Nerdbot Review: The Dragon Prince (Spoiler Free)
If you have been missing Avatar the Last Airbender, I recommend this show. Made by some of the people who created Avatar they now bring you a Netflix Original, The Dragon Prince.
The Dragon Prince launched September 14th and was made by Wonderstorm. Wonderstorm a new TV company that is run by people who worked on League of Legends and Uncharted. The co-writer and the heavy Avatar influence comes from Aaron Ehasz. The show is divided into books much like Avatar. In the Dragon Prince we start with book Moon. In Avatar we started with Water, so you can see the similarity already.
The kingdom of Xadia and the world of elves is at war over an egg they thought was destroyed, but wasn’t. I suppose it was more than an egg that set off the war, the humans killed the Dragon King and Dark Magic was rampant. The Elves are too stuck in their ways to acknowledge that things can be different even after Rayla reveals the egg is unharmed. The discovery of the egg by Rayla and the two princes sets them off on a journey to restore the egg and hopefully restore peace in the process.
The first episode is full of narration about the lore which could be done without. The reason I liked Avatar so much was that there was a brief description that was used in the intro to the show and you got to watch the kids go on a journey and reveal new facts as you went along. It follows the same concept of Avatar, Wind, Water, Air Fire, but instead uses primal sources of magic such as the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the sky, and the ocean. To be completely honest if you want to start with episode two you will get just as much out of the story as if you watched the twenty minute long introduction to the series. It felt like too much explanation in episode one, things were told that could have been revealed by trickling it into the series. I am guessing they did it to save time because there is only nine episodes in total, but man my eyes started to glaze over and I almost gave up.
The animation is not great. It looks rushed in places and the framerate is painfully slow in spots. This took me a while to get over and even though your eyes get used to it, it is easily spotted throughout the series. It also bothered me that there was really very little use of color gradiation, there is no transition from light to dark on the faces just shadow and light contrasting colors. Maybe they throw in a little blush on the nose or cheeks at times and it helps but it’s still missing that deep richness I look for in a well made cartoon. At least at the beginning. I only really noticed that though when they were in the kingdom, on the knights and in particular the king. I feel like they could have done more in the way of shading with him like they do later on when you see the kids on their journey. The overall richness and backgrounds seem to increase as the episodes move forward.
The character designs were good but heavily reminded me of the character designs in World of Warcraft. Especially for the character Rayla who most looked like a Night Elf with Draenei horns. It really looks like whoever the character designer was either played World of Warcraft or just went to the character creation screen and picked something they liked and drew it.
Even the Arc Mage Lord Viren’s Daughter looked like she dressed in a set of Cloth Armor I painstakingly collected in WoW. If anyone reading remembers the Black Velvet Robe set you know what I mean. With some of the people working on this coming from League of Legends it probably is a nod to the game in more ways than one. I don’t have much experience with LoL but I do know a bit about WoW so I can at least spot these similarities.
Another distracting feature is the way the Elves speak. There really wasn’t one distinguished accent throughout the group but instead ranged from Scottish sounding to more American. However all of the voice acting was done very well and was one of the better parts of the show. It was almost better to close your eyes and listen to the dialogue than to watch it with the animation. Jack De Sena, who voiced Sokka from Avatar really does a great job with Callum. He brings comedy and lightness that really lift the show up.
The story is really good. The banter and general dialogue writing is exceptional. Like I stated before the frame rate just is impossible. However, you could be having a really cute moment with a character and it looks like they just animated one keyframe to the next, which makes it really choppy. It does seem to get better as the show moves along, either that or your eyes just adjust to it and you get used to it.
Prince Ezran and Bait give it a lighter touch on what could be considered a very dramatic story. Even when they are at the brink of death they can pull back on the seriousness and add in a fart joke. It has that same Avatar sense of humor that a lot of people have missed.
Overall I recommend this show. The story is really entertaining and you get to watch a new group of allies go on an incredible journey together.. The plot is interesting and involved and will reel you into wanting to watch more. Especially since it ends on a huge cliff hanger! The Dragon Prince has a lot of potential and hopefully for the next season they invest more into it.
4 out of 5
Have you been watching the Dragon Prince on Netflix? What do you think? Tell Nerdbot in the comments or tweet @bremoonprincess and let’s talk about it!