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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kulipari: An Army of Frogs is inspired by a series of graphic novels by Trevor Price that follow a peaceful kingdom of frogs protected by legendary warriors called Kulipari, who come under attack from devious enemies. Some scenes are violent, showing amphibian and insect characters fighting to the death. Villains scheme and plot to destroy the frogs' homeland, which threatens inhabitants young and old. But from the melee emerges an unlikely hero, one who believes in himself even when most others don't and who doesn't let his limitations get in the way of his potential. In so doing, he challenges tradition in a positive way and breaks down barriers for others, including his whip-smart best friend who proves her worth not with brawn but with her brains. Expect some name-calling ("gutless," "coward") in this action-packed series that's better suited for tweens than it is for younger kids.
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What's the story?
KULIPARI: AN ARMY OF FROGS is set in a hidden kingdom of frogs long-protected from predator species by a magical veil of invisibility and a group of poisonous frog warriors called Kulipari. Now faced with the threat of Lord Marmoo (voiced by Keith David) and the evil Scorpions and their new ally, Spider Queen Jarrah (Wendie Malick), the Kulipari must once again join forces with their friends and defend their homeland. The story closely follows a wood frog named Darel (Josh Keaton), son of a legendary Kulipari but rejected from their ranks because he lacks the requisite poison. With war imminent, though, Darel must overcome his fears -- and the Kuliparis' prejudice -- and take the front line in the fight for freedom with his best friends, Coorah (Lacey Chabert) and Gee (Mikey Kelley).
Is it any good?
This exceptional fantasy adventure has cross-generational appeal, prominent social messages, and more than one outstanding role model, but it's not a one-size-fits-all show. Though its animation and seemingly benign insect and amphibian cast suggest it's meant for kids, there are some dark moments and heavy themes that may not be appropriate for them. Battle scenes can be intense, and the constant threat of an invasive enemy puts the general population of underdog creatures (frogs, turtles, platypuses) in harm's way time and again. On one hand, Kulipari does well to represent the realities of war and the courageous acts required to defend one's homeland; on the other, it can be a scary watch for kids who sympathize with the gentler species.
Tweens, teens, and even adults who watch will find many worthwhile themes at play in the story. Astute viewers will notice the effects of different community constructs, for one. Scorpions grow up in a climate of violence and competition with one goal -- dominance -- in mind and so become greedy for more victims and space. Conversely, the frog community is generally cooperative, and competition exists to benefit the group instead of the individual, which generates a friendlier environment. Similarly, in Darel viewers find a well-rounded hero who dreams big but remembers his humble roots, which causes him to be motivated by peace, friendship, and the sense of being part of something bigger than himself. The bottom line? This is a real know-your-kid situation because of the show's tension, but if you're looking for a thought-provoking series you can enjoy with your tweens, Kulipari is worth your time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the concept of enemies. What inspires people or groups of people to strongly dislike each other? What are some constructive ways to resolve differences?
Does Darel look the part of a hero? How are his heroics defined differently by different characters (his younger siblings, his peers, his elders)? Who are your kids' heroes?
How does this show's violence compare to that in other shows? Do any of the characters revel in the violence, or is it just a means to an end? In real life, is it ever appropriate to fight?
- Premiere date: September 2, 2016
- Cast: Josh Keaton, Lacey Chabert, Keith David
- Network: Netflix
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Bugs, Great Boy Role Models, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance
- TV rating: TV-Y7-FV
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Seal
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