Just twenty years into the future, humans have retreated into burrows in order to survive on Earth. When the underground city is breached and the population flees, Kipo escapes alone in an aqueduct. Left on the surface that she only knows from legends and her love of science, she must navigate the wilderness and find her way back to her people.
Evolution is somewhat sped up on this vivid version of Earth, and the animals you know and love have been upgraded. The bees buzz in dubstep, the wolves are astronomy nerds, the cats have embraced a lumberjack lifestyle and the Frogs form a suit-wearing mafia, just to name a few. Most significantly, Mega Mutes like the one who destroyed Kipo’s home roam the lands, including the adorable (if destructive) Mega Bunny and her babies.
Kipo (Karen Fukuhara) is too sheltered and kind for this wonderful but deadly new world. As she strums on a guitar, attracting predators and eagerly pets the baby animals, she quickly puts a target on her back as The Burrow Girl. Luckily, her charm wins over the lone Wolf (Sydney Mikayla), a hardcore surface human who begrudgingly keeps her out of harm’s way.
Passing through communities of colourful cliques, Kipo quickly forms a family to help find her own. The dynamic duo of human/DJ, Benson (Coy Stewart) and funky bug dude, Dave (Deon Cole), as well as adorable four-eyed pig Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker) accompany her on this convoluted journey back to her clover community. In this vicious human vs. mute dystopia, the enemies that stand in her way serve a common master: a villain who goes by the name of Scarlemagne (Dan Stevens, clearly having an excellent time).
Though Dreamworks originally envisioned turning the web-comic into a movie, the mini-series brings out fantastical little details. The friendships between the five main characters are unique and carefully developed, and the species met in every episode bring more layers of hilarity and delight to the surface. Given the elevated bar of today’s kids cartoons, this mini-series holds its own through its art design and lovable cast of characters. Though its animation is traditional, it encompasses the imagination and infectious enthusiasm of its titular character. As creator Radford Sechrist puts it “she’s Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, but instead of ruby slippers, Kipo wears Converse.”
It may not take you into the deep existential woods of Over the Garden Wall, but when it features scenes like a flashback of Kipo’s dad (the inimitable Sterling K Brown) singing, there are new peaks of adorable in each of the ten episodes. As this band of lively survivors become a pack, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts will take you on a vibrant, heart-warming journey.
Season 1 of Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts is now available to stream on Netflix
by Fatima Sheriff
Fatima (she/her) is a third-year Biomed at the University of Sheffield. For insight into her personality, her favourite films are: Bright Star, Paddington 2, Taare Zameen Par and Pride & Prejudice and in 2017 she listened mostly to the Hidden Figures soundtrack. She loves TV shows with original concepts, witty writing, and diverse casting. Examples include Legion, Gravity Falls, and Sense 8. Her Twitter and TVShowTime are both @lafatimayette.