Saturday, March 6, 2021

The Korra Fixfic

Mon drew this!

 

E: Mon drew this mere hours after I posted and I absolutely love it.

People liked the depressing review post well enough that I shall drag its positive counterpart into the light.

I guess I'm Sequelisers now. 

Barely Organized Notes

Three Seasons, TV-14 Rating 

 Don't want to overextend, since the season arcs will not be severed from each other like they were originally, and if we truly want to make the show a little more mature, let's put it right around FMA level. I don't know if you can actually do this on TV, but I am playing by movie rules and permitting myself one (1) "fuck" usage. Korra, Tenzin, or Pema gets it, and I do not know which just yet.

Korra's Arc 

Will remain mostly similar - starts out full of herself, self-centered, spiritually inert, and convinced that punching things solves all problems. Will gradually mature to realize that this is not a good thing.

Cast Changes

Mako, Bolin, and Asami will not appear in this version of the series. Their slots will be filled by the Red Lotus 

Current Status of the Gaang & Descendants

  • Aang (Dead) & Katara (Alive)
    • Kya - Waterbender. Surgeon for not-Doctors-Without-Borders.
    • Bumi - Nonbender. Married Izumi. Unemployed eccentric.
    • Tenzin - Airbender. Current head of the Monastery Island Temple.
      • Jinora - Eldest, helps Tenzin teach the acolytes. Bookworm.
      • Ikki - Middle child. Developing an art hobby.
      • Meelo -Youngest. The weird kid.
  • Sokka (Dead) & Suki (Dead) 
    • [Currently Unnamed Daughter] - Professional wrestler. Introduced by suplexing Tenzin at the family reunion in the first episode.
    • [Currently Unnamed NB] - Shaman & educator.
  • Toph (????, presumed dead)
    • Lin - RCPD chief of police.
    • Suyin - Libertarian gazillionaire and fascist sympathizer. 
  • Zuko (Alive) & Mai (Alive)
    • Izumi - Reigning Fire Lady
      • Mako - Son of Izumi and Bumi. A civil service worker.

Azula, while not appearing, is confirmed alive, and in good enough state that Zuko's occasional visits are cordial. (Man did she go through a lot of therapy and deradicalization).

Antagonists

  • Tarlok - Charismatic chairman of the Republic City council. Commits suicide by throwing himself off a building during the Revolution, rather than be taken to stand trial.
  • Lin Beifong - Chief of Police in Republic City. Infamous for her brutal crackdowns against nonbenders, including those that led to the Equality March of 157. Eventually joined Kuvirate forces alongside her sister Suyin.
  • Varrick - Industrialist and film mogul. Found to have ordered a string of bombings and vandalism attempting to frame the Equalist movement, so as to profit off of increased militarization of the RCPD. Escaped the city during the revolution and proceeded to supply Kuvira in preparation for and in the aftermath of, her coup.
  • Kuvira - General in the Earth Kingdom military. Heads a coup of the EK. Has absolutely nothing special or unique or meaningful about her - a dime-store fascist to the bone.

Added to these four, we have-

The Lady of Fangs - A new character who will serve as the series' ultimate antagonist.

A spirit local to the region that would become Republic City. Preferred form is a tall woman in a red silk gown, with a tiger-wolf's head. She is a spirit of wild and untamed places - not particularly nice on the best of days, but if you sacrifice a moleboar to her every solstice and don't overhunt on her territory, she and her servants will leave you well enough alone.

The capitalist meatgrinder of Republic City is, in her own words, "a poisoned feast". A perpetual blood offering that is both keeping her alive and killing her. She is changing because of it, lashing out with cruelty. Her servants (what if a tiger was also a spider was also slenderman) and other displaced & desperate once-nature spirits that have flocked to her stalk the back alleys and slums of RC.

The Red Lotus

A band of revolutionary punks sharing a tiny loft apartment on Temple Street. Bender allies of the Equalists.

  • Zaheer - An air temple acolyte (having developed airbending when he returns from pilgrimage in Season 2). Incredibly charismatic. Has a boyfriend, who I have not developed at all but rest assured he will be there.
  • Khazan - Earthbender. The chill comic relief guy. Romantic relationship with Ming-Hua.
  • P'li - Firebender. The militant believer in the cause. Standoffish at first, but eventually has the closest bond with Korra after backstory revelations yet to be determined.
  • Ming-Hua - Waterbender. The cynic. Romantic relationship with Khazan.

The Equalists

A motley community drawing from Republic City's unions, religious communities, immigrant neighborhoods, senior citizens, youth groups, and the overall working poor.

Amon doesn't exist. The mask and character are that of an ogre from Earth Kingdom folklore, a stock character used to express the anger and indignation that it would not be safe for a normal person to say. The mask is passed around depending on who is available.

The primary actor for Amon (the one who does all the speeches and crowdwork) is a factory worker named Lee. (He admits that even if that wasn't his real name, he would probably go by it anyway. There's a million Lees, etc) He's the sixth member of the Red Lotus after S1, being the direct link to the Equalist Party. Former factory worker, was let go after the industrial accident that fucked up his face and arm. Chronic pain he takes significant medication for. Married, wife works as a maid.

Korra's big revelation in Season 1 is that the Equalists are neither terrorists nor outside agitators, as Tarloc and Lin would claim.

Spirits

Significantly more influence and appearance than in even the original show. Full on weirdass yokai time. In truth there will be a lot more organized religion in the setting (all very appropriately channeling aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, and Shinto)

The White Lotus 

After the death of the old masters we knew, the new leadership in the Order of the White Lotus sought to reform the organization into modernity, abandoning the "superstitions" it was rooted in. This is directly responsible for why Korra was kept sequestered at the south pole (instead of traveling the world on her own) and why Katara was banned from being her waterbending teacher.

I don't know where the subplot that deals with this comes in - likely Season 2.

The Airbending Family

It is taking EVERY MICROGRAM OF SELF CONTROL I POSSESS to not just make the kids expies of the gremlins from Eizouken.

I have failed. They are absolutely all expies for the gremlins.

Jinora's arc is of note because it is rooted in her (kid level, but very valid) hatred of Korra just as a person - "I never got to meet grandpa and now I have to babysit this absolute meathead who gets treated like a god when I've been working my ass off at this every day since I was 4." They will eventually come to an understanding but never really a friendship. Sometimes you just don't like people.

Pema gets multiple opportunities to be cool - not because of badass martial arts, but because she is really good at taking command during crisis situations.

Increased Diversity of Cultural Influences

A minor bit of retconning to make the world seem bigger. All four nations will get an influx of cultural influences. Easiest way to reflect this is with the signage, which has diversified considerably.

EK languages: Mandarin Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, Manchu, Avestan, Sumerian, Navajo, Xhosa

FN Languages: Cantonese, Tamil, Nahuatl, Thai, Japanese, Igbo

WT Languages: Inuktitut, Cree, Maori, Tlingit, Ainu

AN Languages: Tibetan, Quechua, Sanskrit

So there might be a scene where Korra hands off something for someone else to read because she still has trouble with Chinese characters, being used to the Canadian Aboriginal Syballics used to signify WT writing.

The Return of Airbending

This version of the series clarifies that bending is spiritual in origin, with no regard for genetics - children of benders are more likely to become benders because of the circumstances of their early childhood (if your parents are X religion, you are likely to be X religion), but there are far more factors in play than just that. Rule of thumb is that people typically demonstrate some bending ability, if they have it, by 5-7 years old. As they age it is increasingly difficult and rare for someone to develop bending, and would require a sudden and drastic shift in lifestyle and beliefs.

This is the long way of saying that there are other airbenders outside of Tenzin and his kids - folks have been living like air nomads for long enough now that they are becoming airbenders all on their own. Spiritual equilibrium is asserting itself.

Most of the current airbenders (I envision about two dozen of them) are young children, with a few older adults who have manifested less pronounced abilities. There's a 70+ year old man who can just barely do the marble trick and he is the happiest, most fulfilled human being in the world.

The First Avatar

A veiled figure in a painted cave in the Spirit World, sitting next to the embers of a fire. They are impossibly ancient - the other Avatars themselves say that, in the few times any of them have heard the First speak, it was in no language that they could understand.  

The avatar first came into being when a human achieved and then rejected enlightenment, choosing instead to use their spiritual insight to maintain peace among people and between humans and spirits. This Seeing the Big Picture is why the avatar can bend all four elements.

Other Notes That Don't Get Categories

  • The end of AtLA I proposed in my series rewatch post - the one where Aang visits the court of Surya and Ursa and Zuko reunite at the end - is treated as canon.
  • The upper class of Republic City is still predominantly descended from Fire Nation colonial nobility, with an influx of Earth Kingdom nobles.  
  • Republic City was founded as a stop-gap measure - the wealthy Fire Nation landowners who ran the colonies in the Earth Kingdom were able to resist Zuko's attempts to strip them of position and make restitution by influencing matters in the newly-founded domestic parliament - Zuko's leadership reforms curtailed much of the Fire Lord's direct power, and he was not able to get the 2/3rds vote in parliament to return all overseas territories to the Earth Kingdom. 
  • The establishment of Monastery Island was accepted by the Republic City council only in exchange for the promise that the Avatar would never hold its representative advisory / ambassadorial seat on the council. With his influence in the city minimal and dropping fast, Aang instead devoted himself to rebuilding the Air Nomads. (For this reason, there is a decent population of people in RC who do not care for Aang, feeling that they were abandoned, and they are not wrong to think that.
  • The RCPD regularly hires from the Dai Li. 
  • Early on, first episode, even, Katara asks Korra if she can speak to Aang, and it is incredibly sad. This isn't able to happen until a brief moment in Korra's return to RC, prior to descending to meet the Lady of Fangs.
  • Ghost Aang is appropriately a goofball. He's definitely channelling a lot of Gyatso in his old age.
  • Monastery Island is not part of Republic City proper, but an enclave of the Air Nomad Nation. There is, technically, an immigration and border office, which consists of a guest book for visitors to sign that Pema keeps in the kitchen.
  • At least one filler episode will be a spirit arriving on Monastery Island and everyone scrambling around to fulfill the correct hospitality rites. (Cue a scene of Pema frantically looking through the library for a reference on what kind of tea that particular variety of spirit likes)
  • Everyone thinks Zaheer is super handsome. Korra's infatuation lasts about thirty seconds until Z's boyfriend shows up. 
  • First episode is a family reunion where we get to see all the surviving Gaang & descendants, save Toph and her daughters.

Series Summary

Season 1: Korra arrives in Republic City, meets with the Red Lotus, uncovers the truth of the Equalist movement and the conspiracy to undermine it, throws her support behind them when the revolution breaks out in full. Season ends with the Equalist party establishing a new government in Republic City. Tarloc commits suicide. Lin Beifong vanishes before she can be captured. Varrick flees to the Earth Kingdom.

Season 2: Zaheer returns to Republic City after his pilgrimage / grassroots organizing. Korra and the Red Lotus focus their efforts on solving the problem of hostile spirits in Republic City. Spirit Detective Adventures ensue. The Lady of Fangs is revealed as the summit of the spiritual issues. Equalist growing pains occur - Korra has her first major personal victory when she is able to prevent the party from devolving into Standard Issue Leftist Infighting (TM) through skillful negotiation.

In the outside world, the Earth Kingdom, long suffering under incompetent rule and economic depression, Kuvira (accompanied by Lin and many veterans of the RCPD, and materially supported by Varrick and Suyin Beifong) executes a coup, assassinating the Earth Queen, framing it as being part of an Equalist scheme, and assuming control by riding the wave of anti-RC sentiment (too rich! too modern! too foreign!) that has been long simmering and now come to boil over. (Also she has the Dai Li. Fuckers did it AGAIN!)

Season 3: Kuvira & the Lady of Fangs are ramping up their associated threats. Earth Kingdom resistance movement, aided by Equalists and the Red Lotus, fights back against the fascist takeover.

Toph, thought dead by even her close friends, emerges from her anchorage to fight Lin and Suyin. She is not happy with the career and political trajectory her daughters have taken. Not happy at all. ("Should have listened to Katara and never let you join the academy.")

Korra, seeing no way to deal with the Lady on her own, makes a journey to deep in the Earth Kingdom to a certain sacred place, where she makes a successful trip to the spirit world and meets the First Avatar. Here she is shown visions of the First's life and how they maintained balance among humans and the spirits.

Learning that Korra is gone, Kuvira invades Republic City. The Lady of Fangs has reached her breaking point. Spirits turned monstrous in their anger lash out against all and sundry. Varrick gets straight-up eaten by an angry spirit. Kuvira's invasion goes terribly - she tries to salvage it by taking the inhabitants of Monastery Island hostage and sending out her demands in an attempt to threaten Korra into servility.

This proves to be her undoing, through Pema's terribly effective overhand application of a sturdy iron wok to the situation.

Korra receives the message returns to find the fascists routed, Kuvira already taken care of and the city in chaos. The Equalists can handle the fascists, but not the spirits.

Korra descends into the underlayers of Republic City, transitioning into a proper underworld, where she finds the Lady of Fangs. She makes an offer.

The relationship between humans and spirits is mutual - if one side acts poorly, they must make restitution to the other. The Lady of Fangs is too far gone for a sacrificed boar and a bit of fasting as apology to set things right.

Korra's offer is a spirit marriage to the Lady - a vow to bind them together, so that if Korra should fail at restoring and maintaining the balance of the Lady's home, it will directly hurt her as well (and likewise, if she does maintain it, she will benefit)

She explicitly says that she has no idea what she is doing, but she's going to do her best and figure things out as she goes (Solving the problem through humility, patience, and nonviolence!)

The Lady accepts. There is a wedding ceremony - short, attended only by spirits - but it is enough.

Series ends with Korra attending the peace accords between RC, the other nations, and the interim EK government. After the day's diplomacy is done, she takes a bicycle a short distance out of the city into the hills where the wind farms are being built, and on a secluded hill raises standing stones, inscribing them in honor of the Lady of Fangs.

Korra sits on the altar and watches the sun go down. The Lady of Fangs, still imposing but no longer terrifying, emerges from the trees to join her.

End credits.

Final Thoughts

I am actually really happy with how this came out - turns out, adding more weird spirits makes things fall into place really easily, just like it did with my little fanfic ending for the original series. It's almost as if powerful entities who have a different set of motivations to humans can be really effective at pushing the plot forward!

Also I'm glad how it didn't take all that much to make things work. Only had to add like, two new main characters and treat some side characters more appropriate to their actions. Cutting out Mako / Bolin / Asami caused exactly 0 issues, which certainly says something about those characters.

I love the Lady of Fangs so much that she's gonna get her own post separate from this. She's rad.

19 comments:

  1. Ecosocialism, weird spirits, BEEFSTRONK LADY, magical neanderthal...yep, I am pretty sure that I wrote this. Signature is right there. Not even subtext anymore it is supertext.

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  2. Korra saving the world with the power of gay marriage is an amazing idea

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  3. I think that the first avatar being a magical neanderthal is my favourite thing about this post. But there are many other good things too, like RC having spooky Spider-Tiger (or Spiger) spirits in the alleys urban legend style.

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    1. I don't think I can ever be more on-brand than with magic neanderthals.

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  4. I have deleted a post here on the grounds that I have neither place nor patience for bad faith arguments peddling "positive change can never happen and anyone who claims otherwise is a monster and revolutions are always the work of the privileged and led by the bloodthirsty"

    (The Haitian Revolution would like a word)

    Yami Bakura, take this as a direct and explicit sign that you are no longer welcome in my comment sections.

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    1. That guy again!? Ya seriously just ban him...

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  5. I just finished Korra the other day actually! I was not feeling it even as of when I read your first post, but it only got worse. This is definitely better.

    That being said, I actually did enjoy the original version of the first avatar, for the most part. I can understand how what you're suggesting fits better thematically with what you're trying to do and it is a cool idea, but I think you lose something by losing the original version.

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    1. Wan is a good bloke, for sure (Vaatu/Raava and the lion turtles not so much), but I definitely wanted to have the first avatar have no stated gender just to give them a nice universality.

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    2. Honestly I like Wan because he kind of feels like the missing link between avatars? The reincarnation thing was weird sometimes because all of them felt so utterly different and having such different priorities. Wan, as this well meaning thief character who matures into someone valuing everyone, feels like the archetype that every avatar from Aang to Kyoishi could fit into. Dunno if that makes sense? (Also I just loved the art style of that bit tbh)

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    3. Yep, makes sense. Like I said, a good bloke.

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  6. This is now my favorite fixfic! Expect fanart whenever my new stylus comes in. I'd be interested to know your thoughts on the new Avatar Studios and what a potential 3rd Avatar incarnation would be like. What themes follow from your reimagining of Korra? Keep up with all your stuff!

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    1. My thoughts on the new studio is "please no", and I will do all I can to stay as far away from it as possible.

      In this alternate timeline, the series wouldn't continue beyond Korra. It'd be a nice, completed duology, and then it would move on, spawning spiritual successors.

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    2. Makes a lot of sense. Thanks for the response!

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  7. Lin Beifong feels like a character who should have been an out-and-out villain.

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  8. Also, have you read Monstress? It seems like exactly the kind of story you would appreciate, based on this post.

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    1. I've heard enough recs that I almost picked it up in the used book story.

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    2. It's feminist steampunk set in fantasy!Asia. Plenty of weird spirits.

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  9. This is so much better. Maybe Bolin could make a cameo as a fascist grunt who gets eaten by a slendermantiger.

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    1. I had considered that, but in the end it felt a bit too bitter and mean-spirited.

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