As many cartoon aficionados have pointed out; the current trend in Western cartoons is a kind of isekai. Isekai is an anime term that refers to the main character being sent to another world, having adventures and trying to find a way home. Usually these worlds are a place the protagonist is familiar with. That’s not really the case in the Western cartoons, but I digress.
Infinity Trainand Amphibia are both isekais. Netflix’s newest cartoon Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, which I’ll be reviewing next week, is arguably an isekai. And another show joined the trend as well.
And that is The Owl House. The overall concept is pretty simple: goofy outcast Luz finds herself in the Boiling Isles, a land from all of Earth’s myths like vampires, dragons and giraffes originate. She quickly joins the trickster witch Eda the Owl Lady and decides to become a witch apprentice.
The biggest difference between The Owl House and other isekais is that it’s established in the pilot that Luz can pretty much return home whenever she wants. She chooses not to, as the other option would be to go to “Reality Check” summer camp.
So, there’s not the same level of concern for Luz’s safety and security. Which is a nice change of pace from the constant danger the passengers face on board the Infinity Train.
The pilot episode, “A Lying Witch and a Warden,” is fun and peppy, if a bit light on the substance. It does a good job establishing the characters and presents us with the setting. Luz reminds me a bit of Reggie from Twelve Forever, in her giddiness over this unknown magical world and lack of knowledge (or care) regarding social norms. But unlike Reggie, Luz’s passions don’t harm anyone, she isn’t annoying and it’s not about her wanting to be a child, rather keeping her fantasies.
Her antics are far more endearing. But let’s be honest, Eda is the real star of the show. She’s boisterous, fun and is constantly trying to make a quick buck. But she genuinely cares for Luz and definitely has some kind of dark backstory.
Plus she’s voiced by Wendie Malick so she has that haughty, snobbish voice down perfectly. The two other denizens of the Owl House, Hooty the door guardian and King, Eda’s pet/roommate who is the most adorable demon you will find are both voiced the Alex Hirsch.
It’s an absolute delight to hear his goofy, ridiculous voice again. And because the creator of the show, Dana Terrace was a huge player on Gravity Falls, the influence of the former is pretty obvious from the art style, to the dialogue, to the pseudo-pastiche fantasy setting to the humor to the embrace the weirdness within you kind of message.
It’s good to be back, if I want to be honest. All of Hirsch’s dialogue is funny, over-the-top dialogue fits right in with aesthetic. But I do wish it had handled the theme of weirdness and individuality a little better in the pilot. Luz breaks into the castle of [Warden Wrath to retrieve King’s crown. But while there she discovers a group of [outcasts] being held prisoner for being different: writing fan fiction about fruit, or being a conspiracy theorist. That kind of thing. Naturally it ends with Luz freeing them all…and I guess this might be because it’s early on in the show and my focus is only on the pilot, but the Boiling Isles is filled with all sorts of different creatures.
What qualifies as normal there? Certainly not Luz, since she’s human. But I guess I didn’t get enough sense of the setting and people to understand why these behaviors are so out of the norm for a setting we know basically nothing about.
Where this how will go, I have no idea. I haven’t seen anything about hidden messages or ciphers in the show yet, but I’m going to guess those have a good chance of showing up at some point.
I also assume that this show is going to get its footing and become less episodic as time goes on. I definitely don’t think that Warden Wrath is going to be the main villain for the entire series. There’s gotta be something more powerful out there.
It’s not my favorite pilot of all time but I’m definitely going to continue watching. IF only for Eda.
It’s amazing how we’re three weeks into the year, and we already have so many amazing animated shows out: this, Infinity Train: Cracked Reflection, Kipo looks very promising, and we have the final episodes of BoJack Horseman coming out soon. And there’s news that they’re finally making a second season of Made in Abyss (which I can’t believe I forgot to put on my best of the decade list).
2020 seems like it’s going to be an awesome year for animation. I cannot wait to see where this show goes. And I can’t wait to see what other stuff we get!
And that’s the scoop.
Year of release: 2020
Length: Pilot: 22 minutes
Executive Producer: Dana Terrace
Producers: Wade Wisinski,Stephen Sandoval
Editors: Kevin Locarro,Jenny Jordan, Rachel vine
Voice actors: Sarah-Nicole Robles, Wendie Malick, Alex Hirsch
If you liked this review read: Baffling? Brilliant? What the heck is “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part?”