arts. At first, Korra watches from the sidelines but is eventually introduced to Mako by Bolin (my crush). Mako, however, seems unimpressed by Korra's status as the Avatar and her abilities. That is, until Korra uses her waterbending skills in a match and helps the team to victory, impressing Mako and earning a permanent spot on the team.

In season one's "The Voice in the Night" episode, Asami invites Mako to a gala honoring the Avatar, where he meets Korra. At first, Korra and Asami are intimidated by each other's presence, as they both have a crush on Mako. This leads to a love triangle between the three characters. And who doesn't like a love triangle? Right?


Despite having been romantically involved with Mako, Korra and Asami form a strong friendship, finding comfort in each other's company and even sharing their frustrations with one another. Asami becomes Korra's driving teacher, and the two spend a lot of time together. When Korra is banished from Republic City, Asami accompanies her on her journey to find new airbenders, which brings them even closer. Over time, their friendship blossoms into a romantic relationship.

After a fierce battle with season three's antagonist, Zaheer, Korra is gravely injured and requires three years to recover. During this time, Korra and Asami exchange letters, with Asami admitting that her world feels incomplete without Korra and the Avatar expressing her fears and gratitude for Asami's constant support.

When the two finally reunite, they share a warm embrace. Asami compliments Korra on her new haircut, causing the Avatar to blush, and Korra returns the compliment by mentioning that she looks "elegant as always".


What I Liked:

The Legend of Korra is full of LGBT representation. With more than 20 queer characters, including a strong female force, you can tell that its creators were completely dedicated to creating a product that was unexpected and fresh. But the best part is that our protagonist is a bi woman! This was confirmed by Bryan Konietzo in a Tumblr post where he mentions "bi people exist", referring to the relationship between Korra and Asami.

The show explores complex themes like politics, spirituality, and social justice, which makes it stand out from other shows. The female characters, such as Korra, Asami, Lin, and Kya, are well-developed and have their own storylines that are not centered around male characters and the animation is also a highlight, with detailed and fluid movements that bring the world of Avatar to life. The show portrays different types of relationships in a nuanced and emotional way, including romantic, platonic, and familial relationships. Overall, The Legend of Korra is a compelling and well-rounded series that I absolutely loved growing up. 


What I Didn't Like:

I have a lot to say about this next part because it really bothers me that the relationship between Korra and Asami wasn't more clear. Their relationship developed throughout the entire series, mostly as friends, but there was never any indication of a kiss or any intimate contact, which is disappointing.

Although the television series was created for children, it explored complex and mature themes such as war, death, destruction of nations, prison camps, kidnappings, violence, and prejudice. These topics were carefully presented throughout the series. However, same-sex relationships were deemed too mature for young viewers by Nickelodeon at the time, so they were not shown explicitly.

And speaking of the first installment, in the final scene Avatar Aang is shown face to face with his beloved Katana and they end with a kiss. The creators intended to have a similar final scene in Korra's series, but instead, Korra and Asami take a trip to the Spirit World together — as they both enter the newly formed portal, they hold hands and share a longing look as they leave. The implication is more than clear, they are starting a romance.

Due to Nickelodeon's censorship, I think the creators of the series, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, were unable to tell their story in its entirety.

The Rating:

Upon first watching the series, I was captivated by the stunning combat scenes and the intricately woven storyline, and I found myself wishing I could be a waterbender in that world. For these reasons, my heart would give it at least 3.5 unicorns, as it is clear that the creators took risks with their storytelling. In 2012, they aimed to give queer visibility and address topics that had never been tackled before in a children's show. It's safe to say that this series was a starting point for queer representation, paving the way for shows like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Adventure Time, Harley Quinn, and Steven Universe to use bi and queer characters and relationships without any shame, and have them confirmed on-screen.

However, the issue of bi erasure and censorship in the series cannot be ignored. Even though the final scene strongly implies a romantic relationship between Korra and Asami, it's still left up to interpretation. Because of this, I must give it a rating of 3 unicorns. The series could have been even more impactful if it had been more explicit in its representation. Nonetheless, the show remains a significant and groundbreaking step forward in queer representation in children's media.