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.

Play
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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As India turns 70, London School of Economics asks some provocative questions

Is India ready to become a global superpower?

Meaningful changes have always been driven by the right, but inconvenient questions. As India completes 70 years of its sovereign journey, we could do two things – celebrate, pay our token tributes and move on, or take the time to reflect and assess if our course needs correction. The ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, the annual flagship summit of the LSE (London School of Economics) South Asia Centre, is posing some fundamental but complex questions that define our future direction as a nation. Through an honest debate – built on new research, applied knowledge and ground realities – with an eclectic mix of thought leaders and industry stalwarts, this summit hopes to create a thought-provoking discourse.

From how relevant (or irrelevant) is our constitutional framework, to how we can beat the global one-upmanship games, from how sincere are business houses in their social responsibility endeavours to why water is so crucial to our very existence as a strong nation, these are some crucial questions that the event will throw up and face head-on, even as it commemorates the 70th anniversary of India’s independence.

Is it time to re-look at constitution and citizenship in India?

The Constitution of India is fundamental to the country’s identity as a democratic power. But notwithstanding its historical authority, is it perhaps time to examine its relevance? The Constitution was drafted at a time when independent India was still a young entity. So granting overwhelming powers to the government may have helped during the early years. But in the current times, they may prove to be more discriminatory than egalitarian. Our constitution borrowed laws from other countries and continues to retain them, while the origin countries have updated them since then. So, do we need a complete overhaul of the constitution? An expert panel led by Dr Mukulika Banerjee of LSE, including political and economic commentator S Gurumurthy, Madhav Khosla of Columbia University, Niraja Gopal Jayal of JNU, Chintan Chandrachud the author of the book Balanced Constitutionalism and sociologist, legal researcher and Director of Council for Social Development Kalpana Kannabiran will seek answers to this.

Is CSR simply forced philanthropy?

While India pioneered the mandatory minimum CSR spend, has it succeeded in driving impact? Corporate social responsibility has many dynamics at play. Are CSR initiatives mere tokenism for compliance? Despite government guidelines and directives, are CSR activities well-thought out initiatives, which are monitored and measured for impact? The CSR stipulations have also spawned the proliferation of ambiguous NGOs. The session, ‘Does forced philanthropy work – CSR in India?” will raise these questions of intent, ethics and integrity. It will be moderated by Professor Harry Barkema and have industry veterans such as Mukund Rajan (Chairman, Tata Council for Community Initiatives), Onkar S Kanwar (Chairman and CEO, Apollo Tyres), Anu Aga (former Chairman, Thermax) and Rahul Bajaj (Chairman, Bajaj Group) on the panel.

Can India punch above its weight to be considered on par with other super-powers?

At 70, can India mobilize its strengths and galvanize into the role of a serious power player on the global stage? The question is related to the whole new perception of India as a dominant power in South Asia rather than as a Third World country, enabled by our foreign policies, defense strategies and a buoyant economy. The country’s status abroad is key in its emergence as a heavyweight but the foreign service officers’ cadre no longer draws top talent. Is India equipped right for its aspirations? The ‘India Abroad: From Third World to Regional Power’ panel will explore India’s foreign policy with Ashley Tellis, Meera Shankar (Former Foreign Secretary), Kanwal Sibal (Former Foreign Secretary), Jayant Prasad and Rakesh Sood.

Are we under-estimating how critical water is in India’s race ahead?

At no other time has water as a natural resource assumed such a big significance. Studies estimate that by 2025 the country will become ‘water–stressed’. While water has been the bone of contention between states and controlling access to water, a source for political power, has water security received the due attention in economic policies and development plans? Relevant to the central issue of water security is also the issue of ‘virtual water’. Virtual water corresponds to the water content (used) in goods and services, bulk of which is in food grains. Through food grain exports, India is a large virtual net exporter of water. In 2014-15, just through export of rice, India exported 10 trillion litres of virtual water. With India’s water security looking grim, are we making the right economic choices? Acclaimed author and academic from the Institute of Economic Growth, Delhi, Amita Bavisar will moderate the session ‘Does India need virtual water?’

Delve into this rich confluence of ideas and more at the ‘India @ 70: LSE India Summit’, presented by Apollo Tyres in association with the British Council and organized by Teamworks Arts during March 29-31, 2017 at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. To catch ‘India @ 70’ live online, register here.

At the venue, you could also visit the Partition Museum. Dedicated to the memory of one of the most conflict-ridden chapters in our country’s history, the museum will exhibit a unique archive of rare photographs, letters, press reports and audio recordings from The Partition Museum, Amritsar.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Teamwork Arts and not by the Scroll editorial team.