A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that LEGO Ninjago: The Series is essentially an extended advertisement for the LEGO Ninjago toy line. The fast-paced series is packed with lots of cartoon martial arts battles involving ninjas, skeletons, and guardian monsters, but the action is completely bloodless and at times humorous. Very young viewers might be a little scared by some of the monsters and skeletons, but kids in early elementary school grades and older are likely to find the series exciting and funny. The ninja characters learn lessons of patience and teamwork from their wise sensei.
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What's the story?
LEGO NINJAGO: THE SERIES takes place in the mythical land of Ninjago, where four young teenagers -- Kai (voiced by Vincent Tong), Cole (Kirby Morrow), Zane (Brent Miller), and Jay (Michael Adamthwaite) -- with powers relating to the elements of fire, ice, earth, and lightning are recruited by Sensei Wu (Paul Dobson). The four teens team up to prevent Sensei Wu's brother, the evil Lord Garmadon (Mark Oliver), from finding four special Golden Weapons which could be used to destroy Ninjago. Throughout the series, the boys learn focus, patience, teamwork, and the art of spinjitzu.
Is it any good?
This series, like any extended toy commercial that wants to accomplish its goals, has enough plot and humor to hook young viewers ... and, ultimately, their parents' pocketbooks. LEGO Ninjago: The Series mainly focuses on the red "fire" ninja Kai and his hero's journey from hot-headed teen to focused team member. Older viewers will be familiar with this well-worn story; the common archetypes of the funny sidekicks, the damsel in distress, the evil empire, and the wise old master are all there, too. If you've seen Star Wars or anything remotely similar, the plot to LEGO Ninjago will feel like old news.
But the fantastic all-LEGO design of the series, along with some genuinely witty moments, provides much-needed excitement and levity. All the characters are LEGO toys come to life and, as such, are fun to watch. The animation is smooth and colorful, and the exciting martial arts sequences make the most of the blocky little characters and their "clip" hands. The plot moves along at a decent pace; if anything, it's sometimes a bit too fast. And characters learn lessons of teamwork and patience thanks to the wise and respectable Sensei Wu. Better still, it's full of silly, winking humor, thereby making the peril seem less intense. Even for a series-long toy commercial, it doesn't pander and seems to have been made for the amusement of parents as well as kids.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether the existence of an official back story makes toys more fun to play with. Kids: Do you prefer to make up your own back stories? Does watching LEGO Ninjago make you more likely to buy the toys?
The violence in LEGO Ninjago is very fast paced and bloodless, but is it necessary to the story? Is it possible to have an adventure series without violence? Does the violence make the toys more desirable? Does the humor make the violence seem less intense? Do you feel more amped up after watching cartoons like this?
What lesson does Kai learn over the course of the story? What is he like at the beginning and then at the end? How does teamwork help the ninjas complete their mission?
Themes & Topics
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