Fans of Nickelodeon’s ongoing animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender have reason to get excited. On January 23rd, season two of this epic heads to the shelves with the release of Avatar: The Last Airbender – Book 2 Earth, Vol. 1.
Continuing the tale of Aang, the last Airbender, season two joins our young hero’s ongoing quest to master all four of the elements to aid in the battle against the Fire Lord. Filled with action and an engrossing story, the plot unfolds as returning characters begin to evolve and new characters are met along the journey.
Aimed at the six-to-eleven-year-old market, Avatar manages to capture the imagination of young and old alike. With ongoing story arcs encompassing entire seasons, we begin to see a children’s series unlike most others on the air today. Well written and solidly animated, both elements combine together to bring to life a magical fantasy world. Wonders and surprises around every corner, soon you find yourself watching just to see what happens next.
This isn’t just some stodgy affair aimed at getting mom and dad to tune in to the kids channel, either. Mixing in a fun dose of humor, Avatar manages to bring the laughs, much to the delight of my own daughter. Seldom aiming over the heads of their intended audience, the jokes are often laugh out loud funny while some remain subtle enough to catch the viewer off guard. Always careful to avoid over the top territory, the humor mixes in just the right amount with the story and animation to raise this one yet another notch.
On the technical side, Avatar: The Last Airbender is a well-packaged show. The attractive menus are backed by the show’s pleasant Asian theme music. This makes it easy enough to leave the disk at the menu for some pleasant background music.
My sole gripe with this DVD arises when digging deeper into the menu. The selections are labeled simply as play, setup, special features, and chapter selection. Locating the exact episode you wish to watch is a head-scratcher. There are five episodes included in volume one, and the target audience is from ages six to eleven. It would have been easier for the discerning young viewer to navigate the main menu if an episode selection had been added.
I also experienced some minor technical difficulty with the sound being delayed with the start of the video, but this was in the menus only. The episodes themselves worked flawlessly. Aside from these two minor gripes, the rest of the disk is great package. With a beautiful transfer, the lush and colorful world of Avatar comes to life, often in breathtaking fashion.
The special features on the disk are somewhat lacking. We get a full-length animatic of episode one featuring the rough sketches and story boards as the episode itself plays in the lower corner. Not as engaging as watching the actual episode, this special feature feels mostly forgettable. The average kid wanting some Aang action isn’t going to care much about special features. This drawback is mostly forgettable as well.
When my daughter flips on the TV, settles in for some cartoons, and daddy can sit alongside her for hours while not being annoyed (not to mention being sucked into the story so deep I didn’t realize it was an hour past her bed time), I’d say that’s the sign of some top quality children’s programming. Worth the price for story alone and with five episodes packed into one disk, mom and dad can’t go wrong with Avatar: The Last Airbender – Book 2 Earth, Vol. 1.