REVIEW: The Dragon Prince “Book One – Moon”

SPOILER ALERT!

The Dragon Prince is Netflix’s newest animated exclusive, the first to be produced by Wonderstorm. The series comes from the mind of Aaron Ehasz (Futurama, Avatar: The Last Airbender) and Justin Richmond (Uncharted Series) and delivers on an entertaining animated feature for all ages. Today, I’m taking you on a trip in my brain to explore the ins and out of this thrilling fantasy tale.

First off, I’d like to talk about the animation since it was something I was mostly mixed about while watching the show. The animation style left me hot and cold depending on the sequences. From what I can understand it was created using three-dimensional animation which was made to look like traditional two-dimensional animation by reducing the frame rate and a technique called cel-shading. This gave The Dragon Prince a unique look that resembled, to a certain degree, video game animation.

There were a few things that about this that took me out of the show. First, since the backgrounds weren’t generally animated the style differed and everything that was meant to be interacted with or had some kind of importance tended to stick out like a sore thumb. The other thing is that during the slower moments this reduced frame rate was really easy to discern and made the show feel clunky.

That being said, whenever action was present the scenes were not only smooth but insanely dynamic: for example the quick yet amazing bout between Rayla and Amaya is still etched in my mind. I can’t stress enough how well animated and engaging these fight scenes were. They breathe life into the show and remind what makes animation so special because the limits seem null.  The Dragon Prince truly embraces this and give us some unique looking action sequences which I wish for more in the next season.

Despite the gripes, I have with animation the art and cinematography of this show are simply astounding. The art style of the show fits this high fantasy story like a glove. At certain points, you get some major Fire Emblem vibes and the visuals make this magical world come to life in a fantastic manner. The artistic prowess translates beautifully in the shots; one early example is when Rayla is about to face off against Runaan on the full moon backdrop. Another great example of beautiful cinematography comes in the last 10 minutes of the final episode; the entire sequence showcases beautiful shots that visually deepen this already incredibly rich world.

The richness of this world comes through in a plot that explores a classic hero’s journey in a fantasy setting that makes you ask for more. The opening sequence sets the table with a simple conflict that pits two nations against each other in a war that is centric to the setting of this tale. With every location, artifact, and spell that is featured a deeper picture slowly reveals itself to the viewer peaking their interest even more.

What felt the most engaging was the depth of the world I was exploring with the characters since the plot takes you through very simple steps without great big twists or incoherence. I do like where the season ends; it opens up the need for a second season to complete our heroes journey while setting up the right balance of dread and hope. I can’t wait to see how they use the plot-threads they opened up and information they gave us to plunge us deeper into the universe.

The Dragon Prince has a wide cast of diverse characters that are easy to empathize with and grow fond of. In regards to our protagonist, Rayla, Ezran, and Callum, I didn’t really care for the two young princes, but Rayla was probably the shining star all around. The princes both had their usefulness to the plot and distinct personalities, but their presence never really struck me. Callum displays a very classic dorky, but loveable archetype and his half-brother, Ezran, really acts as this young, cute and innocent character who just wants to help. They both get a good bit of development during the season, but I want them to be pushed to new heights in the next season. On the other hand, Rayla was an all-around great character she was a strong character who had a moral code deeply attached to her conscious. Despite this, her flaws were really apparent displaying a short-temper and in certain situations misplaced pride.

A character I actually really enjoyed was Amaya, Callum’s aunt, who is a mute general displaying true strength and resolve. Including this character was a great move, in my opinion, it provides great representation for a group which is so often forgotten in art. Amaya doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but in a short time, we see her we get the essence of her character very clearly. We see a glimpse of her grief, her sense of duty and such a unique fighting style that makes me crave more next season. It’s important to have a special mention for Bait and the Scarface reference that was used a few time during the course of The Dragon Prince it was fun wink which fit a whimsical animal sidekick.

The antagonist, Viren, came off as extremely creepy and Machiavellian while displaying cunning an charisma. I really enjoyed how well rounded he was despite the mystery tied all around him and his dark magic. His son, Soren, and daughter, Claudia, were both kind of forgettable, Soren more than his sister. They felt two dimensional without being evil; they just felt simply obedient. They had a few funny comic relief moments while displaying that they will be formidable foes, but the shortness of the season didn’t allow them much room to spread their wings. I’m sure their characters will be expanded further on since they showed traces of being a little more than what the eye can see, but for now, I’m not impressed by them.

Overall, I enjoyed The Dragon Prince a lot. Despite a few flaws here and there, the show is still very strong. Honestly, it’s a very quick watch with nine episode averaging twenty-six minutes it really gets to the point quickly while showcasing enough depth and mystery to keep me intrigued to watch season two.

Verdict: 4 Grumpy Baits out of 5

Vincent is Canadian and a raving Cyclops apologist and a lover of all things geek Marvel and Star Wars are his specialty. He is well versed in DC, Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings. He's always wanted to be a writer and Do You Even Comic Book? is his first foray into that adventure.

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