A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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What's the story?
Based on the young adult fantasy trilogy Memorias de Idhún by Spanish novelist Laura Gallego, THE IDHUN CHRONICLES picks up as 13-year-old Jack (Itzan Escamilla) to find a terrible tragedy has befallen his family, and unearthly warriors waging a battle in his living room. When he comes to again, he finds he's been spirited away by Shail (Nico Romero) and Alsan (Carlos Cuevas) to a magical refuge where Jack learns that he's from the planet Idhun, and a pair of hitmen are after him and every Idhun person who fled the planet's great war. Now with Kirtash (Sergio Mur) and Elrion (Christopher Corey Smith) after him, it's up to Shail and Alsan, plus fellow Idhunese refugee Victoria (Michelle Jenner) to teach Jack how to harness his magic powers and team up to defeat the evil forces that hold Idhun hostage.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the heroes inThe Idhun Chronicles. Who are they? Are their actions always heroic, or do they play both sides? Is it unrealistic to expect a real-life role model's behavior to be above reproach?
Do fantasy series such as this one ever make you look at the world differently? What might the dragons and unicorns of our world be? Is there anyone who can be likened to Jack or Victoria? To Kirtash or Shail?
This anime was based on a series of novels by a Spanish writer and made by a Spanish media company. Other than the show's original Spanish-language soundtrack, is this heritage in evidence in The Idhun Chronicles? Can you see a Spanish influence on the animation style? The storytelling? The characters, their names, the architecture and imagery of their world?
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