Disenchantment Has A Disadvantage
Disenchantment had a lot of expectations on it. It’s by the creator of The Simpsons, perhaps the most famous animated thing in the world, and it had to compare to Futurama.
And that’s not exactly fair.
I mean, compare any show to The Simpsons, and you are bound to be a bit demoralized.
But, at the same time, you expect a high degree of quality from Matt Groening in anything he does. He’s been in this game for so long having him make a new show is like asking an old master for a demonstration. But, as you may have guessed, I have mixed feelings on this show.
Disenchantment Is Only A Half-Great Show
I’ve taken to describing Disenchantment as “50% the best-animated show I have seen in a long time, and 50% just kind of flat.” And that really is the best way to describe it. The show has moments of writing that’s excellent. Hilarious. It’s hard to get me to laugh—I’ve been desensitized to humor–and this show still managed a stream of pure hits.
And do I even need to go into the voice acting and sound design? Disenchantment is as good as its pedigree would suggest in those departments.
But, like I said: only fifty percent. For every profoundly funny moment with Elfo and creative animation trick with Luci the demon, there’s flat humor or dull characterization. The King, for instance, is often annoying and sometimes the delivery to jokes is paced too slowly.
And then there’s the animation.
Disenchantment Might Have Been Rushed
Perhaps I’m being ungrateful here, and it’s a simple matter of budget or time, but the animation just looks terrible in places. The character designs are good, the scenery is beautiful. But then it falls apart. Fight scenes are the worst offenders. I don’t believe impacts—they have barely any weight to them. Sure, “cartoon physics.” I’m not expecting every show to be a bloodbath. Just when characters get hit, I expect them to look like they got hit. Luci gets kicked around comically, and there’s a series of intense cannonball strikes, but, that’s some of the only believable kinetic force in the first few episodes.
Disenchantment Keeps Showing Its Cracks
Unfortunately, even the main cast has a fifty percent quality split. Luci is fun but suffers from being a very basic character. “Bean” is…okay. She has her share of funny and personality-rich moments, but also seems a little flat. She’s not dissimilar to Leela from Futurama but is also a lot like Homer and Fry in other ways. She’s drunk and stupid at times, but, also, capable—when it’s convenient. I can’t seem to get a lock on her. Perhaps she grows into things in the later episodes, but I’m not endeared fully.
But then there’s Elfo.
He’s the positive half.
I love Elfo.
Disenchantment Struck Gold With Its Likeable Idiot
That’s not to say I am not deeply concerned for the future of the character, though.
An elf who is always expected to be happy but doesn’t want to be, but then—out in the human world—turns out to still be vastly happier and more optimistic and cheerful than anyone around him is a supremely clever idea.
But I’m not sure how well they use it. Like, it’s funny and subversive at first, but Elfo doesn’t quite feel like the same elf that decided to leave his home once he does leave.
For instance, him coming across war and not understanding it is funny, but also hard to understand. He dodges spears and is almost hung earlier. I get he doesn’t know war, but he should understand violence. And then there’s his crush on Bean—which, just, I’m a little sick of the dufus character motivated by unrequited love. It’s unnecessary. He’s fun as he is—and it makes me sad to know he’ll never get the girl. This isn’t Fry and Leela here.
Disenchantment Is Okay But Could’ve Been More
But, well, no show is perfect, and I realize this is quite a high word count for a simple comedy show. Perhaps I’m again being too hard on a good series. Disenchantment isn’t predictable. That’s impressive. Keeping a level of surprise is not easy in today’s media savvy world. Even if I can’t give it the positively glowing review I wanted to before I saw it, I can still recommend it highly for anyone who likes cartoons for older audiences.
It’s not The Simpsons. But nothing ever could be.
Don’t get disenchanted with it before you give it a try.
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