“You need to see this.”
September 9, 2018 5:58 AM   Subscribe

'The Dragon Prince' Is What 'The Last Airbender' Fans Have Been Waiting For [Vice News] The dynamic duo of Aaron Ehasz and Justin Richmond, the minds behind Avatar: The Last Airbender and the Uncharted franchise, respectively, have created what just might be Netflix’s most engrossing original series this fall—and the show The Last Airbender fans have waited ten years to see.
“The Dragon Prince is set in the kind of epic, elemental world that will be familiar to anyone who’s seen an episode of The Last Airbender. The land of Xadia is dominated by the six primal sources of magic: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the sky, and the ocean. But humans have invented dark magic, which steals from the essence of magical creatures, and the elves and dragons exile them to the eastern half of the land. When the humans slay the dragon guarding the eastern border and steal its only egg, Xadia is launched into factional war.”
The Dragon Prince [YouTube][Trailer]

• The creators of The Dragon Prince preview their highly anticipated Netflix series [Polygon]
“The idea is to create a dynamic world that has the potential for war, high stakes, and dark moments... but isn’t, as Richmond puts it, “a grim New York in the ’70s.” As to why the team decided to go with fantasy as a genre, Richmond’s initial response is “because it’s awesome!” Ultimately, fantasy opened the most boxes for the team; while they dabbled with science fiction and a few other concepts they couldn’t resist a Lord of the Rings-style world. “We wanted to have fantasy represented with something they could understand,” Richmond explains. “We wanted to be more diverse than classic European fantasy. It’d be a cop-out to say, it’s all elves. Elves are The Other.” The end result is that The Dragon Prince has a diverse cast of humans, including the main duo of brothers. Callum is a “step-prince,” part of a blended family, which has some social consequences for him. “We wanted to draw and write what our lives are like,” Volpe agrees. “We all have friends from all over the world, and you just want to tell stories about that.””
• The Dragon Prince is influenced by Avatar: The Last Airbender in the best ways [The Verge]
“Avatar’s brand of humor is alive and thriving here, adding some much-needed levity to otherwise dire circumstances. In Avatar, characters joke about things like tragic love stories, and characters in The Dragon Prince evoke laughs even when it seems like they’re about to die. More impressively, the show humanizes characters that would otherwise come across as merely villains. One of Avatar’s greatest strengths is its ability to make “evil” characters relatable. It often devotes time to fleshing out villains’ backstories, empathetically tracing their paths to extreme ideologies. The Dragon Prince similarly takes care to never paint its characters with a single brush: King Harrow, arguably a hero, is quick to admit he’s committed atrocities. Dark magicians, meanwhile, might be killing wondrous creatures to fuel their powers, but some are ditzy enough to narrowly miss walking into trees. Nobody is just one thing, which makes it easy to feel conflicted about the characters and their goals.”
• The Dragon Prince puts a fresh spin on classic fantasy [The Daily Dot]
“Rather than following the Game of Thrones route of making Fake Europeans white and Exotic Foreigners brown (side note to fantasy writers: please stop doing this), The Dragon Prince offers a human society with similar demographics to a typical American TV show. It’s nowhere near as diverse as Avatar, but for classic fantasy, it’s a step up from what we might have seen five years ago. If only I could say the same for the show’s gender balance. Alongside a full cast of male knights, kings, and wizards, we only get two female characters (Rayla and a lovable gothic witch), and very few women in background roles. Hopefully that will change in later episodes. As you can probably tell, it’s hard to avoid drawing comparisons with Avatar. It may also be a little unfair. Unlike Avatar or Steven Universe, The Dragon Prince isn’t really trying to do anything new. A more apt comparison would be Voltron, another show that embraces tried-and-tested genre guidelines with a contemporary twist. If you’re the kind of person who likes the idea of a swords-and-sorcery cartoon with a sincere tone and plenty of magical intrigue, The Dragon Prince fits the bill.”
posted by Fizz (48 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
Also, if you've not watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, or Voltron. GET. ON. THAT. RIGHT. FUCKING. NOW. There's so much wonderful story-telling and world-building happening in these series. They all have talented voice actors and you will feel emotions. We're living in a great era for this kind of animation/story-telling.

I'm still catching up on Voltron, but damn, so much awesome. I cannot wait for this to hit Netflix. It's going to be a fun/adventure.
posted by Fizz at 6:07 AM on September 9, 2018 [15 favorites]


Thank you. I probably would have passed this over, because of the sheer amount of utter crap that is on Netflix in recent years. It's often hard to sift through all of it to find good content.

I have to say I'm a bit turned off by the CG animation, a style which can sometimes get really distracting and is choppy in the trailer. What catapulted ATLA/TLOK from good to great was some of the best animation to be brought to an American production, and I'm not buying the "it's not choppy, we just selected all the good frames" explanation.

Regardless, on the strength of the show creators, I'm excited to check it out.
posted by Room 101 at 6:49 AM on September 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


> Fizz:"Also, if you've not watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, or Voltron."

Also, if you've not watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra, or Voltron, what's your problem? You think you've got better things to do? You don't.
posted by signal at 6:57 AM on September 9, 2018 [5 favorites]


Totally thank you for bringing this to my attention. Loved all the series.

Wait.

It's been thirteen years since the original Avatar...?

Wait what the fuck.

THIRTEEN YEARS?!
posted by Foci for Analysis at 6:57 AM on September 9, 2018 [3 favorites]


"If only I could say the same for the show’s gender balance. Alongside a full cast of male knights, kings, and wizards, we only get two female characters (Rayla and a lovable gothic witch), and very few women in background roles. Hopefully that will change in later episodes.

As you can probably tell, it’s hard to avoid drawing comparisons with Avatar. It may also be a little unfair. Unlike Avatar or Steven Universe, The Dragon Prince isn’t really trying to do anything new."


This is disappointing. At this point having more than token gender representation (or token anything) shouldn't be considered doing something new. I hope that, as they've done with Voltron, they expand the cast.
posted by oddman at 7:04 AM on September 9, 2018 [5 favorites]


Well, there goes my resolve to stay off Netflix. Farewell sleep, hello Dragon Prince.
posted by ourobouros at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2018


It's been thirteen years since the original Avatar...?

And SIX since Legend of Korra if you can believe it. Original air date for Legend of Korra: April 14, 2012! Time flies when you're bending the elements!!
posted by Fizz at 7:21 AM on September 9, 2018 [3 favorites]


September 14th for anyone wondering who doesn't like clicking things.
posted by ODiV at 7:22 AM on September 9, 2018 [5 favorites]


Some of the animation looked weirdly choppy to me.
posted by runcibleshaw at 7:28 AM on September 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


Count me amongst those who find the choppy animation distracting.

I'm not buying the "it's not choppy, we just selected all the good frames" explanation.


I would hope this is tongue-in-cheek because boy if you're doing CG characters you're doing it because CG characters make tweening real easy

Like, ridiculously easy

Like, I've done it and I'm not an animator easy.

I'm hoping they didn't render all the frames because they're still finishing those scenes and tweaking the animation because, well, it's not that pleasant to watch for me and I've got quite a pile of media I haven't touched yet. (I'm not sure Voltron is the most important thing I could be doing, and given that Korra is being held up as the same standard and it was borderline a waste of time, I'm disinclined to trust that assessment. I've heard Voltron's pretty good! 'Pretty good' is not the standard I'm working off at the moment.)
posted by Merus at 7:29 AM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


The new Star Wars animated series Star Wars: Resistance [YouTube] also has a similar animated style/feel to it.
posted by Fizz at 7:31 AM on September 9, 2018


It has also similarly been criticized/critiqued for this choice. We'll have to see. I'm optimistic and for me the story and the world they build with their characters will often let me overlook any animated flaws. But I'm willing to forgive a lot if I'm being entertained and feeling my feels, not everyone can do that.
posted by Fizz at 7:32 AM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


They said that Disenchantment flopped?

I thought that it was fun, if a bit sluggish getting started.
posted by FleetMind at 8:24 AM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


I know that the "you must watch this" comments are intended to be fun, but they are kind of off-putting and make watching a cartoon sound like homework. What will I be doing instead? Finishing Lupin III and then watching Double Decker as it comes out. I like trashy action with a cast of mostly adult characters.

Btw, anyone who wants to be popular in fandom should get started on their prince/assassin coffee shop AU now. If you wait to actually watch the show, your fics might get buried.
posted by betweenthebars at 8:52 AM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


I thought this was about Dragon Pilot at first glance. Looks like that's still a couple weeks out (in the US.)
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:52 AM on September 9, 2018


I actually like the animation style; it feels pretty fresh and new to me and I like the clean designs of the characters. I'm looking forward to watching this though my main concern is that it's going to be too much like Avatar. I mean, elemental magic where each society is built around an element? Hopefully they will tread some new worldbuilding ground with this one.
posted by capricorn at 8:57 AM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


what this post is saying to me was that the Avatar series was so good it's still being used to sell all these other series.

I mean, i like Voltron, but it is no Korra, and Korra, as good as it was, suffered from the production shenanigans that disney threw its way. oh, what the second season could have been.

But this looks cool, i am excited to watch it.
posted by eustatic at 9:19 AM on September 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh. Well, I guess I'll be getting Netflix soon.
posted by Ms. Moonlight at 9:33 AM on September 9, 2018 [1 favorite]


Oh, I hope this is good. Our whole family (like my daughter, often nicknamed Azula) are serious Avatar fiends.
posted by doctornemo at 10:32 AM on September 9, 2018


Creators of Avatar? Sounds promising...

"Alongside a full cast of male knights, kings, and wizards, we only get two female characters (Rayla and a lovable gothic witch), and very few women in background roles."

...aaand my interest evaporates. I'm done with guy media. If it doesn't have a female lead or co-lead, I've got other stuff I can watch or read. It's 2018. If you still think of women characters as the token extra, I'm not interested in your shit, no matter how clever it might be otherwise.
posted by tavella at 11:25 AM on September 9, 2018 [9 favorites]


..aaand my interest evaporates. I'm done with guy media. If it doesn't have a female lead or co-lead, I've got other stuff I can watch or read. It's 2018. If you still think of women characters as the token extra, I'm not interested in your shit, no matter how clever it might be otherwise.

I've been happy with how well they've written their female characters in shows like Legend of Korra and Voltron. They're strong powerful women with lots of agency. And the sexuality has been fluid. There can always be improvements with representation and being more progressive about diversity/politics/culture. I get your hesitancy and your criticism is valid. I'm not going to completely write them off though. I want to see what happens.

Korra as a character started out in one way and ended up completely different and the writers improved over the seasons, reacting to the fandom (that's a separate argument) and evolving her character as the show progressed. Also, more and more women were introduced into both The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. So, while the show might start with more male stars, that doesn't' mean we're not going to meet new personalities and adventurers along the way.

I want to live in a world where people can improve and be better. I'm trying to focus on the good here. I know that's not easy and I struggle with it in many ways because so much of the world is bullshit and minorities and people who are not in positions of power have historically been treated like shit. That's my view on it. I'm hoping we get a good show.
posted by Fizz at 11:53 AM on September 9, 2018 [6 favorites]


Voltron is also doing some good things with how they've written strong characters (Shiro, Keth, Pidge and Alura all have arcs that are really fascinating to watch over the seasons), mind you they have a lot of work to do with how they present queerness/sexuality. A mixed bag for sure, but it's a show that I feel has far more good than it does bad and is trying to create a story that matters with characters that we feel for.
posted by Fizz at 12:08 PM on September 9, 2018


There’s a bit of confusion around the term “the mind behind Avatar: The Last Airbender” in this thread.

Avatar was created by Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, who were also Executive Producers of the show. The third Executive Producer was Aaron Ehasz, who was also the show’s head writer for its entire run. Lauren Montgomery worked as a storyboard artist, and Joaquin Dos Santos was a director on the series.

Legend Of Korra was also created by DiMartino and Konietzko, but Ehasz was not involved. Montgomery was a supervising producer on the series, and Dos Santos directed episodes.

Voltron: Legendary Defender has Montgomery and Dos Santos as showrunners. Neither DiMartino, Konietzko, nor Ehasz are involved.

The Dragon Prince was co-created by Ehasz. DiMartino, Konietzko, Montgomery, and Dos Santos are not involved.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:30 PM on September 9, 2018 [25 favorites]


Ian, appreciate your being specific. I guess I'm speaking in general terms with the sense that a lot of these people work with each other and write/showrun/produce together, but individual writers/showrunners do influence the various shows in different ways, so I should be aware of that going forward. Thanks for the clarification.
posted by Fizz at 12:38 PM on September 9, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh, that wasn’t aimed at you specifically, and it wasn’t posted in pique.

I personally think that the distinction is important in this specific case because Ehasz is the only Avatar alum involved, and he hasn’t been involved in the other shows. I feel like his absence on Korra was particularly felt, and I’m excited to see a show created by him.
posted by Ian A.T. at 12:51 PM on September 9, 2018 [6 favorites]


Looks great. Choppy, but great.
posted by RolandOfEld at 1:25 PM on September 9, 2018


I wouldn't put Korra or Voltron and ATLA in the same quality category at all. And I say this as a person who likes all three to varying degrees for different reasons. ATLA is a masterpiece*. A huge part of that is Ehasz's presence and storytelling choices, as Ian A.T. brought up. So I am really excited for this despite being disappointed by the apparent lack of major women - hopefully that the man who gave us Toph and the Dangerous Ladies has more female characters coming up in the next season(s).

Ugh ATLA is so good though


*Steven Universe is also a masterpiece
posted by colorblock sock at 3:03 PM on September 9, 2018 [4 favorites]


"There can always be improvements with representation and being more progressive about diversity/politics/culture."

I love how you present women as some minor group that overlooking is understandable. We are half the goddamn human race. We are everywhere and of every race and condition. If someone isn't interested in my half of the human race, I'm not interested in them.
posted by tavella at 5:55 PM on September 9, 2018 [6 favorites]


Pretty excited for this series, sounds like a family watch!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:23 PM on September 9, 2018


Thanks for the clarification on the "minds behind A:TLA" - I keep finding myself incredibly disappointed when "The Minds Behind" do something else, and it captures a lot of the themes but misses the secret sauce. Now I see why A:K was not as good as A:TLA, and I hope that this show will be better written. But who knows, i guess it depends on the whole team behind it!
posted by rebent at 8:22 AM on September 10, 2018


I'm tepidly looking forward to this show this week. It has potential, nice character design, some good lineage, but we'll see. Ian. A.T., that was a fantastic break down of who's who in the recent animated world!

I want to put a warning out on Voltron. It is a good show, but it's not ATLA or Korra. The score is subpar (compared to the amazing work of Jeremy Zuckerman); and at times, the pacing feels a bit slow. The animation, for the most part, is good (still not on the same level as the two mentioned), but you can see the influence from those two on this show; such as its magnificent painted backgrounds and the great choreography of its fights. Only bummer? You wish they'd include a "skip Voltron transformation cut scene" option. It gets OLD fast. -_-

In short, watch Voltron, but don't go into it expecting to love it as much as ALTA or Korra! That's going to be my approach here, with Dragon Prince. I think American animation is enjoying quite a renaissance in terms of type of animation, form of the animation, and its overall quality. Part of it is a willingness to embrace serial storytelling, but also to focus on characterization in both the protagonists and antagonists - these are things to watch for (in my opinion).

In the perspective of Lucasfilm animation, while the Clone Wars shorts are definitely worth watching (you can find them cut together on Youtube into nice hour long installments); it's the CGI animation in The Clone Wars that introduced a nice level of cinematic-like focus on light and atmosphere. This was conveyed into Rebels, and now, into the more 2Dish realm of Resistance (out this October!). As a child of the 80's, with cartoons I absolutely adored, today's stuff is simply amazing.
posted by Atreides at 9:28 AM on September 10, 2018 [3 favorites]


As someone who was dismayed that Airbender is not available to watch online without paying Amazon $30/season, I was delighted when I saw this on Vice this AM.
posted by daHIFI at 10:33 AM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]


We did not make it through the opening credits of the first episode before my son revoked his humanity and pledged himself to the elves in order to avenge Thunder.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:04 PM on September 14, 2018 [3 favorites]


Just binge watched the whole first season and I can't wait for more.
posted by JDHarper at 6:53 PM on September 14, 2018


Amaya is the best.
posted by JDHarper at 7:08 PM on September 14, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's real good ya'll. And Amaya is so good.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:13 PM on September 14, 2018 [2 favorites]


Watched the first season - it's only 9 x 25m episodes - and liked it a lot. Agreed about Amaya!
posted by Ilira at 12:56 PM on September 15, 2018


I’m only three episode in, but the Daily Dot’s criticism that the show is dude-heavy feels really off-base to me.

Of the two main characters, one of them is a young woman, and she occupies the same weight in the narrative as Katara. (There’s a third main character, but he’s much younger than the other two and is so far the comic relief.)

The secondary youth characters (think Zuko) are a brother / sister team, and the sister is more engaging, fleshed-out, and has more agency.

All three of the major adult characters are male, which is one place where the gender-imbalance criticism holds water. One, two, or all three could have been women.

I haven’t met Amaya yet, but I gather that she’s a major adult female character.

I take issue with the writer’s statement that “very few” of the background characters are female. The show takes pains to show both men and women serving side-by-side as soldiers and guards.

Could it be more balanced? Yes. But the reality of the show is far from the No Girls Allowed picture painted by the Daily Dot’s pullquote. These early episodes feel as unbalanced as early episodes of Avatar, which is to say: room for improvement but not exactly a Boys Club either.

(An important thing to keep in mind if you’re still on the fence is that only three episodes were released to critics, so the writer was basing their judgement on those alone.)
posted by Ian A.T. at 3:15 PM on September 15, 2018


So there are six major male characters and only two female characters, and you *don't* think it is dude heavy? Shades of the studies where men think conversations in class are balanced when women speak for 20 or 30 percent of the time.

3 to 1 is not *balanced* when the actual ratio of life is 1 to 1.
posted by tavella at 4:28 PM on September 15, 2018


Without spoiling anything, more female characters are introduced over the course of the season as well.

Aaron Ehasz also posted this statement on representation and diversity in the Dragon Prince. Getting representation right is clearly important to him and the writing team.
posted by JDHarper at 9:54 PM on September 15, 2018


We watched the first four episodes tonight and it is a crowd pleaser for all of us; the 7 and 9 year old enjoyed it as much as the parents did. In fact it's taking an act of will not to watch the next few episodes myself now that the kids are in bed but I did promise not to!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:24 PM on September 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I started the show on Saturday and I'm already into episode five. If I didn't have chores, exercise, and an infant, I'd have finished it by now. The production quality on the show is pretty great, minus the occasional halting movement of some characters (where one imagines the budget comes up with the lack of enough in-between frames). The animation (minus the aforementioned issue) is really well done, using dynamic shots and framing to keep things fresh and exciting. The writing is well enough and the music is what I wished Voltron had had in terms of quality.

Right now, I like The Dragon Prince much more than Voltron for these reasons. Amaya is amazing. This isn't FanFare so I won't go into the details why.

Gender balance-wise through Episode Four, I read it as three main male characters (this includes the two brothers, the main protagonists, and the antagonist). Two main female characters (the remaining protagonist and Amaya - who's somewhere in the middle in terms of roles). There are at least two minor-major females, Claudia and the Priestess, and one minor-major male, Claudia's brother, whom I can't recall his name at the moment. Arguably, you could also make the king a minor-major male character. In the background, Ehasz definitely has the Avatar direction to distribute male and female characters among characters like soldiers and townspeople.

I hope Netflix has already ordered Book 2 (borrowing Avatar's season/episode naming structure).
posted by Atreides at 10:43 AM on September 17, 2018


In the above-linked statement by Aaron Ehasz, he implied that they are working on more episodes.

And practically speaking, Netflix can't order animation TV shows the way it orders live-action shows. It takes about a year to complete a single animation episode. If Netflix waited until all episodes of a season were completed before it decides to order more, all of the show's staff would quit rather than sit idle for up to a year.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 11:33 AM on September 17, 2018


I just watched the first episode. The choppy animation is distracting, but somehow the facial expressions are great that I got a good chuckle out of Bait's face with the tarts, and Soren's faces during the sword training was great.

I might keep watching, but also I'll post on FanFare if anyone wants to discuss more there.
posted by numaner at 1:17 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


oh i guess i should link to FanFare
posted by numaner at 5:56 PM on September 17, 2018 [1 favorite]


As a nonspoilery thing, I do feel like the gender imbalance gets better outside of the first three episodes. It's not 50/50, but more female characters are introduced and they're all awesome.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:04 AM on September 18, 2018 [1 favorite]




I was actually tempted to front page this news.




...



And foaming face man is the only way to go.
posted by Atreides at 11:20 AM on September 18, 2018 [3 favorites]


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