REVIEW: ‘Onyx Equinox,’ Episode 3 – “Thicker Than Water”

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Onyx Equinox Episode 3

Onyx Equinox is the latest Crunchyroll Original – and this one isn’t an adaptation of a WEBTOON. This series is set in Mesoamerica and is created by Mexican creative Sofia Alexander. Utilizing Mesoamerican myth from the Olmecs and beyond, the series tells a story through its vibrant animation to match the beautiful mythology. The series focuses on Izel (Olivia Brown), a young boy chosen as humanity’s champion and must close the gates to the underworld and save the world in the process. A child being used in a bet between two gods, Quetzalcoatl (Zeus Mendoza) and Tezcatlipoca (Arin Hanson), his fear is amplified by the death of his sister in episode one and while we saw him close one of the gates last episode, Izel is nowhere closer to embracing his hero’s journey at the beginning of Onyx Equinox Episode 3, “Thicker Than Water.”

In this episode, Izel is instructed by Yaotl, voiced by the powerful Alejandro Vargas-Lugo, to head to Ox Te’Tuun, a Mayan city, to retrieve an artifact containing the map to the gates. But heading to Ox Te’Tuun isn’t just a stop in his quest. No, for Izel it’s a confrontation of his past and a reluctant acceptance of his role in saving humanity. Sent into the city to recover an artifact that has not only important to the city but to the gods as well. When Izel arrives he meets the man who sold him and his sister and in his eyes, doomed her to death.

But now, the man is the guardian of a set of energetic twins, Yun (Patrick Pedrazza) and K’in (Arturo Maldonado) who demonstrate a phenomenal ability to play Ulama, a game played to honor the gods descended from Tlachtli, which was played across the Olmecs, Aztecs, Maya, and other Mesoamerican cultures. While Izel is bitter towards the old man, the twins are welcoming and offer him food and clothes. But when it’s revealed that the artifact that Izel must collect is the same artifact the twins believe they are destined to hold, the three find their paths pulled together.

Onyx Equinox Episode 3 does a great job of using its characters to interact with the mythology and not just play in it. For example, the explanation of the artifact is rooted in the story of the twin Mayan gods Hunahpú and Ixbalanqué (their names in  Kʼicheʼ) and grounds the narrative in Ulama. While the ancient game is often only shown in relation to sacrifice, seeing the twins compete in what translates to a pick-up game of Ulama being watched by a crowd was beautiful. It showcased the joy and the spirit of the tradition without centering it on the sacrifice that most media does.

But beyond what is found in Ox Te’Tuun Onyx Equinox Episode 3 offers up a gorgeously animated action sequence between the newly defined trio and dangerous jaguar-like creatures. While they fight, using the artifact to do so, they’re still no match for the creatures, and Izel’s blood summons Yaotl to save them. While this happened in the back-half of the episode, it’s the strongest part of it. While the vocal performance in the Spanish dub offers up emotional reflection and reunion when Izel makes it to Ox Te’Tuun, it falls flat in the English Dub, Browns unaccented Izel once again clashing with an accented character. That said, the action sequences and getting to see the young trio together make up for the voice acting stumbles. Especially with the bright and violent action.

Overall, Onyx Equinox Episode 3 is the strongest yet because of how much it weaves our cast into mythology and by showcasing subtle but differences across Mesoamerican culture. I’m hoping that as new characters join the story, I’ll be able to look past the frustrating voice acting. But to be honest, even if I can’t, the story being shown is well worth the watch, and I’ll keep watching for its magic and its beauty.

New episodes of Onyx Equinox premiere exclusively on Crunchyroll every Saturday.

Onyx Equinox Episode 3 - "Thicker Than Water"
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Overall, Onyx Equinox Episode 3 is the strongest yet because of how much it weaves our cast into mythology and by showcasing subtle but differences across Mesoamerican culture. I’m hoping that as new characters join the story, I’ll be able to look past the frustrating voice acting. But to be honest, even if I can’t, the story being shown is well worth the watch, and I’ll keep watching for its magic and its beauty.