The Dragon Prince: Review

Noah Conley, Reporter

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  Most people my age have very fond memories of the anime-inspired cartoons of the 2000s, like Teen Titans & Avatar: The Last Airbender, with Avatar being one of the best animated series of all time-period.

  After Avatar, we had The Legend of Korra, which while being a good show that could stand on its own two feet, was never quite able to reach the heights the best Avatar episodes were able to reach.

  Luckily, most of the creative force behind Avatar are now working on a Netflix original show that has the same anime art style and influences, the unique magic systems, and incredible writing that made Avatar such a special show.

  Their new show is called The Dragon Prince, and it is a very solidly crafted fantasy show that has a couple mistakes that should be easily fixable in a second season.

  The show is set on a continent divided into two regions; the human ruled Katalios, and the elf ruled, magical land of Xadia. This divide was caused by humans using dark magic, which uses the essence of magical creatures. The elves then banished the humans to the other half of the continent. A thousand years later, the humans decide to kill the Dragon King, fearing his immense power, and smash his egg, killing the Dragon Prince. The story in the show starts about a year after this event, with the two kingdoms on the precipice of all-out war. The two princes of the human king, Callum and Ezren, team up with an elf named Rayla to go on a quest that can stop the conflict.

   The characters are well rounded, each developing over the course of the unfortunately short 9-episode season. The characters we are introduced to in the first 3 or so episodes are all a little different by the end of the season, which is nice to see. I’m glad more kids’ shows are pivoting into the world of complex stories, characters and themes, because it gives kids a chance to experience stories that most people assume only adults can fully enjoy.

  The show has a very Tolkien-esque vibe, with elves, mysterious magic, and a world we could explore far more in future seasons. The show is a much more traditional fantasy than in Avatar, but it still works incredibly well for the story the creators are trying to tell. Not to mention it is unique in just the right ways to not make the world the show is set in another generic fantasy world. The magic system is a bit confusing, because it seems as though there are multiple ways to do magic, but the spells are pretty cool in a visual sense. There is one scene where a character conjures up wolves made out of smoke to attack the protagonists.

  Although, if we are on the subject on visuals, we must talk about my biggest gripe, and I assume most other people’s biggest problem with the show; the animation.

  Keep in mind, I was able to get over the animation after about 2 episodes, but it does have problems.  See, the show uses 3D cel shaded characters, and the animation for these characters is…choppy, during the dialogue or non-action scenes. During the action scenes, everything is animated beautifully, with characters having awesome and very entertaining fights. I did some digging, and apparently this form of frame-skipping-espue animation is meant to resemble the animation of early classic anime that Avatar and The Dragon Prince are inspired by. However, it doesn’t come across like this, and if they made the animation smoother, it think this series could really take off.

   Overall, The Dragon Prince gets 8 howls out of 10; it crafts a unique fantasy world that could be heavily explored, a really cool if confusing magic system, and unique characters, but has some animation issues and a too short 9 episode season that hold it back just a bit.