Monday, January 9, 2017

Trollhunters Season 1 Netflix Series Review

Trollhunters (2016-)
Season 1 - 26 episodes (2016)

Watch Trollhunters on Netflix
Created by: Guillermo del Toro
Starring: Anton Yelchin, Kelsey Grammer, Ron Perlman, Steven Yeun
Rated: TV-Y7

This animated series based on Guillermo del Toro's book is about teenage Jim, who finds a magical amulet. He becomes the Trollhunter, and with his friends, must protect humans and the trolls that live underground.

Trollhunters is imaginative and enjoyable for a wide ranges of ages as characters evolve and take on new roles. For a 'kid's show', it has a surprising amount of depth. This isn't Trollhunter Jim fighting the same bad guy every episode, the season is built around a big story arc, with small stories fleshing out each episode. This isn't just taking a movie premise and stretching it to become a series, it's a broad story that needs time to develop. There isn't enough time in a movie for the story to take so many turns.
While it includes many of the standard teenage hero elements, it does them quite well. Each character is the hero of their own arc, and this doesn't keep it simple and safe. While it is animated, and not intended to catch adults seeking a dark and brooding story, it's a satisfying watch.
Watch it.

While Netflix promoted this as fun for the whole family, it skews more towards pre-teens/teens and up. Jim is a teenager that soon finds himself balancing high school with protecting an underground troll species. In the first episode he finds a magical amulet that grants him power. The amulet chose him, the first human to ever hold the mantle of Trollhunter. He's aided on his quest by best friend Toby and trolls Blinky & Argh. Later Claire aids his journey.

Toby, Blinky, & Jim.
It's a fun fantasy. It has a fairly predictable start. Jim is chosen to be a hero, yet he's trying to fit in at school and has a girl he likes, Claire. His history teacher Strickler is evil, though we don't know his intentions until a few episodes in. Strickler does have an alliance with the bad troll Bular that felled the last trollhunter. That battle was the opening to the series.
The show lampshades the name. Doesn't that mean Jim hunts trolls? He does, but only the bad trolls.

Strickler & Bular.
Usually animated series are less than movies in quality of story and animation, but this is intended to be a series, providing a lot of depth to the story and characters. The animation looks great, with lighting and textures often standing out.

Jim in his trollhunter armor.
In episode four, Jim stands up to the bully that's been tormenting him, punching him. Instead of Claire fawning over him, she questions whether violence was right. I appreciate the show asks the question, since there are frequent battles. The only fight questioned is the one between humans.
Throughout the series, Jim has to balance the demands of being a hero with high school and requirements at home. His mom begins to wonder what's going on.

Claire learns about Jim's abilities and begins helping in his quest. Toby and Argh forge a friendship that you can probably predict where it goes. Argh's a likeable character, but becomes even more interesting as you learn his backstory. Episode eleven also has a great scene with Jim and Strickler fighting with cutlery. Strickler has deviously begun dating Jim's mother just to get closer to Jim. When he comes over for dinner, he and Jim begin fighting when his mom leaves the room.

Angor Rot.
Episode thirteen includes an epic battle with Bular, but Jim's fight isn't over. A new enemy emerges, Angor Rot. I really liked Rot's design, the design of all the trolls is good, but the bad troll's design is especially notable. The second half of the series is Jim making preparations to fight Angor Rot, with continuing arcs concerning the rest of the characters. I really liked how Claire went from being a girl he liked to a friend. She has a natural ability to help fight.

While Jim is the Trollhunter, the name is Trollhunters. As Jim often tells the trolls, he can't do the job alone. He, Toby, and Claire are all trollhunters.

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