REVIEW: ‘Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Season 2’- A Superb Entry in Animation

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Kipo Season 2

After a spectacular first season, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Season 2 has arrived on Netflix, bringing the next chapter of this unique and wonderful adventure from Radford Sechrist, Bill Wolkoff, and their team, working with Dreamworks Animation and the brilliant animators at Studio Mir. Having finally reunited with her father (Sterling K. Brown) at the end of last season, only to see him kidnapped by the villainous Scarlemagne (Dan Stevens), Kipo (Karen Fukuhara) must now go on a deeper journey of self-discovery to rescue him and her people, with Wolf (Sydney Mikayla), Benson (Coy Stewart), and their Mute companions Dave (Deon Cole) and Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker) continuing to accompany her on the journey.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Season 2 is stunning in both its narrative and gorgeous presentation. I haven’t felt the same way about a show that I have since Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. The characters and their dynamics with each other are rich and complex,  the colorful world is breathtaking and stunning, and the show keeps the pedal on the worldbuilding in a way that feels organic and never laborious.

You can easily lose yourself in the world of the Wonderbeasts. You can experience joy and wonder even while you’re fighting dangerous battles. With new Mutes like the “thea-otters” and the goats, the show finds new ways to have fun. The balance the show achieves here is uniquely captivating. I hope they keep this wonderful narrative atmosphere up in upcoming seasons. While they are still on a consistently dangerous adventure, the show virtually never lets up its sense of fun and wonder. The possibilities of what Kipo, Wolf, and Benson and their friends will encounter feel endless.

There’s such deep humanity and care the show offers to virtually all its characters. Humor and heart are core to this show, and there’s wonderful idiosyncratic humor that enriches every part of the series. But as many moments as you laugh you will also cry as you learn more about Kipo and her family. There are bombshell moments in the latter half that tie things together in ways you didn’t see coming but make fantastic sense, and the show breaks amazing new ground.

On a more specific plot level, the overall conflict between humans and Mutes deepens and gets more complicated. It’s not simply that the humans must hide from the Mutes. The show smartly conveys that there aren’t always absolute “sides” to support in this post-apocalyptic earth. We discover that humans could cause great harm to the Mutes who have already established their own societies on the surface. Ultimately they need to learn to live and work together. While the show does not explicitly state this, it does imply that it will be Kipo, in somewhat of the same vein as the Avatar, who will ultimately bring them together and achieve balance. The writing on this is smart and unique for the amazing world it has built. It will leave you very excited about the resolution in future seasons.

Kipo continues her adventure in really great ways. Her journey loses no momentum from the end of last season. As she discovers how to use her Mute abilities, she struggles to reign herself in. But the season shows that her trademark strength is her relentless compassion for others. As she goes on this journey, she and Wolf get to deepen their friendship and sisterhood. They actively support each other in their struggles on their adventure. In many ways, they are the core dynamic of the show.

Wolf, after facing her traumas in the previous season, allows herself to experience unbridled joy. Kipo continues to have her open up and feel childhood joy. She so sorely deserves after everything she’s gone through. She is finally allowed levity. It seems that she is increasingly accepting of being with her newfound family, and being “lone wolf” no more. This is a heartening and uplifting storyline as we get to see Wolf start to heal. Hopefully, future seasons will build further upon this.

While Benson does not have the level of development as Kipo or Wolf, he further pursues a relationship with Troy (Giullian Yao Gioiello) whom he met last season. Having a queer relationship between two boys is so important to see in children’s animation. It’s especially important when no one ever brings it up as an “issue”–being LGBTQ is just a normal thing in the show. While he still needs more backstory, Benson is still a great character and a wonderful friend. He is so important to have on-screen and hopefully, he receives more character development in the future seasons.

Dan Stevens is having the time of his life as Scarlemagne. He is both terrifying and hilarious in his role as the maniacal mandrill. Besides having him as a major threat, we also get to learn more about his backstory and how he fits into Kipo’s journey. There are some surprising revelations here that work narratively well. He’s an excellently complicated villain who leaves you just a tad more conflicted about his motivations.

Kipo Season 2’s animation remains beautiful in its trademark style. This is some of Studio Mir’s best work since The Legend of Korra. The colors are bright and vibrant as they bring the land of the Wonderbeasts to life. The action and hijinks are amazing to watch on screen. The choreography of each and every character is superb. It is a testament to the power of innovation of Studio Mir that audiences can easily get lost in the world of the Woderbeasts, and always feel excited to be on this journey with Kipo and her friends.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Season 2 is an incredible sophomore entry. The adventure continues to be exciting as the story resolves previous mysteries and opens new ones. The show’s rich array of complex characters and their stories will leave you glued to your screen. With deep emotional beats, a wonderful emphasis on fund family, and stunning animation and rich stories, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is a superb entry in animation that stands above the rest. I cannot recommend it enough.

You can watch Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts exclusively on Netflix.

Rating
  • 9.5/10
    Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Season 2: A Superb Entry in Animation - 9.5/10
9.5/10

TL;DR

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts Season 2 is an incredible sophomore entry. The adventure continues to be exciting as the story resolves previous mysteries and opens new ones. The show’s rich array of complex characters and their stories will leave you glued to your screen. With deep emotional beats, a wonderful emphasis on found family, and stunning animation and rich stories to boot, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is a superb entry in animation that stands above the rest. I cannot recommend it enough.