Monday, January 30, 2017

Yes, I Still Watch Cartoons, and So Should You

Specifically, I am going to recommend you take the time to watch "Trollhunters" currently available for streaming on Netflix. Don't be fooled, just because this is a cartoon on Netflix, it doesn't mean you should ignore it or relegate it to the "kids" section. Especially if you've enjoyed such other cartoons as "Gargoyles," "Batman: The Animated Series," or "Family Guy."


The first thing I want to get out of the way is also the saddest. The primary voice of the series, Anton Yelchin, died in 2016 in one of the most horrific ways you can think of. Prior to his death, obviously, he completed numerous projects that are just coming to light, and "Trollhunters" being one of them. Thank you Anton for so many years of entertainment. I have been a fan of your work from early on and will miss your presence and skill.

Anton is joined by other great talents such as Kelsey Grammer, Fred Tatasciore, Jonathan Hyde, Ron Perlman, and many more. Together, they create a world that is not only interesting and modern, but vibrant and oddly archaic. There is just the right kind of blending between our modern world and the ancient one of the trolls. But, I'm getting ahead of myself, let me back up a little.

Part of the enjoyment I get from this series is discovering new things each episode, and going along the journey with the characters. That being said, I'm not going to divulge too much about the story itself, and ask that if you find my review at all persuading, check it out for yourself. What I can tell you is that although we start off with a similar premise to what we have seen so many times before, the path we go down is, to me at least, unique and exciting.

"Trollhunters" was created by Guillermo del Toro, which explains the participation of such well known actors in a relatively unknown cartoon. It is based on a book by the same name that was written by del Toro and Daniel Kraus. By what I can tell, there are numerous similarities between the two projects, but enough has been changed between the two to allow them both to stand on their own merits. Simply put, watching the cartoon doesn't mean you can't also enjoy the book :)

The animation is similar to that of "How to Train Your Dragon," but on a smaller budget. This is because Dreamworks Animation is behind this project as well. But, that is not an insult to the work done here. The detail exists where it needs to, and there is no lack of talent whatsoever. It is very well drawn. The writing is on par as well. It isn't a true adult-themed project, probably because it is a cartoon geared towards young adults, much like the source material is. But, there is so much humor and lore and information that it works on an adult level too.

If you have kids, or don't have kids, and feel like this is something you could enjoy too, by all means, give the first few episodes a chance. They run about an average of 23 minutes each, and for me, after the second episode I was hooked. Of course, I had my nephew talking it up since he had already watched it with his son and told me how good it was.

To my knowledge, the series has not yet been officially renewed for a second season by Netflix, but it is all but guaranteed. My belief is that they are working with del Toro to understand if a suitable replacement for Anton's role as the lead character can be found. Numerous articles speak of how hard it was for Anton to find the character's voice at first, but once he did, it was solid. You can sense this too for yourself when you watch the first three episodes. Trying to replicate that, or at the very least, honor it in a way, is going to be hard. I can see Netflix waiting, and deferring to del Toro to make the call if there could be a second season.