Tales of Arcadia: 3Below Hits Different Highs

24 Dec

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

* Spoiler Alert

The next book in the Tales of Arcadia is now on Netflix and anyone interested in what’s after Trollhunters will find 3Below familiar enough. More slapstick is emphasized in this science fiction teen drama. One terrific detail to note is that this race is an energy-based lifeform, not biological. Imaginative fiction rarely considers other forms of sentient life to become the stars and with CGI, the sky is the limit!

In the solar system where Akaridion-5 lays, the united kingdoms led by Fialkov is getting overthrown. General Morando has simple goals, to rule by domination, and not everyone subscribes to his ideals. He rallied enough warriors to follow his cause, but before he can conquer new worlds, he has to ensure no signs of rebellion can take place by quashing all local resistance. Krel (Diego Luna) and Aja (Tatiana Maslany) are the successors to the throne. As Krel’s coronation is underway, the coup is at hand!

The monarchy survives, but until they can rally allies and support, they must hide. King and Queen are injured, and it takes a long time for them to fully regenerate. The children have to fend for themselves in the most out of the way world they can find. That happens to be Earth, and when bounty hunters are hunting them, perhaps hiding in the township of Arcadia Oaks is not the best thing.

Their adventures match the same enthusiasm as Trollhunters, and it often gets silly. Commander Vex is off the wall (Nick Offerman is excellent for nailing this performance) and he’s supposed to be the guardian of these two heirs. At the same time, he’s the least adaptable to hiding out. In the disguise of a senior citizen, he’s hilarious. Krel and Aja are atypical teenagers, and much of their adventures deal with how to fit in. Their coming-of-age tale is not likely to take place until season two. They need to understand themselves more and find parts to fix their spaceship (named Mother; voiced by Glenn Close).

While the first installment of Tales of Arcadia had elements from Earth lore to draw from, this new series is traditional science fiction material. I thought this series might take a few ideas from Star Trek TOS, “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Like Spock, they have to make do of current Earth tech to build the bits they need to fix the ship. Aja, Krel and Vex can only bide their time and figure out where to find the resources to fix their spaceship. This sentient craft can only do so much. It can at least maintain cover with two droids who pose as a suburban couple from the 50s. The nods to B-Movie culture do not end there.

Instead, we get tales somewhat like Battlestar Galactica 1980 not only because of authorities suspicious of them but also by being chased by enemies from afar. The bounty hunters are a thrill to see. There are seven threats, and three of them have character designs alluding to the gods of Ancient Egypt. The Scarab, Anubis, and Horus like figure suggest Earth was visited by these alien races. This idea may get explored in Wizards–the third chapter of Tales of Arcadia. For sci-fi enthusiasts, the prerequisite time loop tale (“D’aja Vu”) happens to be the best, since it crosses over into Trollhunters territory. More is very likely to come. Two other episodes (“Lightning in a Bottle” and “Last Night on Earth”) show Jim Lake Jr. meeting them proper and months later, again–but no new adventures are offered, only a different perspective.

Eli Pepperjack and Steve Palchuk are the only characters who truly crossover. The former is snoopy enough to learn who Krel and Aja are, and the latter becomes a love interest.

Aja behaves very much like an Earth girl, giddy at the thought of a boyfriend and rebellious enough not to respect authority. At the same time, she is afraid of what her family could return to. While Krel is destined to take the throne next, his arrogance to Earthers requires him to learn humility. Handling high school life is certainly a place to learn appropriate social skills. When he comes off as unlikeable, he will no doubt have to change. Sis is a little better at diplomacy and just how well that works depends on the point of view.

The show bounces between your typical high school comedy (any will do) and Men in Black. The designs are recognizable. As for the protagonists, the lively trio is likable and relatable. Their trials are ours since most of us have been through that in high school before. The master villain is no doubt being saved for the series end, but in the meantime, the adventures the tweens and guardian face are on how to adapt to humanoid life.

Hopefully, waiting for the second season will not take long. I predict it will roll in late 2019.

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