Netflix Original animation The Dragon Prince brings together an unlikely trio. Two human princes, Callum (Jack De Sena) and Ezran (Sasha Rojen), and the moon elf, Rayla (Paula Burrows), sent to kill them, set out on a journey to bring peace to Xadia.
I’ve been eagerly anticipating The Dragon Prince ever since it was first announced. I am a huge fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender (the series, I refuse to watch the M. Night Shyamalan travesty) and would say that it ranks in my top 10 TV series of all time. Well, actually it’s probably tied for a spot with the equally excellent sequel series The Legend of Korra. When I heard that one of the head writers on Avatar: The Last Airbender, Arron Ehasz, was working on a new series for Netflix, that was it: I had to review it.
The Dragon Prince is something that I haven’t seen for a long time, a high-fantasy animated series. The series takes place in the magical world of Xadia where dragons, elves and humans co-exist happily. The world is governed by six prime sources of magic (sun, moon, sky, water, earth and the stars). 1000 years ago the humans (it’s always the greedy humans) dabbled with a seventh dark magic, which was powerful but leeches life from the magical creatures that inhabit the world. The humans were forced out into the west with a border guarded by a dragon king – the dragon and its heir, the titular dragon prince, leaving a world precariously balanced on the brink of all-out war.
There are a lot of elements of The Dragon Prince that will be familiar to anyone who’s seen Avatar: The Last Airbender. The story follows an unlikely trio of heroes thrown together by circumstance. The three of them must journey across the world to try and save it, and along the way, they have some adventures and slowly learn more about themselves, their place in the world and their potential. It’s not that straightforward, of course; as with Avatar the three are being relentlessly pursued across the continent. The world itself is constructed around a similar notion to Avatar’s bending – powers drawn from fundamental elements. The show itself is divided into books (like Avatar and The Legend of Korra) each one representing one of the elements, which hopefully means we’re in for at least a six-season run.
I really like the world that the show has created. Within 5-10 minutes of the opening episode, I already had a good handle on the world and its inhabitants. This was one of the things that really won me over quite early on. Despite being thrust into an unfamiliar world, with unfamiliar characters, it all made sense quite quickly. It’s a living, breathing setting, and as the show progresses we begin to learn more about the events that have shaped it. The Dragon Prince manages to convey the notion of the unreliable narrator really well – it’s clear that what we are shown in the opening episode is only told from a certain point of view. There are definitely areas of grey.
The Dragon Prince is a well constructed series with some great characters at its heart. The setup feels familiar to anyone who has seen Avatar but it never felt derivative. Like Avatar this series doesn’t feel like a children’s show; yes, it’s a cartoon, but there is enough in here to charm audiences of all ages. I’m really looking forward to continuing to follow the adventures of Ezran, Callum and Rayla.