Dogfight Days Of Summer
Ill Gotten Gains
There’s Something About Gwen
Lung’s Day Out
The Fall Of House Tarron
The Big Sleep
Race to Trollmarket
A Glorious End: Part One
A Glorious End: Part Two
Returning for a second season, 3Below: Tales Of Arcadia blasts back onto Netflix with the continuing saga of the Arcadia trilogy. Picking up two weeks after the previous season ended, 3Below continues to deliver strong characterisation and glitzy action scenes, all wrapped up in a self-contained story that manages to do well to tie up all the loose ends in the finale. With some much improved dialogue and a strong thematic core revolving around acceptance and immigration, 3Below delivers another strong and well written series.
The story begins with Aja and Krel revealing their identity to two of human Steve’s friends before deciding to save Vex from his fate. With the threat of General Morando becoming ever more urgent, the story evolves to see the tension between aliens and humans reach fever pitch soon after rescuing Vex before battle lines are drawn and the final fight ensues. It’s here where the story takes on a bit of a familiar role, with the neon, laser-guided battles dominating much of the run-time. This culminates in a climax that resolves most of the plot threads this year, whilst giving us a tantalizing glimpse at what’s next in this saga.
While the plot itself plays out relatively safely and in a formulaic manner, it’s the characters that really help elevate this one. Almost every main character has a great narrative here with Varvatos Vex easily the stand-out of the season. Following his treachery last year, the second season sees him embark on a redemption quest to make up his betrayal to the Royals whilst flirting with the possibility of romance along the way. It’s well written, surprisingly robust and one of the more satisfying arcs across the two seasons.
Tonally, the series continues to fall heavily on the shoulders of young teens when it comes to the target audience. Families and older kids are likely to get the most out of this though, with a whole load of slapstick comedy and the usual array of lighthearted puns and play on conventional human behaviour forming the majority of laughs here.
Although a little on the nose at times, 3Below asks important questions about immigration and our attitude toward those different from ourselves. It’s a surprisingly timely message, especially in these politically tumultuous times, but some of the dialogue does feel a little obvious and preachy at times. Having said that, I certainly applaud 3Below for depicting this divide and it’s something I hope more shows follow suit in portraying, asking some really hard questions around our behaviour toward minority groups.
With a satisfying ending and a really nicely worked story, Guillermo Del Toro continues his cinematic saga with another impressive entry. Despite the formulaic plot and somewhat obvious resolution to the conflict itself, 3Below’s characters are what ultimately shine brightly, blinding out the plot inconsistencies to deliver strong characterisation and satisfying arcs. With the promise of more Arcadia to come in the future, who knows what direction the show will take next but for now, 3Below bows out strongly with one of the best animated efforts of the year.