Spoilers will f*ck you up.
Animation can be used to tell all kinds of stories. The fact that it was so long constrained an outdated standard commonly associated with childhood is just wasted potential. Mainstream is still playing catch up, so I’m glad to hear the folks at Critical Role got a chance to bring about their RPG creation to life. All this to say, I am so glad this show exists.
The Legend of Vox Machina (2022) was created by Matthew Mercer based on the web series Critical Role. The cast of Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, Matthew Mercer, Liam O’Brien, Marisha Ray, Sam Riegel, and Travis Willingham are reprising their roles as the voices for their characters from the first campaign. In the world of Exandria, the kingdom of Tal’Dorei is under attack. After having hired the best mercenaries that money can afford, the council is forced to rely on a ragtag group known as Vox Machina. The party is formed by the twin half-elves ranger Vex and rogue Vax, the human gunslinger Percy, the gnome cleric Pike, the half-elf druid Keyleth, the gnome bard Scanlan and the goliath barbarian Grog. They have a bar tab to settle and a kingdom to save.
Now, it’s all known territory, so what sets this show apart? Well, the humour is the big draw. In addition to that the characters are slowly being built from the ground up. I have not watched the original web series, so I can’t really make comparisons – which is the way I prefer it. Fans of the original show might have some preconceptions about how these characters might behave that would disagree with this re-interpretation. Whether that will be an addition, a constraint or a mix that oscillates between the two I cannot say.
I do started watching with the initial feeling that the show is somewhat forced to go for the gutter humour whenever possible just to set it apart. Yes, eventually the group has to temper back the carefree lifestyle as they get more personally involved in the plot. However, this is where the show has a chance to mature and keep their own style of insolence in the face of drama and even personal tragedy. At only a few episodes, there’s still room to grow or hinder. I’m willing to go along.
Recommended with just minor reservations. If you’re walking into this, you can go in blind and your mileage may vary. If you’re familiar with the source material, hopefully you’re willing to rediscover these characters regardless of wether they match your expectations. The humour is delivered with a generous helping of raunchy insolence, so casual audiences might find it jarring. Either way, I think it’s a refreshing take and hopefully a subversive interpretation on the sword and sorcery genre. Worth a watch.
That will do for now.