The Legend of Korra ended its run Friday with an action-packed finale that saw the hero, Avatar Korra, thwart a fascist dictator bent on world conquest. This final season, like the previous three, has drawn praise for its trailblazing feminist and progressive values, ending as it did with the hint of a same-sex romance for the lead character, a teenage girl.
Some Reason readers undoubtedly eye those descriptors cautiously, associating modern progressive feminism with a host of liberty-unfriendly attitudes. But Korra, thankfully, espoused individualist feminism and voluntary progressivism, and frequently engaged libertarian themes. The show celebrated the awesome power of individuals, extolled the virtues of open borders, and scrutinized state-initiated violence—going so far as allowing an anarchist sect to makes its case for a world without government.
The anime-influenced cartoon series, which debuted on Nickelodeon in 2012, was a sequel to the beloved Avatar: The Last Airbender. The original show was set in a fictional world divided into four territories (the Air Temples, Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, and Fire Nation) filled with people who could manipulate—or “bend”—the four representative elements: air, water, fire, and earth. Only one person, Avatar Aang, had the power to control all four, and it was his job to keep the world in balance. The sequel series concerned the exploits of the reincarnated avatar, a 17-year-old girl named Korra, who took over the job after Aang’s natural death several decades subsequent to the events of A:TLA.
Though aimed at kids and teens, neither series shied from including sophisticated political themes. A:TLA dealt with the Fire Nation’s genocidal wars against the Air Nomads and Water Tribes. The heroes eventually fled to the Earth Kingdom capital, only to discover that the constant threat of war had motivated the city’s bureaucratic elite to establish an Orwellian police state. The Fire Nation itself invited obvious comparisons to Nazi Germany and fascist Japan