While there is a lot of watch on Netflix, it is the original series such as Orange is the New Black, BoJack Horseman, Narcos, or House of Cards that make a subscription worth your time.
Recently, a series that features children on bikes battling creatures from an underground world made its debut on the streaming platform. We are not talking about Stranger Things. The animated series Trollhunters features a happier and brighter colour scheme and a story that works across all age groups.
Guillermo del Toro’s first animated feature is a 26-episode series based on a book by the same name written by the filmmaker along with Daniel Krauss. It is an epic adventure that features ghosts, trolls, swords, goblins, gnomes – and it is really very good.
Produced by DreamWorks and Netflix, the series tells the story of a 15-year-old boy who has been chosen by a magical amulet as the first ever human hunter of trolls. Jim Lake Jr (voiced by Anton Yelchin) loves his single mother and takes care of her as she overworks herself at the hospital, where she is a doctor. He loves to cook, and his best friend Toby (voiced by Charlie Saxton) loves to eat. Unknown to them, however, there is a whole world of trolls and other magical and mystical beings right beneath their feet.
When the evil troll Bular (Ron Perlman) attacks trollhunter Kanjigar, he perishes in the sun and leaves behind an amulet that calls out to Jim. He is now bound to a shining armour and sword that appear when he needs them. Jim has to protect the good trolls and the humans of his small town from Gunmar and his army of Gum Gums.
Fortunately, Jim has Toby (Charlie Saxton), his high school crush Claire (Lexi Medrano), and two good trolls Blinky (Kelsey Grammer) and AAARRGGHH (Fred Tatasciore), who prepare him for the imminent battle. Along the way, they fight vengeful goblins, gnome infestations, nightmare-inducing pixie epidemics, high-school bullies, and changelings.
Trollhunters was intended to be a film, but the format shift seems to have worked for the best. As a TV series, Trollhunters spends a great deal of time developing storylines and characters by giving the writers the leverage to steer away from preconceived expectations and stereotypes. Jim isn’t a standard good boy turned teen hero, Toby isn’t plain comic relief, and Claire isn’t just a pretty face and voiceless love interest.
All the characters have depth, and the show increasingly builds on the gravity of an army of monsters waiting to attack the good folk. It manages to stay funny and unpredictable. Jim balances school life, drama practice, his mother’s calls and the bullies who are trying to murder him – both above and below ground – while learning to fight the master of evil and getting a passing grade in Spanish.
At first look, Trollhunters may seem like a throwback to animated fantasy adventures such as Johnny Quest or, more recently, How to Train your Dragon. But the series comes with Del Toro’s distinctive trademark of stunning artwork and incredible detailing. It is a colour fest for kids and a visual delight for grown-ups.
The strong writing, remarkable animation and masterful voice acting aside, the show is also notable as the last performance of Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin, who died in a freak accident in 2016. Del Toro decided to continue with the parts recorded with Yelchin, who, according to him, was the perfect voice for Jim. The character will be recast for season 2.