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The Dragon Formerly Known As Prince

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The Dragon Formerly Known As Prince

Chuck Sipps, Assistant Arts and Life Editor

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In season one and two of Netflix’s “The Dragon Prince”, we explore an engaging high fantasy world that subverts many of the common tropes of the genre. Normally, when dealing with high fantasy (ala Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones) there are a bunch of white characters with hard to pronounce names. “Dragon Prince” still has the hard to pronounce names, but is filled with a diverse cast that brings mirth and heart to the proceedings, without ever steering into tokenism. There are gay couplings, interracial marriages, people of color, and even warriors with disabilities. It is really refreshing to see inclusivity in a genre that has historically not been.

Of course, none of that matters if the characters aren’t enthralling and the world is not ripe for exploration. Thankfully, Aaron Ehasz, the head writer of “Dragon Prince”, brings the same love to this series as he did when he was head writer of “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. Much like Avatar, “Dragon Prince” is full of humor and heart that make the 25-minute episodes a breeze to watch. At just nine episodes a season, it leaves you craving more.  

The world of “Dragon Prince” is divided, literally. Humans, who are not born with magic that Elves possess, have developed dark magic. Dark magic extracts magical energy from other living creatures, killing them, but gives the dark magicians great power. The Elves, who find the humans new “magic” abhorrent, cast them out to the opposite side of the world. A border is formed and is guarded by Thunder, the King of the Dragons. After many years of this arrangement, humans use their dark magic to kill Thunder and steal his egg, the titular Dragon Prince. Through a series of tragic events, the human Princes, Callum and Ezran, find themselves joining forces with Rayla, a Moonshadow Elf, all sharing the goal of returning the egg back home to its mother, in the hope that peace can be found between their warring nations.

If this sounds interesting to you, you may be asking yourself why you haven’t heard of it. Well, being animated “Dragon Prince” isn’t given its due, thanks to the contempt that most animated work is treated with. Animation is after all, “Just for Kids”. While “Dragon Prince” doesn’t skew as adult oriented as “Game of Thrones” and is kid friendly, it is a journey that can be enjoyed by kids and adults alike.

 

Between it’s incredibly witty dialogue and its unflinching look at racism, “Dragon Prince” is culturally relevant to people of all walks of life.

Season one has an introductory feel to it for its first three episodes, which while not bad, has a definite world building vibe. After this brief introduction we are off to the races, with constantly evolving stakes. The show utilizes the best cliffhangers that make you say for the umpteenth time “One more episode.”

 

The character development is also stupendous, from Rayla, the empowered elven warrior who must come to terms with the fact that all humans aren’t as bad as she thought, to Callum, who desperately wants to be a mage, despite human’s inability to use natural magic.

One of the most refreshing parts of “Dragon Prince” is its use of “villains”. Unlike “Lord of the Rings”, where a literal eye of fire wants to destroy the world, the villain of “Dragon Prince” just wants to save his kingdom from the impending doom he believes is coming. Lord Viren, the king’s advisor, is not the mustache twirling villain all too common in fantasy, instead he is a conflicted man trying his best to balance his own morals with the wellbeing of his people. It is a refreshing take on the normally clichéd villain who wants to destroy the world for the sake of watching it burn.  

“The Dragon Prince” is a beautifully animated and heart-warming journey fit for all. Fans of fantasy will enjoy the way it both conforms and subverts the tropes of its genre, and non-fantasy folks will love its less dense barrier to entry and its humor. It is undoubtedly the best thing on Netflix you haven’t watched yet, and I can’t recommend highly enough that you do.

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The Dragon Formerly Known As Prince