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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is an imaginative, vibrant animated series set in a futuristic world in which mutant animals dominate the surface and most humans live underground. It has tons of visual appeal, creative characters, and clever use of music, as well as standout messages about resilience challenging stereotypes. Some scenes involve violence with weapons like clubs, maces, and Wolf's homemade staff (which has a poisonous scorpion stinger on the end). But fatalities are rare and most often the result of accidents rather than physical encounters. Kipo (voiced by Karen Fukuhara) is an appealing main character who refuses to let her circumstances get her down. And her friends show they're willing to risk their own safety for her sake. This unique series has broad viewing appeal and is one that families with older kids and tweens will enjoy.
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What's the story?
In KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS, a teen girl is thrust into the world aboveground after living her entire life in a subterranean burrow in an untamed post-apocalyptic world. As Kipo (voiced by Karen Fukuhara) explores her new surroundings and tries to figure out a way to get home, she encounters mutant animals, dilapidated urban remnants of a bygone time, and an uncertain destiny. That is, until she befriends a hardened surface dweller named Wolf (Sydney Mikayla), a mutant pig pet named Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker), an optimistic boy named Benson (Coy Stewart), and a bug named Dave (Deon Cole) who repeats his life cycle over and over again. Together her new friends band together in an effort to get Kipo home ... if they can avoid the many dangers that threaten their very survival on the surface.
Is it any good?
A striking animation style and unique story carry this exceptional series from the moment it introduces its gregarious and courageous heroine. To meet Kipo is to love her. Despite her uncertain circumstances, she keeps a positive attitude and a belief that everything will work out well. In that way she is in sharp contrast to Wolf, whose awareness of the harsh realities of life on the surface give her a shrewdness that often comes across as ill temper. Somewhere in the middle falls Benson and the ever hilarious Dave, who provide some levity to even the tensest of moments. The members of this motley crew are each other's best hope for surviving in a world dominated by mutated creatures with varying degrees of nefarious plans for humans.
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is a dystopian tale that's devoid of the kind of political or social themes that often filter into the genre, instead sticking to messages of hope and resilience that play out in different ways relative to the characters' respective personalities. Despite their disparate natures, Kipo, Wolf, Benson, and Dave share a determination to beat the odds, and they learn to lean on each other to take the calculated risks that are needed to do so. This captivating series is one that will appeal to adults almost as much as it does to the tweens and young teens in its target audience, which bodes well for families looking for fresh watch-together fare.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the uncertain world in which Kipo finds herself. Who is in charge there? How are disagreements settled and deals made? How does this scenario compare to what exists in the present? Are futuristic stories like Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts entirely far-fetched, or are there any elements of possible truth in them?
What qualities does Kipo value in other people? How do they differ from those that Wolf favors? Do her new surroundings in the surface world change her values in any way? If so, how does this serve her in the unfamiliar territory?
What accounts for Kipo's optimism? How does believing the best in people and in situations help her overcome challenges?
Is Kipo courageous because she has nothing to lose or because she has everything to gain? Is there a difference, and if so, does it matter?
- Premiere date: January 14, 2020
- Cast: Karen Fukuhara, Dee Bradley Baker, Sydney Mikayla
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Great Girl Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character strengths: Perseverance
- TV rating: TV-Y7-FV
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: July 17, 2020
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