Blu-ray Review: The Legend of Korra (Book One: Air)

The animated Avatar: The Last Airbender was a sensation when it aired on Nickelodeon. The series proved Americans could challenge Japanese anime in both style and supernatural story elements. The show featured a world where select people can control the elements to do their will. The hero of the series mastered the ability to bend air. The show was popular and critically acclaimed during a three season run. However the name was tarnished when M. Night Shyamalan’s live action The Last Airbender won the Razzie for worst film of 2010. Luckily for fans, creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko weren’t going to let M. Night’s version be the final word on their fantasy universe. The two returned to Nickelodeon with The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air that takes place 70 years after the original series.

Korra is a young girl learning the talent of air bending after understanding how to bend earth, fire and water. “Welcome to Republic City” marks her revival in the big town to gain that final skill. She brings her Polar bear dog for companionship and extra security. There’s little time to learn since she must fight local hoodlums. The battle gets messy. The cops pin her as a suspect and she gets to explain herself or face jail time. Turns out there’s plenty of anti-Air Bender sentiments in the big city. M. Night’s movie must have done poorly here, too. “A Leaf in the Wind” has her struggling to bend air. Her frustrations get her enticed into pro bending with the Fire Ferrets. Things get more intense over the 12 episodes when Korra must go against anti-benders including one mysterious force who can strip someone of their bending skills. Can she be a complete bender or will she end up normal?

While this was supposed to be a mini-series, The Legend of Korra did so well that Nickelodeon greenlit another 40 episode. These new episodes will be split up into another 3 miniseries so that each batch is its own story. Book One: Air does a fine enough job of getting people who haven’t followed Avatar: The Last Airbender into the story and the fantastical universe. It doesn’t seem that strange that Korra would have a giant creature that’s a cross between a polar bear and dog. The action scenes are as exciting and dynamic as the original series. The voice actors include Janet Varney (TBS’ Dinner and a Movie), J.K. Simmons (Oz) and David Faustino (Married…. With Children). The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air maintains a mature atmosphere. Ultimately the new installment makes you forget that they ever tried to adapt this animated universe into live action.

The video is 1.78:1. The 1080p transfer brings out the detail in the fantasy universe. The high resolution is worth it. This appears to be the first Nickelodeon series to receive the Blu-ray treatment. The audio is 5.1 DTS-HD mix. This allows you to get enveloped in the action and music that matches the action. There’s also Spanish and French 2.0 dubs. The episodes are subtitled.

Audio Commentaries are provided on all 12 episodes. Cast, crew and creators discuss what went into the revival of the series.

The Legend of Puppetbender Presents “The Making of a Legend: The Untold Story – Part I”
has puppets acting like the actors.

Creators’ Favorite Scenes: Animatics lets the viewers see what sort of drawings it took to fill out the action.

The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air revives the show with a story about a new girl eager to gain the full skills of an Airbender. The new installment is a mini-series there is a sense of closure at the end instead of panic about when the next boxset will be released. The Legend of Korra will make you forget about the Razzie winning movie.

Paramount and Nickelodeon present The Legend of Korra – Book One: Air. Starring: Janet Varney, Dee Bradley Baker, David Faustino, P.J. Byrne, J.K. Simmons. Boxset Contents: 12 episodes on 2 Blu-rays. Released: July 9, 2013.

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