by The Collected Mutineer
Dragons, elves, mages. That was what sold me on trying out The Dragon Prince, a new Netflix original animated series. What I wasn’t expecting was diversity, dark story elements, and a great sense of humor. Thinking about watching the show? Keep reading.
This post is 99% spoiler-free.
Developed by Aaron Ehasz (of Avatar: The Last Airbender fame) and Justin Richmond, TDP is set in a fantasy world, where the magical land of Xadia is at war with the Human Kingdoms to the west. Although the continent was once peaceful and humans lived among the elves and dragons, everything changed when a mage discovered dark magic, drawn from the life force of magical creatures. Disgusted by his actions, the elves expelled the humans from Xadia.
For years, the border between the lands was guarded by the Dragon King. Though powerful, the King was murdered by human assassins, and his only heir, the Dragon Prince, was smashed inside his own egg. In the aftermath of this tragedy, a band of Moonshadow Elves sneaks into one of the human kingdoms with a plan to kill King Harrow and his heir Ezran in retaliation.
The main plot centers around Ezran, his older half-brother Callum, and a young Moonshadow elf named Rayla with whom they form an unlikely alliance. When the three discover that the Dragon Prince’s egg was not smashed, but instead kidnapped (eggnapped?), they resolve to take the heir back to its mother in Xadia and hopefully put an end to the terrible war. Unbeknownst to them, Harrow’s advisor, the powerful mage Viren, was not only behind the theft of the egg but is intent on keeping the conflict going. He sends his children Soren (a member of the Crownsguard) and Claudia (a talented and bookish dark mage) after the fugitives, with explicit orders to take back the Dragon Prince.
Though the first season is only 9 episodes long, it is full of compelling characterization and thoughtful storytelling. We barely spend any time with our heroes, and yet the plot is carefully crafted to make you care deeply about their success and safety. In many ways, the series reminds me of BBC’s Merlin or an arc in World of Warcraft—deep subject matter is offset with enough lightheartedness that it’s appropriate for almost any audience.
Needless to say, I devoured the first season and am eager for more. Not only does TDP give us an interesting fantasy, but one that will surely resonate deeply with many. I was impressed by the diversity in the show. Various races are represented, and not in positions of servitude. A powerful character also happens to be deaf, and uses sign language to communicate. Each female presence is more than just “strong”—the women are complex in their intelligence, fragility, and desire for change. Luckily, the second season has already been ordered by Netflix and should be released sometime in 2019.
Watch The Dragon Prince if:
- You enjoy fantasy anime
- You crave diversity that feels natural
- You want to escape from the hellish nature of our current society and immerse yourself in something that, while sometimes dark, is ultimately a beacon of hope for peace and equality