Hey gang, Valkor here. And we're back with another round from the folks at Paramount Home. Last round we took the latest Ninja Turtles volume – Enter Shredder, for a spin. This time we delve into the world of elemental bending and the latest creation from the minds who gave us Avatar: The Last Airbender, check it out its The Legend of Korra Book One: Air on Blu-Ray.
The Legend of Korra takes place some 70 years after the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender and follows the exploits of the latest incarnation of the Avatar – 17 year old Korra from the Water Tribe. The Avatar is meant to keep the balance amongst the other elemental tribes who are proficient in a specific form of "bending" (fire, earth, air, and water), but only the Avatar can learn them all. Unfortunately for Korra, she has only mastered three of the four elements with air just out of her reach… for now. She was initially supposed to train with the youngest son of Aang, Tenzin, but he's called away last minute on matters most urgent. But that doesn't stop ever impatient Korra from stowing away on a ship to achieve her goals.
While the tribes maybe separated, they all come together at one point: Republic City, where everyone – benders and non-benders alike can gather and live harmoniously. But there's trouble afoot as a group known as the Equalists who are anti-bending, show their presence. And they're leader Amon has the ability to take away a bender's ability making them "equal" with the rest of the folk. But there's more to Amon than meets the eye and it's up to Korra - brothers Bolin and Mako as well as daughter of the wealthy Hiroshi Sato – Asami.
The Legend of Korra Book One: Air Blu-Ray consists of two discs containing a total of twelve episodes that reflect the first season. Highlights include:
Leaf in the Wind – Korra is frustrated with her inability to learn airbending. So she heads off to Republic City to watch the Pro-Bending competition. There she meets the Fire Ferrets - brothers Bolin and Mako. Korra joins the team after their third member doesn't show. And while inexperienced at first, she later finds use of one Tenzin's airbending training techniques.
And the Winner is… - Amon threatens to attack the Pro-Bending championship match unless it's cancelled. Chief Lin Beifong, along with her soldiers and Tenzin, promise to defend the match between the Fire Ferrets and the Wolfbats. The Equalists attack just as the Wolfbats claim victory and the team is stripped of their abilities. Korra and Beifong team up to battle the Equalists, but eventually the group gets away.
Out of the Past – Korra has been captured by Tarrlock and using her time imprisoned, she looks to try and understand her cryptic vision involving Aang and how it reflects upon current events. At the same time, Mako, Beifong, Bolin and Asami seek out an Equalists stronghold in hopes of finding Korra and Beifong's captured men.
Extras include commentary on each episode, eight animatics scenes favorite by the series creators, and featurette - Legend of Puppetbender present "The Making of a Legend: The Untold story". So after swimming through all twelve eps and extras, it's time to render my verdict of Korra and co in the TOV Breakdown.
In the case of TOV versus The Legend of Korra, I find the Blu-Ray guilty – of being awesome! As much as I enjoyed the Last Avatar series, I find this latest series to be way better and more adult-oriented than its predecessor, dealing heavily in sociopolitical issues such as terrorism and prejudices (non-benders vs. benders) amongst other reasons for liking it. I'll admit I like Korra's tale thus far, more so than I like Aang's. But Korra's series kicks off on a more serious note than Aang's; things aren't as goofy and Korra doesn't always wanna ride stuff. The setting is amazing and the progression into the steampunk era works beautifully. And to complete that old-timey feel you get a cheesy recap at the start of each story with grainy, faded out black and white footage. The animation and artwork is the series biggest plus and it shines in hi-def. That 1080p resolution really shows off the attention to detail not just in the animation, which is quite fluid, but also the hand painted backdrops. The voice works is hit and miss with me and if I have to choose a favorite, it would be J.K. Simmons as Tenzin, whom I didn't expect at all. He blends in so well into the character that I didn't recognize him until I saw his name in the credits. And even then you have to really listen to hear if it's really him. Overall you're getting all-new characters, the return of some favs (mainly in flashback form), interesting and complex storytelling, superb animation, and strong voice acting, makes The Legend of Korra Book One a must own for fans and newcomers alike.
I feel the stories progress too quickly not giving viewers the chance to really settle in and get to know the main characters. Case in point is the love triangle between Mako, Korra, and Asami – I felt things move waaaaay too quickly and I would have liked their situation to stretch out a bit more rather than just throwing Korra and Mako together. And that end was a total rush job; sure it closes up the season nice and tidy, but having Korra lose her powers would have made for the perfect season cliffhanger. And I'll just say it, I think Janet Varney does an amazing job as Korra... but I think someone better could have been chosen. Still, I'm not hatin!
The Legend of Korra Book One: Air Blu-Ray is available now and it's an impressive series with engaging characters and stories that's entertaining and so much fun – this series was definitely better than I had expected and even with its few faults, it's definitely worth picking up. And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving The Legend of Korra Book One a 4.5. Bring on season two!