The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance Blu-ray Review
Having reviewed every single season of Nickelodeon’s fantastic animated series The Legend of Korra, it’s a bit sad knowing that we’ve seen the last of Team Avatar and friends. The show’s final episode aired back in December of 2014, and now the final season, The Legend of Korra – Book Four: Balance, has arrived. Sporting gorgeous animation and stellar audiovisual quality, as well as a decent selection of special features, Book Four is a Blu-ray that fans of the series will absolutely want to own.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Legend of Korra/ Avatar 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. Korra is a very physical Avatar, and can utilize her bending powers with ease – but she begins her journey seriously detached from her spiritual side. Over the course of the first two seasons, her mentor Tenzin helps her tap into the spirit world and become a more well-rounded Avatar.
After Korra’s intense battle with Zaheer in Book Three: Change, she hasn’t been the same. Suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as debilitating physical ailments from the mercury poisoning her bloodstream, the world has kind of given up on and forgotten about the Avatar. At her mother’s insistence, Korra decides to visit Katara at the Southern Water Tribe to undergo physical therapy and receive spiritual guidance to aid in her recovery. Her progress is slow, and Korra sinks into a deep depression about her situation. After two whole years of physical training and meditation, she still can’t enter the Avatar state, and feels useless to the world as Kuvira and her army bring order to the chaos that has spring up in her absence.
Korra expresses her desire to return to Republic City, where all the action is taking place and her old friends are dying to see her after three long years. In reality, she travels the world alone, seeking to put an end to the nightmarish visions of Zaheer that she can’t seem to get out of her head. Her visions lead her to an MMA fighting ring, and finally to a swamp where she meets an old woman named Toph (whom fans of the original Avatar series will recognize) in an introduction paying homage to Yoda’s from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Toph teaches Korra that her ailments can all be healed, if only she can let go of her fears and stop subconsciously fighting the process. She goes to face Zaheer in his prison, in hopes of letting go of her fear of him. Zaheer helps her overcome her mental blocks and tap into the spirit world once again. Upon returning to the physical world, Korra discovers that Kuvira is planning on attacking Republic City with her mechanized army.
The picture and sound quality is orders or magnitude greater than what fans witnessed when the Book Four episodes were originally broadcast via Nickelodeon’s website (this season was online-only). Everything is crisp and clear, with vibrant detail showcased throughout, and the characters really pop against the colorful, painterly backgrounds. The dialogue is clear, with the voices cutting through the bombastic musical score and booming sound effects with ease.
The Legend of Korra has always done Blu-ray releases right, with tons of interesting extras. Book Four on Blu-ray is no different, with in-depth commentaries for every episode, including the pulse-pounding finale (DVD buyers only get 4 commentaries). The Legend of Korra: 2014 Comic-Con Panel Featurette has the main voice actors and producers talking on a panel, as well as offering viewers a silly video about the recording process and lots of interesting concept art, costume updates, and even a look at the actors’ very first audition together. Everyone talks about how much they love the fans, and how they would have never made it to Book Four without them, as well as give some thoughts about the series coming to a close. The Legend of Puppetbender Presents: The Making of a Legend: The Untold Story – Part II is a goofy, tongue-in-cheek extra where the characters from the show, in puppet form, talk about what it was like to be a part of the show, as if they were actors filming a movie. Kuvira vs. Prince Wu highlights the differences between the two leaders, who share hardly any similarities at all. Republic City Hustle is an interesting look at Mako and Bolin’s life on the streets way before they met Korra and pals – back when they were pulling scams on town citizens just to keep from starving. Finally, the Blu-ray contains a special pull-out poster designed by Bryan Konietzko, picturing Korra in her Avatar state in the spirit world.
The Legend of Korra continues to be a fantastic, intelligent and breathtakingly beautiful show that the creators can be proud of. Book Four is action-packed, oftentimes hilarious, and always entertaining. While some characters were a bit underutilized in this final season (especially Tenzin), Korra’s character arc was fully realized and that’s what really matters. The Avatar universe is incredible and unique, and I can only hope that someday Nickelodeon revisits the world for a new franchise.