Terra Incognita Part 1
Terra Incognita Part 2
Mind Over Matter
Flying The Coop
Lightning in a Bottle
The Arcadian Job
Truth Be Told
Last Night on Earth
Fresh off the success of the Trollhunters series, Guillermo Del Toro returns for the second chapter in this Tales Of Arcadia trilogy, aptly named 3Below. With an endearing story about two royal teens on the run from an evil empire, 3Below mixes a good blend of episodic content within its overarching story. With cameo appearances from the Trollhunter characters and a finale that leaves the door wide open for the second part, 3Below is an impressive animation, one that continues Del Toro’s growing momentum in this trilogy of animated shows.
The story begins with a two part episode that establishes the overall narrative. Alien invaders attack a nearby peaceful civilization leaving alien teens Aja and Krel on the run, forced to abandon their parents. With the help of their boisterous, muscly bodyguard Vex they flee to the Planet Earth and crash land in America, losing crucial parts of the ship in the process. After establishing human identities, the two aliens try to blend in to the strange world around them while secretly fixing their ship in order to escape the planet.
From here, most of the story devolves into a loosely based episodic format. The stand-alone plots for each episode work well, establishing the general tone and humour while drip-feeding more development for the overarching story and characters in the process. These episodes mix the mundane tasks we do every day with the fish-out-of-water feel of the two teens trying desperately to fit in. Vex is by far the stand out here though and his angry outbursts while in his senior citizen disguise are easily the stand out moments of the show.
This all builds toward a few key episodes that focus solely on the narrative and a climactic finale that brings proceedings to a close. At least for Part 1. It’s worth mentioning at this point that despite the great work done with the story, nothing is really resolved by the time the credits roll. Still, the journey to that point is certainly exciting and rife with hilarious segments making it easy to oversee this fact, especially with the promise of more episodes to follow.
Visually, 3Below: Tales Of Arcadia looks amazing. Building on the trademark style that made Trollhunters and the other Dreamwork Animations so endearing, 3Below adds a keen sense of colour, producing a visually beautiful series. The neon-splashed segments on-board the alien ships juxtapose nicely with a broader palette and more interesting colours used while on Earth. Character models are animated well and the lip syncing is on point throughout the series’ 13 episodes.
As a lovely little nod toward the first part of this aforementioned trilogy, Jim makes numerous appearances throughout the show. Along with his fellow compatriots from Trollhunters, the two groups of teens team up during a few episodes including one cleverly written Goundhog Day styled episode called D’Aja Vu. He also plays a pretty crucial role in some of the other subplots that show up in the series and it’s these moments that really stand out, helping to tie the whole universe together.
It’ll be really interesting to see where the second part of this endearing animation takes us going forward. The final scenes leave things wide open and plenty of questions around the fate of our characters. With a beautifully rendered animation and a harmonized used of colour under its belt, 3Below: Tales Of Arcadia is one of the best looking animations of the year and one that does an excellent job bringing a show to life that’s appealing to kids and adults alike.