I guess my problem with saying "It's not an anime" because it doesn't hail from Japan is because anime hasn't been a Japanese-only creation for a long time. We have people in various parts of Asia that have created anime and people don't say, "Well it's not from Japan," when it comes to those, so why should it be different if an American, Canadian or European studio creates something that is so obviously influenced not only by anime's style, but from Eastern culture in general? (Not to mention that three different Korean animation studios that have done countless Japanese anime helped with the animation for ATLA.) I understand making a distinction between, say, Gundam
and Bugs Bunny
, but Bugs Bunny
has very little in common with the defining aspects of anime. I mean, Flutter
won an award at the Tokyo Anime Awards in 2006, and that was made by Canadians. Anime may have come from the Japanese word for "animation" but I just don't feel it's a Japan-only export anymore. Likewise, I think that if a Japanese studio were to release a cartoon that was very heavily influenced by Western animation and culture(s), I would hesitate to call it an anime.
Though I will agree that Korra feels more Western than ATLA does. I just finished the 12 episodes that are out (the next season starts on the 13th, as I mentioned before), and there is a definite mood shift. I'm not sure if that's because Korra is so different from Aang, or because it's gone forward in time so there are cars and stuff (for some reason I always associate those types of cars and blimps with England, and the planes with Germany or America), a mixture of both, or something else altogether.
For ATLA, I think Zuko was by far the most interesting character and most well-developed by the end of the series, and actually Aang didn't really interest me all that much until he had to make his final decision at the end of the series. I think all of the main cast were pretty fun characters, but I wish they'd done more with Katara and the whole bloodbending thing, as I feel like Zuko should have been more freaked out when he saw her do that, and I also think that during a certain fight where Zuko was knocked down, it would have been interesting to see how the opponent would have handled being bloodbent. I mean, if I saw what had happened to Zuko, and I suspected that things may be really bad for him at that moment, I don't know that I would have been able to control myself. Toph was great, but other than her being a rich blind girl who got picked on when she was younger, I didn't really get the sense that there was much there.
As far as Korra goes, I think the plot is a bit more rushed, so I definitely agree with that. When she loses her other bending powers, I would have made that last at least another episode, because I think that Korra could have learned a lot from that experience, especially what it means to feel powerless. That could have been for some interesting character development, resulting in her having a discussion with Tenzin about how non-benders must feel, and that maybe helping Tenzin going forward on the council to aid in restoring the relationships between the two groups. I'd also like to see more character development in Bolin, because while I like him as a character, I kind of feel like he's Sokka's replacement and I also feel like Sokka's development came too late in the series for me to really care.
I do think that the descendants of most of the original crew are more interesting people than the original cast. Tenzin interests me than Aang and arguably Katara, and Lin interests me more than Toph (annoyed we don't know who the husband is, but maybe that will get shown). I'm a little sad it doesn't seem that Sokka had kids. (I didn't see any of Suki at all in any of the Avatar flashbacks, but maybe that is still to come.) It's too early to tell whether Iroh will be more interesting than his grandfather Zuko, but I find that will probably be difficult, given how well Zuko was done. I'm hoping Mai was the mother on that side, even if I did find their relationship to be incredibly uncomfortable at times. I do think it's funny they have the same voice actors, but I like his voice, so that's okay.