Animation Break: The Dragon Prince S1 (Spoilers!)

Good animated shows that appeal  to both adults and kids are hard to find, so, when one comes that is very much up my alley, I immediately take a chance on it. Ever since “The Dragon Prince” was first announced,  I was excited about it, especially as it’s creative team includes “Avatar: The Last Airbender” veterans Aaron Ehasz and Giancarlo Volpe. While the first season on Netflix is way too short, the first season is a wonderful first glimpse into a new fantasy world that is rich in lore and history, and has a diverse set of characters. Apart from it’s charm, it is also an exploration of the hope that the younger generation brings, especially during times of war, misunderstanding and mistrust.

Video Source: Netflix YouTube

The first season of “The Dragon Prince”, which consisted of nine twenty five minuted episodes, was released on Netflix on September 14, 2018. It was created by Aaron Ehasz (“Avatar: The Last Airbender”) and Justin Richmond, and was directed by Villads Spangsberg and Giancarlo Volpe (“Avatar: The Last Airbender”).  As of the moment, there is no official word yet regarding a second season, but it looks like that this series is only just the beginning as they are on releasing other material regarding this fantastic new world in different forms of media, like video games. Fans of the new series, however, do hope that we’ll be getting a season 2  soon, and hope that it will go on for a while.

“The Dragon Prince” is set in a fantasy land on the brink of an upcoming war, which is only part of the long standing conflict that has been going on between the land of Katolis, where humankind lives, and the magical lands of Xadia, where the dragons and elves live. However, there might be hope yet for peace within the land after two human princes and a Moon Shadow Elf assassin form an unlikely alliance as they embark on a quest to return the missing egg of the Storm Dragon King, Thunder, back to its rightful place, amidst the imminent conflict.

Dragon Prince Poster
Image Source: The Dragon Prince Facebook Page

 

From the get go, despite the choppy animation that one ends up getting used to as the series goes along, viewers know that they are in for a great ride as the prologue already gives us a glimpse of the rich lore and history that this land has. This can be seen as they do show us, during the war scenes, that humankind, dragonkind, and the elves, are all diverse, even within their own species or race. Aside from this, as the series goes along, the viewer ends up taking in the wonderful  world that Richmond and Ehasz have created for us, as the land has its own set of rules for magic, unique flora and fauna, and even the designs of the elves are a little bit different from what we’d expect And this series is just only the beginning.

The first season was remarkably short, but I do like the journey that our trio of heroes have embarked on, and how much they’ve grown in a short amount of time, and I cannot wait to see what will happen next.

In a sense, this is very much a coming of age story, as our young protagonists are still finding, understanding and discovering more about themselves and what they can do as the season comes along. By the end of the season, these characters are a little bit more confident, and they have also  begun to make necessary sacrifices for the sake of their quest.

I also like the fact that our villains aren’t necessarily black and white, and are morally grey, which is also very much in the vein of what we got with the world of “Avatar”. I also found it very interesting that while “Avatar” borrows a lot of influences from the East and depicts a world under oppression by one nation; “The Dragon Prince” has more Western influences in it, throws us right in the middle of imminent war and shows us how the younger generations can be the keys to peace. It also talks a lot about race and prejudice, which is interesting as this show is very diverse in many ways.

Our main trio in itself is pretty diverse, with Prince Callum (Jack de Sena) being more of Asian-Caucasian descent; Prince Ezran (Sasha Rojen) being of Asian-African descent; with Rayla (Paula Burrows)  the Moon Shadow Elf having a Scottish accent; and with the fact that the boy’s aunt, General Amaya, is deaf and uses sign language to communicate with her men and nephews.

It is also very story driven, but balances out the main story line with good writing that balances both humor and wit.

With all of that being said, “The Dragon Prince” is a great show that can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike, as it is a good coming of age story set in a fantasy world that is rich in lore, and that also tackles pretty heavy themes such as the ethics and morals of war.

Now, you know the drill! From here on out, there will be spoilers!

Spoiler Warning

The world that Ehasz and Richmond  have built for us with “The Dragon Prince” is impressive and has such impressive history and lore behind it. In fact, in interviews, they have said that they already have a backstory on how the current King of Katolis’ ancestor became the first queen of their land! Also, throughout the journey of our main trio, we come upon unique fauna and flora, and we see that there are also subsets and different kinds per race. I found it immensely interesting that Moon Shadow Elves don’t resemble the traditional look of an elf, as they had horns; and that there were different kinds of interesting weapons that were used as well, aside from your standard ones. Also, they do have an interesting an unique magic system,  one that relies heavily on drawing runes, saying the needed word or phrase, and a source of primal magic. All of this was already being shown to us, the audience, as the season goes swiftly by, which is why, in addition to paying attention to everything going on with the story, you end up getting used to the choppy animation that could have gotten a little bit annoying.

My biggest gripe with the entire thing was that nine episodes were too short for one season, and I hope that we get a second season soon! If fan theorists are correct, following the format of what they did with “Avatar” , if the naming system is based on the sources of primal magic, then we might  get six or seven seasons tops. Some also have theorized that Season 1’s Book, Moon, might not even be done yet, but we’ll just have to see.

This story, is very much your typical coming of age quest story, especially as our trio of main protagonists are young. Each of them does go through an interesting journey throughout the short amount of time that the season gives them, and shows that those of different species can work harmoniously together, which means that there is hope for peace for their land. The biggest sign of peace that would end the war, however, would be them actually being able to return the dragon egg, now a hatchling, back to its mother. And, of course, the ones who have to hand it over would have to be Prince Ezran and his half-brother, Prince Callum.

Prince Ezran
Prince Ezran (Sasha Rojen) and his glowtoad, Bait Image Source: The Dragon Prince Facebook Page

Ezran is the youngest in the trio, as he is only ten years old. However, during the journey, despite his young age, he is wiser than the two older ones at times, more accepting of others who are different, and grew more confident with his special talent of being able to understand animals. I also think that his affinity for animals is why he was the one who lugged the egg around, and not Callum, and with that ending, it will definitely be an important factor to sow peace later on.

Rayla
Rayla (Paula Burrows) Image Source: The Dragon Prince Facebook Page

Rayla started out as a young elf frustrated with herself as she cannot seem to do what her job needs her to do because she has too much compassion, which undermines the elvish pride she does have within her. However, as Ezran puts it, her compassion is actually a good thing, as it also allows her to be more open minded as compared to the other elves. It is also interesting that her mission suddenly changed to a “mission of redemption” after she saw the egg, as she can now right the cowardly behavior of her parents. Throughout their journey, she was able to earn the boys’ trust, and I really hope that the fact that she is still hiding that their father died a secret won’t create a huge rift between them. She became more confident as the episodes went along,  and proved herself as a powerful and wonderful ally.

Prince Callum
Prince Callum (Jack de Sena) Image Source: The Dragon Prince Facebook Page

Among the three, I think Callum grew the most. Throughout their journey, so far, he has proved himself to be a good leader who learns from his experiences and mistakes. He was the one who was most cautious of Rayla at first, but once he realized his mistake and put their innate differences behind them, he was able to lead them well. I think one incident that is telling of this is the fact that he was the one who came  up with the strategy on how to defeat that giant slug worm, and managed to pull it off the second time around. It was also interesting that aside from his penchant for drawing and being good at memorizing things, that he has an uncanny innate ability for magic. He only had to imitate what Claudia did, and he got the air spell  working right away. He also knows how to see the bigger picture, and knows how to sacrifice what he holds dear for the greater good, which was shown in the fact that we willingly gave up the primal source that he had in order for the baby dragon to be born, although he feels at times that he is nothing without that primal source ball.

Many have speculated that the titular prince might not be the hatchling, but one of the young human princes, and although that is yet to be seen, I do think that Callum would make a great and wise ruler, with Ezran being a great ambassador.

Now that we have this hatchling, I’m hoping that seeing man and elf work together to keep him safe and return him to his mother will teach  him that peace can be achieved for all the species of the land.

Viren
Viren (Jason Simpson), the king’s advisor, friend, and a powerful dark mage Image Source: The Dragon Prince Facebook Page
Soren and Claudia
Viren’s kids-Soren (Jesse Inocalla), a rather dim crownsguard & Claudia (Racquel Belmonte), Callum’s crush and a bookish aspiring dark mage. Image Source: The Dragon Prince Facebook Page

As I mentioned earlier, I like that our villains are not black and white, but morally gray. Viren and Claudia do have leanings towards Dark Magic, but I do believe that Viren does believe that he is truly doing it for Katolis, and Claudia and Soren believe in their father. However,Viren is already a little bit too far gone, and I’m hoping for a redemptive arc for both Claudia and Soren.

Now, as for season two, I think that we’ll be seeing them caring for the hatchling, and going towards the borders of Xadia and Katolis. There, they’ll probably encounter other men and elves, plus, Rayla also has to tell them that she knows that their father is dead. There will also be a confrontation of sorts between the team of Claudia and Soren and our main group, although I am not sure of what the outcome will be. However, I do think that Viren will stir up Katolis more to the point of war, and the second season could end with them actually returning the hatchling to his mother, just as war is just about to erupt.

All in all, the first season of “The Dragon Prince” was a resounding success, as it gave us a great new fantasy story, rich in history and lore, and with heavy but relevant themes, that will be enjoyed by adults and children, and fans of “Avatar” and “Korra” as well.

Image Source: The Dragon Prince Facebook Page

 

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