I don't know why, but I'd always thought that The Legend of Korra was a pseudo-sequel to The Last Airbender, a series taking place centuries earlier to Aang and friends. Turns out I was completely wrong, with Korra being Aang's direct successor/reincarnation. Initially, I was a little unsure that was a good idea, but actually getting to see the world that Aang built and being reunited with some of the original characters (albeit now all grandparents and much matured) and their families is great. Plus, it gave the show the option to set in some cheeky little nods for the fans, the best of which easily being the question around Zuko's mother 😂
As for the new cast, they're all great. Korra does feel like more of a plot foil than a character at times, and for someone who has spent her entire life training to be the Avatar she is painfully headstrong and quick to anger. On the other hand, she was sheltered from the world for that entire training period, leading her to arrive in the metropolis of Republic City with a very immature understanding of both people and politics. That works as a decent storytelling device to introduce this much-changed region of Avatar's universe, even if it wears thin on occasion.
And much changes it is. Since we left Aang and friends, the world has united under a single banner, though each nation retains independence and only the central United Republic is a truly cosmopolitan region of intermixed nationalities. That era of peace, off the back of a war which saw humans invent a myriad of new devices, has created the wealth needed for commerce to thrive. Rather than feeling like a rose-tinted view of feudal Japan, Korra's world has a distinctly steampunk feel, with cars and planes aplenty.
Peace has also led to both the creation of "Pro Bending" and a general feeling of disquiet around the naturally occurring power imbalance present in a world where some citizens effectively have magic whilst others don't. These elements are the main focus of the first season and I really enjoyed them both. The sport of Pro Bending was immensely fun to work out and whilst I feel Korra's entry into the tournament perhaps stretches reality a bit (she is pretty much a god, after all, cheating acquisitions would seem fair) it also gave the first half of the season a very interesting angle to explore. I also found Amon to be an excellent villain, championing an issue which the first show hinted at but never managed to properly explore.
In fact, in many ways season one of Korra feels like it is explicitly addressing the biggest revelations from the finale of The Last Airbender. We're not just exploring societal power structures, we're also seeing the direct repercussions of the re-discovery in the final years of the War of both Blood Bending and the Avatar's ability to permanently remove/block an individuals chi, effectively stripping them of any bending powers they had. Both elements are fascinating and lead to a lot of interesting world-building, particularly when paired with Ty Lee's specialist chi-blocking martial arts. It answers a lot of questions as to what repercussions these discoveries might have on the wider world, plus getting to see that Metal Bending has become a distinct art form is pretty great too (Lin Beifong is a personal favourite character), as is the confirmation that Aang is no longer the "last" Air Bender, with at least some of his family also inheriting those powers.
Still, that's a lot to pack into a single season and Korra has obviously decided to broaden the storytelling scope compared to TLA, so we actually get all of the main plotlines wrapped up. I don't hate that we're moving quickly, but I did think that both villains – Amon and Yakone – were excellent characters and would have been happy to see more of them. Overall, it was a great reintroduction to the universe, with some excellent new characters (even if none of the supporting cast truly feel that special yet) and a lot of brilliant world-expanding storytelling. I can't wait to see where they go next!