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Legend of Korra: The Complete Series (Blu-ray Limited Edition Steelbook Collection), The

Paramount // Unrated // March 16, 2021
List Price: $97.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Oktay Ege Kozak | posted May 21, 2021 | E-mail the Author
The Show:
After the original Avatar (Not the James Cameron one, and definitely not the M. Night Shyamalan adaptation) took the animation world by storm and proved that American anime can capture the tone and style of the best that the Japanese industry has to offer, its followup series The Legend of Korra had a lot to live up to. A considerable amount of hardcore Avatar fans were disappointed by the fact that the new iteration pushed the timeline a hundred years into the future, introduced almost all-new characters and storylines while being merely inspired by the original show rather than emulating it. In my opinion, all of these qualities turn The Legend of Korra into a uniquely satisfying experience, on the same level of quality as the original show, but delivering a narrative and style that stands on its own.
Just like every Avatar (A Dalai Lama-like figure who can control all four elements with his/her mind) carries the soul of all the previous Avatars, yet forges their own path through their unique characteristics, The Legend of Korra takes the spiritual outlines of the first series, The Last Airbender, and uses it for brand new worldbuilding. The "future" world of The Legend of Korra leaves behind the semi-sci-fi-infused yet full fantasy world of The Last Airbender and brings us into a fully realized and instantly captivating steampunk sci-fi universe. It finds the sweet spot between exploiting this new tech for entertainment and carrying over the ideological spirituality that's inspired by a mix of western and eastern mythology with great respect and consideration for the universe that was built beforehand.
After the previous avatar Aang has died after living a long life and bring peace to the realm, the new Avatar is a feisty girl named Korra (Janet Varney), who has trouble dealing with the fact that the fate of the world is on her shoulders when all she wants is to exist as a regular teenager. The first of the four seasons (or books, as they're called) explores Korra's teen angst in a measured way that rings true, as she signs up to play the sport of professional bending (People with bending capabilities can only move one element with their mind) and exposes herself to the world, leading to a fascist takeover that puts the entire art of bending in danger. Each book contains an epic standalone adventure with breathtaking action setpieces, with Korra's gradual growth into the wise and powerful avatar she's destined to be.
The Blu-rays:

The original Avatar was animated in standard definition, so even the blu-ray releases had to be content with an upconverted 1080i presentation. The Legend of Korra was put together with high definition in mind from the start, so we get an incredibly clear and crisp 1080p presentation in full 16:9 aspect ratio, as compared to Avatar's 4:3 ratio. The bright and colorful palette clashing beautifully with some of the grayscale environments comes to life really well through an HD transfer that shows great contrast, and the show's uniquely dynamic action is smooth as it can be.
Audio:
We get another upgrade from Avatar's 2.0 sound mix and dive right into a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 presentation. The soulful score really enjoys the extra aural space that's provided by the new mix, while the action setpieces show an incredible dynamic range. The sound assists the show's intricate worldbuilding perfectly, and this lossless sound option is the best way for fans to enjoy it.
Extras:
Book One: Air:
For some reason, the audio commentaries found in the stand-alone release aren't here, but they remain in the other books.
Animatics: Almost an hour's worth of previs footage that's essential for those who want to study the animation process of The Legend of Korra.
The Making of a Legend: A very brief making-of featurette.
Book Two: Spirits:
We get all of the commentaries found in every episode.
Scene Bending: Almost 90 minutes of storyboards that allow the fans to further examine the animation process.
Inside the Book of Spirits: A brief featurette that goes into the themes of the second book.
Kindred Spirits/Feuding Spirits: Two short featurettes about the two very different families in the second book, the conflict between one providing the central narrative of the season.
Re-telling Korra's Journey: A charming recap of Korra's adventures so far.
Book Three: Change
We get the commentaries for each episode again.
The Spirit of an Episode: A combination of 13 featurettes that dive into great detail about every section of the animation process. This one's an animation school in a compact form.
Book Four: Balance:
We get the commentaries.
2014 Comic-Con Panel: A half-hour panel interview about the final season.
The Making of a Legend: A more playful brief featurette about making the fourth season.
Republic City Hustle: A short recap of the childhoods of two of the most important supporting characters in the series.
The box that holds all four of the steelbooks is robust and captures the epic feel of the series. This is certainly an attractive-looking collector's edition.
Final Thoughts:
The Legend of Korra works as well as it does primarily because it captures a whole new worldbuilding that relies heavier on steampunk sci-fi, and characters and conflict that skews a bit heavier towards a later teen audience, as evidenced by the slightly older age of Korra as compared to Aang. Those looking for the same experience might be disappointed, but the spirit of the Avatar certainly lives on.

Oktay Ege Kozak is a film critic and screenwriter based in Portland, Oregon. He also writes for The Playlist, The Oregon Herald, and Beyazperde.com

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