A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show's sensibilities are on the side of heroes/underdogs who hope to use magic to shape their world rather than force, but it's hard to glean much about the motivation in this series, which seems more interested in showing battles and fantastical beasts.
Positive Role Models
The Idhun Chronicles falls into the "heroes' journey" type of storytelling but it also contains elements of a "chosen one" story, i.e. Jack was born with powers that other characters are aware of and that he didn't do anything in particular to gain. This makes him less relatable as a character, most viewers being aware that they're born average. Many other characters are cliched: Kirtash is the ice-cold villain, Shail is an unemotional teacher. Victoria, who learns how to use her powers through effort and over time, is the most interesting character and best role model.
Violence & Scariness
There are lots of fantasy-type battles: huge swords that emit beams of light, magicians who can generate force fields. Characters die onscreen and we see their dead bodies, but there's no blood or gore. Fantasy teachers (sharp-toothed dragons, hissing flying snakes) may be scary to young children. A teen character loses his parents and cries over the loss.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Idhun Chronicles is an animated series about a fantasy world, Idhun, that's besieged by an evil villain and the magical heroes who must band together to bring peace to Idhun once more. Violence is perhaps the show's iffiest element, and there are many battles between heroes and villains (who look alike and can be hard to tell apart): sword fights with blades that emit a lightsaber-like glow, magicians who can gather energetic forcefields and knock people and objects down, giant flying snakes that are under the control of the tyrant who's overtaken Idhun. Battles are bloodless and free from gore; we see dead bodies, but they're not lingered on. A boy grieves the loss of his parents by crying. Language, drinking, drugs, or sexual content is absent, but positive messages are thin because most of the show's running time is taken up by clashes and battles rather than in seeing characters grow over time. Main character Jack, as well as villain Kirtash and mentor Shail are all cliched character types; Victoria is a more interesting character who learns how to improve her magical skills over the course of the series.
Is It Any Good?
Beautiful animation and intriguing fantasy trappings can't save this anime from its so-so status due to its clunky pacing and undeveloped characters. It's a pity, too, because Gallego's original trio of books is, by all accounts, a richly realized world where the emotions of its characters are just as prominent as the magical occurrences around the characters, a distinct departure from most plot-driven fantasies with paper-thin characters. Unfortunately, in its anime adaptation, Gallego's characters have been flattened into types: Jack's the chosen one who has powers everyone knows about (but himself!), Kirtash is a bland hitman doing a job, Shail and Aslan are mentors who exist only to teach Jack. Victoria, who's just beginning to understand and use her own magical powers, is the most interesting and non-tropish character on the show, but we don't get a lot of time to know her between fight scenes.
Speaking of those, they are beautiful, as is the rest of The Idhun Chronicles. The animation in the scenes where our heroes spend time in a refuge for Idhunese expatriates is positively Miyazakian in its glowing beauty. The characters look great too: Jack and Victoria look younger than Kirtash, Shail, and Aslan, and each has a distinctive way of dressing that helps separate one from the other. The glimpses we get of the embattled Idhun are a wow too: multiple suns and moons in the sky; dragons that fly over otherworldly hills; hissing winged serpents. But without relatable characters to care about, it doesn't add up to anything great.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.