Like all others when I heard that the head writer from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aaron Ehasz, would be working on a new show, I ran to my computer to check out when the release date would be. And then I waited….and waited until finally, finally, I was able to binge watch it all in a couple of days. Now you must be wondering, what did I think? Well….cue dramatic music; I enjoyed it! That’s for sure though I had my one or two critiques of it. In general, The Dragon Prince has enormous potential to be something extraordinary. I can tell you; it hooked me for season 2.
I think most fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender will enjoy The Dragon Prince, though it is different, in the way that it has a more Tolkien-sk feel to it: Elves, Dragons, Dark Magic; depending on your preferences to Epic Fantasy you may like it more or less.
I really did enjoy the beginning of the series where we as viewers are slowly introduced to the world. We learn just how dire the circumstances of the war between humans and the elves/dragon are by the opening “bond” the Moon shadow elves make to avenge their kind. We also get the taste of the complexity of the characters, especially with Rayla, a Moon shadow elf, who though wants to be accepted by the other elves, yet refuses to kill innocent humans, though it is her duty. These are just a few of the inklings the audience gets. Once again, I did enjoy the beginning of the series; however, it is towards the end of the series that I felt all the terrific buildup of Rayla, Ezran, Callum and their faithful animal companion, Bait’s journey fall flat. The thing is the conflict's resolution seemed too easy. Too easy that in their most pressing time; everything was all solved rather quickly, by the miraculous occurrence of something (I don’t want to give any spoilers away). It was a cute ending, but too me the circumstances were far too convenient.
Many people have had complaints about the animation, and of course, I’m biased to 2D animation, I grew up with it and love it. Shout out to Don Bluth's terrifically made The Land Before Time. To say that 3D animation can’t be beautiful and that I don’t love: Zootopia, Tangled, and The Toy Story Franchise would be a lie. So when I heard The Dragon Prince was 3D animation I was like, ok, well fine, let's see where this goes. I'm going to take you through what I like, and dislike about The Dragon's Prince's unique animation style.
I very much enjoy The Dragon Prince’s Landscape and their color pallet, but my issue is with the black outlining of their characters. Just so you get what I mean, look at the picture below of 2D animations that use black outlining for their characters. The 2D characters are outlined, however, because the background also uses black outlines and harsh lines, both the character and the background merge to become one full composition. (See Below)
The reason why 3D animation works is, because they rely on shadows and light, not lines, to produce more of a 3Dimensional appearance (see below). The Dragon’s Prince’s animation seems wonky sometimes is, because The Dragon Prince outlines 3-dimensional beings, making them sometimes pop awkwardly out of the screen.
Instead of outlining everything, I would rather that the artists rely on the use of the shadows and light that way, it would seem that both the character and the environment fit together in one fully coherent composition. Or make some of the lines not as defined? Don’t get me wrong, this style of animation is nowhere near to an eyesore. It’s still interesting, and after two episodes you really don’t notice how different it is. So don’t let the animation stop you from watching this show, because its story, its characters, and its world-building that are worth your time.
I have to say that I do love are the designs of the characters, especially the elves. They genuinely look whimsical as they can be menacing at times. How does he not look awesome?
Overall though season one has its flaws (as most every T.V. Series has them). I think the most important thing is to see where The Dragon Prince will go. I would still recommend The Dragon Prince if you’re an epic fantasy/avatar fan, the characters have great promise, the story has great potential, and the writers have very smartly only given the audience a taste of this new fantastical world, just enough of a taste that we’ll be sure to come back for more.
P.S. Am I the only one seeing the similarity in clothing design???? Prince Merlin?!