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5 Shows like The Legend of Korra: Children of the Revolution

Natasha Evette itcherPraised for its multi-dimensional characters and bold attention to sociopolitical issues, ‘The Legend of Korra’ isn’t your average cartoon show. While TV shows like ‘The Legend of Korra’ may not crop up very often, I’ve set out to find at least a few that may hold a candle up to it, like ‘Jessica Jones’ and ‘Naruto’. ~ Natasha Evette

Everybody is Kung-Fu Fighting!

I’m sorry, I thought I heard you say you have a spare five hours to listen to me talk about ‘The Legend of Korra’?

What do you mean, ‘no, Natasha, I don’t!’?

Oh, fine. But it’s your loss!

Boisterous and idealistic Korra starts out as the kind of overconfident hero that thinks she’s ready to take on all of the responsibility she’s destined to shoulder. However, she realises very quickly that she’s nowhere near prepared for everything coming her way. As the series progresses, Korra’s growth as a character has true depth, and the cast in general is diverse and developed enough that ‘The Legend of Korra’ far surpasses the quality of any other cartoon or live action series I’ve ever seen.

The overarching plots of the show contain plenty of elegantly choreographed action, and they go on to tackle mature underlying issues such as mental illness, depression, sexuality, disability, spirituality, social unrest, terrorism and race. ‘The Legend of Korra’ has some of the most well-written characters I have ever encountered in my life and, for me, it’s very emotionally moving.

Furthermore, ‘The Legend of Korra’ is an extremely rare power fantasy fulfillment for women where the female characters have just the same potential to be as physically imposing and powerful in battle as the male characters. Without the women being hyper-sexualised. It’s so important for people to see real fantasy heroes complete impossible feats, be women and be represented in this way.

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Shows Similar to ‘The Legend of Korra’…

‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ (Nickelodeon, 2010)

This is an obvious one. In fact, you almost definitely should watch this before you even go anywhere near ‘The Legend of Korra’. Aang is Korra’s predecessor and the world set-up of ‘The Legend of Korra’ is a direct result of the revolutionary war-ending actions Aang takes in ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’.

Overall, ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ is a much more humourous and lighter show than ‘The Legend of Korra’, although it doesn’t shy away from maturer issues either. It’s rich with world-building information, fantastic action sequences and heart-wrenching moments from villains and friends alike as Aang faces his responsibility as the Avatar and all the struggles that comes with it.

Have a look at this article if you want to watch some great shows like ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’.

Similarity Match: 95%
The Avatar line continues! Naturally this would be a high match! The only major difference worth noting is that Korra is a young woman, facing a variety of villains where Aang is a twelve year old boy with one major foe.

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‘Naruto’ (TXN, 2002-2007)

Naruto is not the brightest, or the most handsome boy in his ninja class. He doesn’t have any close friends or family, the girls don’t like him and he’s shunned for an unknown to him reason by most of the village. Nevertheless, he has an immeasurable amount of energy and passion for the ninja way, and he vows to everyone that he will be the best and most powerful ninja someday.

‘Naruto’ is probably one of the most popular anime shows out there, but I was really torn about whether or not to put it on this list. Where ‘The Legend of Korra’ has a really diverse and colourful cast of female characters, ‘Naruto’ doesn’t, really. There are a lot of fascinating articles out there focussing on this matter, but the fact remains that most of the female characters in ‘Naruto’ will trip on their outstanding potential and fall into the trap of tradition; they remain weak, feminine, sidekick stereotypes, with few exceptions.

Nevertheless, ‘Naruto’ is a surprisingly emotionally powerful anime, like ‘The Legend of Korra’. Although it is peppered with an unreasonable amount of dull filler episodes, the characterisation, the development and the overall plot are generally sound and heart-warming. The ninja skills are so varied from character to character, it’s almost like they’re ‘X-men’ mutants with each new cast member bringing something different to savour, similar to the range of bending skills in ‘The Legend of Korra’.

Similarity Match: 75%
‘Naruto’ certainly has wonderful combat scenes, and I’ve been moved to ugly sobbing on more than one occasion watching this, but I only wish some of the women characters had been given more chances to shine.

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‘Jessica Jones’ (Marvel/ABC, 2015)

Jessica Jones is a private investigator, miserable and trying desperately to get by and recover in the aftermath of having been held captive and raped by a mind-controlling villain. She knocks back whiskey like I knock back red wine on a Saturday night, she’s a failed superhero and, even before her capture by the villain, she was struggling to find her place in the world as a ‘special’ a.k.a someone who has ended up with supernatural abilities.

‘Jessica Jones’ is definitely darker than ‘The Legend of Korra’ and absolutely not for children. Nevertheless, there is a similar theme of courage and perseverance in both heroine’s journeys. There’s a detail to characterisation and growth that is more commonly passed over in women characters in these genres. It’s highly compelling to watch them both overcome their hesitancies and fears, but remaining true to their real selves.   

While I’m not thrilled that yet again the only thing a woman seems capable of suffering through as a catalyst to character development is sexual assault, I do like that the recovery and consequences of her (and Hope Shlottman’s) ordeal are realistically detailed and played out. It’s also very important to note that there are no actual graphic scenes containing rape.

Similarity Match: 70%
The Legend of Jessica! With a similarly strong, lead female character with supernatural powers, Jessica will remind you of Korra especially in later seasons. Even though ‘Jessica Jones’ is explicitly for adults, the cast are pure magic.

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‘Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood’ (JNN, 2009-2010)

I’m only in the early stages of this anime show, but it’s a name I’ve heard crop up a lot when looking for shows similar to ‘The Legend of Korra’. It was enough to pique my curiosity and I’m almost halfway through.

Edward and Alphonse Elric are brothers on a quest to find a way to become whole again after a disastrous attempt to bring their mother back to life ended with the destruction of Alphonse’s entire body and Ed’s arm and leg.  

The powers of the alchemists are similar to bending, in enough ways that you should appreciate the combat if you’re in it for the action. The combat and movement is mostly closely shot though, meaning that you miss the wider impression of how awesome the powers are.

Like Korra, Edward is cocky and self-assured straight off the bat (despite his horrific failure as a child) but unlike ‘The Legend of Korra’ where Korra very quickly realises her limitations, Ed remains almost arrogant in his abilities. It’s a little boring, and I feel like characterisation is being largely ignored, especially for women characters who are mostly dulled and stereotyped.

Similarity Match: 70%
Edward is unabashedly confident where Korra grows and humbles with age, but both are combat-heavy cartoons with a unique style of powers.

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If You Like ‘The Legend of Korra’, You Will Like…

While the below might not be a series similar to ‘The Legend of Korra’ explicitly, you will recognise similar themes, or similarities in the characters and atmosphere.

‘RWBY’ (Rooster Teeth, 2013-present)

Something a little different for you! The second I started watching RWBY, I knew something was really familiar about it. It wasn’t until I actually started reading about it that I was nearly bowled over as I realised it was created by the tragically late Monty Oum. Almost a decade ago, Monty gained a lot of viral fame online for his fan movie animated creations and you really should check them out.

RWBY is a web series where the cast train to become Hunters and Huntresses to protect the world by slaying monsters. It’s an interesting style of animation, and the action sequences’ choreography is really impressive to watch.

I’m not in love with any of the characters, but it is a largely female cast and although having been written entirely by men, it’s not…horribly developed or designed, by anime standards, at least. However, with the episodes sometimes as short as four minutes, you can bet that there really isn’t a lot of room for character development.

Don’t hurt me! These girls pack a punch. It’s shallow when compared to ‘The Legend of Korra’ characterisation, but it’s an American anime style show with a heavy focus on original, elegant combat scenes.

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‘Equalist’ to Anything Else?

While I sing the praises of ‘The Legend of Korra’, you might have a different opinion!

Sadly, I don’t think there are many tv series like ‘The Legend of Korra’ out there that closely match its quality and depth, but the most important aspect for me is that ‘The Legend of Korra’ is the emotional power behind the stories and that it’s a power-fantasy for women.

What are your favourite aspects of ‘The Legend of Korra’? What other shows similar to ‘The Legend of Korra’ are there that I’ve missed?

Let us know in the comments below!

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