Animation Romp: Race to Dragon's Edge, Hilda, Disenchantment, Big Mouth, She-Ra, The Dragon Prince, Carmen SanDiego
Posted: Posted March 14thEdited March 15th by mariomguy
So, some of these shows are older, but I decided since I had an anime romp, why not have one for western animation?
Race to Dragon's Edge: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
WOW! Incredibly sophisticated animation, gorgeous storytelling, and a great cast! The heroes of How to Train Your Dragon in a coming of age tale with strategy, civil planning, and diplomacy front and center. Things pick up when Viggo enters the picture: one of the most cunning villains of all time, to the point of frustration for the main hero. This isn't Dreamworks' B-team, this is some of the best western animation has to offer. Just... skip the last season.
Hilda wears its sublime atmosphere as a proud badge, and for the better. The show plays like a classic PBS show "Clifford:" a slice of life with some magical creatures, but better than usual. Some awkward story moments break what would otherwise be mellow done well and threaten a lower ranking, but what it lacks in questionable story decisions it wins points with the sheer originality and wistful execution. That being said, those decisions are a bit too questionable for my tastes. The reason stuff is happening becomes the theme: actions should radiate from that theme. I thought I had a good grasp on the themes until it was all chucked out of the window. I'll give it 4 stars but with an incredible disclaimer: one episode will make you wonder who shot the writer that day.
It's just like Simpsons and Futurama, but without any epic story. If the show was entirely comprised of the last 3 episodes, a 4 or even 5 star rank would not be out of reach. But instead, it goes for cheap and awkward laughs (or worse... no laughs), and a story that feels subpar for the veterans involved. The show does go out with a bang, assuming you can last through the end.
Big Mouth: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Everyone's gone through changes themselves, and every show has tried to portray it, but none have succeeded so perfectly! The concept of hormone monsters fits the theme perfectly, making the show a great conduit for discussion on taboo topics. Done anywhere else it would be a tried cliche. But here, focusing on puberty as the central theme allows the show to explore many different facets that are otherwise glossed over. This is definitely not a show you want to show children... until their ready, then it's a must. The later seasons mellow out the originality of the kickoff, and the humor gets more repetitive and stale, but until you get there it's outstanding. It definitely dips to 4-3 star territory at times, however. I'm looking at you, Coach Steve. But when it's strong, it's very strong. A strong 4 stars.
She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: ⭐⭐⭐
I feel like everyone learned something from Avatar: The Last Airbender, but add their own spin, which detracts something from the concept. So what happens if you mix Avatar and MLP in a blender? The girly motif and recently arisen chosen one with a backdrop of war: does it sound familiar? The concepts are used, but the execution is better than usual. The maturity bounces back and forth a bit too much for my liking. I won't pass up an Avatar clone, and like Avatar I expect the second season to roar. A strong 3 stars, hopefully will be 4 next season.
The Dragon Prince: ⭐⭐⭐
Speaking of Avatar clones... Bite me. This was actually made by a seasoned Avatar veteran yet it feels more like a cheap overly dramatic knockoff. Two princes get caught up in an assassination plot and end up on a quest with unlikely allies to return a dragon to its mother. There is a war, there is magic (split to 6 elements), and there are kingdoms, but this is no Avatar. The characters don't feel real in the beginning, and season 1 is far darker and trudges through more than necessary, but the upswing in the second season helps push the story along. Some episodes are indeed 5-star worthy and the show is gripping, but I do expect much better than the soft magic and completely unexplained devices. My suggestion: tie down the magic, stop being modest, and put a deadline or some sense of urgency on the quests. It would certainly help to give the characters more personality as well. A rather weak 3 stars that still needs to mature into 4, if you ask me.
Carmen SanDiego: ⭐⭐⭐
It's really sad the show turned out so mediocre because that pilot was impressive! The infamous red-trenchcoat master thief goes against the organization she was raised by, and along the way meets a few familiar faces in an entirely new light. The pilot might as well be a textbook example of sheer storytelling and backstory perfection, which quickly gives way to a Saturday Morning cartoon with far less awesome feats. The action gets bogged down by a bumbling French agent, Carmen's bumbling sidekicks, and a state-issued Wikipedia article reading at the beginning of each mission. Kim Possible worked better sticking to the action and keeping things light, upbeat, and bouncy. In contrast, Carmen SanDiego's pilot shines in the dark. And while I can dig a darker Kim Possible, I don't expect the pacing and comedy to be sacrificed for it. If you do something, do it well. Muddying things with unnecessary complexity does not make a show better.
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