I cannot begin to tell you how deliciously this character development we’re seeing here parallels Aang’s, or how excited I am about it. Because. Holy. Shit. We all know Aang- he’d been a scared kid when found in the iceburg, and matured into a wise, full-fledged Avatar by the end of his series. His entire character arc was based on him building up his self-confidence.
What makes Korra’s character arc special is that it, instead, has to do with the destruction of self-confidence and regaining it.
Korra’s introduced as the Winner. The Tough One. Bending’s in her blood- she learned how to bend three elements by the age of 5, mastered them by the age of 17. I found it unique that they introduced a main character that already had strength behind them, because the usual arc for protagonist has to do with learning to be strong and brave (see again: Aang). Korra’s already strong and brave. She’s got that.
Which makes it even more interesting to see her as she is now.
"Whatever happened to [that Avatar girl] anyway?"
Well, Korra doesn’t know. What did happen to her? Where’s the Korra that arrived fresh off the boat in Republic City and stopped a robbery? That became the first Avatar of the new age? That restored the Air Nation?
Easy. Every enemy she faced broke down a part of her confidence. Amon: her confidence in her ability. Unalaq: her confidence in her choices. Zaheer: her confidence in her purpose. All traits that were tied closely to her perceived identity as the Avatar, which was the core of her development for, well, 12 years of her life.
Aang is great, I love Aang so, so much, but there’s something about Korra’s character that hits me in a more personal way. She’s down on her luck. She’s at the bottom. She has nothing left. She’s unsure of herself, alone, and unsuccessful. She’s had nothing in life other than her title as the Avatar- all her time was put into training, and where does that get her now? She’s not the Avatar anymore, not really, so what is she?
Who is she?
Aang’s entire arc followed him finding his strength, but Korra’s? Korra’s isn’t finding her strength.
It’s finding herself.