One of the newest Netflix animated series is a delightful series called Kipo and The Age of Wonder Beasts. A post apocalyptic, sci fi fantasy produced by Dreamworks Studios and created by Radford Sechrist. Kipo (Karen Fukuhara) is a 13 year old girl with purple skin and hair, who after living her whole life underground is thrust to the surface and separated from her father after an attack by a strange creature called a Mega Mute. As she tries to find her way back to her father and fellow burrow people, Kipo makes friends with a vast array of colorful characters. Both human and Mute alike.
Not long after making her way though the mysterious world of the surface, Kipo runs into a pig Mute that she names Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker). Kipo’s first human ally is found in the form of Wolf (Sydney Mikayla), a tenacious little girl wrapped in a wolf pelt who grew up on the surface and prefers to keep to herself. Though they initially bump heads, Wolf agrees to aid Kipo in finding her father. The trio eventually run into the clever pair of human Benson (Coy Stewart) and insect mute Dave . The latter of which goes through a repeating life cycle of infancy to elderhood though out the day.
Throughout the 10 episode season, the five of them journey together through various landscapes, encountering creatures ranging from a group of intellectual wolves whose twin leaders are voiced by GZA and John Hodgman, a guitar playing snake gang leader voiced by Joan Jett, to a villainous and classically dressed Mandrill named Scarlemagne, voiced by Legion’s Dan Stevens.
While the over all series has a collected story, each episode feels self contained without the need for a cliffhanger to incentivize viewers to binge it all at once. Something that can’t be said about a lot of Netflix exclusives. The animation done in collaboration between Dreamworks Studios and Korean animation company, Studio Mir is bright and full of life. They’ve managed to make probably the most fun looking post apocalyptic setting I’ve ever seen. The soundtrack for the show is top notch. It mostly consists of hip hop and R&B, while branching into other genres to fit the current mood in a given scene.
As mentioned before, the cast is colorful and dynamic. Most of the main cast is heavily fleshed out despite the season only being ten half hour episodes. Kipo and Wolf in particular get the most development. We get multiple flashbacks to their lives before they met and what led them to be who they are today. In the case of Benson and Dave, while Dave mostly serves a supportive role, Benson is an especially unique character.
While we live in a time where more and more media directed at children features openly LGBT characters, it’s still quite refreshing to see a character like Benson. A black, carefree, gay teenager who doesn’t have to suffer to show who he is. He’s a multifaceted asset among an already stellar cast and should there be a season 2, I hope we get to see more of his backstory as well.
Overall, there’s something warmly wholesome about this show that gives me the same feeling as watching stuff like the original Ben 10 or different as they may be, shows like Craig of the Creek. It’s a brief, but welcome fun ride that manages to set up a lot to look forward to, should it get another season.
If you have a day or two to binge, or you just want to see something one episode at a time, I highly recommend Kipo and The Age of Wonder Beasts.