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 Review – Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts (Season 2): It’s So Fluffy!

We find revelations and some fluffy mutants in this season.

SUMMARY (Spoilers for Season 1)

It’s the future and humanity blew it. After we wrecked the environment, the surviving humans fled underground into “burrows.” Kipo Oak (Karen Fukuhara) was blown out of a burrow when it was attacked by a “mega-mute,” a building-sized mutant animal. Washed to the surface of the post-apocalyptic landscape, Kipo meets the fierce warrior girl Wolf (Sydney Mikayla), the mini mutant pig Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker), the friendly con-man Benson (Coy Stewart), and Benson’s mutant insect pal Dave (Deon Cole). Together, the group managed to return Kipo to her burrow and her father, Lio (Sterling K. Brown), only for him and the rest of the burrow to be kidnapped by the mutant mandrill dictator Scarlemagne (Dan Stevens). However, Kipo has started to develop some strange abilities that might make her the perfect person to save all of the humans.

These kids are alright.

END SUMMARY

When I reviewed the first season of this show, I said that it’s difficult for a show to be set in the post-apocalypse and not get super dark as more and more things are revealed. This season has proven that to be true, as things have gotten a bit darker due to the setting, but the show still overall remains positive. Just as before, the key is that Kipo, Benson, and even Wolf are extremely emotionally resilient. Yes, they get hurt and sometimes suffer a loss of faith, but they quickly fight through it in order to keep going. It helps that the world in which this show is set is a unique kind of charmingly horrifying. Sure, there are giant monsters that hate humans everywhere, but they’re also giant bunnies or frogs wearing suits, so it’s still somewhat goofy and amusing. I think the basic rule is that it’s very hard for something to be both fluffy and depressing.

Cats in plaid can’t be sad.

The show has struck a solid balance between doing relatively self-contained episodes and episodes that advance the overarching narrative, but this season it managed to set up things in some of the more isolated stories that paid off as part of the larger story. It really allows for the show to always feel like it’s progressing while still being able to do some solid world-building. The show is, after all, as much about the crazy world filled with axe-wielding lumberjack cats and mind-eating tardigrades as much as it is about Kipo. 

This season also managed to develop the supporting characters, not just by fleshing out their backstories, but by having them grow emotionally. Benson becomes a little more serious at times and Wolf manages to become a little more trusting and a little less uptight. Even Mandu, a non-verbal animal companion, gets some extra traits over the season.

And the villain gets a TON of development.

Overall, the show is doing a great job. It’s still cute, fun, creative, and entertaining.

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.