REVIEW: “The Idhun Chronicles” Season 2 Trades Character Development For Half-Baked Romance

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Illdun Chronicles Season 2

Season 2 of The Idhun Chronicles, a Netflix original anime series, premiered last Friday on Netflix. Two years after the events of Season 1,  Jack (Griffin Burns) manages to track down Aslan (Billy Kametz), who has struggled to live with being cursed as a werewolf. Aslan and Jack, together with their friend Victoria (Erika Harlatcher), intend to take back the land of Idhun by killing Kirtash (Johnny Yong Bosch). However, a love triangle soon erupts between Jack, Victoria, and Kirtash. Meanwhile, Victoria and Jack discover the true nature of their magical abilities.

When I reviewed Season 1 of The Idhun Chronicles, I expressed my disappointment that the characters’ depth did not match that of the stunning animation. Sadly, that remains the case: our heroes and villains remain barely fleshed out in terms of personality. Jack remains the bland “Chosen One” archetype; he doesn’t have the plucky wit of Harry Potter or the conflicting emotions of Luke Skywalker (except for one instance, but more on that later.) There’s a hint of an intriguing conflict with Aslan and his werewolf curse, but it’s barely touched upon. And Kirtash’s turn to the side of the angels was done far better in Avatar: The Last Airbender with Prince Zuko. In perhaps one of the most ridiculous plot developments across the five episodes, Kirtash is revealed to have a career as a pop star on Earth. This is a series with dragons, unicorns and magic yet that is the most unbelivable thing that happens in this series.

Season 2 also carries a major problem over from Season 1, in terms of length. Five 20+ minute episodes is not enough to really develop the characters, and the story moves at such a breakneck pace that whatever story developments do happen barely have time to set in. This may be due to Netflix deciding to split the first season into two, according to author and series writer Laura Gallego. Perhaps the series would flow better if Seasons 1 and 2 had been combined into a singular entity.

However, my least favorite aspect of the series had to be the love triangle. Love triangles are one of my least favorite tropes in storytelling; they often come across as a cheap way to insert drama into the narrative. This definitely is the case with the triangle between Jack, Victoria, and Kirtash. Jack and Victoria at least made sense because there were hints of a romance between them in Season 1, but Victoria and Kirtash feels extremely forced. More than that, there’s no discernable reason Victoria should be attracted to Kirtash-the guy flat out threatens to kill her friends on multiple occasions! I had to surpress an eye roll every time they proclaimed their feelings for each other, or when Victoria decides to call Kirtash “Christian.” Yes, that’s a thing that happens and yes it’s as inspid as it seems.

The animation remains immensely eye catching and fluid. Swordfights move with speed and power, sparks flying from the clashing blades. Fire dances around the screen, burning trees to ash. The characters also receive a redesign to show that time has passed; Jack has longer, shaggier hair while Victoria has shorter hair and trades her school uniform for more casual wear. Aslan has shaggier hair and golden eyes in a nod to his wolf form. The villains also have designs that match their sinister nature, with Kirtash’s father Ashran  sporting a long black cloak and hood that only shows his golden eyes.

The story also continues to further the mythology of Idhun, including the story of the last dragon and unicorn. In retrospect, the reveals surrounding the mythical creatures are a bit predictable, but they are more interesting that watching Victoria and Kirtash make goo-goo eyes at each other. Kirtash also has a serpentine form that is utterly terrifying, and proves to be quite the challenge for our heroes.

Season 2 of The Idhun Chronicles continues to have stellar animation and worldbuilding, but its characters remain threadbare and its romantic elements are half-baked. The ending hints at a new direction for Season 3, and it’s one the series sorely needs.

Seasons 1 and 2 of The Idhun Chronicles are currently available to stream on Netflix.