Thoughts on The Dragon Prince.
I LOVED IT!
I thoroughly enjoyed the first season from start to finish.
Initially, I thought maybe they were just redoing Avatar. There are some striking similarities at first. Even the way the episode titles are presented looks a bit same-y. However, the series very quickly differentiates itself with a unique world and characters. All of the fun stuff you loved about Avatar, but in a cool new package.
The first thing that stands out is the representation. A good mix of men and women. And even though it is a fantasy setting… BLACK PEOPLE EXIST!
And there is one group represented that is almost never seen in modern media. I won’t spoil it, but I think folks will be like, “FINALLY!” And it is done so well too. This particular representation required a ton of extra work to pull off. I am so glad they were up to the challenge.
The writing was great. A perfect mix of humor, action, and drama. The casting was fantastic. The story was interesting. The different locations were perfect backdrops for the action. The creature design is sooo good. I want a plush version of all the beasties. I thought the pacing was great. I couldn’t believe 9 episodes had passed. I also loved that they started with a smaller story in a big world. There are so many places to go from here. I can see them escalating every aspect of the story each season. They have created a setting in which it will not be a struggle to top themselves as they progress. Whereas some shows blow their wad right at the beginning and when they try to stretch things out over multiple seasons it feels like a giant plateau. (I’m looking at you, Arrow!)
I saw a few complaints about the animation. It is 3D animation but they used various techniques to make it look hand-drawn 2D. I know this has been tried before and has not always been perfect. It can look too much like a video game. That said, I think this is the best implementation I have seen to date. I bought the effect 95% of the time. Plus, there are certain things they were able to do with CG that are not possible with traditional animation. One character does complicated parkour-style movements that would have been nearly impossible to draw by hand. If they wanted to push beyond Korra-style martial arts, I think CG was the only way to step it up.
I think the main issue people have is they animated on 2s. Meaning they duplicated frames so it was effectively 12 frames per second instead of 24. I’ve been told humans are more tolerant when it is 15 frames or higher. Going below that threshold will cause people to notice some choppiness. Movements will not be as smooth as we are expecting.
However, animation is costly and time-consuming. Each frame has a high price tag. Each frame could mean hours and hours of extra work. To produce things on time and on budget, many shows will animate on 2s. With 2D animation you can do more things to fudge and hide the choppy effects Plus our minds naturally accept poorer quality movement. We think “someone had to draw that, so it’s not going to be perfect.” But when it’s done in CG, it is more apparent. CG is very precise and we have this expectation of smoothness from big budget Pixar films. Expecting this from a television series might be asking a bit much.
Personally, I got used to the animation very quickly. My brain filtered out the choppy bits and I ended up really liking the faux 2D effect. The backgrounds were gorgeous. The environments were complex and interesting. And they were able to do certain special effects, lighting, and movements not possible with hand-drawn techniques. I think the benefits outweighed the nitpicks by far. I also think the creators will take this criticism into account and perhaps find ways to address it in future seasons.
Even if they don’t, I still think the show was beautiful overall and the voice acting, story, and characters were top notch.
Also, it was great to hear
Sokka Jack DeSena again. Listening to his line deliveries alone was worth the price of admission.
I give The Dragon Prince 4.9 Froggies out of 5.
Minus 0.1 because I have to wait so long for more!