Kipo’s Gotta Wear Shades in the Age of the Wonderbeasts

16 Jan

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Available on Netflix

When bizarro fantasy meets post-apocalypse, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is an exotic experience punctuated by its musical interludes. The soundtrack is a mix of hip hop and industrial. The songs are actually part of the narrative instead of musical bookends to move the story forward. Music Supervisor Kier Lehman (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse) and composer Daniel Rojas (Downsizing) have done an incredible job!

I think of this program of reversing an idea presented in Futurama. The mutants went underground and the normals lived in a high-tech world. Reverse this idea and that’s this series in a nutshell.

The fantastic art direction by Angela Sung (The Legend of Korra) makes this work stand out. Instead of gothic tones to show a world that we knew is gone, the colours of Spring exploded to show how the world has healed. The new dangers are in places where we’re not likely to find them ala Brothers Grimm.

The story revolves around the titular Kipo (voiced by Karen Fukuhara) who finally investigates the surface world. She meets a various assortment of anthropomorphic creatures-ranging from a talking pigs, cats, snakes and wolves-and not all of them are friendly. In whom she can befriend, a four eyed pig whom she names Mondu (Dee Bradley Baker), they soon embark on a quest. Her family and fellow humans are missing. She wants to find out what happened to them.

Along the way, she learns a few humans remained in this strange Oz like wonderland, hence the title. Wolf (Sydney Mikayla) and Bensen (Coy Stewart) have pasts that slowly get revealed. The diminutive girl (the former) may look tough, but conceals something else which makes the episode “Mute-Eat-Mute World” the standout of a very short 10 episode season one run.

“Mulholland” is almost surreal; the team relive the best part of their lives, but it comes at a cost.

The vibrant world Kipo shows there’s beauty hidden in a very dangerous world. It’s a dog eat dog world, and each species have either reverted to what they were as primates or adapted.

This series originally began as a web-comic by Radford Sechrist(at time of writing, the website seems to be broken) that I was not aware of. Now that I’ve seen this series, I want to leap ahead to get hints at where season two is going to head with the online series. It has the potential to be a regular ongoing program than one with a slated end. Instead of being a coming-of-age tale of a young girl, it can expand in other directions to detail how humanity continues to survive. And we don’t have to worry about Godzilla to rule the surface while the humans stay safe underground!

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