The Dragon Prince – Book Three: Sun – When the Past Meets the Present

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      “The Dragon Prince” finally got good this Book! We get a serious exploration of characters, war and peace and are also given nuance in the choices that many of the characters make. I really hope the next four Books can keep this up as there is a lot this season sets up, even though some major arcs are also brought to a close. This Book is good and I definitely recommend checking it out. If the writing continues as good as it was in this Book I think the show may have finally found it’s voice.

The story picks up with Ezran becoming King as 3 of the other nations want to retaliate against Xadia for attacks on their leaders. During this Callum and Rayla make their way into Xadia to find her home and to reach the Dragon Queen.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

The Broken Sun King – The Book kicks off with us meeting Sol Regem the ancient Sun King who once ruled the Dragons and Xadia. After he was blinded in battle by one of the first humans to wield dark magic he lost his state as King and was left on the border as a reminder as the cost that Xadia had gone through. His hatred is so deep that the Dragon Prince Azymondias existing means nothing as he plans to kill Callum or kill them all. This sets the tone of the Book as we see characters driven by the trauma over war keeping the chance of peace from ever happening.

The Elves of Xadia – We get to see a lot of the Elves this Book and it is awesome. We meet the Moonshadow Elves and learn more about their culture as well as the culture of the Sunfire Elves and how driven they are by their belief in the light and we see how powerful they are as the force defending the border to Xadia. In each faction we get glimpses of their power structures and beliefs and we even get to meet a Skywing Elf named Nyx who is a really fun trickster and of course Aavaros the Startouched Elf. We truly get to experience Xadia.

Viren’s Power Grab – Viren’s power grab at the end of the last Book is successful. His dark magic caused so much chaos that 3 Nations came to make war on Xadia and in the end his allies in the court force Ezran to trade places as he begins his march with Aavaros upon the Elves and Dragons. We see him win multiple times through the episode as through Aavaros he corrupts the source of power belonging to the Sunfire Elves and destroy their city. It is only at the very end that he is stopped by Rayla and Callum but his story isn’t over as though his magically empowered army was defeated his daughter resurrects him.

The Defeat of the Storm Dragon King – Part of the Book involves Viren telling Aavaros about how the Storm Dragon King was defeated. It was really well done as we see him empower King Harrow’s hatred and help King Harrow defeat the Dragon King, turning him to stone. At this point Viren goes to destroy the Egg but changes his mind when Rayla’s mother convinces him that he should keep it alive because of the magic that empowers it. These scenes are all wonderfully done and I love how they develop this fascinating world.

Rayla’s Exile – In this Book we learn that after the failed killing of Ezran that the Moonshadow Elves believed that Rayla had abandoned them. Because of this when she comes home, no one can see her as she has become a ghost as punishment for her failure. It is really well done as we meet the husband of the leader of the assassins and see why he is believed dead but Rayla still gets a moment of peace with her mentor before leaving to reach the Dragon Queen. It is a powerful and touching scene and we see her face the trauma of exile in her sorrow and how she lashes out at Callum initially. The show gives what happens justice and I like that it wasn’t ignored.

Soren’s Change – Another major arc this Book is that of Soren. We see him join Team Callum after Viren gaslights him and says he never told him to “kill the princes.” This clear lie changes Soren and begins working against his father to the point that he is fighting Claudia and his Father in the last episode and is ready to give down his life for Ezran. His arc reminds me of Jamie Lannister as he starts out arrogant and selfish but changes into one of the more nuanced characters in the show. I knew he was going to change sides but I felt they wrote it well.

Aavaros and his History – Aavaros is the powerful Mage who taught humans dark magic and because of it was imprisoned in the mirror. We see his hatred for Xadia and his history with it too as before he kills the Sunfire Queen he whispers what happened to her grandmother. To him all beings are just tools for power so I’m curious to see what his endgame is and what defines his philosophy as there is still so much more that can be told. I really enjoy him a villain.

The Final Battle – The final battle is amazing. We have the remnants of the Sunfire Elves teamed up with Team Callum and in the end Ezran brings back dragon allies from a dragon they saved last Book and Soren stands as their defense. During this the Sun Empowered Humans are near elementals and practically invulnerable to fire and only die to swords and arrows after a lot of hits. There is a huge cost in this battle and it doesn’t shy away from how strong Aavaros is and how powerful Viren has become. In the end Viren is defeated but he nearly steals the Dragon Prince’s power before it happens and in the Claudia brings him back from the dead as we are left with the possibility of Aavaros being born into our world.

Rayla and Callum – Rayla and Callum work so well together this Book. Their friendship evolves naturally into a relationship and you see how Callum’s belief in her helps give her confidence and her defense of him allows him to explore his relationship to magic and learning new spells. They compliment one another as she is much more guarded than Callum but they open up about their traumas and the trust that has already been earned pays off in a really beautiful love story.

The Cons:

The Jokes – The jokes are still cringe and the weakest part of the show. I’d be good with them doing away with them completely. Everytime there are jokes the show goes from flowing really well to tryin way too hard. At this point this is where the weakest writing is.

The Cost of the Final Battle not Addressed – Ezran steps down as King because he wants to save lives, but in the final episode he is killing people who were changed into monsters against their will as he flies on a dragon. This felt hollow and as amazing as the last battle is the cost of what Viren did to the armies of 4 nations is never addressed. So many elves and humans died but the show chose to ignore that as the Dragon Queen woke up. A recognition of this would have made this Book great.

I love how this Book faces how some wounds from war never go away and from it that conflict may always be a possibility. We have Sol Regem blind and full of hate, we have Viren and his obsession to save humanity leading to him losing his humanity and all those who follow him who he changes into monsters. This Book has a real cost to it and character choices have consequences. This is the show fully realized and if the writing continues to improve this could easily become a favorite show. This Book was good and I recommend it.

Final Score: 8.4 / 10 This was a good Book that had the potential for greatness. All it needed was less jokes and addressing the amount of people who died in that final battle, given how important it was at the beginning of the Book.

The Dragon Prince – Book Two: Sky – When the Past Defines

Dragon Prince Season 2

“The Dragon Prince” Book 2 is a huge improvement over Book 1. Book 1 was only worth it because of the premise and that premise remained unfulfilled by the end. This season changes everything as we get amazing backstory to the world, there are less awful jokes and we are introduced to a fascinating new character as well. That is all I’m saying for now as if you were questioning whether to watch onward from Book 1, I would say yes. Book 2 makes it worth it.

The story picks up where we left off with Claudia and Soren hunting Callum, Ezran, the Egg and Rayla as Callum seeks to learn about primal magic and Ezran teaches Ozymandius the young Dragon Prince how to fly. Viren plots to bring the other 4 kingdoms into war against the Elves as he explores the mysterious mirror.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros:

Battle at the Breach – The battle at the Breach is really cool as we get to see the Sunfire Elves and their general face off against the amazing deaf General and Callum’s maternal aunt Amaya. The humans are fighting a losing battle but she manages to survive each time, even when the Sunfire elves pull off a successful ambush. In the end Amaya decides to destroy the Breach and succeeds, though ends up captured by the Sunfire Elves in the process.

The Flashback about the Titan’s Heart – Viren goes against the Council and falsifies the King’s signature to call a meeting of the Kingdoms so that he can recruit the soldiers he needs to bring war the the Elves. During this episode he tells the story to the young Queen of Duren whose mothers’ died in the quest to get the Titan Heart as the human lands were set to lose 100,000 to famine without the magic of the Titan’s Heart. It is here where Callum and Ezran’s mother is killed too, by the King of the Dragons. It is a powerful episode and we see Viren’s courage and how his relationship with King Harrow developed. It was really well done and I wish he’d succeeded in convincing the Queen as it would advance the plot in an interesting way.

The Mysterious Mirror – The mirror is a cool plot as we meet a mysterious Startouch Elf named Aaravos. We have hints of his origin as the one who taught humans dark magic and he plays Viren and uses him to implement chaos among the human kingdoms to bring about the war. I’m curious to learn more about his motivation as he is so much smarter than Viren and is the most fascinating antagonist thus far.

Callum’s Arc – Callum has a great arc this season. His arc involves finding the primal magic but his journey to get there involves him using dark magic once and rejecting future use of it and accepting the death of King Harrow and the lessons learned as he and Ezran are the best chance for peace as they aren’t bound to the past. It is really well done and I really liked Callum this season. He and Rayla were both great.

Okay:

The Supporting Cast – Besides Callum and Rayla most of the supporting cast are just okay. Queen Sarai is a tough fighter but we don’t learn much about her before her death and we learn that Soren and Claudia are from divorced parents and how that shapes them and their motivation. All these are neat ideas but the characters still don’t feel as interesting as the big bads or the two mains. This was a problem last Book but at least it is better written this time.

The Cons:

The Jokes – The jokes are still awful and they need to get away from them. They are the weakest part of this series.

The Obvious Evil Plot – Viren is so obviously a bad guy and I hate how stupid evil he became. He really thought faking the King’s signature wouldn’t lead to him going to prison? It was a shame and I hated how inept he was this season.

Why Does Viren Trust Aaravos? – This is more on Viren’s idiocy. He is trusting someone and that trust hasn’t been earned (a point he brings up to Aavaros). I guess it is desperation that makes the deal happen but that desperation only happens because he suddenly got very stupid.

This Book has so much promise. It ends with us arriving in Xadia and facing the once great Sun King of the Dragons while Viren is prison and Ezran returns home  to take his place as King. So many big events happen and I can’t wait to see how the events payoff  in the next book. If the writing continues to improve this has potential to become a favorite show…which is amazing given how bad it started. Can’t wait to see what future stories are written.

Final Score: 7 / 10 This was a huge improvement over Book 1. The characters got more nuance and there were less jokes.

“Bojack Horseman” Season 4 – Of Lost Innocence and No One Being Born Broken

  “Bojack Horseman” Season 4 is the best season of the show thus far. It is easily one of the most depressing but it gives growth to it’s characters and reveals their brokenness in different ways. This season gives dimension and the status quo from past seasons can’t be established again, our characters have changed too much. This is the strength of the show and what really makes the show succeed over past seasons, which have also been great, but not reached these heights.

The story involves Bojack missing for over a year as her rebuilds his childhood home in Michigan as we learn about his Mother Beatrice’s backstory and how she became broken and abusive. Eventually he returns back to L.A. where Mr. Peanutbutter is running for Mayor and Hollyhock comes into his life, believing Bojack to be her father. From here the story unfolds as Bojack has to face his himself as the rest of our characters do the same in their struggles.

SPOILERS ahead

The Pros: The Power of Perspective – One of the most powerful aspects of storytelling this season is the power of perspective. We get an episode from Bojack’s point of view where we see his self-destruction from his point of view and self-hatred, we see Beatrice in her decaying mind and the last of her memory as it fades and we see Princess Carolyn dreaming about her story being told by a future ancestor telling her class about how Carolyn had got through the trouble and became a hero. Each one is sad as it humanizes these characters, even as we see them hurting themselves and those around them. The perspective from their point of view gives us an ability to empathize with them, even if we don’t agree with what they may do.

Loss of Innocence and Cycles of Abuse – A major theme this season is loss of innocence and cycles of abuse, and how from it we see why people don’t trust or allow themselves close to others. Whether it is Beatrice witnessing her father’s abuse of her mother and her, her abusive husband and from that how she brings out her brokenness on Bojack which he later brings back on her from the abuse he received as a kid. This is a cycle that most of the main cast is going through but this season lazer focuses on Bojack and Beatrice as the way to show it and it is done amazingly.

Integrity and Change – This is the first season where Bojack finally grows and changes, and he does it by owning his crap. We see this when he takes Princess Carolyn’s contract and thanks her for all she’s done for him and owns how terrible he’s been…we see this in how he still has a relationship with his half-sister Hollyhock after he finds her fathers and tells them about how his mother was the one poisoning her and from that they have a relationship again. He even helps her find out who her mom is, when he’d been not really looking for it because he didn’t want to lose her and just wanted someone else around so he wouldn’t be alone. Bojack owns all of this (really for the first time this series) and he grows. It is because of this he has chance to possibly be friends with Todd and others he has hurt again someday, he finally took the first steps and has changed in recognizable ways.

There was so much that worked about this season and some things that I didn’t write about but will mention here, Todd comes out as asexual and finds a support group of others like him as he becomes empowered and comfortable in his identity and Mr. Peanutbutter and Diane’s relationship falls apart as their ways of showing they care about one another end up falling apart as their core personality strengths and flaws become too much. Seriously, this is a powerful season and one I’d highly recommend if you are already watching the show. There wasn’t anything that brought it down for me.

Final Score: 10 / 10

 

 

“Voltron: Legendary Defender” Season 2 – Fantastic Rising Action and Climax With a Few Missed Opportunities

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     “Voltron” is an amazing show and the level of quality continues in Season 2. Dreamworks and Netflix have really created something rather amazing with this show and with Season 2  they get deeper into the world and characters, though there are some missed opportunities that keep it from being the perfect show.

  SPOILERS if you haven’t watched the first season.

The story picks up with the Paladins seperated leading to them finding each other again while Emperor Zarkin hunts them across the Galaxy as they build a team and seek out allies to fight back.

The Pros: The World – The world is amazing! We meet new planets, species and get the history behind the Black Lion. Each episode enriches this world further and it is the world that has me the most excited for future seasons.

The Animation – The animation is beautiful. Dreamworks really has a fantastic animation team and I love the anime aspects to how they’ve designed the heroes and villains. The forming of Voltron is great too, I really like how it has it’s own animation sequence of the Lions coming together.

The Action – The action is fantastic, especially with the last battle as the Lions and Castle assault Zarkon and his fleet directly. There are great challenges too with some challenging Beasts that Haggar creates.

The Blade of Marmora – The Blade of Marmora is a secret Galra organization that is fighting against Emperor Zarkon. They are so cool and really force the Paladins, specifically Keith to earn their help.

The Characters – The characters drive the story and most of them continue to grow over the course of this season. It is only a few who really don’t have an arc of any kind.

Coran – Coran is annoying sometimes as they overplay his loud personality a few times, but he gets better…especially when we see him in action as a soldier and his intelligence comes into play for helping them.

Emperor Zarkon – Zarkon is obsessed this season and it is because of this fact that he becomes vulnerable. If he had listened to Witch Haggar he wouldn’t have ended up on life support. His obsession was his downfall and after how unstoppable he was last season it was great to see his flaws. He also has an awesome Mech that is a giant version of himself.

Witch Haggar- Haggar is Altean (same race as Allura) and is the anti-Allura as we see her obsession with dark and control and willingness to do anything for the Empire makes her the greatest threat. It is after Zarkon’s fall that she calls for his son, she is down but not out and is the real power behind the throne. I wonder why she betrayed her people…

Hunk – Hunk is comedic relief for a lot of it but still manages to grow, such as his mini-arc with Keith where he gets over his prejudice towards the Galra. In this we find out he is a great cook and is the glue of the team.

Pidge – Pidge has a predictable arc and discovers her power…she can control vines and roots and finds that nature and tech are connected. She is also the one who helps the Paladins find one another. The arc with the vines I thought was fine but it was her finding the Team and her skills as a tech that really make her invaluable.

Shiro – Shiro is the leader and advocate for finding allies among the Galra as it was a Galra who rescued him and tells him about the Blade of Marmora. He is the calm and collected to Allura’s anger and together they are pretty much the parents of the team. His arc is breaking Zarkon’s connection to the Black Lion and learning about the past when the Altean’s and Galra were at peace and Zarkon was friend’s with Allura’s father. It is powerful and I’m really curious how he went missing.

Keith – Keith has a fantastic arc as he learns that he is half-Galra and must get over his self-hatred and earn his place among his people in the trials of the Blade with the Blade he inherited. He steps up to be the leader this season as even Shiro knows his time is coming.

Princess Allura – Allura continues to be a fantastic character as we get to see her fight in the final fight and risk all of herself to save them from the Galra fleet that is pursuing them. Her arc is getting over her prejudice towards the Galra as the Blade of Marmora show that good Galra exist as well as her feelings for Keith, who she learns is half-Galra.

Okay: Lance – Lance is horny and a jokester and contributes nothing beyond being a body part on the Lion. I’m not putting him as a con…yet, as he wasn’t totally awful.

The Point of the Final Fight – Shiro goes missing and Zarkon is on life support and the Capital Ship of the Galra seems to be fine. It feels unfinished.

Tonal Shifts – Coran is the most guilty of this but some of the creatures the Paladins find are also overly cute and it takes away the threat of the Galra whenever there are too many of them.

This was another great season for a great show that you should really go and check out if you like animes or animated shows. This season really showed that the different species are more complicated, which I am always a fan of. Most places go black and white and make simple good and bad like Elves and Orcs of Middle Earth. This show is so much more than that and gives us wonderfully complicated characters who have to grow as they overcome their prejudices. Once more, this show is well worth checking out.

Final Score: 9 / 10

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Steven Universe Pilot – “Pilot” – A Creative Use of Time and Identity

Steven Universe Pilot

    “Steven Universe” is an interesting show to review. The episodes are short so a lot has to be shown in order for the stories to work. In regards to the Pilot, I think it succeeds in doing just that. We meet the characters, there is an arc and there is no magic reset button as circumstances change characters.

     The series was created by Rebecca Sugar who also wrote and directed it.

    The story involves Steven getting his hands on a time travel device that he decides to use to come up with better comebacks…not realizing the chaos that would ensue in the process.

The Pros: The Crystals – The crystals are fascinating as they are defenders of the universe as we see them off fighting Electric Skulls before returning home to Steven, who seems to be the youngest of the group. There is a fascinating dynamic between them that I’ll get into in the reviews.

Amethyst – Amethyst is the support and gives Steven the Hourglass he uses to go back in time for comebacks. She seems to around Stevens age and is the closet to him and is the risk taker to Pearl’s worrying.

Pearl – Pearl is the anxious and worrier of the group, though that doesn’t keep her from being courageous as we see her rise to any challenge and rescue the others in a fight.

Garnet – Garnet appears to be the leader and is the strongest in the group as her weapons are gloves. She is the wisest and seems to be the oldest. You know Steven’s done something wrong when she points it out.

Steven – Steven is the kid who just likes to have fun and seems to function as the groups id as he simply acts on things but in the process is good at getting himself out of the messes he causes too. I’m curious to see how he grows up as he is unable to activate his power.

The Cons: The Electric Skulls – We know they are the villains and cause destruction but that is about it. I wanted to know more, since outside of their design I can’t find a motivation for them.

Lars – He isn’t shown to be anything more than a bully, which is a shame. Hoping he gets more development down the line as the Electric Skulls had more depth than him.

This is a good introduction to the characters, though I wouldn’t call it a great episode. It did leave me wanting to see more so it accomplishes what any pilot should seek to achieve. For what it is worth, I am looking forward to checking out and reviewing more episodes in the series.

Final Score: 8 / 10

“BoJack Horseman” Season 1 – A Nihilistic Comedy With Depth

Bojack Horseman

     It took a while but I finally got through Season 1 of “BoJack Horseman.” I got to say I’m impressed. It is heavy, depressing and funny and ends up having a great payoff. I look forward to seeing where the future seasons go. This is a show that didn’t seem to know where it was going at first, it just seemed like a day in the life like “Horsing Around” (the sitcom BoJack stars in) but it gave it’s characters arcs which turned it into a very strong and funny show.

     The show was created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and airs on Netflix.

     The story involves the once famous sitcom actor BoJack Horseman from “Horsin’ Around” trying to recapture the glory days and be loved by people again which leads to him taking on a ghost writer named Diane Nguyen. From here things unfold as BoJack’s own demons come back to ruin whatever he touches.

The Pros: The World – The World is full of humans and humanoid animals who have traits similar to the animal they are drawn from. Princess Carolyn is a cat and has a scratchy post, etc, It’s really cool and fits the offness of the world the story takes place in.

The Animation – The animation is great and flows really well. When BoJack does a drug trip near the end of the season it is really shown too as they get super creative with some of the images he sees and the animation (such as erasing the lines around him). It’s very well done.

The Soundtrack – The soundtrack fits the nihilistic feel of the world and the world of Hollywood it draws from. Patrick Carney did a fantastic job. The opening theme is great too for capturing the loneliness of the characters.

The Characters – The main characters are the strongest part and really help capture themes of purpose and loneliness. There are a few side joke characters who I enjoyed too and listed as pros just because they were so funny.

Neal McBeal the Navy Seal – This characters is funny as he gets into a fight on television when BoJack takes his muffins that he had called. He gets justice though and pulls BoJack onto Mr. Peanutbutter’s reality show to get an apology, though it still gets intense as BoJack tries to get him to support his thoughts in regards to war. BoJack and Neal’s fight on television is one of the show’s funniest moments.

Pinky Penguin – Patton Oswalt plays this nervous Penguin who just wants to see his children. He’s a great character as he is extremely anxious and desperate but manages to pull it all off. He is one of the few completely sympathetic characters in the show.

Princess Carolyn – Amy Sedaris is hilarious is Princess Carolyn…BoJack’s agent who is all about her work and has an on and off relationship with him. She’s ruthless and great and at the end of the day truly cares about BoJack. Her arc is becoming top of her game and moving on from BoJack as we see her start dating again after Diane’s book is successful and her and BoJack begin making the “Secretariat” movie.

Todd Chavez – Aaron Paul is great as BoJack’s live-in roommate who is always doing drugs and partying. He has a great mind though and we see that BoJack keeps him down which leads to him leaving BoJack which leads to a somewhat establishing of boundaries when they become friends again. He’s the character who is successful when he tries.

Mr. Peanutbutter – Mr. Peanutbutter is overly positive and can be a bit of a dick like BoJack though he super loyal if he likes you. He is a fun character, though he doesn’t really have an arc beyond marrying Diane after getting over his insecurities of failing in his marriage. I like the character and think is a great contrast to both Diane and BoJack. Paul F. Thompkins does a good job.

Diane Nguyen – Diane is my favorite character on the show. She’s the ghost writer who writers BoJack’s memoir and helps him see all the dark things about himself he denies. She is also a bit of an outcast and comes from a pretty loud and abusive family. Her arc is finishing the book, getting over her fears of failure and commitment and marrying Mr. Peanutbutter and establishing boundaries and friendship again with BoJack after he kisses her. I can’t wait to see where her arc goes next season.

BoJack – BoJack came from an abusive family so became a celebrity because he just wanted to be loved. He’s narcissistic, egotistical and cruel but can also be kind and vulnerable. We see all of this over the course of the season and his arc is being honest with himself and accepting how alone he feels. He gets his dream role though of playing Secretariat, who was his idol as a kid who killed himself when he cheated at racing. Curious where BoJack’s arc is going to go as we see him admit to his mistakes and actually grow a little.

Loneliness – Loneliness is a major theme. All our characters are and deal with it in different ways. Diane with Mr. Peanutbutter, Carolyn with work, BoJack with women, drinks and acting and Todd with drugs. It’s a powerful theme that the show executes really well.

Good People? – One of the main questions of the show is the question of good people existing. The shows answer to that is no as egos get in the way and people are only their base selves. I agree to some degree but also think the show contradicts itself when we get the times of depth from characters like Diane and BoJack who are more than their traumatic childhood and hurt.

Okay: Side Characters – There are a few celebrity side character but I didn’t really see them as characters. They felt like guest appearances rather than characters within the narrative. From Colbert as a Frog and Naomi Watts as herself…they existed for the sake of the plot and that was it.

Sarah Lynn – She the former child star from “Horsin’ Around” gone crazy with drugs and that is the extent of her character. She brings out the worst of BoJack’s tendencies and her character never really goes anywhere. She works within the world at least.

The Cons: Early Show Meandering – Early on the show doesn’t feel like it has focus. It establishes are characters are lonely and self destructive but we don’t really get anything beyond that. The story really doesn’t pick up until Diane and BoJack start developing their relationship and that is where the solid arcs begin.

  This was a great show, even though it didn’t really find it’s footing till about a third of the way through. By that point though I was in and wanted to see what happened to the characters and how their relationships would unfold. The characters and themes are really what make this show great and in my Top 3 American Animated Shows currently though I’d still put “Gravity Falls” ahead of it. This shows gets my recommendation and I can’t wait to watch the next season.

Final Score: 9.3 / 10

“Gravity Falls” Season 1 – Mystery, Relationships and one of the Best Animated Show Introductions

Gravity Falls Season 1

Disney X.D. has really done a great job in putting out quality shows. Whether it is “Star Wars Rebels” or “Gravity Falls” Disney like Marvel is telling stories that are powerful, fun and manage to capture what it means to be human so well. “Gravity Falls” is one of the best executions of this.

The series was created by Alex Hirsch and inspired by summer vacations spent with his twin sister.

The story involves the Mabel and Dipper Pines being sent to Gravity Falls to spend the summer with their Grunkle Stan. All is not as it appears to be though as Dipper discovers a mysterious journal as together they experience and seek out the mysteries of Gravity Falls.

The Pros: Gravity Falls – Gravity Falls is a fun town with colorful characters. Everyone there is a bit strange in different ways and it makes the town a lot of fun. Hell, this would be a fun town even if there were no supernatural elements in it. It is this location that gives us all our stories and it’s importance cannot be stated enough.

The Animation – The animation is stunning and has a charm to it. It works for the world and there is depth to the world that the animation portrays. The animation team also gets really creative too with bringing a videogame character to life at one point and all of Mabel’s 80’s colorful visions.

The Soundtrack – Brad Breeck created an amazing soundtrack with this! It’s like X-Files meets an Indie Band which captures the feel of Oregon and Gravity Falls really well. The theme song is probably my favorite for any animated show.

The Comedy – The comedy is some of the best. A lot of it comes from who are characters naturally are, like Dipper being OCD, Mabel being crazy about glitter and shiny things, Soos and his good nature but also not being very bright and Grunkle Stan and his hustling and money making schemes. The comedy flows naturally from the world and how the many members of Gravity Falls interact with one another or what they discover in regards to the Supernatural.

The Creatures – We meet the hyper-masculine Manataurs, Gnomes, living Wax figures, a vidoegame character brought to life, Mermando, the Summerween Trickster and more and each is more than what they appear to be. The creatures aren’t all that simple are given moments of depth in what drives them. It’s really cool and part of what gives the show it’s charm.

The Characters – The characters are the strongest part and they have arcs they go through over the course of the Season. I’m covering the main characters here as a lot of the other members of Gravity Falls don’t get full exploration until Season 2.

Wendy – Wendy is the apathetic teen who works at the Mystery Shack and is always down for breaking the rules. Over the course of Season 1 we see her break up with Robbie when she learns he was hypnotizing her and from there her going of her own way. She’s a fantastic character and easily the toughest character on the show.

Grunkle Stan – Grunkle Stan is a hustler who cares about his kids. Most of what he does is illegal but he’s a good manager as we see he knows what it takes to make the Mystery Shack successful. His arc is being more open with his feelings even though he is hiding a portal he is building in the basement so he isn’t honest with Mabel and Dipper yet. He’s probably my favorite character on the show in Season 1. Also he looks a lot like Wario.

Soos – Soos is a great guy who really doesn’t have an arc but is a good character. He lives with his Grandmother and is the fix it guy around the Mystery Shack. He is the glue of the show as he is always down for an adventure and is great friends with both Mabel and Dipper and helps them in their adventures from Day 1.

Mabel – Mabel is a fantastic character! She is into glitter and has so much energy. She has some of the best jokes and humor. Much of her adventures involve her many crushes, whether it is a boy band who she learns are grown in a lab, Mermando the Merman and countless others. It is these romantic misadventures and adventures that set up a lot of the humor. She takes it in stride though and learns to let and not take it personally. She is all about helping others too and helps Stan and Dipper on multiple occasions.

Dipper – Dipper is the anxious 12 year old boy who spends his time at Gravity Falls pining after Wendy and seeking to solve the mysteries of the town when he discovers a mysterious journal. He’s the closest thing the show has to a protagonist and his arc involves him being more aware of Mabel and in doing so becoming a better brother and realizing the ways he’s been a jerk and selfish and realizing that Stan really does care about him and discovering he is more than the journal and is strong on his own. He really is a good protagonist.

The Ending – The ending involves facing Lil’Gideon who was a fake psychic in a prior episode (was using a device to read people’s minds and later video) and the final fight is awesome as Dipper takes Gideon out in his robot and after we see Grunkle Stan has all the journals and activates a mysterious portal. It’s really cool and sets up Season 2 really well.

Bill Cipher – Bill Cipher is the one really threatening villain who doesn’t need motivation as he’s a chaos demon. I can’t wait to see what is done with him as he is fought in the Dreamscape at one point when our characters are protecting the numbers to the safe that hold Stan’s will to the Mystery Shack. He has a great design and does feel like an inter-dimensional being.

Okay: The Villains – In Season 1 the villains are largely played for comedy so a lot of them never get the chance to be humanized. This is a shame as the show is so good at humanizing the other characters. Having watched ahead I know this gets fixed but at least for Season 1, this was a con. I wanted to know why Gideon and Pacifica. This is the only downside though as the humor and situations make this secondary to the overarching plot of the Pines Family and their friends.

This is the best american animated tv show I have watched since “Batman: The Animated Series,” and the best thing to come out of Disney’s animated television team since “Gargoyles” it is well worth checking out has so much depth in the characters and relationships and gives some hilarious situations too. All our characters learn about themselves and we are still left with mysteries to explore in Season 2. This is a show that treats the audience and it’s characters and world with respect.

Final Score: 9.7 / 10

Gravity Falls Characters

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Clone Wars” – Upcoming Reviews

Star Wars The Clone Wars

While I explore “The Avatar Universe” through my reviews of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “Legend of Korra” I am also going to take on reviewing “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Clone Wars.” This is part of my leadup to the release of “The Force Awakens” on Christmas and also curiosity as I’ve heard great things about “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and am willing to give it a chance after “Star Wars Rebels.”

“Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and “Star Wars: Clone Wars” were created by George Lucas as companion pieces to take place between “Attack of the Clones” and “Revenge of the Sith.” Dave Filoni oversaw “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” as supervising director while Genndy Tartakovsky was in charge of the 2D animated “Star Wars: Clone Wars.” Both took place on Cartoon Network and were connected to Lucasfilm animation.

The film that kicked off “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” was largely seen as a dud, and eventually I will get to reviewing it.

How I’m going to be reviewing these series is “Star Wars: Clone Wars” at the end even though it came first (2003-2005), because I have fond memories of the series…and following the IGN Chronology ( http://www.ign.com/articles/2014/03/18/star-wars-the-clone-wars-how-to-watch-in-the-right-order) of the timeline in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” before I give a final review of the series as a whole. Because of this there will not be season reviews, only reviews of arcs, characters and the series entirety.

I look forward to this adventure, both as a fan of the “Star Wars” EU in the videogames and for all the praise I have heard in regards to “The Clone Wars.” Here’s to seeing if it can live up to the hype.

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