After re-watching The Office for the 36th time, I decided to give something new a shot when The Dragon Prince premiered on Netflix earlier last month on September 14th (my birthday coincidentally). Don’t worry, this review will be spoiler-free so don’t be scared to read on.
So, if you haven’t seen the series advertised anywhere: The Dragon Prince is an all-ages fantasy series that explores the story of a world torn in two over magic, a tenuously-held peace between races and the friendship that forms between an Elven assassin and the human princes she’s sent to kill as they try to right the wrongs of their peoples’ pasts.
Brought to you by Wonderstorm, a new creative team founded by some of the key players behind Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Dragon Prince is their first kick at the can as a new studio. It looks like they’re in it for the long haul too, with a video game already in development. Definitely intriguing, given the team also consists of some ex-game developers from studios like Riot Games and Naughty Dog.
As soon as I saw the trailer, I knew it would be for me. I’m a sucker for classic, campy fantasy and The Dragon Prince oozes fantasy (in a good, non-gross way as far as oozing goes). You’ve got elves, kingdoms at war, quirky animal sidekicks, dragons (obviously), magic and cool weapons. All the tropes you could hope for in a series like this.
The first season of The Dragon Prince has a lot going on. There’s a lot of world building, plot and characters stuffed into nine episodes, but I don’t think that’s due to poor planning. They only have one shot to make a good first impression when releasing an entire season at one time, and I can’t fault them for trying to include as many intriguing tidbits as possible to get people hooked.
While it can sometimes feel a bit rushed, this season is also filled with great portrayals of friendship, acceptance, and hope within an interesting and diverse cast of characters. Which, in my opinion, outweighs the small pacing issues.
The story itself is pretty standard fantasy fare built on the struggle of good vs. evil but it’s made all the more engaging by the characters, their budding relationships and hilarious dialogue. There is straight-up silliness at times, whether it’s fart jokes or tongue-in-cheek references to pop culture, but even as an adult I like my darker themes to be accompanied by some lightheartedness.
The occasional bit of silliness and banter doesn’t take away from the fact that I found myself getting teary-eyed more than once while watching. The characters are so genuine and that shines through in some of the show’s more dire moments. Based on the story so far, I think we’ll continue to see a healthy balance of serious topics and real-world parallels perforated by puns and jokes for the whole family.
“But the animation!” is probably something you’ve heard when people are talking about The Dragon Prince. Yes, a different approach was taken to the show’s visuals (especially the frame rate) but in all honesty, I barely noticed it. I don’t know if I had a leg up after enjoying the visually similar King’s Quest a few years ago or if I was simply enjoying myself, but I can’t stress this enough: don’t let this critique stop you from watching.
I’ve already re-watched The Dragon Prince once and plan to do it again. With such a talented team at the wheel and so many more places and people we’ve yet to see, I really hope that Netflix goes ahead and renews the show for another season… or ten.
What are you waiting for? Grab your glow toad, give me a high four (you’ll get it soon) and get to watching!