The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits Blu-ray ReviewJune 29, 2014
It was just about a year ago that The Legend of Korra Book One: Air released on Blu-ray (review here), and now Book Two: Spirits is finally available for fans to add to their home video collection. Featuring all 14 episodes and over 5 hours of bonus content, this is a great primer for Book Three: Change, which debuts this Friday.
For those who haven’t seen the show, The Legend of Korra takes place 70 years after the beloved Avatar: The Last Airbender Nickelodeon series. This new series follows Korra, a hot-headed, fearless, and rebellious teenage from the Southern Water Tribe who has mastered three of the four elements – Water, Fire, and Earth. In the first season, Korra studies under the tutelage of Tenzin, son of Avatar Aang, and learns to connect with her spiritual side to master the fourth and final element: Air. In Book Two: Spirits, Korra must travel to the Spirit World to stop the malevolent spirit Vaatu from plunging the world into darkness for 10,000 years.
Aiding her in her quest are her mentor Tenzin and Unalaq, chief of the both the Northern and Southern Water Tribes. We are also introduced to Tenzin’s siblings Kya and Bumi, as well as Korra’s cousins Desna and Eska and an eccentric businessman named Varrick. Perhaps most importantly, the very first Avatar’s story is told in the hour-long episode “Beginnings”. Wan (voiced by Steven Yeung of The Walking Dead) is a selfless, compassionate man who seeks peace between the physical and spirit worlds. This episode gives a lot of insight into the history of the Avatar spirit as well as the longstanding battle between darkness and light.
As for the video quality, the 1080p high-definition transfer looks absolutely stunning, just as the previous release did. The colors are vibrant, the animation is fluid and exciting, and overall the presentation is stellar – The Legend of Korra continues to be one of the best-looking shows on television. Some fans have complained about a drop in animation quality in the episodes done by Studio Pierrot instead of the usual Studio Mir, but to me it wasn’t noticeable. Watching the episodes back-to-back on the Blu-ray, it’s hard to tell that it’s even done by two separate studios. Both companies did a superb job in my book.
As with the Book One: Air Blu-ray, the Book Two: Spirits release packs over five hours of special features. There’s commentary for every single episode, provided by producers Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko as well as some of the artists, sound designers, and composer Jeremy Zuckerman (who did a superb job scoring Book Two, by the way). Unfortunately none of the voice actors join in this time around, but the commentary that’s here offers a lot of insight into the production, and all of the important story beats are discussed at length.
The Legend of Korra – Book Two: Spirits also includes 15 “Scene Bending” animatics, similar to the “Mutation of a Scene” animatics on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles DVD releases from Nick. The final completed sequence of a scene plays alongside storyboards, rough sketches and incomplete animations to give the viewer a feel of the creative process. The Blu-ray also has a decent set of featurettes, beginning with “Kindred Spirits: Tenzin’s Family,” which takes a look at the relationships between Tenzin and his family, including his children Jinora, Ikki and Meelo as well as Aang and Kitara’s other children Kya and Bumi. “Feuding Spirits: Korra’s Family” offers a glimpse at the Avatar’s family such as her father Tonraq, as well as Unalaq, Eska and Desna. “Inside the Book of Spirits” offers fans a peek at the grueling creative process through which The Legend of Korra is made, including writing the story, recording the voices, and animating the final sequences. Finally, “The Re-Telling of Korra’s Journey” is a half-hour refresher of the first season narrated by Tenzin.
Fans of The Legend of Korra will definitely want to pick up Book Two: Spirits on Blu-ray. With 14 commentaries, 4 featurettes, 15 animatics, and more adding up to over 5 hours worth of additional content, there’s a ton of value to this package. The beautifully animated episodes comprising Book Two have never looked better than they do on this HD transfer, and Jeremy Zuckerman’s soundtrack shines on Blu-ray alongside the outstanding sound design. Not to mention, it looks great on a shelf next to Book One. Here’s hoping that Nick gives some of their other shows like TMNT the HD treatment soon.