A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Primal is a mature animation series about the early days of humanity created by noted animator Genndy Tartakovsky (Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack). Teens who are fans of epic tales like Star Wars, Harry Potter, and His Dark Materials may be best prepared to deal with dark themes including violence, suicide, and infanticide. The emotional weight of the story is surprisingly heavy for an animated show, and violence includes children being eaten by wild animals, the killing of dinosaurs, and near-constant threats to the life of the main character, a caveman. That said, this is a great show for animation fans who are ready for a complex story.
Parents need to know to take this age restriction seriously. Fourteen-year-olds who are fans of Star Wars, Harry Potter, and His Dark Materials series may be prepared to deal with the themes of violence, suicide, and infanticide. Even then, the emotional weight of the story is surprisingly heavy, though it does end on an upbeat.
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What's the story?
In PRIMAL, a nameless caveman who communicates through grunts travels through his world as a beta predator, as much prey as hunter, trying to find food for his family. But he returns to his home just in time to see them devoured by a family of dinosaurs. Distraught, he contemplates suicide, only to decide on revenge instead. But when he catches up to the dinos, he finds the one who ate his children has children of her own. Just as compassion begins to well, larger dinosaurs attack the baby dinosaurs and their mother. Moving forward, both parents will have to learn to join together if they’re going to survive -- all they have to get past is their grief.
Is it any good?
This is a great show for teens with some patience and love of animation as an art form. The art, while not complicated, is simply gorgeous; each minute feels like a study in animation. There’s also something about Primal not using dialogue that forces the viewer to pay close attention to the visuals. While the soundtrack is amazing, you could watch it with the volume off and get 90% of the story.
The premise is truly in the title -- the caveman and the dinosaur live in a primal world in which natural disasters, larger predators, and starvation are constant threats. To survive both must kill. And while the scenes of death can be jarring, the violence doesn’t feel superfluous. The caveman is also able to demonstrate complex levels of grief and sadness at the death he both inflicts and must endure. As the plot moves forward, he also has an emotional reckoning with the dinosaur who killed his family, and encounters the grief of Mastodons as well. Families who enjoy animation with depth should find a powerful story in Primal.
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