By now, you’ve probably seen the hype. Maybe you’ve even seen the show. After all, it seems like The Dragon Prince, Netflix’s new animated original, is all over the place, even though it’s been about a month since it aired.
I think it should be.
First and foremost, The Dragon Prince is FUN. Seriously, I had a fun time watching it. It’s a kids’ show, which means it doesn’t get way too dark or way too deep, and it also has a way around humor, especially concerning sibling relationships. I haven’t seen such endearing, genuine sibling relationships since Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Oh wait. No wonder.
Part of the crew includes Giancarlo Volpe, one of the A:TLA directors, and Aaron Ehasz, who was a head writer, director, and co-executive producer for A:TLA! In my opinion (and because I have run and since left behind the terrible fandom gauntlet), these guys were very much part of the reason A:TLA was so successful and at the end of the day, successful or not, SO GOOD. After all, it was Ehasz who introduced the decision to make Toph a girl, which Konietzko originally fought against, and Volpe directed “The Drill” from Book Two, among other fantastic things they were involved in over the course of the show.
Basically, as soon as I knew these guys were involved, I was twenty times more interested than before, and it turned out to be worth it.
The Dragon Prince is about two princes and an elven assassin who are faced with the looming threat of war, and a miraculous discovery that could instead lead to peace, if only they can survive long enough to get this discovery into the right hands. From the start, it’s remarkably diverse, with multiple characters of a color and even a powerful female figure who is deaf and actively signs. This particularly struck me, as I’ve never seen a deaf character in any shows I’ve watched until now, and I also realized her signing isn’t put into subtitles automatically. It’s usually translated by her right hand man, but there are some moments that go untranslated, moments that feel incredibly heartfelt and personal, and I really enjoyed the fact that her words weren’t always at the bottom of the screen. It had a very genuine, authentic feeling to it, and also, her character is phenomenal and I look forward to seeing her more.
On the flipside, while the characters were amazing, and the diversity remarkable from the start (the creators have also promised there will be visible queer rep, though I don’t like the way it was worded; queer rep shouldn’t feel like a reward for sticking around long enough, but that’s another can of worms for another day), I did have a little trouble with the pacing and the animation, the latter of which is a little easier to explain. Plain and simple, it didn’t work for me. I’m a huge fan of 2D animation, and the 3D effect didn’t sit right with me. But, based on what I’ve seen around the internet, I’m in the minority, and a lot of folks did love the animation and found it unique. So that’s more of a personal gripe.
As for the pacing, though, there are only nine episodes in Book One, and while they do set up the plot and cover decent ground, I couldn’t help but feel like the beginning took a hair too long to get going, like the first three thirty-minute episodes would have functioned better as a single hour-and-a-half-long episode instead, and that the ending came too soon, just when the stakes were shifting and growing more dire.
Then again, this is a kids’ show. It has the flavor of ATLA that doesn’t treat its intended young audience like they’re stupid (a good thing, thank goodness, but it ultimately is meant FOR KIDS, so it’s not going to get super super super complex. I think I’m just spoiled since I’m at the age where I can appreciate the complexities that are there in ATLA, and I’ve also seen Gravity Falls, which is another example of a good, fun kids’ show that at the same time manages to weave in clever hints and more complicated subplots.
But on the whole, I had fun, and I think that’s the best you can ask for when you watch a show. It was fun, it was cute, the sibling relationships spoke to me on a personal level, the super goth character is bubbly instead of crabby, we have a dumb jock who’s also probably ultimately a good kid, and this world has DRAGONS. All in all, it was worth the four and a half hours to binge it, and if you’re looking for something light but nifty to get invested in, this might be for you!
Also, the social media team (or person, I think it’s just one person) is amazing, even if you don’t follow the show. The official Twitter account has been retweeting fan art (only stuff without spoilers!), has been pleasantly interactive with the fans, and the account’s very first tweet was this:
— The Dragon Prince (@thedragonprince) July 10, 2018
Clearly their social media is doing exactly the right thing. Clearly.
Anyway, The Dragon Prince is fun, and while it’s certainly no ATLA (tbh there will probably never be another show the caliber of ATLA), it’s still a fun time. I’ll be keeping a close eye on it in anticipation of Book Two, and since the company as a whole is new (Ehasz founded Wonderstorm in 2017, and TDP is the first Wonderstorm project), I’ll also have my eye on anything else the company creates.
Oh, and as one more fun fact/bonus? My favorite side character, General Amaya, shares my birthday according to the official age/height charts (be aware that a couple of the images are spoilers, though), so for the first time in history, I share a birthday with a character I ADORE. A very good bonus for me tbh.
Have you seen The Dragon Prince yet? What did you think? If you haven’t, do you think you’ll give it a go? If so, I hope you have a good time with it, just like I did!