The Legend Of Korra – Book One: Air Blu Ray Review
Nickelodeon’s The Legend Of Korra – Book One: Air on Blu Ray is an incredible package, boasting beautiful HD artwork and over four hours of bonus content.
Man, Nickelodeon is on a roll with their new lineup of animated shows. The 2012 iteration of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is seriously good, and after hearing great things about the new Avatar: The Last Airbender spin-off The Legend Of Korra, I was excited to check it out. After watching all twelve episodes of the first season The Legend Of Korra – Book One: Air on Blu Ray, it’s quickly become one of my favorite animated series of all-time. Fans had to wait over a year after the series finished airing for the home video release of Season 1, but Nickelodeon has done a stellar job creating a package worth the wait.
For those that are unfamiliar with the universe, in this series the world is divided into those who can manipulate the four elements – earth, water, fire, and air – and those who cannot. Only one Avatar can exist in the world at a time, and they possess the unique ability to wield all four elements. Republic City has become filled with thugs and organized crime members who use their powers of bending to oppress non-benders, causing a rebellious anti-bender group called the Equalists to form.
At the outset of Book One: Air, Korra is set to train with Avatar Aang’s son, Tenzin, who is one of the only people in the world who can still air bend. Korra is a very physical Avatar, and can utilize her powers of fire, water and earth bending with ease – but for unknown reasons, she cannot air bend at all. As Tenzin soon learns, she is also seriously detached from her spiritual side. Problems soon arise, and Tenzin is forced to cancel Korra’s training and tend to matters concerning Republic City. Korra’s rebellious spirit compels her to run away and seek Tenzin out in the city to complete her training. Soon a mysterious masked figure named Amon is terrorizing Republic City’s benders, and he somehow has the terrifying ability to take their bending away forever. Councilman Tarrlok seems to have some connection to the terrorists, and the truth will be revealed over twelve amazing episodes. Korra will have to find the strength to stop Amon, and master the four elements in a trial by fire – with the fate of all benders at stake.
So what makes The Legend Of Korra so fantastic? It has great characters, incredibly choreographed action sequences, and beautiful animation. The show is so well-written that it’s nearly impossible to watch just one episode in a sitting, especially as Season 1 gears up towards its dramatic, emotional ending. Korra herself is one of the most badass, endearing characters ever to grace the small screen, and she’s surrounded with great supporting characters like the stern yet heroic Lin Beifong, the wise and spiritual Tenzin, as well as the hilarious Bolin and his lovable pet ferret Pabu. As for the antagonists, you have the great Steve Blum voicing the intimidating and mysterious Amon, and Dee Bradley Baker as a corrupt politician named Tarlokk. The way the characters’ back stories are fleshed out and intertwine with one another makes for truly engaging TV.
The Legend Of Korra – Book One: Air is Nickelodeon’s first ever Blu Ray release, and they have truly outdone themselves with their hi-definition debut. The show’s absolutely stunning animation is crystal clear and vivid on this HD release, and there’s no aliasing or compression artifacts to be seen. The colors are vibrant and rich, the characters look sharp, and the painted backgrounds are truly something to behold in HD. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is first-rate, featuring a great mix with clean vocal tracks and crisp music and sound effects. Panning is utilized to great effect, especially in fights where sounds move quickly from left to right or front to back. The bass also punches perfectly in the many battles.
The Legend Of Korra – Book One: Air Blu Ray features a solid set of extras. There’s about an hour’s worth of animatics, and a full commentary track for every episode – yep, all twelve of them! This was my favorite part of the package, as the insight from the creators was hilarious and informative. I have to admit I was a bit amazed at the number of times the creators pointed out what they saw as shortcomings in the animation; obviously being the perfectionists that they are is a good reason why it looks as good as it does. Creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko cover every episode, and they are periodically accompanied by voice actors Janet Varney (Korra), Seychelle Gabriel (Asami), Steve Blum (Amon) and David Faustino (Mako), Director Joaquim Dos Santos, composer Jeremy Zuckerman and lead sound designer Benjamin Wynn also make appearances. Rounding out the special features is The Legend of Puppetbender Presents “The Making of a Legend: The Untold Story – Part I,” which is a funny segment where puppets of the characters talk about their experience making the show. Unfortunately, it’s really short, and I was hoping that there would be some actual behind-the-scenes videos showing the cast recording or maybe the artists drawing. That said, the commentaries go a long way towards giving the package value.
When you take into account the sheer quality of the series and the in-depth commentaries, it’s easy to justify the $34.99 MSRP (or $24.96 on Amazon right now). Fans that enjoyed the series the first time around will find plenty of new content to sink their teeth into here, and those who haven’t yet seen The Legend Of Korra get a great introduction to the show in anticipation of Book Two: Spirits’ debut this September. This is a series that people of all ages can enjoy, and it tackles some seriously mature issues for a cartoon on a kids’ network. Here’s hoping that Nickelodeon is starting a trend.