The Legend of Korra creators have broken their silence to clear up any confusion about the show’s surprising final sequence.
Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino have never been shy about discussing fan expectations. But the creators of The Legend of Korra have both written definitive pieces confirming that their second series does in fact end with Korra and Asami embarking on a romantic relationship.
Or as Konietzko puts it on his Tumblr: “Korrasami is canon.”
“You can celebrate it, embrace it, accept it, get over it, or whatever you feel the need to do,” he continues, “but there is no denying it. That is the official story.
“Korra and Asami fell in love,” Konietzko reiterates. “Were they friends? Yes, and they still are, but they also grew to have romantic feelings for each other.”
Co-creator Mike DiMartino shared the same sentiment on his own blog.
“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,” he writes. “The moment where they enter the spirit portal symbolizes their evolution from being friends to being a couple.”
According to Konietzko, Korra and Asami’s relationship as a couple developed along with The Legend of Korra. Though the idea was not in his and DiMartino’s original conception of Korra’s story, Konietzko says was fond of the pairing from the start.
“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,” he says. And “the more Korra and Asami’s relationship progressed, the more the idea of a romance between them organically blossomed for us.”
But assuming that Nickelodeon would shut down their “ship,” Konietzko says that the crew kept the relationship subtle, only “[alluding] to it throughout the second half of the series.” In fact, Konietzko and DiMartino’s decision to make Korrasami canon seems to have come fairly late in the game.
“As we got close to finishing the finale, the thought struck me: How do I know we can’t openly depict that?” Konietzko writes. “No one ever explicitly said so. It was just another assumption based on a paradigm that marginalizes non-heterosexual people.
If we want to see that paradigm evolve, we need to take a stand against it. And I didn’t want to look back in 20 years and think, “Man, we could have fought harder for that.”
According to Konieztko, he and DiMartino did receive a certain amount of support from Nickelodeon – within limits. The Legend of Korra‘s concluding moments were developed through a long process of consideration and debate.
“It was originally written in the script over a year ago that Korra and Asami held hands as they walked into the spirit portal,” Konietzko confirms. “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.
Between the animation choices and Jeremy Zuckerman’s “tender and romantic” scoring, Koneitzko says that ending The Legend of Korra with Korrasami “is a resolution of which I am very proud. I love how their relationship arc took its time, through kindness and caring.”
Konietzko and DiMartino are aware of the significance of presenting a non-heterosexual couple on a “children’s” TV show, but the co-creators are determined that this fits both within their fictional universe, and their wider hopes.
“The main themes of the Avatar universe have always revolved around equality, justice, acceptance, tolerance, and balancing differing worldviews,” DiMartino writes. “There were times even I was surprised we were able to delve into the really tough stuff on a children’s TV network. While the episodes were never designed to “make a statement,” Bryan and I always strove to treat the more difficult subject matter with the respect and gravity it deserved.”
Adds Konietzko, “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,” he says, that “it took us so long to have this kind of representation in one of our stories.”