Follow TV Tropes
The Dragon Prince is a wonderfully developed series with a wide age demographic. It handles far darker issues than most children's shows commit to, such as war and grief. The cast of characters is wonderfully diverse.
The story is quite compelling, with a fresh new take on traditional fantasy conventions.
The art is lush (although the frame rate is rather jittery in the first season).
The best part is the characterization. Each character feels like a real, distinct person, shaped by their backstory and the world they live in, with realistic flaws and personality traits. The show also tackles moral ambiguity head-on, set in a world at war with "centuries of wrongs on both sides". Characters make mistakes, and these mistakes affect the plot realistically. The writers are also, quite thankfully, willing to let the characters change and grow and develop as the series progresses, leading to wonderful character arcs.
Overall, 10/10 recommend this show, as the plot holes are few, the characters are well-developed and multidimensional, the story intriguing, and the setting unique.
I used to think the worst season cartoon finale of the decade was for Star vs The Forces of Evil Season 4. Dragon Prince Season 3 blew it out of the water. Its so stupid its hard to describe everything bad about it but I'll try.
A lot of the story revolves around the heroes trying to stop the humans and the elves going to war. Viren is supposed to be the bad guy in this scenario for wanting to invade Xadia. Except that the elves make it very clear they want a war, as even after they kill King Harrow, they continue to attack the humans. General Amaya nearly dies foiling an invasion by the Sunfire elves. What the story tries to portray Prince Ezran as a tragic hero. However, the citizens don't know any friendly elves and are justifiably terrified, so he just comes off as a Love Martyr instead. Viren's aim of peace through a show of force comes off as rational and historically accurate. The narrative wants people to choose peace when its not an available option.
So when Viren invades with his huge human assembled army, heroes make the brilliant choice of helping the Sunfire elves fight and kill them. You could play a drinking game with how many times Ezran says "there has to be another way" yet in the season 3, Ezran chooses to help the alliance that killed his father instead of the citizens he is supposed to rule and govern. The Sunfire elves are a militaristic society that subjects the humans it captures to a test that could kill or mutilate them, and enslaves them as pets on the if they survive. And they tried to invade as mentioned before. But they're the victims. What really takes the cake is when Ezran leads a group of dragons to burn the human army to death. It doesn't work, but the intention was clear. Had Viren not powered them up before the fight, they would all be dead. Ezran essentially lead attempted mass murder. Yet the show only makes it a note of despair when the army gets up again. Also, Aanya helps the elves, because she's cute, and the writers want to force her in, in spite of losing her parents to Xadia's dragons.
The painful irony is they accomplished what Viren was trying to do, which is use force to pacify the other army. It had the same result of thousands dying, so it really undercut the moral high ground the heroes had for fighting Viren. Also they caused a s***storm of political baggage as a result. The two princes will be known from the survivors for organizing the army's downfall. The main character's won a battle, but lost all political influence they had among humans as a result.
Or they would in a sane world. I have a suspicion that all of this is going to swept under the rug. Especially given Aaravos's return, who will likely employ an army of mooks for all of the heroes to fight, proving the old adage, all is forgiven in the face of a new enemy. What won't return is my respect for the show. This show wanted a big battle and did not care about the context and consequences and what we got was a huge mess.
Most of the way through the first season, I was struggling to sort my thoughts out, and the comparison occurred to me: "This is the kids' version of Game of Thrones."
So why am I so much less impressed with Prince than I was with Thrones?
Some of it is that fanservice. I'm just too old to appreciate blatant fart jokes anymore. Some of it is the uneven tone, with Prince lurching back and forth between cartoonish hijinks and moments of (genuine, earned) emotional pathos. Part of it is the season's incredible brevity; at only 3 hours, it's less than half the length of an A:tLA season, giving us less time with the characters. Part is the lack of world-building, instead focusing on character arcs. (It's not that I'm some sort of grimdark snob; for my money, Avatar is a better show than Game of Thrones.)
Fundamentally, the problem that I had was the show's lack of direction. Even when A Game of Thrones first came out, one book of seven, you could get a glimpse of the Myth Arc. Dragon Prince has no such momentum. This show has a lot of cool places it could go; but will it go there? Will it go anywhere? Even though an entire season has been released, I am as yet unable to answer.
This show is bad. Not just bad for its pedigree, but just bad in general. I doubt anyone would have given it a second thought if its creators weren't attached to Avatar. The most immediate flaw is that the animation looks unfinished. The frame rate is sluggish and absolutely nothing flows together well. Poor animation, even animation this bad, would be forgivable if the story was good, but it utterly fails to be interesting.
At first the conflict seems quite nuanced, with both sides seemingly having a point, but that quickly vanishes as character's are sorted into good and bad sides.
The voice acting is passable, but the dialogue the actors are forced to use is completely salvageable.
Of the main characters only Rayla has an arc that's any way captivating and that's marred by her being needlessly bitchy and unwilling to share information (highlight needlessly). It's also ludicrous she was even involved in the plot to begin with given her experience and job requirements.
The pacing is good in the first three episodes, but then comes to a dead stop as the characters achieve basically nothing for the rest of the series.
Lastly, the comedy is absolutely atrocious, and the show knows it, but lampshading bad comedy doesn't make it good.
Avatar: The Last Airbender was one of my favorite shows growing up, so naturally I had to take a look at this. After binging the entire first season, here are my impressions. Spoilers to follow, though I'll do my best to avoid them.
The art is gorgeous. The character designs, costumes, monsters, landscapes, and environments are all beautifully done, and special attention should be paid to the magic, which is dazzling from start to finish. The cel-shading does a great job giving the series its own unique look. The only real art-related criticism I have is the reduced framerate. Apparently it was done to make it look more like a 2D-animated show, and you do get used to it, but it can be pretty jarring at times.
The writing is also definitely solid. The younger main characters manage to keep it casual without going Totally Radical and the adult characters make their enigmatic fantasy dialogue work without going full-on Sword And Sorcery cheesy. The worldbuilding is simple but effective, and exposition is mostly managed without too much Info Dump (barring the opening narration).
Now let's get to the characters and voice acting. Our main heroes, Callum and Rayla, both give it their all, but Rayla's less-than-stellar Scottish accent can be distracting. Besides that, though, their delivery and emotions definitely sell the lines and characterization. Callum's Character Development and discovery of his own powers is deftly handled, and Rayla's emotional turmoil challenging her own misconceptions and sense of self really shines throughout the season. Ezran is a bit of a weak link at times; he's not annoying, but sometimes he sounds unenthusiastic. The Big Bad is actually handled with a surprising amount of subtlety and finesse; he's not Obviously Evil, and he initially appears to be mostly a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but as the season goes on it becomes clear his motivations aren't completely selfless either. Soren and Claudia, meanwhile, more than pull their weight as the comic relief Those Two Guys.
Overall, The Dragon Prince is a fun, no-BS fantasy romp with a colorful cast of characters, beautiful art, sophisticated writing, and good voice acting. If fantasy or animation appeals to you at all, definitely give this a watch.
Community Showcase More
How well does it match the trope?