Okay, this review is finally done. Now, my computer is mostly fixed except there’s now another different problem, the pandemic is still happening, the protests are still peaceful – we’re finally making some headway (on things that should have happened long ago but progress is progress) – and Trump is spreading some weird propaganda…so things are pretty much normal.
I’m getting a new laptop at the end of the month because after nearly seven years and all the issues as of late, it’s time.
But, I’m super-excited for this review. Because the new season of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts’s was one of the seasons of television that I’ve seen in a while.
It begins more or less where Season One left off: Kipo and company must once again venture out to the surface to rescue the humans kidnapped by Scarlemagne- while learning how to properly control her Mute powers, which means digging into her past.
Unlike the last season, there isn’t a focus on exploring all the different animal groups. It’s a lot more focused on Kipo and company as well as one of my favorite things…BACKSTORY.
Mostly for Kipo and her family.
I hope we learn more about Wolf’s and Benson’s stories next season. Because you know there’s a lot more to both.
The new season is well-paced, suspenseful, with an interesting plot with a brilliant soundtrack and some really awesome, well-choreographed fight scenes.
I enjoyed the first season a lot – it laid down a lot of nice groundwork for the show, but now – I am fucking invested in this world and these characters. I cannot wait for more.
Backstory and motivation
A lot of the second season is focused on Kipo finding her “anchor,” something that will allow her to turn back to human, once she goes full jaguar.
This leads the gang on a trip to Kipo’s birth burrow. Not the burrow she left in the first season – but another burrow completely.
And this journey gives a good reason for the show to explore the circumstances around Kipo’s birth, her mother’s fate and how Scarlemagne became the dictator he is.
It’s done really well, especially in how they’re shown to be interconnected. This leads to some excellent characterization and relationship building and character moments.
I originally thought Kipo was kind of a generic protagonist – and a little bit too naive.
In this season, she keeps that cheerful disposition and extroverted attitude, but when combined with the revelation of her Mute DNA and her interactions with Scarlemagne – makes her far more compelling.
Benson and Wolf , unfortunately, both get a little pushed aside. They definitely have their moments – but they aren’t the main focus. And Wolf gets more backstory then Benson.
What we do get is Scarlemagne’s story -going from mute lab experiment to psychopathic, British Empire obsessed ruler.
It’s a little bit too much like Momo Jojo’s backstory at first, but it certainly has its own unique spin.
What I absolutely love, though, is the fate of Kipo’s mother, but I don’t want to spoil it too much.
It’s Mega-Mute Morphin Time
So, in this season we get to see Kipo’s Mute form in all of it’s hot-pink (I refuse to call it purple) glory.
I had expected the form to be impressive, but I didn’t realize that it would be so GIGANTIC.
It’s oddly realistic, when compared to the other creatures. It’s weirdly dissonant – especially considering, she’s also, you know, magenta.
I love the design – but it just seems so different in terms of art style when compared to the rest of the Mutes, it sometimes comes across, sillier than powerful and awesome
But it’s also delightfully anime-esque. Also, her Mega Mute form (that’s right she has two Mute forms) is ridiculously over the top. I love it. It’s great.
The Mega Monkey also gets a second form -which I like. And it’s also just as awesome.
I’m still not quite sure what separates Mega Mutes from regular Mutes – and whether or not all mutes may have Mega-Mute capabilities
I hope that’s something that gets explored later on.
It also might be kind of cool to see all the Mute characters we know: Dave, Mandu, Jamack all suddenly got Mega Mute abilities and teamed up in order to save the day.
But I can also see that coming off very much like a deus-ex-machina. If the creators do go this way, they would need to be careful about how they do it.
The antagonist has been defeated. Long live the new antagonist
I definitely see the Mega-Mute evolution uprising being the end all final battle at this moment. Because as of the end of the season, Scarlemagne is no longer our main villain.
Dr. Emilia, an old colleague of Kipo’s parents’ let’s say is drawn in a slightly different way from the other characters – but that’s not what is important.
She is a much larger threat than Scarlemagne and has plans to revert all of Mute kind back into regular animals so that humans can once again roam the surface.
And naturally, there are plenty of humans willing to join her cause. Can’t say I totally blame them.
Obviously whatever happened to make mutes -wasn’t exactly great. Wolf basically seemed to raise herself and survived off of scavenging 200 year old chocolates after being betrayed by her pack and Benson got lucky to be protected by Dave – but the mutes have a society. A fully functioning, if divided, society.
As it turns out, Kipo’s powers are a result of her parents trying to find a way for humans to survive above ground. By combining the DNA of Apex predators with humans – to give the human race a chance living above ground.
Which kind of sets off a chain of events
I have to give the show credit for not making Kipo hate her parents and getting all angsty about being a lab rat.
In fact, she seems downright delighted at the prospect and thinks it’s awesome. I do wonder if that will change – but also, she still thinks turning in a 100-foot tall jaguar is awesome. Which I can understand.
It is pretty cool. Plus, she never faced any harassment for looking different – you know being magenta – but I gotta wonder why she never thought about it.
Maybe purple skin isn’t that weird in this world.
Set-Up and Suspense
One thing I didn’t love about the last season – was how each episode seemed to focus on a different animal group and didn’t really focus on the world.
I understand it was world-building and setting up another season – but it can be hard to appreciate that when you don’t know if the show is going to get a second season.
In this season a lot of the characters like Mulholland and the Timber Cats come back and play a significant role – which is something I really appreciate because at first it seems like they’re just there to make cameos.
Mulholland, the collective hive mind of millions of water bears who had previously tried to eat our protagonists, surprised me with his role.
Thanks to Kipo -he’s now an ally with a valuable skill that can help fight Scalamgne’s mind controlling pheromones.
I was a bit sad that Jamack didn’t have a larger role to play in this season – but considering how he did act in his small one episode role was amazing and hilarious, I know we’ll be seeing more of him the next season.
And of course -Troy – the guy who Benson has a crush in also come into play and I love that he has an actual to play.
I mentioned earlier or in my past review that this show is wonderfully diverse -all of the characters are Black. Kino happens to be mixed race. Wolf and Benson are both Black and the music especially reflects that. But it still fits in well with the setting really well- and it.
There’s a lot of hip hop and rap in the non digestive soundtrack and the in universe songs are absolute bangers and I would totally listen to them if they were on the radio.
The music also plays a role in Wolf’s characterization, letting her become loose and have fun. I really like how the show seamlessly integrates Black culture in your its trippy sci-fi world,
A lot of the music was created particularly for the show and It adds this whole new interesting vibe – particularly Heroes on Fire which is just an awesome song in general.
It’s a really cool thing to see this normalized and just have it be cool and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Black/Asian cartoon character (or live action for that matter) before. So I’m that way – Kipo is huge even if she doesn’t necessarily LOOK it -with her parents’ identities known – it’s pretty obvious. That is huge.
And Kipo is also in touch with her Asian heritage. I’ve always been under the impression that the burrows are in Korea -I think because I could have sworn I saw Korean writing on some of the food in the previous season -but also she eats lots of Korean food -she named her pig mite Mandu…so that makes sense.
And of course we can’t talk rep without mentioning Benson’s crush. They do a lot of the typical teenager in love tropes -but they’re kept to a minimum so as not to disrupt the narrative and it’s nice for Benson not be worrying about whether or not his guy is gay (considering how in like the first episode the guy gives him a kiss on the cheek, and they bond over flapjacks it’s safe to say they’re into each other.)
The most awkward comes in the episode where he’s trying to impress the guy’s dad and tries to have wolf as his hype man -which leads to a momentary issue of Roberto trying to set up Benson with Wolf but it lasts no more than a minute before Benson tells the truth.
And he gets the blessing.
In my research, it seems as though the creator also revealed that one of Kipo’s friends, Asher, is non- binary. I got it from TV Tropes and haven’t been able to find where it stayed. And I don’t remember Asher being referred to by any pronouns -but I’ll take it.
It’s good to let the LGBT community have these same awkward over some tropes- it normalizes the romance and relationship rather than pointing out how different it is.
Cartoons have been getting more diverse, and they’ve gotten better at the diversity – but Kipo is one show that does it particularly well in my opinion. In Glitch Techs – at times it just felt awkward (like the food truck) basically like a way of just pointing it out and Miko falling into the Asian streak stereotype.
And Steven Universe making most of the diverse characters non-human and that’s not even getting into the whole Pearl issue.
I watched the entirety of Season 2 in an afternoon. It was enjoyable, suspenseful, and I really wanted to know what happened, and I was happy when something unexpected happened because it was well set up and the subversions kept me interested because they still made sense.
Plus I’m invested now. The characters and their stakes so even when something is clicked and a bit overdone – it works because it’s done well.
This is a show you absolutely should watch and I hate that wasn’t able to talk about it sooner.
If you’re still social distancing (and honestly you should be. It’s not over yet and if you go out you should be wearing a damn mask) you should definitely , definitely take some time to watch this season. And the first if you haven’t seen it yet.
Maybe more than once.
Definitely more than once.
Year of release: 2020
Length: 10 episodes, 23 minutes each
Creator: Radford Sechrist
Executive producers: Bill Wolkoff, Radford Sechrist, Yoo Jae Myung
Producers: Park Sang Ah, Kim Han Byeo
Voice actors: Karen Fukuhara, Sydney Mikayla, Coy Stewart, Deon Cole, Dee Bradley Baker
If you liked this review, read: Netflix finally does something (mostly) right with “Next Gen”
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