The complete series of Avatar: The Last Airbender is now available in an extras-packed box set. Does this collection deserve a place of honor on your shelf?
The short answer is “absolutely yes” — just as long as you know what you’re looking for.
Collecting the animated series for the first time in the U.S., Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Complete Series is absolutely true to its name. The series’ 61 episodes are spread out across 13 discs, and each “book” includes an extra disc for an incredible variety of special features.
In fact, it seems like every featurette, interview, and behind-the-scenes extra ever produced has been included in the new box set. 24 episodes offer audio commentary from the crew and cast, primarily co-creators Bryan Konietzko and Mike DiMartino. The original unaired pilot is included as well, also with — slightly rueful — commentary.
And that’s just the beginning.
Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Complete Series also includes multiple featurettes from the production of the wildly popular series. Across the various “books” are an “Ask the Creators” extra, detailed explorations of bending by martial arts master Sifu Kisu, and interviews with the cast and crew. In addition, there is also an in-depth look at Korean animation studios, an interview with Konietzko, DiMartino, and M. Night Shyamalan (yes, that M. Night Shyamalan) and a small documentary on the Book 3 panel at San Diego Comic-Con.
And that’s certainly not all — extra Avatar story content is also provided in the new box set. The Complete Series includes all three chibi shorts, the “Escape from the Spirit World” motion comic, and complete animatics for several episodes. Overall, there is enough extra content in Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Complete Series to keep fans immersed until the next Summer Solstice.
However, this wealth of material does come with one caveat; none of the extras are new. The new box set collects the Avatar content produced over the years that the series was in production — it does not provide a retrospective on the series, or provide material that has not already been released on the box sets for each individual season. The content is still relevant and interesting (and it’s quite adorable to see the fresh-faced cast and creators discuss the series circa 2005) but fans who already own individual seasons will not find much new information here.
Physically, Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Complete Series is simply but effectively packaged. The disc art is reused from individual season sets, but still striking, as are the DVD menus. The animation has not been remastered and the box set is not available on Blu-ray, so fans can expect a similar image quality to previous DVD and digital releases.
But in spite of these minor drawbacks, the Complete Series set remains an incredibly comprehensive collection of the story and history of Avatar: The Last Airbender. The box set is also an incredible value, packing in episodes, featurettes, commentaries, and extras for under $30. (For comparison, the collected series will cost fans $20 more on iTunes, with minimal extra content.)
So while fans who have already collected this epic animated series on DVD can skip this new set, Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Complete Series is an excellent investment for pretty much everyone else. With its wealth of extras and low price point, this new box set will be a wonderful journey — whether you’re looking back in nostalgia, or setting off with Aang for the very first time.
Avatar: The Last Airbender — The Complete Series is available today.