Plot: What’s it about?
The world was once a peaceful domain, with four nations each with their own elemental representations. The Nations of Fire, Earth, Air, and Water lived in peace, until one nation struck out against the others. The Fire Nation attacked the others and there was only one chance to stop their efforts, the power of the Avatar. The Avatar had the ability to control all four elements and as such, could fend off the Fire Nation and restore order. But the Avatar was nowhere to be found and while missing, there was no one to stop the Fire Nation’s assault. After one hundred years pass, a lone survivor of the Air Nation remains, a boy named Aang, but he is frozen in ice. He is discovered however and thawed out, by two children Katara and Sokka, who learn that Aang is the next Avatar, but his powers must be trained. As time passed, Aang was able to master the water bending skill, but now he must venture to the Earth Nation and master that skill as well. It won’t be a simple task, but if he is to defeat the Fire Nation and restore peace to all nations, he must push ahead and master all the abilities.
I’ve seen Avatar on Nickelodeon before, but I’d never sat down to watch a complete episode until this release. I’d heard a lot of positive reviews of the series, most of which praised it as a new breed of children’s show. I had heard that Avatar was aimed at a younger audience, but didn’t talk down to viewers and in the process, created a storyline that would have all viewers of all ages tuning in to find out what happens next. I was behind in the grand scheme of things, since I missed the entire first season and part of the second, but I was able to keep up well enough. Avatar is episodic, in that each episode has a self contained storyline, but at the same time, each episode serves as a building block in a more substantial storyline. I think viewers who keep up with the entire arc will get more out of the episodes, but casual viewers won’t feel totally left behind. The show blends humor with action, martial arts, and fantasy, all with an obviously anime inspired visual design. I can’t comment on how these five episodes stack up against the previous ones, but I enjoyed these five and look forward to more releases. The five episodes included here are titled The Blind Bandit, Zuko Alone, The Chase, Bitter Work, and The Library.
Video: How does it look?
The episodes are presented in full frame, as intended. The show has bright and colorful visuals, which come across well in this release. This is a new show, so of course you don’t see signs of wear, so the image is clean and crisp throughout. The vivid colors are impressive, with bold hues and the show’s visual design just looks terrific here. I saw no problems with black levels either, as the contrast is razor sharp at all times. I did see a few compression issues pop up in a few places, but these were minor and overall, these episodes of Avatar look quite good.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio is also good, but sounds about like it would if you were watching the normal broadcasts. That isn’t bad, but sometimes shows have a fuller audio experience on DVD, but that isn’t the case here. The sound effects pack a good punch, thanks to a creative and effective sound design approach. You won’t be blown out of your chair, but there is good presence here and the soundtracks were very well crafted. The music has some life too and adds to the scenes, while dialogue is loud and clear, with no problems I could find. This disc also has French and Spanish language tracks.
Supplements: What are the extras?
You can listen to commentary from assorted cast and crew, but don’t count on endless insights. There is a lot of dead space between comments, but some decent information is passed on at times. I think this is probably for older fans, as some technical stuff is covered and how the show is put together.