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The story is decent but hobbled by lazy writing and weird character behaviour where convenient for the sake of the plot.
The overarching narrative to Dragon Prince is a run of the mill fantasy plot about two princes that leave their kingdom and the safety of their castle to save the world with the help of a former enemy turned ally. The quest draws heavily from Lord of the Rings, the dragon egg and the politics are clearly inspired by Game of Thrones (which also influenced the soundtrack), and the structure of show and its elemental magic are extremely similar to Avatar the Last Airbender. It relies on classic fantasy tropes and doesn't do anything remarkable or unusual with them. Nevertheless the story about a millennium old conflict sparked by the human discovery of dark magic and their subsequent exile for it by the Elves and Dragon is interesting enough.
We follow two young princes (well one of them is a step-prince) from the human kingdom of Katolis, which is one of five human kingdoms on the Eastern half of the continent, on their path to alter the course of world events and end the conflict between human and elves/dragons. The division between Elves and humans is depicted in a believable manner and the animosity between the races is a key part of the story.
At the beginning of the season Moonshadow Elves are depicted as godlike warriors when in moonlight, but their group ends up being killed and captured by regular human guards. Previously the king's adviser had complained that the human army was too far away to lend assistance and that they must use magical subterfuge to survive the Elven attack, but then the Elves are slaughtered without issue by a bunch of normal guards. Why did you need the army or recommend that the King flee the castle if normal palace guards can slay the Elves? Previously the scouting party sent out by the king to find the Elves instantly gave up despite knowing that Elves specialise in invisibility which was really odd. King Harrow resigns himself to his potential death and sulks in his bedroom instead of barricading himself in a dungeon, fleeing the castle, or using trickery to escape the assassins. This makes no sense and clashes strongly with his role as a wise king. The Elves also choose the most heavily guarded route to the King instead of using their innate stealth, superhuman strength and invisibility.
The princes are ordered to evacuate to the Winter Lodge due to the imminent arrival of the assassins, instead of actually evacuating they proceed to run around the castle without supervision until the final night when they are able to just run away. The princes are the future heirs to a king that is about to be assassinated by a group of crack Elven assassins, but nobody checks on them or ensures their safety. What kingdom shows such blatant disregard to the future of their royal bloodline and the continuation of their political dynasty.
Finally Prince Ezren suddenly acquires a power he never explained he had when it was required by the story to conclude the finale. This never comes up in any of the 8 previous episodes and feels ridiculously contrived to the point where it's actually immersion breaking.
These are just a handful examples of issues with the story. There are plenty of moments where characters break character or act irrationally to allow the plot to unravel exactly as the writers wish it to. The writing is surprisingly lazy in places but these problems also plagued Avatar The Last Airbender so maybe it's no surprise.
The show is ugly and it's not a successful example of CGI animation. The visuals detract from the experience.
The visuals of the show are a mixed bag. The landscape shots are genuinely beautiful but some of the scenes with close ups suffer from framerate drops and choppy animation. The character designs are passable to bland. This is probably the worst part of the show.
The sound is very well done. It is abundantly clear that the soundtrack was heavily based on the music from Game of Thrones and it works.
I thoroughly enjoyed the bombastic soundtrack and I think it added a lot to the show. That being said the voice acting was weak in places. I think the fantastic score and strong cast really elevate the show, this is easily the strongest aspect of the series.
The characters of the shows are fairly straightforward. Harrow is the wise old king, who is a good man. Callum is the budding youth with self doubt and confidence issues. Rayla is the angry misunderstood Elven assassin that is plagued by her failure to actually complete any assassinations.
It must be said that the characters are extremely by the numbers. Everybody is exactly what they seem and adhere very closely to their template. Viren's powerplay and Machiavellian schemes came as no surprise whatsoever and Runaan's defiance in the face of threats of torture was exactly what was expected. I will single out Ezren as the shows weakest character. He serves as comic relief and as a naive youngster trying to save an Egg. He is deus ex machina'd powers he never implied even existed to pull off the twist in the series finale. That being said I really liked Viren and Rayla, in my opinion they easily carry the entire show.
This is a decent show for children and has enough serious themes and pop culture references for the older demographic.
I enjoyed the show but I do not think it's outstanding. The writing is very bad in places, the tone is often too silly even for a children's show, and the whole thing is too predictable and by the numbers. Nothing fundamentally new is being shown or done with this series.
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