If you haven’t noticed, I am mostly reviewing original content shown in streaming service Netflix. It’s fine by me, and it’s been decided that I do this on a weekly basis! Hurray! To celebrate, I’ll be reviewing three animated series in a row, starting with this one.
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, Netflix decided to ask Matt Groening create a medieval fantasy series with his signature touch. Thus, Disenchantment was born. It tells the story of Bean, a renegade teenage princess who wants nothing to do with the title. She is accompanied by two colorful personas; Luci, a personal demon that was gifted to her on her wedding day, and Elfo, a depressed elf who wanted to get out of the multicolored candyland he was used to. Together, they embark on adventures that involve defeating the forces of evil, discovering who they really are, and getting high on drugs.
The series tackles every medieval fantasy trope there is: fantastic creatures, evil magic users, travelers in taverns drowning in ale, alliance marriages, thrones made of welded swords (EHEM) etc. One thing that puts it above the rest, however, is Groening’s recognizable humor, which can be seen in his other animated series The Simpsons and Futurama. There are easter from these series scattered throughout Disenchantment, but let’s be honest. The similarities could be there not because it is meant to be there, but because the content is formulaic.
On the real-life side of things, the voice actors did a good job of providing dynamics into their characters, even going double duty in some cases e.g. Tress McNeill, who voices Queen Oona, also voices Derek, Oona’s son, and the prostitute fairy who always gives sound advice. How the animation was polished is also much better compared to its Groeningian predecessors, thanks to Netflix’s ceilingless budget. The only downside to this is that the episodes feel rushed plot-wise, perhaps owing to the fact that the showrunners are so used to creating weekly content instead of cramming a ten-episode season at once.
In conclusion, Disenchantment is too reminiscent of both The Simpsons and Futurama that you cannot identify it without identifying the others. As for my part, immediately watching another animated series afterwards made it seem so unremarkable.