We’ve previously discussed the ending and speculation about the meaning of the final scene of the sensational animated series The Legend of Korra. But forget ambiguity, because if you think Korra and Asami (SPOILERS ahead for the rest of this article) are just friends handholding in spirit portal glow, you’re fooling yourself.
Mike Dimartino’s post is titled “Korrasami Confirmed,” referring to the couple name created fans who’ve long been shipping Korra and Asami. In an elegant piece about his aims for the show, he writes, “Avatar and Korra were always meant to be entertaining and engaging tales, this universe and its characters also speak to the deeper humanity in all of us, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, culture, nationality, or sexual orientation.”
But for those that demand him to say it, here it is: “Our intention with the last scene was to make it as clear as possible that yes, Korra and Asami have romantic feelings for each other. The moment where they enter the spirit portal symbolizes their evolution from being friends to being a couple.”
DiMartino ends on a note about the show’s impact already, “I’ve already read some heartwarming and incredible posts about how this moment means so much for the LGBT community. Once again, the incredible outpouring of support for the show humbles me. As Tenzin says, ‘Life is one big bumpy ride.’ And if, by Korra and Asami being a couple, we are able to help smooth out that ride even a tiny bit for some people, I’m proud to do my part, however small it might be.”
As for Bryan Konietzko, his post began with “Korrasami is canon,” before writing, “You can celebrate it, embrace it, accept it, get over it, or whatever you feel the need to do, but there is no denying it. That is the official story.”
He goes on to give some intriguing behind-the-scenes details, like how Asami was initially intended to be “a duplicitous spy” but that the creators liked her emerging character too much to make her evil. Varrick and Zhu Li weren’t originally meant to wed, but how can you deny “the thing?” Curiously, Konietzko won’t give fan credit to the birth of Korrasami. “Tahno playing trombone—now that was us caving in to the fans!”
He explains, “As we wrote Book 1, before the audience had ever laid eyes on Korra and Asami, it was an idea I would kick around the writers’ room. At first we didn’t give it much weight, not because we think same-sex relationships are a joke, but because we never assumed it was something we would ever get away with depicting on an animated show for a kids network in this day and age, or at least in 2010.”
Oh what a difference four years makes. Makorra was ditched early on by the writing staff, and they considered that Korra may not need a romance to complete the series. I really suggest reading the whole letter for the full rundown on this. Konietzko lays bare how the Korrasami plot evolved from a place of character, not audience demand or expectation. It’s basically how you’d hope a show as thoughtful and beautiful as The Legend of Korra would develop.
“The more Korra and Asami’s relationship progressed, the more the idea of a romance between them organically blossomed for us,” Konietzko recalls, “However, we still operated under this notion, another ‘unwritten rule,’ that we would not be allowed to depict that in our show. So we alluded to it throughout the second half of the series, working in the idea that their trajectory could be heading towards a romance.”
Yet, he does note that yes, Nickelodeon shot down a more explicit version of this final moment. He does not mention that crafty Korra fans made it on their own:
Finally, Konietzko gives a rundown of that final moment’s creation, and how it closed the series he’s so proud of:
“We approached the network and while they were supportive, there was a limit to how far we could go with it, as just about every article I read accurately deduced. It was originally written in the script over a year ago that Korra and Asami held hands as they walked into the spirit portal. We went back and forth on it in the storyboards, but later in the retake process I staged a revision where they turned towards each other, clasping both hands in a reverential manner, in a direct reference to Varrick and Zhu Li’s nuptial pose from a few minutes prior. We asked Jeremy Zuckerman to make the music tender and romantic, and he fulfilled the assignment with a sublime score. I think the entire last two-minute sequence with Korra and Asami turned out beautiful, and again, it is a resolution of which I am very proud. I love how their relationship arc took its time, through kindness and caring. If it seems out of the blue to you, I think a second viewing of the last two seasons would show that perhaps you were looking at it only through a hetero lens…. But this particular decision wasn’t only done for us. We did it for all our queer friends, family, and colleagues. It is long over due that our media (including children’s media) stops treating non-heterosexual people as nonexistent, or as something merely to be mocked. I’m only sorry it took us so long to have this kind of representation in one of our stories. “
Konietzko also mentions those unhappy about the show’s ending. Well, to homophobes we say: