Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Book 1, Collector's Edition – DVD Review

Having told its story over three seasons and with a big screen film on the horizon, odds are you know at least a little bit about Avatar: The Last Airbender. And if you know nothing, no, it has nothing to do with that 3-D spectacle James Cameron calls a film.

This animated series tells the epic story of Aang, and his quest to save the world. Aang is the last of his tribe, the Airbenders, and he’s also his generation’s Avatar, one who can control all the elements. However, when Aang was a kid and he found out he was the Avatar her freaked out, ran away and got himself frozen in an iceberg for 100 years.

He was thawed out by two siblings, Katara and Sokka from the Southern Water Tribe to find out the Fire Nation was trying to take over the world and his entire tribe had been slaughtered by them in the process. So now this unlikely group of kids must travel the globe so Aang can learn water, earth and firebending and return peace to the land. But of course there are a slew of people that would sooner see him dead than accomplish his mission. The most passionate of these being Prince Zuko, the exiled prince of the Fire Nation who must bring the Avatar to his father alive in order to regain his honor.

Got all that?

Avatar pulls bits and pieces from many classic fantasy epics, but manages to mix them all up into something fresh and exciting. Each episode (or chapter, as they call them) is filled to the brim with action, comedy and great stories. And to top it all off it’s got really great complex characters. What really sold me on this idea was the main antagonist, Prince Zuko. His character has a fantastic arc throughout this season and I can’t to see what happens next.

I went into this expecting very little and was surprisingly blown away by how strong it was. It’s a great story with great character and wonderful animation. I had to watch the two-part season finale twice and can’t wait to get started on season 2. I honestly never would have expected something on this level from Nickelodeon.

All that said, this so called “Collector’s Edition” is a complete waste of money for fans who already own the collection. All it does is take the Complete Book 1 that is already available and wrap it up in some fancy new packaging and add a couple extra bits (described in detail below) that aren’t all that special.


Disc 1:

The Boy In The Iceberg 2-21-2005
The Avatar Returns 2-21-2005
The Southern Air Temple 2-25-2005
The Wariors Of Kyoshi 3-4-2005

Disc 2:

The King Of Omashu 3-18-2005
Imprisoned 3-25-2005
The Spirit World (Winter Solstice, Part 1) 4-8-2005
Avatar Roku (Winter Solstice, Part 2) 4-15-2005

Disc 3:

The Waterbending Scroll 4-29-2005
Jet 5-6-2005
The Great Divide 5-20-2005
The Storm 6-3-2005

Disc 4:

The Blue Spirit 6-17-2005
The Fortuneteller 9-23-2005
Bato Of The Water Tribe 10-7-2005
The Deserter 10-21-2005

Disc 5:

The Northern Air Temple 11-4-2005
The Waterbending Master 11-18-2005
The Siege Of The North, Part 1 12-2-2005
The Siege Of The North, Part 2 12-2-2005

The episodes are presented in fullscreen 1:33.1. Sound is Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. This is a gorgeously animated show and the transfer on these discs is great. However, if you already own them you know this already.

Behind The Scenes: Kung Fu Featurette: (4 min.) More mini promos than featurettes, these talk about which real life martial art styles are used for each of the four elements of bending. As far as promos for shows go, these are pretty cool.

The Making of Avatar – From Real Life to Animation: (4 min.) The show creators act out lines as reference for the animators. Mildly amusing.

Behing The Scenes- The Voices of Avatar: (4 min.) Interviews with voice cast. The most interesting part is the guy who does the voices for the animals.

“Ask The Creators:” (3 min.) The creators give one to two sentence answers to some fairly basic questions.

Chapter 15 Uncut Animatic: Yup, it’s an animatic alright.

Commentary: You get commentary on the last four episodes with various cast and crew members. These are okay as far as commentaries go.

Behind The Scenes with Cast & Crew: (3 min.)

Inside The Sound Studio: (6 min.) This show has some pretty damn good sound design and this piece shows off the talent behind it.

Inside The Korean Animation Studio: (26 min.) These are some pretty interesting interviews with Korean animators and their experiences working on the show.

Pilot Episode With Commentary: (15 min.) This is a pretty interesting glimpse of where the show came from, but in of itself, it’s not that good. Commentary is okay.

And now the only new material included in this release:

The Art Of The Animated Series Exclusive preview: This is a preview of a book that if you’re a hardcore fan of the show you’ll probably buy, so this “exclusive preview” is pretty worthless.

Exclusive Bonus Disc: Avatar Spirits(32 min.) This is a short documentary about Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko and how they created Avatar. It’s kind of interesting, but hardly worthy of it’s own DVD or giving Avatar yet another re-release.

I’d never even given this show a second thought until this DVD set arrived at my door. Now that I’ve finished season 1 I can’t want to start season 2. This is a surprisingly solid animated series that I’d highly recommend for anyone interested in a great adventure. However, if you’re already a fan of the show and already own season 1 in one of its already existing forms, then there is zero need for you to double dip for this. I’d also like to take a moment to note that now having seen season 1 of this show and become a fan, I REALLY don’t want to see the film.

Paramount Home Entertainment and Nickelodeon present Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Complete Book 1, Collector’s Edition. Created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. Starring: Zach Tyler Eison, Mae Whitman, Jack Desena and Dante Basco. Running time: 489 minutes on 7 discs. Not Rated. Released on DVD: June 22, 2010. Available at Amazon.com.

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