Michael Olderr, Contributor
The Dragon Prince is a 3D-animated fantasy action series created by some of the minds behind Avatar: The Last Airbender. The series is about a journey undertaken by two human princes and a former elf assassin. They must return the dragon prince’s egg to the border of their respective lands in order to end a millennium-long conflict. The show promotes itself as the spiritual successor to Avatar; however, this could not be further from the truth.
The first problem that I noticed on the show is its animation. For “artistic reasons”, the creators of Dragon Prince decided to slow down the frame rate of the characters, which makes a stop-motion kind of feel which gets old pretty fast. The only time that it works is when a fight scene is taking place.
Beyond the animation, the show’s execution of the story is its biggest problem. As entertaining as the plot sounds, it is watered down by many scenes both not furthering the plot and not having a lot of stakes. The show barely shows us the conflict that the heroes are trying to stop, leaving the world feeling empty and fans feeling disinterested.
As the series goes on, episodes pass with no significant advancement of the plot, and the only joy to be found is the irony and occasional good joke. The problem is really in the worldbuilding. Dragon Prince tries to say that the world is broken because of years of hatred between the humans and elves; however, they tell, not show, that damage, breaking an important writing rule and leaving us confused.
But Dragon Prince does have one praiseworthy aspect: the character writing. Sometimes, the show lets the characters have moments and scenes that define them in a beautiful way by making them likable and compelling, which makes the show easier to sit through. But then, the characters go and do something that contradicts something else that they just did, just to slug the plot along. The best example of this is the show’s main antagonist, who, in the 4th episode of the show, transforms from a loyal friend into a power-hungry politician in the span of ten minutes.
Overall, if The Dragon Prince wants to be the next Avatar, then it has a lot of work to do. Its occasionally good character writing is overshadowed by a lack of the worldbuilding and high stakes that made its predecessor a classic. As it stands, Dragon Prince can hardly be considered a watered-down version of Avatar, much less its successor.
This article was originally published in the September 27, 2019 issue.