Echoes Of Thunder
What Is Done
An Empty Throne
Through The Love
The Dagger and The Wolf
Animated Netflix fantasy The Dragon Prince may not have the fanciest visuals or most unique story but what it lacks in originality it more than makes up for with bucket-loads of charm and an incredibly well-told and absorbing plot-line. Split between two separate sets of characters, The Dragon Prince balances a world rife with fear and anger with slapstick, goofy humour to surprisingly good effect.
A brief prologue begins the series, painting a fantastical picture of dragons, magic and sword fighting, all encapsulated in a bitter war between Elves and Humans over a destroyed dragon’s egg. The story picks up with the Kingdoms teetering on the edge of all out war as we’re introduced to three key characters who form the backbone of this family friendly animation. Callum (Jack De Sena)and his pet Glowtoad, his brother and heir to the throne Prince Ezran (Sasha Rojen) and Rayla (Paula Burrows), an outcast elf sent to kill them both.
The plot sticks pretty closely to the Hero’s Quest archetype, with the dysfunctional fellowship forming an unlikely bond as they navigate the dangerous, perilous world to deliver an item of great importance. It’s worth noting too that although the series is enjoyable and features enough action and excitement to keep you glued until the final episode, The Dragon Prince leaves the door wide open for more seasons following its cliffhanger ending.
Aesthetically, The Dragon Prince feels very vintage in its style, with hand-drawn, janky animations contrasting with watercolour landscape backgrounds radiating an old school 90s animation vibe. There will inevitably be some turned away from this but seeing the endless sea of glossy CGI available for kids, all of which feeling similar in style and presentation, The Dragon Prince feels like a breath of fresh air in this genre. The general composition and layout of the scenes is good too, with a keen eye for colour typified by each episode utilising a different dominant colour.
While the series itself is geared heavily toward families, and in particular older kids, The Dragon Prince is accessible enough for anyone to get invested in. There are numerous fights dotted throughout this 9 episode series, complemented by some impressively choreographed animation. The use of music is equally impressive too, alternating between upbeat, mischievous chimes and sinister, minor key chords regularly as the story swings between its lighthearted and more serious elements. From dragons and assassins to swamp worms and wolves, there’s a whole mix of fantastical beasts and creatures that keep the series from becoming stale as the three characters undertake their journey.
Most of the voice acting is decent enough too, with almost everyone delivering their lines perfectly without skipping a beat. However, Rayla’s questionable accent and slightly slurred speech is a constant distraction throughout and the one black mark on an otherwise decent animated offering.
In an endless sea of glossy CGI and flawless animation, The Dragon Prince’s imperfections in this field actually add to the charm. The hand-drawn animation feels crafted with love, making great use of colour and general composition while weaving its story with fluidity and confidence. The Dragon Prince may not have the most original story out there and its cliffhanger ending is admittedly a little annoying, but there’s enough here to confidently proclaim this is another impressive entry in the Netflix animation catalogue and one well worth checking out.