In The Legend of Korra, Korra’s personality has always been very different from Aang’s, and an Avatar theory offers an explanation for why.
The Legend of Korra featured an Avatar with a very different personality than Aang. While the hero of Avatar: The Last Airbender was a playful pacifist who favored games and escapism over head-on conflict, Avatar Korra proved early on in the series’ sequel that she had a fiery personality far more worthy of the hot-headed Fire Nation than the tranquil Water Tribe. And that may not be a coincidence.
The original series finale saw Aang use a never-before-seen bending technique that remains mysterious to this day, and its aftermath could have left the mind of Raava (who would reincarnate as Korra) more tainted than he thought. A new theory proposes that there is an actual explanation for the difference between Aang and Korra, and if nothing else, it gives Avatar fans a lot to think about.
From her introduction, it was clear that Avatar Korra was different from her predecessor Aang. Even as a child, she burst into a room to bend three different items and declare “I am the Avatar and you have to take care of this!” A far more confrontational attitude than Aang’s more passive personality, as even as she grew older, Korra maintained her stubborn mentality. This same personality made her perfect for firebending, already mastered as a teenager and which proved to be one of her go-to options in any fight. But, despite the Avatar being the ruler of all four elements, Korra’s preference might seem a bit odd to some. After all, she is from the Water Tribe.
Personality differences in Avatar often align with the type of bender a person is, and waterbending and firebending are seen as opposites that require completely different mindsets for their approach. While waterbending mixes attack and defense in a patient and versatile style, firebending is favored for its aggressive use of an assault attack. Aang naturally turned to waterbending in his life, but it seems something changed in his next life when he was reincarnated. In most cases it is reasonable to attribute this to a character difference, but a recent theory on Reddit proposes that there is a real explanation for Aang’s drastic personality change to Korra.
In the final at Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang was adamant that he would not end the Hundred Year War by taking the life of his enemy Firelord Ozai. Boasting a unique ability from the Lion Turtle, Aang instead chose to suppress Ozai’s power with Energybending, restraining the Fire Lord before purifying him with the blue light of his mind. But the new technique almost came at a huge cost as Ozai’s own red energy corrupted Aang’s body, almost completely overwhelming him before a final energy blast ended the fight in Aang’s favor. According to the recent theory, Aang did not come out unscathed from the clash. Instead, Ozai’s firebending spirit left an impression on the spirit of Raava who would later reincarnate as the more fire-oriented Korra.
The theory is a bit far-fetched and not really necessary to answer a question that wasn’t really a mystery. After all, a range of personalities are present among each type of Bender without it being necessary to point out a corrupting influence on their minds in the past. The sympathetic and sensitive Bolin is as much an earthbender as the tough and insensitive Toph, for example. But the theory offers an interesting line of thought on the unseen consequences of Ozai’s corrupting influence. Energybending never includes such a dramatic contest between spirits as it did in Avatar‘s finale, and when Aang later removes Yakone’s bending, he is seen doing so without any threat of corruption.
What would have happened if Ozai had won in the final moments of the series, and how was his resistance different from Yakone’s? These are intriguing questions that the series sheds little light on, and Energybending, in general, is perhaps the franchise’s most mysterious bending art. Avatars still cover a range of personalities, with Wan, Yangchen, Kuruk, Kyoshi, and Roku being as different from each other as Aang and Korra. If each Avatar reincarnated as the next, it would make sense that there would be an explanation for why their personalities diverge so wildly from one lifetime to the next.
The possibility that each of their minds undergoes a change throughout their lives is intriguing. Granted, Avatar Kuruk suffered his own spiritual damage, as detailed in Kyoshi’s Shadow novel, and with so little knowledge of the other Avatars, it’s possible each had unique battles that ended up having a ripple effect throughout their lives. While the theory isn’t particularly compelling, it does provide some valuable food for thought, and if the franchise ever has, say, an evil Avatar, that could go a long way to explaining how such a dire event could occur in the harmonious world. . where their protection is paramount to maintain balance.
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