REVIEW: ‘The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf’ Continues Netflix’s Anime Winning Streak

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The Witcher: Nightmare of the wolf

Netflix has expanded The Witcher world on the platform with The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, a Netflix original anime loosely based on the series of books by Andrzej Sapkowski. The series is animated by Studio MIR – the studio behind The Legend of Korra and Voltron: Legendary Defender – and directed by Kwang Il Han. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is created by showrunner Lauren Schmidt Hissrich who is also the showrunner of the main series focussed on Geralt. Additionally, the feature film is written by Beau DeMayo who also serves as the series Producer.

Truthfully, Netflix has blown the doors off of original anime productions and adult animation combined. With new offerings pretty much every month, Netflix has continued to offer anime and adult animation stories that you just can’t find on other platforms. Now, with the expansion of the world of The Witcher, the platforms offers up a prequel of sorts but not for Geralt. At its core, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is a story about who witchers are, and the world itself, while also introducing Vesemir (Theo James).

Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir is hot-headed, self-assured, and is beyond successful at bringing in the heads of monsters. Having escaped a life of poverty and servitude, Vesemir pushes forward with gold as his main driver, leaving being the life he had before at the promise of coin. But when a strange new monster begins terrorizing a politically fraught kingdom, Vesemir finds himself fighting more than just something that goes bump in the night. He’s pushed to confront his past, himself, and everything he thought about the world of magic and monsters.

First, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf offers an expansion on the lore presented through Netflix’s for those who haven’t read the books or played the video games. Sure, hot Vesemir isn’t what gamers thought of, but, when you detach the film from the game and look at it as a story in the universe Netflix is creating. Once you leave expectations at the door, you can embrace the beauty and darkness in the film.

On one hand, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf features stunning fight sequences animated in a dynamic fashion. Each and every action sequence is planned to showcase the character design, powers, and lore of The Witcher. While this includes fast-paced combat and roaring pyrotechnics, it also includes gore and body horror elements that make this film more akin to Castlevania than the live-action Witcher series. This is showcased from the film’s beginning to its fiery last act. Adult animation is a world that Netflix needs to keep exploring, and The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is another jewel in the platform’s crown.

While we get amazing action, we also see a duality of character design. We get thirsty with Vesemir and Tetra Gilcrest (Lara Pulver), and then repulsed by the monsters they fight. The way the series balances on an edge of unsettling and attractive is a success that not only keeps it visually interesting but also drives the story.

Sure, we all lost our collective shit when we saw Vesemir in the tub in a cheeky callout to Geralt’s iconic soak, but The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf manages to weave in a sexiness to a story that is ultimately about guilt, grief, and confronting your past at the core of it all.  Vesemir is an attractive rogue but he’s also a character with an immense amount of depth. His witty demeanor is as attached directly to his self-loathing as his skill with a sword. Through confrontations with his past, we see him driven to extreme violence and vulnerability. In the end, Vesemir just wants a path to call his own.

But Vesemir isn’t alone in the story and Tetra is sure to become a fan favorite. A powerful sorceress, Tetra is descended from the Continent’s first mages and a part of an organization set to make sure that magic isn’t abused. focused on the beauty of magic Tetra’s world view is simplistic but her power is unmatched. Throughout the film we get the chance to see her hold her own against enemies and pull-off some of the film’s most stunning sequences.

In the end, The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is a rousing 81-minute film that does a lot of heavy lifting for what’s to come next in the world of The Witcher. In it, we see the process of becoming a witcher and understand the world that Geralt only references in the series. Additionally, there is no requirement that you need to watch the live action before watching this film. You can go in absolutely unaware and leave a fan, which is a beautiufl element of the story. Honestly? I see The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf becoming a gateway for general audiences in a similar way to how Castlevania was.

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf is streaming exclusively on Netflix August 23, 2021

The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf
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    Rating - 8/10
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TL;DR

Honestly? I see The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf becoming a gateway for general audiences in a similar way to how Castlevania was.