The Magic of Animation: Dragon Prince

Note: This is based on the first three seasons of this show.  At time of writing, future seasons are planned, but were delayed for obvious reasons (thanks 2020).  I look forward to seeing the rest of the story soon!

World Building:

The world of the Dragon Prince has a classic fantasy feel baked into the story.  A dramatic event sparked a tension between the two races of humans and elves.  Who would have thought?  There is magic that resides in the land and the creatures of Xadia.  Thousands of years ago, the humans and the elves shared the land and lived in some sort of harmony.  As the years passed, humans figured out how to use a form of magic.  The elves describe this as Dark Magic.  This form was a way to steal the magic in living creatures and use their power for your own gain.  The elves grew fearful of the humans’ new power and drove them out of Xadia to the other side of the continent.  The Dragon King keeps watch over The Boarder to ensure no humans make it across into Xadia.

A river of molten lava that separates the land of the humans and the elves.  It has been 1000 years since the elves and humans were separated, but there was hope.  Two young human princes are growing up and are being trained to be more open-minded than the last several generations of royalty. 

About 10 years before our story starts, the elves are under the impression that the egg of the Dragon Prince was destroyed by humans and thus, the line of dragons would end.  The elves decide to take revenge on the humans by killing the human king and prince all in one night.  An elite team of assassin elves, called Moon Shadow Elves, storm the human castle and make their way to the king.  Meanwhile, one of the younger elves hunts down the prince.  While chasing the prince all over the castle, they discover a secret chamber.  The young prince shows their elf enemy the glowing egg of the Dragon Prince.  At this moment, the young elf knew that her mission had changed.  They must return the egg to Xadia to bring the centuries of war and distrust to an end.

We will discover what it really takes to perform Dark Magic.  We learn about the elements and how magic flows through the land.  We explore the journey of becoming a villain, not unlike Anakin in Star Wars.  We discover fun “easter eggs” from both Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Lord of the Rings

Like many epics of this nature, the story arc carries across the seasons seamlessly.  Each of the current seasons has its own theme, but the overall goal is never side-tracked.

Characters:

Rayla:  Rayla is our young Moon Shadow Elf that discovers that the Dragon Prince egg is still in existence.  She is part of a small band of assassins, but has a change of heart.  She slowly become friends with Ezran and Callum over the series.  She uses her skills to protect them from the various dangers they encounter as they make the long journey from one side of the continent to the other.  The main way she communicates is through sarcasm and snarky comments.  It is marvelous.  Also, she has the absolute best Scottish accent, which isn’t important to the story, but does fit into the fantasy theme really well. 

Ezran:  The prince and future king of Katolis (one of the main human kingdoms).  He is the youngest of our main characters starting out at as an adorable 8-years-old.  He loves jelly tarts and sneaks into the kitchen to steal some each day.  He brings a note of optimism to the group.  He keeps the group on track during times of struggle.  Ezran also has a secret ability that becomes very handy later in the series. 

Callum:  The older brother of Ezran and prince of Katolis.  He doesn’t have the direct royal bloodline like Ezran, but Callum isn’t worried about that.  Callum is being trained in the ways of sword-fighting and horseback riding.  He isn’t very good at either.  Callum has a bit of crush on Claudia.  He is extra sensitive to the feelings of those around him and is made fun of by others has being a bit of a wimp.  We later discover that description is completely false when Callum learns he is a mage.  Callum’s journey to learn about magic is one of my favorite plotlines of the series.

Soren:  Older brother to Claudia and part of the Crownguard of Katolis.  Even though he is barely an adult, he has excellent skills with the sword.  He makes fun of Callum quite a bit, but it’s mostly in good fun.  He tends to be a little “thick” during delicate situations and this gets him into trouble.  This also creates some good comic relief.  He struggles with staying loyal to his father and doing the right thing. 

Claudia:  Sister to Soren and daughter of Viren.  Second only to her father in Dark Magic prowess, she can be very resourceful.  She saves more than one person from the brink of death.  In the opposite direction of her brother, Claudia starts off almost innocent and slowly becomes more like her father.  Claudia is loyal to a fault.  She will do almost anything for her family. 

Viren:  Our favorite scary dad.  Friend of King Harrow and father to Soren and Claudia.  He is always looking for a shortcut to get what he wants.  He is a master of Dark Magic and uses it “for the good of the people” several times.  Over the series, he goes from “not great” to the main villain of the story.  Even his own son abandons him in his quest to take over Xadia.  He is pulled into a life of darkness out of desperation.  He meets a mysterious creature through a magic mirror and his downfall is immediate and severe. 

Amaya:  Aunt to the princes and General of the Standing Battalion.  She commands at The Border.  She is one of the few people that protect the princes over the entire series.  She never waivers in her loyalty.  She is the only Deaf character in our story, but she does not let it hinder her mission.  In fact, I think it makes her character more compelling. 

Animation and Music:

The animation is a mix of 3-D computer animation and hand-panted backgrounds.  Apparently, the frame rate in season one was less than desirable to some of the fans.  I didn’t even notice the difference.  Regardless, the animation is sharp and each character has a distinct style.  The wide landscape shots are absolutely gorgeous.

The score of each series reflects the ever-increasing threat level of the villain and how important the mission becomes.  A full array of instruments from around the world are used to complement each scene.  I love how a solo will be joined by a slowly rising orchestra to raise the tension and focus you into the current emotions of the characters. 

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