Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (Season 3): The End Comes Now – Netflix Review

This show lasted only one year, but it deserves a lasting legacy.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2)

It’s the future and humanity kind of wrecked Earth, making giant mutant animals into the dominant life form of the surface world. Kipo Oak (Karen Fukuhara) lived in an underground community, called a burrow, until she was thrown from it when it was destroyed by a giant animal. She soon met other surface survivors: The feral Wolf (Sydney Mikayla), the mutant pig Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker), the con man Benson (Coy Stewart), and Benson’s immortal bug friend Dave (Deon Cole). Together, the four manage to find the remainder of Kipo’s burrow and, eventually, rescue them and Kipo’s father (Sterling K. Brown) from the evil mutant mandrill Scarlemagne (Dan Stevens), only for it to be revealed that Scarlemagne was not the only threat. Now, the humans and the mutants must unite to deal with Dr. Emilia (Amy Landecker), a mad scientist who wants to destroy all mutantkind.

Also, Kipo can turn into a megajaguar now. It’s awesome.

END SUMMARY

This has been one of the best shows of the year and I am legitimately sad that it apparently only gets three seasons. However, I also have to acknowledge that it had a fantastic and emotionally powerful ending. It may have been but a brief candle, but it burned brighter than many series that lasted twice as long. Despite that, I don’t think Kipo ever got the same amount of praise as other shows like She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, a series that I genuinely thought didn’t have the same level of quality storytelling as this one (although it also had a hell of a final season). 

The show manages to do a lot with a giant four-armed monkey.

I don’t think I really acknowledged this before, but this is one of the few shows that I’ve seen in a while where there are no white people in the main cast (aside from Dee Bradley Baker who makes pig noises). The show itself never really makes any acknowledgement of race at all, which meant that what normally would be a major accomplishment in representation mostly went unnoticed. It can’t even be attributed to the source material, since Benson, in the webcomic, was a large bearded white guy, as opposed to the thin gay black man that he became in the show. I just want to give the show its due.

It also has one of the best subversions of the “awkward crush” storyline.

The key to this series was the worldbuilding and the sincerity. It takes place in a world that, while it is a dystopia with things like “death ivy” and ruined buildings everywhere, also is filled with creative creatures that have amazingly vivid designs. There are Megabunnies, sentient colonies of tardigrades that can create psychic projections, and even Bees that communicate by dubstep instead of normal dancing. They throw in some giant corgis just for the extra cuteness, because why not? Then, rather than having a bunch of overly dramatic protagonists, we get a bunch of kids who are just trying to make the best of things. Moreover, the show’s protagonists tend to survive better because Kipo is willing to make friends with mutants and work with everyone, rather than Benson’s previous method of stealing or Wolf’s “attack first” mentality. It presents us with two people who are surviving (three if you count Dave), but by the end of the series it shows us that cooperation and harmony lead to everyone thriving. The show genuinely wants to point out that we are stronger together, but it does it through solid narrative, rather than trying to inject morals. The last season is realistic about how hard it is to get people to work together, but it is unambiguous about the merits.

Friendship Alliances are the strongest alliances.

Overall, this show was a great addition to all-ages animation and I will miss it. Goodbye, Kipo, you did great.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Mini-Review: Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

A post-apocalyptic fantasy world with a surprising amount of humor and emotion.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

It’s about 2222 AD and humans pretty much screwed everything up, because we’re the bad guys, duh. Most humans now live underground in “burrows” to avoid the giant mutant animals that now rule the surface. Kipo Oak (Karen Fukuhara) is a 12-year-old girl who lives in an underground city called the Clover. One day, she is caught up in a “mute-quake,” an earthquake caused by giant animals, which blows her out of a river to the surface. There, she meets Wolf (Sydney Mikayla), a young girl who manages to survive the dangers of the surface, as well as Benson (Coy Stewart) and his bug best-friend Dave (Deon Cole). There’s also an adorable four-eyed pig named Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker). Together, they accompany Kipo as she tries to reunite with her father (Sterling K. Brown) and her tribe. Along the way, they deal with frogs dressed in Mod clothing, giant bunnies, hyper-intelligent wolves (voiced by GZA and John Hodgman), and the sadistic Scarlemagne (Dan Stevens). 

Image result for kipo and the age of the wonderbeasts
Yes, that’s a giant turtle in the background.

END SUMMARY

It’s hard to set a kids show in the post-apocalypse without it becoming super dark like Adventure Time. There are only 10 episodes up so far and there are already some horrifying elements and implications, but the show thus far is mostly really upbeat. A lot of that comes from the fact that Kipo is relentlessly positive, despite the fact that she is always about 10 seconds from dying horribly. Benson is similarly carefree, which makes them an interesting pair, particularly when contrasted with Wolf who acts serious all the time to compensate for the fact that she’s a little girl surviving on her own. 

Image result for kipo and the age of the wonderbeasts
There are giant cat lumberjacks. Giant. Cat. Lumberjacks.

The series is based on a webcomic and mostly manages to duplicate the art style for animation. It’s very colorful, despite the apocalyptic setting, with a lot of pinks, purples, and blues. It makes it feel less like a dead world and more like a wonderland. There are a ton of sentient and even talking animals, many of which have humorous eccentricities, as well as just horrible mutant animals. The fact that one of the scariest creatures is the MegaBunny is hilarious to me. 

Image result for kipo and the age of the wonderbeasts comic
It’s a giant fluffy wall of doom.

Honestly, it was a fun series and had some good morals. It manages to avoid most of the pitfalls of other Netflix kids shows and perhaps has one of the most inclusive casts without ever making a big deal about it. I recommend it for anyone with kids or for anyone that liked Gravity Falls. It’s not quite at that level, but I think it gets some of the same elements right. Mostly, it’s really only just started and it has a lot of strong worldbuilding and character development, which is impressive for almost any show.  

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.