Since 2014, Netflix has spent a dedicated amount of time and resources on building a respectable roster of original animated series, with Bojack Horseman, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and She-Ra and the Princesses of Power leading the pack. But with Voltron concluding last winter, Bojack in its last season, and She-Ra right behind it, the time has come for another series to take the spotlight. Luckily for Netflix and its viewers, such a series already exist.
Allow me to introduce you to The Dragon Prince, an ongoing animated fantasy series exclusive to Netflix that is co-created by Avatar: The Last Airbender and Futurama writer Aaron Ehasz and executive producer Justin Richmond. If you want to invest in an epic fantasy series that is still in its early stages and is brimming with complex characters, magic, swords, and dragons, of course, then now is the time to drop what you’re doing and watch The Dragon Prince.
First, let’s go over some key points of the show. The first season of The Dragon Prince was criticized for its choppy animation, but the issue was quickly resolved for Seasons 2 and 3, allowing viewers to focus on the fascinating creatures, designs, and world-building that are on par with, if not better than, any other recent fantasy series. And the characters have a rich complexity to them that makes them more than just thin archetypes of the fantasy genre.
The storytelling is the primary aspect of what makes the show such a rewarding watch through three seasons. The Dragon Prince has already been mapped out for a total of seven seasons, with the third season concluding the first arc of the story. Since it’s not based on any preexisting source material, the writers don’t have to deal with any known plot points, and that also means viewers don’t have to worry about book spoilers or comparisons it to the original works.
The Dragon Prince may not be adapted from a novel or series of books, but the writing and world-building are so intricate that it feels like it is. Even the beginning of the series sounds like the beginning of an epic fantasy novel:
“A thousand years ago, humans, elves, and dragons co-existed, until humans began to experiment with dark magic that relied on the life force of magical creatures, which caused a rift between the three factions. The elves and dragons banded together and exiled the humans to the western half of the continent, while the elves remained on the other half, known as Xadia.”
After the humans slew the Dragon King in a plot of revenge, a war between the kingdoms of the elves and the humans was imminent. In an attempt for retribution, a group of elves set out to assassinate King Harold, one of the human kings, and his heir, Prince Ezran. However, during the assassination attempt, King Harrow, Ezran’s half-brother Callum, and the elf assassin Rayla, stumble upon the dragon prince egg that many had thought to have been destroyed. Thus, an epic journey begins as this unlikely trio journey to return the egg to its mother before war ravages the lands of both kingdoms.
The setting of The Dragon Prince is rich with history, purpose, and structure, quickly making any viewer invested in the world. Similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender, each season here is named after one of the primal sources within the world of The Dragon Prince, which consists of the sky, the stars, the ocean, the earth, the sun, and the moon. There are creatures that represent each element, like the sky dragons and the moon elves, who channel the primal sources to conjure magic and enhance their physical prowess. As the series progresses, you become more curious about the magic and the creatures you have yet to see and how they interact with each other, invoking your inner fantasy geek.
The best part of The Dragon Prince is the diverse set of characters that represent not just the factions but other aspects of life. The inclusion of skin colors and disabilities is remarkable as there is dark skin representation amongst both the humans and the elves, LGBT relationships, and one of the best characters is a battle-hardened female warrior who communicates only through sign language.
When The Dragon Prince first aired in 2018, it was easy to doubt the show’s potential. How could a series with choppy animation even compete with past shows such as Avatar: The Last Airbender or with some of Netflix’s popular animated series like Voltron or She-Ra? Rest assured, my own doubts were erased after binging Season 2 and then later Season 3 in one sitting. The animation has improved, story beats finally connected in a satisfying manner, and the promise of epic fantasy was delivered in the form of dragons and new variations of elves. We are witnessing the next great fantasy series, one that will likely dominate cons, fanfics, and social media.
With the end of several long-running animated series come 2020, such as Bojack Horseman, it won’t be long before The Dragon Prince is rabidly discussed in your social circles. So now is the time to delve into the series while it is still young and growing, or you’ll end up wishing that you had experienced one of the most talked-about TV shows of the year as it was developing rather than playing catch-up later.