Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Is the Lastest Amazing Animated Adventure From Dreamworks
I had no idea what to expect when my best friend put on a show called Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, but as soon as I heard the music, met the characters, and got a look at some of the action fight sequences, I knew that it was a perfect fit for me while I wait for more Steven Universe Future.
Based on a webcomic of the same name from Radford Sechrist, Kipo is about a thirteen-year-old girl named Kipo Oak (Karen Fukuhara) who is thrust out from her underground burrow community when it is attacked a mute, the term that refers to mutated animal creatures. The series takes place 200 years in the future where some dystopian events have happened which caused animals to mutate into giant talking creatures above ground, and humans have been forced underground or exist in small pockets of civilization above ground.
Kipo and her human friends Wolf (Sydney Mikayla) and Benson (Coy Stewart), along with their mutant companions Dave (Deon Cole) and Mandu the pig (Dee Bradley Baker) are on a quest to reunite Kipo with her father while escaping being eaten … or worse.
Animation is doing some of the best work right now. When I was hearing some people say that a movie like Dolittle should get a little bit more grace because it’s for children, I instantly said: “as someone who actively watched content made for children, that is deeply untrue.” Cartoon Network, Dreamworks, Netflix, and other places outside of Disney are doing the work of crafting inclusive, thoughtful television that is able to communicate a myriad of themes to an audience of any age, if you are willing to toss away the idea that because something is for children, that means it needs to be crap. That because something is a cartoon that means it is somehow lacking in quality.
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is a rich story that within ten episodes manages to give some incredible character journies, set up an entire future, and introduce a fantastic villain in Scarlemagne, a power-hungry mandrill who wants to enslave humans into his own personal army, voiced by Dan Stevens.
All of the major lead characters are voiced by non-white actors, and all the lead kids are Black and in the case of Kipo, she is half-Black and half-Asian with her father voiced by Sterling K. Brown. I loved the bond between the father-daughter, how loving it was, and the way it was centered around science and the constellations. (There are multiple times where it is mentioned that Kipo is an Aries and the symbol becomes a big plot element throughout the series and as an Aries I loved it.)
Kipo also has one of my favorite characters of all time with Wolf. Not only is she a tiny warrior, but there was something really refreshing about this tiny Black girl being the cold, bad-ass anti-hero who ends up joining the group. The story spends a lot of time allowing her to be both a pint-sized hero and a child in need of a community. Benson and Dave were a delight together; it is “revealed” that Benson is gay a few episodes in, and it is not treated like a huge coming out story, but rather as a statement of fact. They manage to come up with some interesting body horror gags with Dave being an insect creature that is constantly going through a life cycle.
The animation is lush with every scene packed with interesting detail. The designs of the different mutant animal groups were especially fun, with there being a mob of Mod Frogs dressed in suits, a pack of Newton Wolves that love science (two of them are named Billions and Billions), aerobic obsessed raccoons and the Timbercats, a tribe of ax-wielding giant cats. It’s amazing.
Also, the soundtrack is incredible.
The first season is all that is up now and there are 10 24-minute episodes, so if you are looking for something to toss your views to that not The Witcher, I would highly recommend checking it out.
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