I’ve talked a bit about Amazon’s Lost in Oz but haven’t reviewed it yet. Now that the second season is out, it’s as good as time as any to discuss one of my current favorite cartoons. In two parts, of course.
Lost in Oz follows a precocious young girl named Dorothy Gale and her dog Toto after they accidentally transport themselves (and house) to the land of Oz.
However, this isn’t the Oz from The Wizard Oz.
It’s a magitek society, meaning that science and magic are one and the same. Magical elements are everyday objects that can be used from anything from levitation to healing to powering trains.
And unfortunately, there’s an energy shortage. Nobody knows what’s happening to the magic and the only one who can solve the mystery, Glinda the Good Witch is missing. With the help of her newly found friends West the Witch and Ojo the giant Munchkin, Dorothy must find Glinda and the source of the magical shortage in order to get back home to Kansas.
The first season also introduces Reigh the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow and a living doll named Patchwork who join Dorothy in the fight against the villainous magician Fitz and his boss, West’s aunt Langwidere who have been stealing Emerald City’s magic for nefarious purposes.
Much of the first season deals with Dorothy figuring out the science behind Oz table of magical elements and using her mathematical and scientific knowledge to solve the crisis and find Glinda while West learns how to control over her very powerful magical abilities.
Dorothy and West are clearly the main characters and their friendship seems to play a particularly meaningful and important role in fixing the issue.
Dorothy is a great protagonist; her intelligence isn’t overplayed at all. She just happens to be precocious and have a mother who supported all of her scientific endeavors (within reason) and she genuinely wants to help. But it’s West who steals the show. Personality, voice, and character design all combine perfectly together. She somehow manages to be one of the most realistic characters of the show.
But I think the other characters are still pretty awesome; they’re all genuinely interesting, relatable and sympathetic characters.
I really loved what they did with Reigh. It would have been really easy to make him insufferable, as the nerd character often is. They didn’t give him an annoying nasally voice, make him a pedantic asshole or give him a weird stalkerish crush on Dorothy. (Actually, he has a weird obsession with Toto that comes across as more cute than anything.)
The Scarecrow’s absentmindness and amnesia never gets overly frustrating. Ojo might be the most “normal” character but is more than just the comic relief.
And it’s interesting how they’ve adapted the roles and plot points from the original Oz books into this contemporary cartoon, such as what they did with the Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion. Oddly, the Tin Man hasn’t made an appearance, but he has been mentioned in a few throwaway lines. Langwidere and Ojo both appear in the novels though in very different roles.
The show also implies West and her family are related to the original Wicked Witch and confirms that the events of The Wizard of Oz happened as well, with Dorothy’s grandmother completing the original journey into Emerald City. It’s not heavily elaborated on, but it seems to be a topic that the series would cover should it be renewed for more seasons.
What really makes the show stand out is the arts style. Despite being CG, it doesn’t go in the direction of trying to render its world realistically; the citizens of Oz have a variety of skin colors, hair colors and designs but aren’t overly cartoony.
The colors are bright but not obnoxious. The landscape and buildings incorporate a lot of swirls and circles, giving it a distinctive style with a nice mixture between fantasy and modern.
It’s great to simply look at, which is something that I think any cartoons should strive for. Describing the art is always the hardest for me, but this has one of my favorite styles of all time.
It’s a great addition to the world of Oz. A lot of current Wizard of Oz media geared towards children tends to greatly lean towards the saccharine side, despite the source material being rather grim. Lost in Oz has themes of friendship and love, of course, but its not as though its the main idea. It refuses to water-down its themes and present friendship and understanding as the resolution for all conflicts; but it presents true friendship like that of West and Dorothy, as a kind of magic on its own.
One thing that makes this show great is its feminism. It’s not overt or proselytizing, so the way the show presents is the best way to present a case. Show don’t tell. The series gives us multiple female characters, skilled in different sciences (since magic is quite clearly a science in Oz, and an integral part to society at that) with different temperaments and personalities.
Also notable is that none of the characters pursue romantic relationships; there’s the barest hints of them in a few scenes between West and Fitz but they’re quickly forgotten. Heck, the most romantic relationship in this series is between West and Dorothy. I doubt that their friendship will grow into a romantic relationship, considering societal norms about what’s appropriate for children but I think it would be interesting to see.
It’s also interesting to note that neither Dorothy’s or West’s fathers were mentioned. But it’s possible that theyt will be brought up in another season.
Honestly, the worst part about the series is that its an original on Amazon, one of the least popular streaming services. If this was on Netflix, I can guarantee you would be hearing far more about it. The show won three Daytime Emmys: outstanding children’s programing, outstanding sound mixing-animation and outstanding sound editing and animation, and was nominated for three others. It’s definitely worth your time.
And that’s the scoop!
Available: Amazon Prime