TV Review: Trollhunters Season 1

Since last year, I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that Netflix and Dreamworks have been teaming up to come up with quality animated shows, that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike. First, it was the remake of “Voltron: Legendary Defender”, a remake of an old anime; and now, there is Guillermo del Toro’s “Trollhunters”. For me, as a fan of animated shows and films, and as a fan of stories, these are a breath of fresh air, as it manages to find the perfect balance that caters to both kinds of audiences.

“Voltron”, which had the animators of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “The Legend of Korra”, managed to get the Saturday morning cartoon thing down to pat, while balancing it with great characters and storyline.  “Trollhunters”, on the other hand, is computer animated, and brings everything audiences loved about “How To Train Your Dragon”, with the creative mind of Guillermo del Toro. So, if you are a fan of shows with rich mythology, magic, characters that have amazing depth to them, amazing animation and amazing camera work, and of del Toro, this show is definitely for you.

“Trollhunters” tells the story of James “Jim” Lake, Jr. (Anton Yelchin), an ordinary teenage boy, who ends up getting thrust into the world of magic and trolls that live underneath the ground, after a magical amulet chooses him as the next Trollhunter- a champion who protects both the human and troll world from the forces of evil. Together with his friends, new allies, and mentors, Jim tries his best to save the world while trying to juggle that life with his school and family life.

The entire series is based on a book of the same name that was written by Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus. The music was written by Alexandre Desplat; and boasts writing and directing talents such as Rodrigo Blaas, Marc Guggenheim, del Toro, Dan and Kevin Hageman, Aaron Watke, Chad Quandt and A.C. Bradley.

The voice cast is in a league of its own as well with the late Yelchin starring as Jim; Kelsey Grammer as Blinkous “Blinky” Galadrigal; Fred Tatasciore as Aaarghhh!; Jonathan Hyde as Walt Strickler; Lexi Madrano as Claire Nunez; Ron Perlman as Bular; Clancy Brown as Gunmar; Charlie Saxton as Tobias “Toby” Domzalski; Steven Yeun as Steve Palchuck; Tom Hiddleston as Kanjigar; Amy Landecker as Dr. Barbara Lake;  Ike Amadi as Angor Rot; Victor Raider-Wexler as Vendel; and Matthew Waterson as Draal, just to name a few.

From this moment on, there will be spoilers, so if you have not seen Part I of “Trollhunters” yet, binge watch all twenty-six episodes, then come back here.

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From the start, I knew that this would be amazing series, what with the amazing and visionary mind of del Toro leading the charge. I had watched del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” years ago, so I knew that the mythology in the show would be rich, and that the art would be amazing. In those respects, the series exceeded all of my expectations, especially in those moments in which camera work and animation blended seamlessly that it took my breath away, and at times, made me forget that I was watching an animated show. The mythology that was presented in the first part or season of the series was also amazing, to the point that I cannot wait to explore more and I really do hope that they put out a book explaining everything one day.

For an animated, all ages show, I was amazed at how they were able to develop such depth in all of the characters, including the villains; and that they were able to balance an ensemble cast, without leaving anyone out, which, more often than not, becomes the problem in shows with an ensemble cast. Of course, it also helps that they had a stellar cast to go hand in hand with the characters they had. Aside from this, I loved how they were able to explore the different relationships and dynamics that each characters has with each other.

Jim, voiced by Yelchin, the reluctant hero of the series, really came into his own through the course of the series, and by the time it hits the season’s halfway mark, you can see how much he had grown as a character. However, that evolution doesn’t stop, and continues to grow and change, all the way to the season finale.  Jim is definitely the heart of the entire show, and it is noticeable as the series gets progressively darker as Jim develops as a character, and as more and more scenarios are thrown at him and his friends.

Toby and Claire are also given chances to shine and grow on their own, and you see them develop into indispensable members of the Trollhunters team. I also liked how the show did not really stick to stereotypes as much, and gave Toby the girl of his dreams, while making Claire into a strong heroin that young girls can look up to.

Each of the Trolls, from Blinky to Draal, also had their moments to shine, and each had their own moments in which they also grow as characters.

Another thing that I liked was that most of the villains, especially Angor Rot and Strickler, were given depth and complexity. I loved how Strickler became an ally in the end because he ended up falling for Jim’s mother, and that Angor Rot was someone who just made the wrong deal with the wrong person, and that turned him into a villain.

The storylines, structure and pacing were done really well; and it was done so that the thirteenth episode felt like a mid-season finale or season finale and the fourteenth episode was the season or mid-season premiere.

All in all, “Trollhunters-Part I” is definitely not your typical animated show, and it blends and finds a perfect balance in everything it wanted to accomplish, from amazing visuals and animation, to a story rich in mythology with characters that audiences of all ages can invest in and relate to. I am definitely looking forward to the second season, and am glad that we will still get to hear Yelchin as Jim for thirteen more episodes.

Favorite Moments:

  • Armor transformations- that moment when Jim first unlocked the amulet; the moment he did it in front of Claire; every time he says “For the glory of Merlin, Daylight is mine to command!”;  every time he upgrades his armor; the last upgrade for the season and the new chant of “For the doom of Gunmar, Eclipse is mine to command!”
  • Stickler and Jim fighting in the dining room while Jim’s mom was making apple pie.
  • Jim activating the kairosect
  • I literally laughed out loud during Jim’s Spanish oral.
  • Claire fighting Angor Rot and telling him that she is “No Man!”
  • The fight and chase sequences all throughout.
  • That moment when the amulet flew to Jim from his house; and the first encounter with the golems.
  • The camera work in the big battle sequence in Episode 13.
  • Toby and Jim smashing Angor Rot.
  • The last few minutes of the season finale, with Jim deciding to enter the Darklands without his team.

Favorite Episodes:

  • Episodes 1 & 2- Becoming Part I & II
  • Episode 11-13- Recipe for Disaster; Claire and Present Danger; The Battle of Two Bridges
  • Episode 18- The Shattered King
  • Episode 20- Where is My Mind?
  • Episode 22- It’s About Time
  • Episodes 23-26- Wingmen, Angor Management, A Night to Remember, Something Rotten This Way Comes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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