I have to admit that I have never been a huge fan of animation. Countless times I have witnessed my friends drop their jaws when they learn I have not seen any of Hayao Miyazaki’s magnum opuses. Animation, whether Pixar or Ghibli, has never occurred to me as something so profound that, as an art student, I must watch its masterpieces. I am not saying that animated classics aren’t tour de forces, of course. On the contrary, that quality might be the very reason for my inclination. I love films and video games, two mediums that represent the differing ends on the spectrum of art. One tries to imitate life while the other tries to recreate one. Animation, on the other hand, awkwardly stands between these two.
You might assume then, that I would not be interested in watching an animated series. However, I decided to give “The Dragon Prince” a try and I absolutely fell in love with it.
The show, created by Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond, is from the same people behind the immensely popular TV series “Avatar the Last Airbender.” This time, they created a medieval fantasy world, eschewing the Buddhist influences of “Airbender.”
Initially, this series stands out for its simplicity. The narrative focuses on two major plots — the growing hostility between human and elf and the exodus of the princes alongside the only living dragon. The show begins with moon elves assassinating a king. One of the assassins, Rayla, tries to slay two princes, Callum and Ezran, only to realize that they have the last dragon egg in the world. The princes are spared without knowing that their father had already been murdered. Their objective is to return the egg back to its dragon mother. This premise may seem cliché, but “The Dragon Prince” remedies banality with its character-driven plot. Callum and Ezran drive the majority of the story through their brave or horrible actions that can be interpreted as unsophisticated or even puerile. But that is precisely what gives the audience a sense of motivation. It should be no surprise that Richmond was a director for games, in which self-driving characters are found abundantly.
To Binge or Not to Binge?
The art style in this series punches right through my animation-proof mindset. “The Dragon Prince” nails the style of the contemporary American comics, as well as its pacing of dialogue. There is no shortage of smart humor among the often-serious script. Even when a line or two inspires a cringe, the narrative maintains a consistent emotional tone.
This show is definitely recommended for anyone, from avid comic lovers to people who have never watched “Spirited Away.” The world building is top-notch and precise, even with short episode lengths. Characters are diverse and full of charisma. I especially love Rayla, the only character speaking English with an Irish accent. The featured accents certainly play a huge part in portraying the distinctiveness of each character.
“A Secret and a Spark,” Season 2, Episode 1. I am not sure why this one is my favorite, but it is definitely near the top of my list. The humor is particularly outstanding and the depiction of the elf relic is touchingly beautiful.
“Avatar the Last Airbender,” “The Legend of Korra,” “RWBY,” “Teen Titans,” “Adventure Time,” “Steven Universe,” “Voltron: Legendary Defender” and “Merlin”
A small amount of cursing. No nudity or explicit violence.
“The Dragon Prince”
Available to stream on Netflix
18 episodes, approximately 7.5 hours.
In an earlier version of this article, “The Dragon Prince” was listed as having 10 episodes and being under 5 hours. We regret the error.