‘The Dragon Prince,’ created by Justin Richmond and Aaron Ehasz (Avatar: The Last Airbender), is another great entrant into Netflix’s fantasy arsenal. An epic tale of greed, power, hope and triumph with magical elves, enormous dragons, Kings and princes, political conflicts and an ancient enmity between the Humans and the magical creatures of Xadia, all for the eyes of a 13 year old. Though made for children, this show is a delight for all ages. I saw this show with my 13-year- old sister and I think we both loved the show equally as much. The various characters, sub-plots and gorgeous animations solidifies ‘The Dragon Prince’ s one of the great animated fantasies of our time – trust me, it’s the cutest baby dragon you will ever see. The storyline is as good and effective as the gorgeous animation of the show. You could call it a ‘Game of Thrones’ for children, if you will, but with a much much better end to series (end of season 3 as of now).
Season 1 was relatively slower compared to seasons 2 and 3, setting up the foundation of the show with so many characters, locations, and dynamics in relations and it does a great job to serve its purpose. Prince Callum and Ezran are immediately likeable characters and internal conflict within Rayla is beautifully portrayed. Viren, Soren, Claudia and Amaya are given an equal amount of attention to highlight their characteristics and motives, allowing the young 13-year-olds to choose their favourites. But their views will soon change. King Harrow’s character, in what little time he has on screen, is used brilliantly to evoke sympathy among the audience members, creating an almost immediate dislike towards the elves. But as the season progresses, our views towards each character change, sometimes drastically, and the sides we previously thought were ‘good’ are not any more. Season 1 was a great introduction to the setting of the show, but the slow pace doesn’t allow season 1 to match the heights of season 2 and 3 where majority of the story-line lies. One of the cutest scenes ever, though, is at the end of this season. Trust me, you’ll know.
What follows season 1 is the beginning of a grand adventure that progressively increases our excitement and constantly upends our expectations of the characters and the vast history of the magical world within ‘The Dragon Prince.’ Season 2’s storyline is so dense and characters feel so much closer to you. Callum and Ezran have matured way beyond their years in just a few days, Rayla’s character has got a brilliant backstory and her relations with Callum have grown much closer, Viren’s intentions are getting more clear but we understand his reasons for them, Claudia and Soren are constantly torn apart between the princes and their power-hungry father resulting in probably the best character arcs of the show, while we are introduced to another Villain of the story, Aravos. Season 2, episode 5 is where things really start building up and the tension, suspense and excitement all quickly increase. “Breaking the Seal” and “Heart of a Titan” are beautiful episodes that will keep you glued to the screen and make so much more sense of every character’s actions. Season 2 was a great follow up to season 1 with not only an emphasis on plot and character building but also a significant leap in animation, making it look even more beautiful than season 1.
Season 3 is the perfect amalgamation of all the various conflicts and adventures together. We are again introduced to many more characters and races (sunfire, skywing and moonshadow elves), who have pivotal roles in the story to come. Every character’s backstory grows even more and so does the lore surrounding this magical, fantastical world. What I was most excited about was that we got to see a lot more of Xadia, the magical lands of elves, dragons and all sorts of magical creatures. The animation is gorgeous making Xadia is astoundingly beautiful, with dragons being these enormous, majestic beasts and these tiny puffballs that are so darn cute (Zym and Bait are still at the top of the chart though). This season emphasizes my favourite aspect of the show: the show is not pure good vs pure evil. The characters are so much more complex. Ezran, Callum and Rayla are purely good of course but what about Viren? We learn that he is not simply a power-hungry mage who is trying to take over the world but has a much deeper, emotional backstory and is simply being nudged over the edge by Aravos. Claudia and Soren too have a much more complicated character arc. It’s anyone’s guess: which side would they take.
Richmond and Ehaz never forget that the primary audience is 13 year-olds. Every episode tends to have a few light-hearted, comical moments to bring a short but much needed break: whether it is Bait or Zym’s cuteness, Ezran’s innocence, Calum and Rayla’s slightly awkward relationship or Soren’s stupidity. The balance between light-hearted and heavier moments is almost perfectly maintained through all 3 seasons.
Like ‘Game of Thrones’ and Ehaz’s previous show, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” ‘The Dragon Prince’ beautifully weaves together stories from the past, further deepening the lore and backstories, which make the present adventures that much more exciting and intriguing. As we learn of the events that connect King Harrow, Viren and the Dragon King, we gain sympathy in surprising places and characters that previously seemed two-dimensional, suddenly find depth. What follows is a story that’s entertaining, funny, heartfelt and often sshocking.
Though primarily for children, I am exceptionally pleased to have another fantasy show made for families that doesn’t hold hands or make everything easy to understand. I like not knowing for sure where any of this is going, and I like that I can sympathize even with characters like Lord Viren, despite his numerous flaws. Characters are constantly bombarded with difficult choices and even the kindest souls have to face problems that good intentions cannot solve.
The show is without doubt one of the best I’ve seen and my sister can vouch for that too (especially season 3). Every character has a backstory we can relate to, providing clarity for why the character is doing something, be it the protagonist or antagonist. And for a 13-year-old to see so many different sides to one person, it is nothing less than an education. They learn to look at the world and the people around them in different perspectives, making them more understanding and empathetic as humans. If you haven’t watched The Dragon Prince yet, do yourself a favor and add it to your queue.
– Aryamaan Dholakia
Aman’s Score – Aryamaan’s Score – 85/100