‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ Complete Series Blu-ray Review: Revisit the Legend, Now in HD

     June 1, 2018

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Aang and the gang are back with the long-awaited Blu-ray release of Nickelodeon’s incredible animated series, Avatar – The Last Airbender: The Complete Series. This summer, every episode from the fan-favorite show will be available on Blu-ray, including over 24 hours of pitch-perfect comedy, intense element-bending action, and mythology that’s worthy of obsession. Fans of this classic will be able to relive the full three-season saga that follows young Airbender Aang, who journeys along with Katara and Sokka of the Water Tribe, to fulfill his destiny of being the long-lost Avatar and master the elements of water, earth, fire and air!

It’s a little crazy to think that Avatar first made its way into the world with Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko‘s original animated pilot 15 years ago–which you can watch in this collection–before wrapping up its three-season arc after 60-some episodes in the summer of 2008. But it’s worth keeping that in mind as you re-watch the episodes gathered for this Blu-ray release since, although there’s a clear difference between the 1080p HD and standard definition versions, there’s only so much modern technology can do with 10-to-15-year-old, hand-drawn animations, as gorgeous as they are. Purists out there will be happy to know that the Blu-ray keeps the as-seen-on-TV 4:3 ratio however, and there’s a ton of behind-the-scenes featurettes that are all gathered here in one convenient place. (They’re just not gathered on one convenient disc since the relevant featurettes are tied to specific episodes and seasons.) It’s a “must-own” collection for diehard fans and completists and a recommended buy for folks who either don’t have any of the other seasons already or just want to upgrade from DVDs. It was an absolutely joy to revisit Avatar: The Last Airbender and I’d be amazed if you didn’t feel the same way about this Blu-ray treatment.

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Image via Paramount Home Media

While you can find the details of (and a bunch of trivia from) the Avatar: The Last Airbender Complete Series Blu-ray below, especially if you’re interested in what bonus content made its way into the collection, you can also get your hands on your very own copy of the upcoming Blu-ray release thanks to our giveaway!

To win one of three copies, please email thecollidermailbox@gmail.com with the subject line “I Want the Avatar Blu-ray!” You need to include your name and address in the body of the email and must live in the United States or Canada. We’ll be accepting emails until Monday, June 4th and we’ll contact the people that won soon after.

Produced by Nickelodeon Home Entertainment and distributed by Paramount Home Media Distribution, Avatar – The Last Airbender: The Complete Series will be available nationally on June 5th, for the suggested retail price of $44.99.

Special Features:

Book One: Water

Disc One:

Behind the Scenes Kung Fu Featurette (5 minutes) – Sifu Kisu leads us through the various martial arts styles that were used for inspiration to create the various elemental bending styles.

Credits (1 minute) – The show’s end-credits sequence, giving credit where credit is due.

The Making of Avatar: From Real Life to Animation (4 minutes) – Show creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino act out scenes from various scenes in their scripts for animators to have a reference to draw from.

Disc Two:

Behind the Scenes: Voices of Avatar (5 minutes) – The voice actors talk about their characters in this behind-the-scenes featurette.

Ask the Creators Featurette (4 minutes) – Q&A from Konietzko and Dane DiMartino

Original Uncut Animatic – Episode #15 “Bato of the Water Tribe” (25 minutes)

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Image via Nickelodeon

Disc Three:

Audio Commentaries by Creators, Cast and Crew

  • “The Northern Air Temple”
    • Benjamin Wynn andJeremy Zuckerman on music and sound design, and creature character effects from Dee Bradley Baker
    • Dee Bradley Baker’s effects are all done after the animation has been completed. Hearing him do the effects outside of the show itself is a delight! It’s mostly just Baker making noises and talking about how insanely versatile the human voice is.
  • “The Waterbending Master”
    • Konietzko, DiMartino, and Aaron Ehasz, head writer
    • The team talks about getting Jason Isaacs to play Zhao.
    • All of the pirate characters are based on animators in the Korean animation studio, and there are lots of other Easter eggs and cameo scattered throughout.
    • Great details about the storytelling decisions made along the way and the little animation subtleties that make the action so strong.
  • “The Siege of the North, Part I”
    • DiMartino, Konietizko, and Ehasz
    • Lots of really cool details here that you might have missed out on along the way, like nods back to earlier episodes, hints of character changes and pivotal moments to come, and even sources of inspiration for certain characters’ designs.
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    Image via Nickelodeon

    “The Siege of the North, Part II”

    • A continuation of the previous commentary connecting the two-part Season 1 / Book I finale.
    • Ehasz walks us through the writing process of this particular episode, including the team of writers who collaborate to develop each and every story and episode. John O’Bryan, Tim Hedrick, Elizabeth Welch Ehasz, and Josh Hamilton, their writing assistant.
    • Legendary voice-director Andrea Romano gets a shout-out.

Behind the Scenes with the Avatar Cast & Crew (3 minutes) – A behind-the-scenes featurette that introduces the cast and crew as a way to introduce newcomers to the show itself.

Avatar Pilot Episode with Audio Commentary

  • DiMartino and Konietzko walk viewers through the test animation pilot
    • You can see the elements that would ultimately join to become Avatar but it’s a self-described “low-budget version” of the show’s main titles.
    • A lot of things changed to the full series, like how Katara’s name was originally Kya/Kaya, and Aang had a slightly different costume design, as did the firebenders.
    • Cool revisit of the original animation done by in part by Yoo Jae Myung’s animation studio JM Animation Co., Ltd. in South Korea.
    • The pilot was only ever shown at some conventions and this commentary only ever appeared on some earlier DVD releases.
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Image via Paramount Home Media

The Making of Avatar – Inside the Sound Studios (7 minutes)

  • Composer Benjamin Wynn and Foley Mixer Jeffrey Kettle and Foley Artist Sanaa Cannella show how the sounds of Avatar are brought to life.
  • There’s a cool breakdown of a scene before and after sound design is completed.
  • All those air and fire effects? That starts with the human voice, which gets augmented through computer software.
  • Other sounds like traveling along ropes or “magical” sounds are done with toys and musical instruments, which also get augmented in the computer.
  • The creepy character Koh needed a specific sound for its many, many legs, but it was jus tone part of the incredibly difficult and complex sound design for the Book One finale.

The Making of Avatar – Inside the Korean Animation Studios (30 mintues)

  • In South Korea, Konietzko walks viewers through the overseas animation studio and talks about how creatively involved and responsible they were, specifically talking about JM Animation.
  • Joung Mee, Yoo Jae Myung, Oh Seung Hyun, Jeong In, Jeong Hoon, Hong Kyoung Pyo, Jeong Hae Young, Kim Hyun, Jeong Sang Woong, Song Mi Yeong, Jeong Hyun, Kim Gi Hyun, Lee Joo Ri, and Kim Gwan Sik participate in a Q&A and really dig deep into the details of the animation process of Avatar.
  • The featurette also includes a visit to DR Movie’s MOI Animation to have a Q&A with Kim Sang Jin, Chi Cheong Jin, Kwon Jong Won, Kim Eui Jeong, Kim Jae Hyoung, Kim Myoung Sun, Choi Soon Chul, Hwang Kyu Seok, Lee Eun Kyung, and Kim Byong Ryul. CEO Soon Seo Hoon gives a farewell message to close it out.
  • This is a must-watch for fans of animation and budding animators alike since it asks and answers some really specific questions about the animation process at the time, what the artists were asked to do, how they went about doing it, and how they felt about the overall experience. Plus, it’s pretty rare that a hit show gives its overseas animators any time in the spotlight, so it’s worth a watch just to pay respects.

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