tv series

Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Trollhunters’ is for kids and the kids hidden inside the grown-ups

The animated series on Netflix 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.

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.

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Trollhunters.

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.

Trollhunters.
Trollhunters.

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.

Guillermo del Toro.
Guillermo del Toro.
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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.