Cartoons

Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts Series Review [Spoiler Free]

This series is over, and   it makes me so sad.  I was recommended this series by a friend, and it’s quirky humor won me over instantly.  From episode 1, it was such a refreshing treat to see so many diverse characters, a really rich world and main characters that were just so lovable and hilarious that I couldn’t wait to see what adventures they’d get into next.  That, paired with the weightiness of the topics touched in this series, and how subtly and well done they were launched Kipo up to the top of my favorite cartoons list. 

So, it’s with a heavy heart that I watched season 3, realizing that it was the final entry in Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts.  Is this for better, or for worse?  I honestly don’t know.  There was a clear narrative structure set in place from day 1 as to what Kipo’s plot, and the characters ultimate goals were and I think the shorter series length really nailed those themes.  So while I would have liked to see more of the show from a fan point of view, I also respect that the show runners had a story they wanted to tell, kept it stream lined, and executed their story with such wonderful tact, grace, and a ton of heart.  Every plot point was wrapped up perfectly, every character arc fully portrayed, and while bittersweet, I’m so happy that Kipo got the ending it deserved, no matter how much I’d like to see more content from this universe.

If you haven’t watched this show, you’re really missing out.  Like I can’t drill home how well Kipo addresses topics like betrayal, familial values, dealing with death and hard choices, and making choices in your life that you know are right for yourself.  It doesn’t paint the decisions you make lightly, as everything done has consequences, but at the same time the core of the characters still stay intact and it never feels like they’ve gone out of character.  It’s such a hard hitting show with both lighter and darker themes, and honestly I think it does a far better job than Steven Universe when it comes to the topic of using your words to solve a problem instead of fighting.  It also has one of the best redemption arcs I’ve ever seen in a cartoon, just a really well done show that ends satisfactorily.

While it’s easy to telegraph the plot of Kipo, and it’s conclusion, that doesn’t really matter.  Kipo is ground breaking in how it portrays it’s themes and characters.  A vast world full of normalized diversity, emotional weight, and goofy quirky moments, I can’t recommend this series enough to any animation fan.  It’s my new favorite modern cartoon, and it’s run time, while a bit upsetting we won’t get more, is part of why the show works.  Because the show runners knew the story they wanted to tell, and told it with such tact and wonderful writing.  I’m going to miss you Kipo, can’t wait to rewatch.

Have you seen Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts?  Let me know what you thought about it in the comments if you have!

Anime · Cartoons

Transformers: War for Cybertron Trilogy Chapter 1: Siege Review [Spoiler Free]

I was browsing Netflix the other day when I didn’t have anything to do and this show was recommended to me.  I’m a Transformers fan, so figured I’d give it a go and was pleasantly surprised.  This show has a lot of depth, a well-paced plot, and great characters.  Good voice cast as well, and with audio description too!  But how does the show hold up under a microscope?  Let’s see, on to the review!

 

Technically this one is a trilogy of episodes?  I thought it was going to be a trilogy of movies, but then this first chapter wound up being six episodes so we’ll go with it being a mini series of sorts.  The first chapter of this, I really enjoyed.  Now keep in mind, I’m going in as a casual Transformers fan.  I watch the live action movies and like about half of them, I grew up watching the old franchise but I was super young so don’t remember it super well.  I watched episodes of Cybertron back in the day, and liked it well enough.  I’ve seen people complaining about this show destroying their childhoods, that it wasn’t good because it wasn’t like the old Generation 1 cartoon and can we please just give this a rest?  I get tired of people wearing nostalgia glasses and ruining new experiences for viewers that enjoyed somethings newer take because maybe they just want to watch something and enjoy it without comparing it to the original.  I prefer Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon over Sailor Moon Crystal, but you don’t see me crapping all over people who may think differently, do you?  But ahem I went on a bit of a tirade there.  It’s just that I went to read discussion threads about the series when I finished it because I enjoy doing that, saw people doing nothing but complain about it not being like the original instead of talking about how the show was on its own and it just bothered me so much.

 

But anyway!  I really enjoyed this take on the franchise.  It’s nice to see a robot-centric version of the show when for years it’s been about the humans more.  Optomus and Megatron’s relationship is the focal point of this series, and already I think they’re doing a good job with its execution – though be prepared for some heavy handed handling when it comes to Megatron allegory.

 

There are a lot of characters in the series, and they do a decent job of giving us supporting casts that are fleshed out enough, but not taking the spotlight from the main group of bots.  This is a darker take on the war for Cybertron, with a lot of action and it doesn’t shy away from really heart wrenching plot beats, and deaths.  And for this show, I think it works.  The storytelling is really well done, as well as the character work, and the conflict feels real, and raw, and it just captures a war time story really well.

 

The ending of this six episodes was a bit of a cliffhanger, while at the same time finishing up the storyline set up in this first chapter.  There are enough mysteries laid out for the second chapter, and I can’t wait to see what happens in chapter 2.
This show has audio description yaaay.  It describes the fight scenes really well, and also describes what’s happening in each scene really succinctly.  One thing I have to dock it points for however, is it just expects you to drop into this universe and know which bot is which.  So instead of describing the bots, it says “RC, Bumblebee, and Mirage all stand on a cliff” and it really doesn’t give you a nice grasp of their new designs, or what they would look like other than they are robots.  It also bothered me that they didn’t tell us what Megatron turned into, which is weird?  Like every time a bot transforms, it says they turn into a jet or truck or something, so why not Megatron also?  I’m assuming he has his classic design of turning into a motorcycle, but at the same time there are so many different Megatron designs that maybe it isn’t.  And I had vision when watching Transformers as a kid so would know this, but for a person coming into the series blind, it’s kind of a glaring error to not describe every robot’s look and transformation.  There are also new characters in this, so what do they look like?  I get it’s a huge cast, and it’s hard to cram all the aesthetics into a description when a scene is going, but it took me out of the viewing experience a bit not knowing at least basic details of how they looked in this iteration.  It makes you have to look up descriptions on the wiki, and while doing that extra legwork is something I do anyways when I like something, it’s also avoidable if the description described the characters a teeny bit more throughout scenes.  Other than that, solid plot beat and battle narration.

 

So would I recommend this series?  I really enjoyed it.  I didn’t find anything wrong with the series at all.  Voice cast is superb, plot is really deep and well-paced, character work great.  If you like anime, I’d best describe this as Transformers if we just turned it into a mecha anime, because it hits all of those plot beats from the genre.  If you’re new to the series I feel like you’ll like it more than old timers with the franchise, but who knows?  Needless to say I super enjoyed the first chapter and can’t wait to follow this show to its conclusion.

 

Did you watch Transformers:  War for Cybertron?  Let me know what you thought in the comments!

Cartoons

She-ra and the Princesses of Power Season 5 Review [Spoiler Free]

She-ra is over guys.
Such a great final season, such a wonderful ride.  While I wasn’t on board entirely for the first 2 seasons, I was hooked by season 3 and the finale of this show was fantastic.  I’ll warn you now: this is pretty much going to be me gushing about how much I liked season 5.  There were a few nitpicks I’d have here and there, but nothing can sour my overall love and emotions I have for this show.  So with that out of the way, let’s get into it!

 

The first thing I really enjoyed and noticed, was how well plotted the season was from the start.  We were bouncing between 2 plots throughout the entire season, and neither felt neglected or out of place.  Every character that has been established as important in the show had their time to shine, and bouncing between both plots paved the way for a very cohesive final climax that made perfect sense and hit so many emotional beats, I can’t even get started on breaking them all down.  I was a bit nervous about what they were going to do with Catra, but  they handled her story arc perfectly and while I wasn’t on board for what most of the fandom wanted  with her character, it turned out well and I was so happy to see it happen.
There’s so much tension in this season from the get-go.  The atmosphere, and animation and character beats just were so well done in that regard.  There’s a certain thing that happens mid-season, and it truly amped up the horror factor of the show.  Truly not knowing who to trust, trying to fight against all odds, and that tension just hanging over the main cast of the show was an amazing ride and kept me watching, without fail.  That isn’t to say there isn’t humor in this season:  There’s tons of it, and all of the jokes land perfectly.  But there’s never a sense of too many jokes taking away from the severity of the situation they are in, but the light of their bonds and friendships just shine through so prevalently that it was so natural to see them joking around from time to time.

 

This show has always been about the characters, and this season was no exception.  In fact, I think it does the best job of developing the characters, and fully fleshing out their story arcs that have been running throughout the series.  You’d think with such a huge ensemble cast, someone would fall through the cracks.  But no, every Princess and side character who has been in the show, has a clear identity, and isn’t relegated to one-dimensional side characters.  My favorite has always been Mermista, with Perfuma as a close second and both of them shined so much in this season that I ate it up.

 

And that climax!  With the themes of love, bonds, and different relationships in the series, the ending was so perfect.  I feel like Dreamworks learned from the mistakes of Voltron, and decided to not try anything flashy, stick to a generic enough ending but at the end of the day, it was always going to be the natural conclusion of the show.  That however, doesn’t take away from the building tension of this series, as you feel every sacrifice and decision the characters have to make as if you’re right there with them.  It’s powerful, it’s poignant, and made the ending so dang beautiful.  I was cheering at certain points, I was crying at certain points, everything was just so dang perfect.  Bravo to the show runners, bravo!

 

One thing I will say, is the audio description was a bit wonky with this season.  There were some times where it wouldn’t describe something rather important, and I was left a bit confused until another scene.  And for the weirdest reason, in a few scenes when Frosta was in them, the describer said it was Glimmer.  Of course, you’re using your common sense, and know Glimmer isn’t in the scene so it meant Frosta, but just going over the script again and making sure minor mistakes weren’t in there would have been nice.  Overall though, the experience with the description was good – I especially loved how it captured all of the animation beats of Catras cat-isms, that was a really fun touch to the show   and all of the Catra as cat jokes cracked me up.

 

Ugh, I can’t express how much I enjoyed this final season.  The pacing was great, the character beats given to us throughout the series were ended well, and the open ended nature of the ending was so nice to see.  We can imagine all sorts of adventures for our characters now that they’ve secured their future, and that’s so great to see in animation.  I hope we get an epilogue series, I really do.  But if this is all we’re going to get out of the She-ra series, I’m completely happy we got it.  I’d totally rewatch this entire series again, just to see the plot beats play out in all of their glory.

 

Wonderful job with the show as a whole.  I wasn’t quite on board with seasons 1 and 2, but after all of the ground work for the lore and story were laid, it turned out to be a fantastic series.  I highly recommend watching this if you enjoy great characters, beautiful relationships of the romantic and platonic sort, and a well-crafted world and lore based fantasy world.  You won’t regret it!

Cartoons

Steven Universe Future Review [Spoiler Free]

I was waiting for the entire show to finish, and the last few episodes dropped this week.  Steven Universe Future was…an interesting ride, but did it accomplish what it set out to do?  It was meant to be an epilogue series that took place after Steven Universe:  The Movie, so we could see what happened to all of the characters in the show.  While the end of season 5 wasn’t bad by any means, it left a lot of questions unanswered and overall was an unsatisfying conclusion to a show so heavily built on its character’s, world building, and lore.  So, the real question is, did it?

 

I’m going to leave this review spoiler free for the most part.  If you’re not well versed in the show, I’ll be mentioning character names and the like.  If you haven’t watched all of the main series of Steven Universe however, there may be minor things in this you won’t want to hear (it is an epilogue series, after all, that’s rather unavoidable).
So, as I said earlier, did Steven Universe Future accomplish its goal of filling in the gaps the series end left?  And for me, it half did.  There were some characters handled very well in this series, Jasper especially.  But the first half of this series felt pretty episodic, and not in a good way:  To me, a lot of the after effects we saw of the series, didn’t super matter.  Or rather, it wasn’t the questions that had majorly left us guessing.  They were fun, they were cute, and a lot of them were hard hitting, and filled story arcs that we wanted to see.  And, some were just light hearted fun that were like ok, I expected pretty much that end for the character.  But overall, the first half of the series for me left me going, “That’s it?  Really?”.  It was a pretty big letdown not having a decent amount of major plot points answered.

 

I will say, Steven’s arc was really well handled in this.  What he went through made tons of sense, and while in the series itself you’re like no way this isn’t hurting him, we see the culmination of the entire series, and its effects on him emotionally and you don’t realize we’ve been heading to that conclusion with subtle hints from beginning to end with this arc.  From his first interaction with Jasper, to how he handles Connie, you just see everything going down in his head slowly, but surely and it’s a great build.

 

In enters the second half of the series, which is a huge step up from the first half.  We get way more plot points that matter, and there’s a clear through line of events happening to further the plot.  It feels like the second half is leading towards the future, that the characters all have to use their life experiences to help one another out, and Steven’s arc is beautifully realized.  The ending was a bit rushed, but still well realized and the second half of the show made this epilogue series for me.  Just really well done, it felt like the first half and second half were different shows based on how they were paced.
one thing that bothered me the most was the lack of seeing the Diamonds.  When this show was announced, I was super excited that we would get an episode showing us what the Diamonds journey was, and how they reformed.  I really expected to see a flashback episode along those lines, like the ones we got with Rose Quartz in the series.  The Diamonds I think are the biggest point of contention for the fandom, which is something I’d like to talk about in another post, but I think showing us 1 or 2 episodes with them trying to figure out how to be good people and leaders, with Steven as their guide would have been fun, and it was sad not to see that happen.  I’m glad they showed up at all in the series, just wish them as characters were used a bit more after their change of heart.

 

If you’re a fan of Steven Universe, you’ll want to watch this show.  For me, it has a lot of the same problems that Steven Universe the show had:  a lot of filler that is fun and cute enough, but we could have used a lot of the run time to better flesh out the plot.  In this limited run series, I would have liked to see them go all in with character and plot development, no matter how subtle in some episodes, and I feel like we only got that in the second half of the show, aside from seeing Jasper and her growth.  But it’s fun to revisit the characters, and see what they’ve been up to, and Steven’s story arc in this makes him a far more likeable character then I found him to be in the series as a whole.

 

Have you seen the finale, and the show?  Tell me how you liked it in the comments!

Cartoons

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 4 Review [Spoiler Free]

We interrupt our regularly scheduled posting to gush about She-ra season 4.  But seriously, I didn’t want to wait to talk about this season, and in the future if I find something is too exciting to wait to talk about on a scheduled posting day, a surprise post will pop up with me talking about something new.  So this is the first post like that I guess.  Going to stay as spoiler free as I possibly can in this one, because this season was just so fantastic that you really have to experience it   yourself.

 

Before I said season 3 was the season that totally got me invested in the show.  It wasn’t that seasons 1 and 2 were bad, they just had a few things I had some gripes with, and wasn’t as fleshed out as I would have liked them to be.  Season 3 took that, and started on the road to a good show – the foundations laid in the first 2 seasons were taking fruit, and there was a clear vision for the show that made it a really fun watch.
Season 4 advances the spectacular groundwork season 3 put forward.  We got so many great character beats, a number of really fantastic plots, new characters that made sense in the show…season 4 was just a really great package that kept me on the edge of my seat.  The first half of the season was “filler” – but really, every episode counted.  Even if the plot in the episode was more light hearted and fun, there was some sort of plot or character beat that advanced the plot and character arcs forward.  This was the first time I felt the entire season was evenly paced in She-ra, and you can tell that the writers really upped their game and have a clear goal in mind for what the end of the story is going to be.  No middle book syndrome in this show – it just was such a joy to watch this season progress, and I can’t wait to see what will happen in season 5.

 

The characters get pushed to their limits in this season as well, and it was interesting seeing where situations took them, and seeing how they’d react.  Neither plot nor characters were set aside to further one or the other – it was well balanced all around.  The multiple character arcs didn’t feel like we were neglecting anyone either, and it was nice to see more spotlight on the overall universe, and on the Princesses that weren’t part of the main cast.  That doesn’t mean the main cast was set aside either:  Adora, Bo, Glimmer, and Catra all have really strong character arcs in this, and are pushed to their limits.  What they’re willing to do to stop this war is super interesting, and honestly I could write entire articles alone on Glimmer’s story arc this season.  The writers weren’t afraid to take certain character tropes and subvert or push them, and because of that the writing in season 4 is stronger than ever.

 

Some new characters were brought in that I don’t want to spoil, but they are welcome additions and I can’t wait to see what will happen in season 5 with them.  It’s more and more apparent  that our heroes are going to have to make crazy decisions to end this war, and what decisions they make are more interesting to me than the over-arching plot.  The world building was super good in this season also, and we got a lot of questions answered about an ongoing plot in the show since season 1 that is a very satisfying conclusion to the mystery given to us in prior seasons.  It also leaves it open to “What are our characters going to do now?”.  It’s just, wow, so amazing, I enjoyed it so much.

 

I keep on thinking, well the theme song says “We’re gonna win in the end” but the more this series develops, the more I get worried that that may not be the case.  That’s such amazing story telling right there:  I don’t feel like anyone is safe in this show, and just because our heroes are the heroes, it doesn’t mean their choices are necessarily the right ones.  This show truly is showing us a war story here, full of morally gray situations and I can’t get enough of it.

 

If you haven’t started watching this series, do it.  I mean, you may want to wait for the end of the show since I think the next season may be the last one, but like this show has improved so so so much from season 1.  It’s a reboot worthy of praise and attention, so I’m doing that here.  Give She-ra a watch if you like character driven, action fantasy shows.  You won’t regret it!

Cartoons

Steven Universe: The Movie Review [Spoiler Free]

I was planning to post something else today, but then I was able to find Steven Universe:  The Movie to watch, watched it, and wanted to talk about it.  So time for a review on the movie, spoiler free!

 

I want to start by saying, this movie is going to spoil the plot of Steven Universe for you.  Like, the entire series, so if you want to enjoy the ride of watching the series first if you haven’t watched it yet, don’t start with this movie as your first piece of Steven Universe media. If you don’t mind being spoiled, haven’t seen the show, and are fine with just enjoying the journey of watching, then by all means watch this movie first and see if the show is for you.  It will give you a good indication of what the show is all about, because it has everything good in the show in this movie.  Some of the bad things too in my opinion, but the good outweighs the bad.

 

Now if you’re a Steven Universe fan like myself, this movie is just for you.  All the characters you know and love are in character.  There’s one new character that is a great addition to the show’s lore that I hope we see more if we get more Steven Universe content.  The movie itself, I think has a nice beginning and end.  Like the end is stellar.  It hits all of the emotional beats it should have, brought the character’s arc specifically for the movie to a close.  The character made specifically for the movie by far was my favorite.  She goes from being annoying, to you feeling so much for her, and hoping she has a happy ending.  Her ending was very satisfying, and her story in particular didn’t feel nonsensical or rushed, which is prone to happen with movie specific characters.  Her story ties into the lore perfectly, and I hope we get to see more of her if we get more Steven Universe content.

 

The middle of the movie was the weakest part for me.  I thought the plot we went through for the main set of characters was rather tropey, and although they handled it better than most, I would have preferred to see the rest of the Crystal Gems be a bit more active in the story.  The B team had it’s time to shine, and that was nice to see, but for the first half of the movie I wish the main cast had been a little more there.  It was mainly Steven’s journey, which I get he’s the main character of the show, but having the Gems come into play at the end of the movie instead of being active players throughout I was a little disappointed happened.  Like I said, the mid-section of the movie wasn’t bad, I just wish it had been handled a little differently.

If you’re a fan of Steven Universe music, oh boy are you in luck!  This movie is packed with songs.  For me, I wish there were a little less songs, even though I liked every song in the movie:  At a certain point, it felt like they just were padding the movie instead of filling it with character interactions, which is what I prefer in Steven Universe.  I think cut maybe 3 or 4 songs from the movie, add more character moments, and there would be a nice balance between story and music in the movie.  As it stands, it feels like they filled the movie with songs to fill out a soundtrack.  Which is fine, but when it hinders the story telling a bit I think is when you need to cut down, and it personally got there for me music-wise.

 

As far as watching it blind is concerned, Steven Universe has never been tooooo great at making it obvious what is happening when the characters aren’t talking.  During some of the songs they have important plot points happening, and sadly Wikipedia doesn’t really go into in depth detail about what is happening in the movie for it to be perfectly clear.  I wish there was a bit more description in the show, or at least have audio description for the show so it’s easier to follow without watching with sighted friends.

 

All in all, I enjoyed the Steven Universe movie.  I think about 30 minutes could have been cut from its run time because of the previously stated tons of  music, but said tons of music didn’t make the viewing experience any less enjoyable.  I really hope we get more content in this Universe (I really want more of the Diamonds please) and I think this movie is a great addition to the universe of Steven Universe.  I highly recommend watching this movie if you’re a Steven Universe fan, and if you’re not worried about major spoilers for the show, give it a watch if you’re curious.  It gives a good indication of the show’s highs and lows, and overall is super fun to watch.

 

Have you seen the movie?  Let me know what you thought of it in  the comments!

Cartoons

She-ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3 Review [Spoiler 3]

I’ve been skeptical about She-ra for a while guys, I’m sure you noticed in my season 1 review.  I was fresh off of Voltron and the train wreck that was that ending, but I loved the old She-ra and had always mentioned to friends and family that I’d be on board with a more dramatic reboot with more fleshed out characters.

 

Seasons 1 and 2 were good, but I was still on the fence about it at the end of season 2.  There was potential, but the plot, pacing, and characters just weren’t quite there yet for me.

 

But season 3, season 3 you guys!  It was only a six episode season, but season 3!  UGHHH it was so good!  If you want my TL;DR opinion:  go watch season 3 right now.  If you’ve also been on the fence about giving this show a try, watching up to season 3 is going to make you decide whether or not you want to be into this show for the long haul.  For me, season 3 took me from being mildly interested in the show, to being heavily invested and willing to recommend other people watch it.  With my gushing out of the way though, onto my spoiler free review of season 3!

 

This season was one of Netflix’s infamous half seasons:  6 episodes for a full “season”.  For once, this didn’t bother me though, because the pacing of the episodes was done so well, and a lot of plot relevant  information was given to us in an even pace.  None of the episodes in season 3 were filler which was nice:  I felt like season 2 tried a little too hard to balance the goofy with the serious, and didn’t do a great job.  In season 3 however, each episode had some comedic beats, but they didn’t take away from the serious parts of each episode.  The character work still is a tad shaky, but it’s definitely improving and I think the balance between character development and plot progression has been fixed.  It doesn’t feel like either is suffering, like in previous seasons.  I’ve said before that the show needed to either be plot centric or character centric, but it’s somewhat proven me wrong in season 3 by doing both well.  I’d personally like more character growth, but if this is going to be a slow burn character wise, which it seems like we’re going for, then I’m all on board for this amazing scifi/fantasy epic story that season 3 has started to give us.

 

I feel like She-ra is having the opposite  effect Voltron did.  Voltron season 3 was the last amazing season.  In She-ra, season 3 is the start of it being a fantastic show that I can’t wait to see more of.  Certain characters still erk me, but now it seems like they’re doing so because of a clear vision for the story to go and it’s not just a case of characters fitting tropes.

 

Season 3 is sosososososo good guys.  Like I said, it got me over my Dreamworks Voltron burns and makes me have hope for this to be a fantastic show.  Please don’t prove me wrong She-ra!  With the amazing pacing, epic plot, and fabulous characters, I highly recommend watching season 3, and giving this show a chance.
Have you watched She-ra and the Princesses of Power Season 3?  Would love to hear in the comments!

Cartoons

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power Season 2 Review [Spoiler Free]

I watched She-ra season 2 over the weekend, and it was good.  I wasn’t impressed by it by any means, but it was a natural progression of the plot of the show, the characters are fun, and all in all, the episodes were cute.  I’ll be going into more detail about the shows construction more than the episodes here, because I have more to say about that.  But if you want a short answer to should you watch season 2, I’d say yes.  The character work is far more impressive than the writing, and it carries the plot onward, all be it a bit slowly.  If you watched season 1 and enjoyed it, season 2 will be very much of the same.

 

My major problem with season 2…is I’m seeing a lot of the issues we saw mid series in Voltron:  The Legendary Defender.  Voltron had a problem with plot execution, and shotty character work.  Where as in She-ra, I think they have the character work and growth down, but the plot and world building is very under developed.  My biggest issues here, is with the Horde as a whole.

 

We get these glimpses of the Horde throughout season 2, that are a bit deeper than in season 1.  Before, we only saw Catra and Scorpia, but in season 2 we’re getting a bit of a wider scale on their end.  We got to see Hordak and more of his plans, and we got the full backstory of Shadow Weaver.  But, for me, hordak isn’t an interesting villain.  Like I don’t see him as an imposing figure at all, even though he’s totally played off as such.  It isn’t the voice acting, it isn’t’ his presentation, but if we’re going to be having this super “intimidating” figure in the shadows, then I think we need to either have him shrouded  completely in mystery, only revealing his motivations later, or just put all of his cards on the table and let us know what he’s planning so we can get a better look into his character.  As he stands now, he’s half and half and not at all interesting.
This has a lot to do with the world building for me.  We found out something about Hordak that just opens up all of these questions about Eternia, but these questions fall apart once you throw in all of this First Ones tech being more high tech than what Eternia knows.  So what exactly is the angle with the world building here?  Is Eternai going to wind up being a destroyed Earth, or is it going to be something else.  The writing is trying to lead us somewhere, but there’s no clear line to the somewhere we’re supposed to be being led to, and it just comes off as the writers not knowing what exactly they want to do with the plot, and caring more about the character work.  I enjoy character based stories, but in this case, the plot needs to be a bit more basic than She-ra is trying to do.  Of course, this is just season 2, and one of those annoying 7 episode seasons, so maybe the writing will get better as the show progresses, but after Voltron I’m far more skeptical than usual, and aren’t putting a lot of trust in these Dreamworks reboots again just yet.
Shadow Weaver’s plot, once again just screams Hagar’s plot in Voltron to me.  I feel like after what happened to her in season 2, we’re going to get exactly what happened in Voltron”  she’ll pop back at the end of the show and be the true villain.  Once again, it may just be me being a skeptical viewer, but it’s not boding well for me as a viewer.  I’m hoping beyond hope, that I’ll be wrong and this writing team has learned from Voltron’s mistakes.

 

Like I said at the beginning  of this review, I like watching She-ra Princesses of Power a lot.  It feels so much like a modernized version of the 80s show, which is what keeps me watching the show.  I have enough hope for the writing team knowing what they’re doing for these issues I stated to not be long lasting ones, so I highly recommend giving She-ra a chance if you haven’t.

Cartoons

Voltron: The Legendary Defender, and Why Allura’s Final Fate in the Series Simply Doesn’t Work For Me

This is my final post in my 3 part series about Voltron:  The Legendary Defender.  If you’d like to see my thoughts on season 8, and my thoughts on Voltron as a whole, head on over to those posts.  This post is going to specifically be talking about a specific plot point in the ending concerning Allura.  If you haven’t seen the show and care about spoilers, do not read this post because it’s going to 100% be huge huge huge spoilers.  If you don’t care, or have watched all of season 8, then read on!

 

I want to break down this post in 3 sections, because I have a decent theory on what the writers were going for with Allura’s poorly executed death.  Now, I have narrative theories, and I have out of narrative theories for why it happened, but I’m going to be sticking with my purely narrative theories on why thematically, they feel like killing her off at the very very end of the show was the right choice.
I won’t even sugar coat it:  I hated this.  I hated this so much.  Character death in a story can be interesting if done right, if there’s a lead up to it, but there was absolutely none.  The entire series was leading up to another ending for her which was quite obvious, so killing her at the very end honestly threw me for a loop.  I was angry, but not for the right reasons:  I was angry that they did this, not because I was grieving  the character.  Just really not cool to have her be the only one who dies, after they spent all of this energy destroying a very interesting plot that could have happened early on, with Shiro dying.
But I’m going off on a tangent here, sorry.  Any time I think about it, it just makes me semi-rage.  OK, so I want to break this post up into 3 sections:
What I think they were narratively going for with this choice, why I don’t think it worked, and how I’d have written it differently.  I’m adding on this last part for the express purpose of making myself feel better, because I’ve been coming up with alternative endings ever since watching the ending that I think could have worked for the story they were trying to tell since the beginning of the series.

 

But with that long intro out of the way, let’s begin!

 

WHAT THE NARRATIVE WAS GOING FOR

 

I definitely think that in season 8 at least, they were trying to draw parallels between Honerva and Allura.  Two Alteans, on the exact opposite of the spectrum:  One who had lost everything due to a war, but otherwise had a loving family and upbringing.  Tarnished by the actions of the other:  an Altean who’s quest for knowledge ultimately warped and destroyed her, and her family.  Even when Allura had power on par with Honerva, she chose to use it in a far different way:  to protect the people she loved, and pave a future for them.  Allura’s motivations are purely from a selfless point of view, where as Honerva’s are from a selfish point of view:  She wants to use all of this power to get back what she lost, where as Allura wants to salvage and protect what she has gained.

Both are war orphans in a sense, but Allura found a family in the Voltron Paladin’s.  Honerva pushed everyone away to the point where she thought her only option was to do everything to regain what she’s lost, instead of trying to live in the present, and look towards the future.  Both return to their families in the end, the families that they’ve lost, and in the end join together to right the wrongs forged by the war caused by Galra, and Altean alike.

Even with The Entity plot line, we see these parallels drawn.  Honerva took The Entity into herself and started a 10000 year Universe-wide war.  Allura took The Entity into herself to stop Honerva, and to protect what she loves.  To “Finish this, once and for all” as Allura stated.  The Entity started corrupting Allura’s personality, and intent while it was still around, but in the end, she overcame it, and used the power to save not only her reality, but all other realities.  Honerva, on the other hand, had The Entity in her for 10000 years, and used it to do nothing but conquer, and spread hate, and tyranny.  So it’s obvious they were trying to pull the light vs dark thing here with both of them with this plot.

 

Honerva’s character work solely in  season 8 is superb.  All of this, I got simply from seeing her in season 8, and I have to tip my hat to the writers for fleshing her out in such a short amount of time.  As I’ve said in another post, the character work is always well done in Voltron, and it’s the biggest strength in the show.

 

But, Allura’s character work completely throws what they were going for with her sacrifice out the window…

 

 

WHAT WENT WRONG, AND WHY THIS DOESN’T WORK

 

For these parallels to have worked, and be driven home to the extent that I feel they wanted them to, Allura needed to exhibit some sort of tiredness, and form of loss.  Throughout the series, she does state not having a family to go back to, and she tends to look down when family is mentioned, but I don’t think this is enough to warrant her sacrifice at the end.  All signs throughout the series point to her being so happy she found Team Voltron, that they all were her family now, and although that doesn’t replace her previous family, I don’t think you can take the logic leap of “She’s been sad about Alfor not being around sometimes” to “She’s so sad that she would rather sacrifice herself for her Voltron family to live their lives, and for her to be with her original family in the afterlife, then to stay and live happily on Earth with them”.

 

Especially with the Lance love subplot, we see Allura as being so so so happy with him.  She has the support she needs both romantically, and platonically through him and the team, and to me it just doesn’t make sense for her to sacrifice herself when she had this to go back to.
That being said, the whole Altean magic plotting hinders this as well.  Like, Honerva absorbed enough quintessence to sacrifice herself, and herself alone, so why couldn’t she?  I’m fine with magic not fully being explained in a story, but Altean alchemy  was one of those things that just wasn’t explained enough for Allura to have to sacrifice herself to restore realities to make sense, when Honerva has more experience, and far more power at this point to do so herself.  I just think it was a thinly vailed attempt to draw these parallels of both were broken by this war, all be it in different ways, but now they both return to their families in death.
But if you’re going to show Allura as being so happy with her newly found family, then why go with the story beat of ending her life at the end?  When it was very obvious  throughout the show that her entire plot and character arc was she found a new family to live with, and be happy with at the end of all of this.
I’ve seen some people say her plot came full circle with her dying, because her losing her entire life as she knew it happened at the start of the series, and now it’s restored with her dying to be with them in the end.  This would have been a fine arc if it was shown like, at all in the series, and wouldn’t have felt like as much of a blow to us fans if it was more better displayed throughout the series, with a few quiet moments of her missing Alfor, and old Altea…but there literally was nothing leading up to she misses her old life so much, she wouldn’t’ mind dying for others to return to her old family.

 

This death wasn’t led up to in season 8, either.  She absorbed The Entity sure, but there was never any explanation as to what The Entity was, and by the last 3 episodes of the series, it just…wasn’t there?  So saying the only way she could get rid of it would be a death doesn’t make any sense to me either.  If they wanted to keep the rest of the season entirely the same, they could have easily written in that taking in The Entity was irreversible, so she might as well use the power to save realities, and that also would show giving in to the side of evil to stop evil, has consequences and isn’t’ the answer.  As it stands, her death just feels like a cheap shock value stunt at the end of the day, instead of having the impact it could have if, once again, the plotting and theming was executed better.

 

It really bothers me that at the end of the day she saves everyone all by herself too, like why not have all of Team Voltron sacrifice themselves if that was the route they wanted to go?  That would still be sad, but make more sense than just her doing it, and drill home our teamwork overcomes all obstacle’s theming we had for all the series.
But I’m starting to get into my last part, so let’s just move on to the last section.

 

MY DIFFERENT ENDING BRAINSTORMS

 

OK so, I’ve thought of a few different ways to end the show.  The first one that came to mind was, everything plays out the way it did in the end, we get Honerva’s change of heart.  Allura offers to help her fix what she’s done, but Honerva goes “No, I’ve caused you enough Greif.  I’ll do this by myself.  Live happily Allura, don’t make the same mistakes I did!”.  She uses all of the quintessence she absorbed from the entire galaxy, and restores it back to the galaxy, giving back all realities she destroyed.  Voltron appears, with Allura in the blue lion, we have our 1 year flash forward, but in Lance’s plot, we see him and Allura together, spreading peace across the galaxy, and retiring to the farm to rest and be in love.

 

If you want to go the character death route, what I started saying earlier is what I would have done.  If you want a sacrifice, either make it be all of the Paladins, so the theme of teamwork runs throughout the entire series, or you have them make an even bigger sacrifice:  they need to use Allura’s alchemic power, but she simply doesn’t have enough power to do so.  But what do they have that does?  Why, Voltron and the lions, of course, they are made of pure quintessence after all.  So Allura uses her magic, with Voltron as a battery, and they sacrifice the lions to restore realities.  You could even bring back the lion bond plot that kinda got dropped throughout the series, and have them connect with their lions for the last time to say their goodbyes.  Something akin to the ending of season 6, making them sacrifice something so important to them, but in doing so having them save the day.  This way, we can still get our time jump, still get the epilogues, but the Paladin’s all have something to grieve  over together.
I think with this ending it would bring them together even more as a family, and they’d bond even stronger – once again, drilling home the overall theme of six broken people bonding together to become even closer than family.  Have them take that  selfie, but instead of an Allura statue, it’s a Voltron statue, or five statues of the Lions, and in the back is a statue of Voltron.  Show the epilogue, then the end credits scene can be the Lions flying out of a galaxy, the six paladins sensing the bond between their lions reform, and smiling because they know they’re alive out there somewhere.

 

Even if you wanted to keep the ending entirely the same, you totally could, but instead at the end have the Lions sitting there, and then they spark to life.  All five paladins feel it, run to them, and see Allura slowly stirring in the cock pit of the Blue Lion.  Lance grabs her, she slowly rouses, grabbing her turns into him hugging her tightly, only for the rest of the team to join in on a group hug.  Pan out to a group shot of the six of them, and the Lions behind them – perhaps their eyes glow, as if they’re smiling, happy that their chosen are reunited again, and can live their lives together.

 

Since earlier in the series, we saw Shiro was in the consciousness of the Black Lion, this totally could happen – just have Allura in the consciousness of the Blue Lion, but her Altean magic took time to reform her body, and that’s why it took a year for her to reappear.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

The fact that I can come up with three endings like this I feel is a good indicator of how wonky that ending was.  It just felt unplanned and unnecessary, and like I said earlier only there for shock value.  My headcannon is that Lance gets Allura back, and they live happily ever after.  I’ve seen some fan theories that Allura becomes the new Lion Goddess, or Goddess of the Universe because of her sacrifice which is a nice ending…if that were their intent, but all we have to go off of is some ending credits scenes, and major theorizing.  It isn’t open ended, it’s just messy, and like I’ve said so many times, it leaves a horrible end note prevalent on an otherwise fantastic series.

 

And that is the end of my 3 part Voltron series folks!  Not gonna lie, I was majorly frustrated with how the show ended, and writing these have majorly helped me vent out my frustrations with the directions the show ultimately took in the end.  I sincerely hope that we get a 1 hour OVA where they fix what went wrong in the final episode, because leaving it as it is with Allura dead, after she already had to sacrifice so much is just not cool with me, considering the major themes of the show.

 

 

I hope you all enjoyed these posts, as rambly as they got at certain points.

 

So do you have any thoughts on how Voltron ended?  Let’s talk about it in the comments!

Cartoons · TV Shows

The Voltron The Legendary Defender Retrospective:Characters, Plotting, and Theming

In my last post, I talked about Voltron The Legendary Defender Season 8.  This post, I wanted to have a bit of a retrospective on the series.  So this post, I’m going to be talking about the show’s writing, plotting, and characters, what they did right, and what they did wrong.

 

The biggest thing I see people say about Voltron:  The Legendary Defender is “missed potential” and I have to say, I agree with that statement.  There were a lot of wonderful character moments, some very good plotting and theming in the beginning of the series, say until about seasons 5 or 6.  But somewhere along the line it just fell off the wagon and I’d like to try and figure out where and why that happened by dissecting the writing and themes of the show in general.

 

Needless to say, spoilers for all of Voltron:  The Legendary Defender are going to be in this post.  With all of that out of the way, let’s get into it.

 

CHARACTERS

 

My favorite part of Voltron had to be the characters.  They just started out so fleshed out, and working so well individually, as well as as a team.  I think both configurations of teams worked, but I will say in later seasons, they found less and less to do with Shiro, and his plots probably fell flat the most.  But in the beginning, all of them had really interesting motivation’s and struggle’s, and it was just a joy to see them deal with them while growing as Team Voltron.

 

When the character work started to fall apart I feel, is when they finished the characters first wave arcs.  Shiro was dealing with PTSD, Pidge was trying to find her family, Keith was struggling to accept himself, and was trying to learn how to work together with his team when he’d rather just stay the lone wolf he started out as.  But when all of these arcs came to completion:  Shiro “dies”, Pidge finds her family, Keith finds his Mother and grows, the characters just started to fall flat.  It wasn’t because they weren’t still interesting, all of their core aspects that made them loveable were still there, but without having an external story for them to deal with individually, they felt like they just became one-dimensional.  We went from each of them having their own hardships, and together coping with them and becoming stronger to deal with the plot happening around them, to just having them all be “Voltron Paladin’s”.  When the writers wanted to focus more on the plot, is when the characters suffered.  Instead of having the characters interact with the plot, the plot happened and propelled them forward.  It was this weird thing, where they weren’t inactive in the plot, but at the same time, the plot stripped away what made the characters, the characters.

 

I’m not one of those people who think in season 8, not having character moments made it less of a season.  I think by that point, they had grown their bond, so we were able to have it take a backseat to the story.  But when throughout the rest of the seasons, there’s this constant battle between focusing on characters, or focusing on plot…I think there’s a major problem tonally.  What I think needed to happen was there needed to be a choice made early on in the shows run.  Were they going to make it primarily a character focused show, where the plot mattered, but took a backseat to developing character relationships and their stories, or was this going to be a space epic, where the plot was the foremost important thing, and the characters were going to not be a big focus.  This got split in every season past season 3 I feel, and the show overall suffered for it.

 

PLOT

 

I think the plotting is the weakest link in the series overall.  In the first two seasons, there was a clear goal:  Destroy Zarcon, take down the Empire.  After that plot was finished, Lotor comes into the story and that’s interesting as well, but where it falls short is the sub plots for characters throughout the series. We have these plots dragged out for seasons on end, only to have them finally revealed, but then concluded within 3 or less episodes of the reveal.  There needed to be time to tell these stories, instead of having a huge windup and resolving it so quickly that you’re not sure why it happened in the first place.  I’ve addressed some of these issues in another article, so if you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on this, head over there.
This goes along with a lack of risk taking with these plots.  It seems like they wanted to go there with some of them, but they just didn’t for some reason or another.  It threw off some strong character beats that could have happened, and not following through with them really just made you feel like, why was this happening then?  In the end a lot of plots just were never resolved, and if that were to happen, then why open them up in the first place.

 

The plot felt rather nonsensical in a lot of points after season 3, as well.  They would try to tell this epic story that would start out making a lot of sense, and being super engaging.  I feel like a lot of times however, they would get carried away with action scenes, and drawing out suspense, that when it was time to resolve the plot, they just had to figure out this really quick resolution that would make little to no sense.  This is especially apparent  at the ends of season 6, and season 8.  They either needed more episodes, or needed to cut out the filler (there were a lot of them that were fun and really goofy, but had absolutely nothing to do with plot) so if they wanted to have some more time explaining the plot more accurately, perhaps filling out some things that would lead up to the season or series finale, the plotting dropping the ball halfway through the ladder seasons perhaps wouldn’t have happened.

 

I think seasons 1 through 4 were done very, very well.  Season 4 was waffling a bit, but it really felt like their vision was lost from season 5 onward.  I enjoyed the characters, and action in those later seasons, but the plot just started to feel like they wanted to lead into something, but weren’t quite sure what.

 

Biting off more than they could chew definitely feels like the theming overall with the plotting in the ladder half of the series, especially in season 8.  They wanted to do something grandiose, but overall just weren’t sure how to finish up the plot, so ending it made it feel rushed, nonsensical, and forced.  If only we had the plotting from the first few seasons throughout, plus the awesome character work…

 

THEMEING

 

And finally, we get to what in my opinion, is the biggest misstep of the series.  The theming of the show completely went out the window at the end.  The entire point of the series was that a group of broken people can come together, become even stronger as a unit, and overcome all obstacle’s.  But halfway through the series, they decided to separate characters.  Keith went off on his own multiple times, and for some seasons he wasn’t even in it for pretty much all of it.  In the end, instead of the entire team working to stop Honerva, Allura is the only person who can, and does.  Pidge goes off to take care of finding her family on her own, and I think Hunk and Lance are the only two who don’t have plots where they just go off on their own and do things if I’m remembering correctly.  This dichotomy  really does the show a disservice, as when the final battle comes for most seasons, they all come together, form Voltron, and save the day.  But sometimes, this just feels so hollow, because they’ve spent entire seasons apart from each other, and doing their own things.  Once again, this wasn’t prevalent in the first four seasons, but definitely was more of a thing in the 2nd half of the series.
Team Voltron is far stronger as an ensemble character piece, and not having that be the central theming throughout the series, and not just in the first half, was not wise for the writers.  I feel like once Shiro stopped being the Black Paladin, they weren’t sure what to do with the team.  I don’t think Allura in the blue lion was a bad move – in fact, I loved that so much – but not having much to do with Shiro at that point, and not sure how to retune the team dynamic when Allura was part of the team and just not a paladin was sort of odd.  Not sure why that was the case, but they just weren’t sure what to do with the theming then and didn’t realize that they could have had Shiro be just as important in the plot outside of the Black Lion, just like Allura was when she wasn’t a paladin of Voltron.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

 

I feel like this review sounds like I wasn’t a fan of the show, which is so far from the truth.  IT’s just seeing the series finale, and how big of a misstep it was, and how much it’s literally upset every fan I’ve ran across, it just feels like “missed potential” is the perfect word to describe Voltron.  A lot of plots that fell short that had tons of promise, a lot of characters that had lacking development.  A lot of side characters introduced, as if they were meant for more, only to be never addressed again.  Overall, the unwillingness to go with more mature themes of the show that they so obviously were setting up is strange to me – and you can say “But it’s a kids show!” but killing off one of the main characters is something that a kids show wouldn’t do unless it was trying to be more mature, so why not go all the way with said maturity, and take the risks with the plotting that were shouting at us all throughout the series?

 

So what went wrong?  A lot of fans are theorizing that there was corporate interference, and the creative team paid the price for it.  I think that’s very much the case, because it really feels like how they ended the show isn’t what they were going for at all.  But those are all just theories, and we’ll never truly know unless someone in the crew or cast speaks out about it one day.

 

And thus ends my retrospective on Voltron:  The Legendary Defender as a whole.  I loved you Voltron, but you were by no means flawless.  Your ending made an otherwise amazing show just be ok, and I’ll forever feel so disappointed by it.

 

But those thoughts are for the next, and final post in this series:  Voltron:  The Legendary Defender, talking about the ending.  If you want to see my thoughts on the final season, you can head on over to this link.

 

What are your thoughts on the series as a whole?  Would love to hear in the comments!