Enchantment and “Disenchantment”

Enchantment and "Disenchantment"

I recently read that Matt Groening’s latest animated series Disenchantment has been renewed by Netflix for a 3rd and 4th season.  

Most of the people I’ve talked to, even those who love Groening’s other shows The Simpsons and Futurama, didn’t really care for Disenchantment.  Many stopped watching after only a couple episodes.  I watched the whole series from start to finish – it wasn’t as good as I hoped, but overall I liked it well enough, once the plot kicked in and it stopped trying to be Futurama with a dumb girl instead of a dumb guy as the lead.  (although it was ~really~ hard to ignore John DiMaggio’s – aka Bender’s – voice coming from the mouth of the King.)  If you gave up on Disenchantment early on, I suggest giving it another try – the plot is unique and fairly engaging once it gets rolling.  

I recall not liking Futurama at first either.  I was expecting a Family Guy type spoof show with a funny robot and crazy professor and I wasn’t sure what to do with characters like Amy and Hermes.  Only over time did I realize “oh, ok they’re actually creating a whole new universe here” and I started to like Futurama for what it is, rather than what I’d expected it was going to be.  Watching Disenchantment was much the same experience – once I set aside my expectations I was able to appreciate what the creators of the show were going for and now I find myself looking forward to more episodes.

The fantasy genre and animation are both things I enjoy immensely. I’ve often wondered why animation has not been more widely utilized for telling fantasy stories. Animation is cheap and yet can easily be used to show things like magic and orcs.  If everyone could just get over the whole “cartoons are for kids” notion we could be enjoying the adult equivalent of Where There’s a Whip There’s a WayUntil that happens, luckily for those of us who’ve remained kids at heart, there’s a bumper crop of animated fantasy children’s shows available to stream right now.   

And unlike Disenchantment, which has a lot of adult humor, you can safely watch them with your older elementary-aged children as well. 

The Dragon Prince  – This is a new elf/mage/dragon type show from some of the creators of what is probably the best children’s cartoon ever, Avatar: The Last Airbender.  It shows, and not always in a good way.  The Dragon Prince is slightly derivative and somewhat more than slightly inferior to its big brother Avatar, due to some fairly jarring shifts in tone from serious to silly, but it’s still an entertaining watch for parents and kids alike.  It was somewhat hard for my children to follow the plot and how the various characters were related to each other, but I enjoyed the political intrigue and the intricate world building of The Dragon Prince.  The kids preferred the swordfighting and the comic relief toad.

Trollhunters  – While the official name of this show is Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, you can probably tell that this is a mostly a show about hunting trolls and not so much about a place called “Arcadia” (what is up with putting colons in the titles of children’s TV shows?)  Trollhunters was created by Academy Award winning director Guillermo Del Toro and has an all star cast of voice actors like Kelsey Grammer and Clancy Brown hamming it up as good and evil trolls.  Plus, Trollhunters features the most awesomely named bad guy in any kids’ cartoon ever – “Anger Rot” – and a sidekick named “Gnome Chompsky”.  (I’m easily amused).  If you have boys, my boys really loved Trollhunters.

Hilda – Hilda is nothing short of pure magic.  If you watch one series on this list, make it this one.  Hilda evades description, really, but it centers around a winsome little girl in a vaguely Scandinavian environment that’s populated by all sorts of magic, naturalistic creatures.  It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before – wonderfully imaginative and quirky, without being contrived.  If you have a child that tends to be easily frightened, this show is not at all scary – there are tense and exciting moments, but not the kind of nightmare fodder that most cartoons seem to be brimming over with.  Hilda is totally fabulous and all of us from old to young were mesmerized by it.  Even the pre-teen was begging to watch the next episode.  Highly recommended!!

Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter  If you have Amazon Prime instead of Netflix, never fear.  This Studio Ghibli series based on a book by Astrid Lindgren (author of Pippi Longstocking) is available for you.  When I read the reviews I saw some people had complained it’s “slow moving”.  My kids were glued to the TV and actually watched it twice, so I suspect that what was called “slow moving” may simply mean “appeals more to children than adults” – though I found it plenty appealing myself.  Putting on my “mom hat” I suspect the frantic pace set by much children’s entertainment may even be harmful to little brains so I appreciate and encourage my kids to watch the slower-moving Studio Ghibli products.  My daughter particularly liked Ronja, The Robber’s Daughter.

And do check out Disenchantment if you haven’t already.  The end is much better than the beginning!

 


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Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of https://atomicfeminist.com/

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14 thoughts on “Enchantment and “Disenchantment”

  1. Whip – They should have had the orcs singing that at some point in the Peter Jackson films.

    Second to TrollHunters, excellent stuff. Also, Voltron is worth it.

    As I mentioned on my tech post, I saw Spider-Man Into The SpiderVerse yesterday and it was incredible. This was the first Marvel animated movie I’ve seen that I loved the style of (most Marvel animation uses a style I find sloppy, unlike the DC animation, which while cartoonish, is sharp). Spiderverse, IMHO, is actually better than most of the DC animation, and DC animation is, to date, where they’ve really shined (we will see if Aquaman or Shazam lives up to the hype). So it wasnice to see Marvel step up their game and give use a gorgeous and smart animated movie.

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  2. Mmmm… Whip is one of my childhood favorites, Bakshi was a true master. That said, I don’t seem to be in a traditional fantasy period right now. Quite happy rereading the Lovecraft inspired works (reading the Titus Crow books right now) but medievalesque isn’t pulling at me.

    All of that said, the wife and I have become big fans of Bob’s Burgers.

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    • I love Bob’s Burgers. It’s the perfect blend for me of slightly-immature-but-not-TOO-gross humor, quirky characters, and slightly absurd plots involving either the family or happenings at school.

      It reminds me of The Simpsons back in the era when I actually liked The Simpsons. (I tend to think that show has kind of run out of ideas).

      Bob’s Burgers is the show that got me to appreciate both butt jokes and fart humor, for whatever that’s worth. And the voice actors are mostly just….*chef finger kiss*

      I liked Futurama OK but was never a die-hard fan like some people are. And I can’t watch the various Seth Macfarlane things, the humor is too mean-spirited for me.

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  3. Agree with you on your list. Hilda is especially charming and surreal- there are moments when you feel like it could go quite dark and then get surprised when it doesn’t and then remind yourself- dude it’s a children’s show.

    Dragon Prince isn’t bad. The adding of deaf characters is quite refreshing but I agree that it really jars when compared to Avatar which was a severely superior world and set of characters. Also having the Avatar sidekicks voice actor being the main character and vice verse vis a vis Avatar is really… weird.

    Troll hunters is not bad. The goofy elements somehow don’t jive with the rest for me. I feel like the goofiness sits on top of the world and story elements like peeling paint but it is a kids show. I was shocked and delighted by what they did with the main character on that one.

    I’d add my vote for Voltron for consideration and you really should check out Steven Universe. Also Oscar is right- Spiderverse is really something special.

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  4. Darn it, you’re make me subscribe to Netflix! lol

    Actually my kids are teens and more into anime, which I can get on prime and hulu, but I may give Ronja a try.

    I am looking forward to seeing Spiderverse at some point during the holidays though.

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