The very first surprise of 2017 has fallen into my lap, and it came in the form of an animated series on Netflix. Trollhunters is a 3D animated series from Dreamworks, and is based on a book by Guillermo Del Toro. It follows a 15 year old boy named Jim, who finds an amulet calling out to him on his way to school that turns him into the trollhunter. It sounds like a very simple premise, and at first glance it is. But as the series unfolds we are introduced to a story that has so much more going for it.
Trollhunters was created by Guillermo Del Toro, who is a fantastic director that specializes in amazing visuals. Knowing this should make it no surprise that this series has beautiful animation. The 3D is a lot better than other 3D series I’ve seen, and when action scenes begin, the animation gets even better and knocks on the door of being movie quality. Those action set pieces are really something to behold. They’re vibrant, fluid, and happen a lot more often than you might think. There is A LOT of action in Trollhunters. Also, in true Guillermo Del Toro fashion, there is some really cool horror imagery sprinkled in the series. This makes sense considering the darker tone they take on from time to time.
Something that made me smile and sad at the same time was the vocal cast. Trollhunters has an absolutely amazing cast that all do such a great job the whole way through. Ron Perlman plays Bular, who is one of the big villains in the series. He does a great job at making the character actually sound like a monster. Kelsey Grammar is a name I did not expect to find here, but as a huge Simpsons fan, I can appreciate the voice of Sideshow Bob appearing as the voice of Blinky. Blinky is the mentor for our main character. Grammar’s delivery in this role is simply flawless. He has this perfect balance of sounding wise, while also having amazing comedic timing. Last but certainly not least, we have the late Anton Yelchin voicing the main character Jim. He sounds so innocent in this role. He adds depth as this reluctant hero who comes into his own as he dives into a completely new world.
As I said before, the story of Trollhunters is simple at first glance. It’s about a boy who gets dragged into being a hero of a world he doesn’t yet understand. That’s a concept we’ve seen a lot so it’s nothing special. Once we delve into the world of the trolls though, we find this expansive lore that gets fleshed out as the story continues to develop. The world building in the series is great. We find out historical facts about the trolls, along with multiple locations, customs, and even their own unique sport. These nuances elevate Trollhunters from an ordinary cartoon, to a great show.
Most great shows need great villains and Trollhunters has a few of them. Most notably is Strickler, who is a very intelligent person that always finds his way into a position of power. He’s in the right place at the right time at all times to make life suck for our heroes, and it’s pretty sweet watching everything play out. The relationship between him and Jim is one of my favorite parts of the entire series. What I think is the most important aspect of these villains is that their motives are well defined. I understand why these villains are doing what they do, and it isn’t simply just to be evil.
I have very few issues with the show as a whole. The first is simply that it can be a bit cliche at times. It never bothered me watching, but it was something I noticed during certain episodes. The other issue is that during the second half of the series there were episodes that didn’t serve much of a purpose. There were 2 or 3 episodes that felt like mostly fluff, with a bit of story tacked on to the end.
Overall Trollhunters is a series I loved. It has great characters in a rich world that I really want to learn more about. This is a 26 episode series that I binged in only a couple of days. The best part is that this is only part 1 of it. There’s so much here to enjoy that I can’t recommend this enough to fans of animation, and fans of Guillermo Del Toro. Last, I just want to say R.I.P. to Anton Yelchin. I know this is one of the last projects we’re gonna see with him, but I’m glad he was part of it. There’s no final grade necessary for this one, just watch it, support this series if you have Netflix.