Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Review
Outside of Adventure Time, I can’t remember the last time I’ve wanted to live in a post-apocalyptic world. I admit, I enjoyed running around Massachusetts in Fallout 4. However, in that game I had advanced power armor and a tommy gun that fired exploding bullets. I wouldn’t last five minutes in a real life Fallout. Then earlier this week, I found Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts on Netflix, and now I want to live through the apocalypse.
Set two hundred years in the future, the show follows Kipo Oak, a 13-year old girl stranded on the surface. She sets out to find her father and people, but having grown up underground, she’s not ready for life of the surface. Especially considering most of that life consists of animals that are either sentient or giant mutants. As luck would have it, she doesn’t have to go it alone and gains a few new friends. With their help, she travels through the ruins of Las Vistas as she tries to find her way home.
If there’s one thing post-apocalyptic stories have in common, its their lack of a diverse color palette. From Fallout to The Walking Dead, all these stories take place in worlds that are gray, somber, and reflect the depressing fact that civilization’s ended. Even Adventure Time’s not fully immune to this; while much of Ooo’s bright and full of life, the ruins of the old world can be gray and lifeless.
In stark contrast, Kipo depicts a world that’s bursting to the seams with vibrant colors. The ruins are covered in bright plants and bizarre flowers, the inhabitants are dressed in bright outfits, and the whole thing’s just amazing to look at. Too bad for Kipo that most beings on the surface don’t like humans.
In the two hundred something years since humanity went to live underground a-la Fallout, most of the animals up above mutated into sentience. What’s more, they each developed their own groups and cultures based on humanity. The Mod Frogs act like the old-school mafia, cats live the lumberjack lifestyle, and so on. They don’t trust each other that well, but most share a hatred of humans.
Kipo’s group consists of four others, that each fill out an archetype in post-apocalyptic stories. There’s Mandu, the four-eyed pig who serves as Kipo’s loyal friend and pet. Wolf, the anti-social loner and fighter whose name fits her to a tee. Benson, the quick-witted and likable teen scavenger. Rounding out the group’s Dave, a talking bug mutant who goes through a constant molting cycle at the worst possible times; I don’t know what his role really is.
I’ve seen these kind of characters before, but as long as they’re done in an interesting manner, I don’t care. Thankfully, the cast of Kipo’s very interesting. Kipo herself is this wide-eyed optimist who, despite being in an unfamiliar environment, enjoys every minute of it. She provides the surface world with a long overdue dose of kindness that brings out the best in others. Even the ones who start as her enemies.
Speaking of enemies, this show’s got a real good villain in the form of Scarlemagne, a power-mad mandrill bent on world domination. He’s got an undeniable charisma to him: he’s very flamboyant, dresses extravagently, and enjoys classical piano. Barely concealed underneath, though, is a sadistic, evil monster determined to hunt down Kipo. With her, he can find her people and build an army big enough to conquer everything. He’s one bad monkey!
A Binge Worthy Good Time
All in all, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is one of the best new cartoons of the year. It’s setting and the “humans underground” backstory evokes the Fallout franchise, the colors and music are vibrant and enjoyable, and the whole thing’s just a treat to watch. It’s like if Fallout and Adventure Time had a kid!
Not to mention, the characters are great. Did you know that Benson nonchalantly admits to being gay to Kipo? That shows how far we’ve come since Korra. In addition, Kipo fits the mold of other strong, female heroines that have been appearing in cartoons in the last few months, like Anne from Amphibia and Luz from The Owl House. If you’ve got some free time this weekend, go binge watch Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts on Netflix. It’s worth your time.
I Give “Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, Season 1” a 4.8/5
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