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DreamWorks Animation have been on a roll recently in the TV game. From Fast & Furious: Spy Racers through to Kung Fu Panda: The Paws Of Destiny, there’s a whole range of well-written and engaging animated content that the studio have put out in recent years. Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is another vibrant and engaging animation to add to that list, one that does well to mix a serialized story with some colourful characters and a light tone and humour.
Set in a post-apocalyptic future, sometime around the year 2220, our hero Kipo finds herself literally uprooted from her burrow deep underground and face to face with the hostile, alien surface world. With remnants of the past dotted all over, she sets out on a mission to return home. Along the way, she teams up with blue pig Mandu, a no-nonsense, native human called Wolf, and the eccentric and kind Benson and his grub baby Dave.
What begins as a simple journey soon escalates to something much more action-packed and exciting as various tribes above-ground hunt Kipo and the others while they track down the route cause of what happened at Kipo’s burrow. As more secrets from the past spill over, the main antagonist of the series reveal themselves, bringing with it a much bigger quest and a trademark Netflix cliffhanger at the end.
Along the way, Kipo meets a whole host of colourful characters and it’s here the characterisation for our motley crew comes forward, as jokes are mixed with genuine depth for each creature met. Whether it be Kipo’s caring demeanor toward all the mutants or Wolf growing from, well, a lone wolf to part of the group, there’s a good amount of progression here across the 10 episodes. It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a well implemented twist involving Benson’s character at Ratland but I’ll keep that one a secret.
Aesthetically, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts looks fantastic. The hand-drawn backgrounds are absolutely stunning and whether it be lush shrubbery choking toppled apartment buildings or glistening waterfalls amidst grimy city centres, Kipo has a real keen eye for its visuals that remains a staple point of the series right the way to the end. Each character is expressive, with thin lines around facial expressions, with light bites of CGI used for water that’s subtle enough that it doesn’t offset the hand-drawn feel.
The eclectic soundtrack is decent too, with some catchy tracks and a good blend of instrumental songs and pop records – there are even musical numbers that show up here and when it comes to the audio, there’s a real keen eye here to make the audio as appealing as the visuals are.
The show’s not perfect though and at times Kipo suffers from the same issues a lot of other animated titles do too. The general set-up feels a little cliched, especially with the comedic side-kick and lovable animal as a companion, and at times the humour is a tad too silly. A couple of the music choices during chases or tense segments could have done with a slight tempo increase or genre switch (pop records for intense action doesn’t really work that well) but to be honest, these are nitpicks in what’s otherwise a really solid season of entertainment.
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is a wonderful little animated title chock full of imagination and charm. Whether it be the mafia-esque Mod Frogs or the evolving grub baby Dave, Kipo’s fantastical story balances these elements nicely across the 10 episodes into an engaging style to make this another sure-fire hit for DreamWorks. While it may not have the star power seen in more prolific IPs, Kipo is an easy title to recommend and another solid animated option for Netflix.
|Kipo and the Age Of The Wonderbeasts is available to watch on Netflix. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|
Verdict - 7.5/10