"The Reward" is a short film that was created by students of the Danish animation school The Animation Workshop as their bachelor project. After its release in January 2013, it went viral within days of going online, gaining a lot of attention on Tumblr.
Its popularity is largely based on its epicness and play with familiar fantasy tropes. The awesome music doesn't hurt either.
The short can be watched in full length hereThe Kickstarter campaign
to develop the short's universe into a more complete and coherent narrative wrapped up on April 6th, 2013, and the creators are currently working to build "Tales of Alethrion" into a full-fledged series.
Tropes found in The Reward include:
- Adrenaline Makeover: The two slowly grow into the role of Badasses over the adventure, and it's visible.
- Adventure Duo: Self-explanatory.
- Adventure Town: The heroes pass through a few, most notably the colorful tower city.
- All There in the Manual: Word of God states that the protagonists' names are Wilhelm and Vito, respectively, Vito being the magician and Wilhelm the swordfighter. Their village is named Tohan. It's also stated that Wilhelm spends his time wasting his life in the small village.
- And the Adventure Continues: Not only for the two kids who "inherit" the map, but for Wilhelm, Vito, and the two cute girls they pick up — who already seem pretty solid on that Power of Friendship deal.
- Awesomeness Is Volatile: The high-five that our two adventurers share when they realize that the greatest reward is their newfound friendship leads to an explosion of awesomeness. Literally.
- Badass Beard: Vito grows a damn impressive one.
- Badass Mustache: Wilhelm grows one after he takes a level in badass.
- Battle Couple: Wilhelm and Vito, naturally, of the Sword and Sorcerer type.
- Big, Thin, Short Trio: The three thugs from the City — a foppish Big, a sniveling, toad-like Short, and the Thin is the leader.
- Book Ends: The story starts in Tohan with the unnamed hero passing the map on to Wilhelm and Vito (though seemingly by accident) and ends with Wilhelm and Vito returning as seasoned heroes, "accidentally" dropping the map to pass it on to the next generation of good-for-nothings.
- Casanova Wannabe: Vito at first. After he takes a level in badass his success with the ladies vastly improves and he becomes a Chick Magnet.
- Convection Schmonvection: The narwhals seem to be pretty heat resistant, considering that they're swimming through lava.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Our protagonists slay a High God, among other impressive and monstrous beings.
- Fingore: To Wilhelm, and quite unexpectedly so.
- Fist Bump: Shared by the two when lying in bed together snuggled against a dragon in its lair.
- Physical God: Has a brief appearance before he's slain by Wilhelm and Vito.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Arguably so. They're shown to be very popular with the ladies once their adventure gains momentum. On the other hand, the two share a few touching moments and are shown lying in bed together, naked or at least in their underwear by the looks of it, bumping fists.
- Homoerotic Subtext: Being a bromance this trope is played with. Especially at the part with the dragon cave...
- It's the Journey That Counts: The whole theme.
- Kissgusting: Not in the short, but in a comic drawn by the directors by way of a Magic Kiss.
- Panty Shot: When the Hero tosses a pretty girl into the air.
- Purple Is Powerful: When Vito comes into his own as a sorcerer he wears purple colored lenses and his spells cast a purple aura.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Vito is Red Oni to Wilhelm's Blue Oni.
- Supernatural Is Purple: Vito runs into a cave that spews magenta-colored smoke — and has to be dragged out of it by Wilhelm. But then, his own magic manifests as purple...
- Tears of Joy: Vito does it something serious when Wilhelm wakes up after collapsing from blood loss.
- Terrible Trio: The three thugs. Also overlaps with Big, Thin, Short Trio.
- The Stinger: After the credits it turns out that if our heroes had just looked behind the mirror...
- The Vamp: The leader of the thug trio. (A Kickstarter comment mentions that her name is Mira.)
- Time-Compression Montage: How the two protagonists turn from young boys to older, epic heroes.
- Took a Level in Badass: Wilhelm and Vito are far from seasoned adventurers when they start out. But once they realize The Power of Friendship they conquer everything with an unstoppable amount of badassery.
- Treasure Map: What sends our protagonists on their epic journey.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: At first, at least.
- Walking the Earth: They may be following a map, but Wilhelm and Vito seem to get into a lot of sidequests.