Dota: Dragon’s Blood : Season 2
Might contain spoilers.
I didn’t know this was coming so soon and would have missed it had I not encountered a chance comment in an article somewhere I can no longer identify. Releasing the first season in the first half and the second near the end, all in the same year as Arcane, was foolish at best. This round seems even worse to me than the first one, although that may be because of the proximity to the aforementioned series; I can hardly even remember the previous finale.
Every aspect of the show is senseless and rushed: performances, art, music, writing, direction, animation, editing, audio… whatever I praised about Arcane—in a word, everything—is what’s terrible about this. Where else would the ostensibly sad moment of the Davion, Fymryn, Kaden, and Bram flying away on the dragon as the Dragonhold burns behind them fade to black… only to show the four of them flying on the dragon again, but this time reaching their destination? And that gem follows the abysmal assault on the keep by a ridiculous number of dragons, starring Davion’s unappealing dragon form and phalanxes of obviously-cloned soldiers behind Mirana.
I continue to hate the gore. It occurred to me, this time, that Dragon’s Blood desperately wants to be The Witcher while sadly lacking even the least bit of charm of that (admittedly imperfect, but enjoyable) show.
I imagine no one involved cares about it in any way except insomuch as it earns them money, which is fitting for a DotA-related product. Say one team churns out a script by going around a circle and adding one random line at a time to produce the gibberish that passes for writing; another records the actors, with no knowledge of the characters; and a third team puts the recordings together with the ugly, poor-quality animation, again with no knowledge of the franchise. That would explain why the dialogue sometimes has pauses inside lines if the actors are experienced enough to know how to take pauses, but lines and scenes follow each other like quicksilver.
If it weren’t for the DotA, I wouldn’t have wasted more than a minute on it, but there’s Invoker in the outfit we know and love! Crystal Maiden, riding Winter Wyvern! Lina throwing out Dragon Slave, Light Strike Array, Fiery Soul, and Laguna Blade! Brewmaster! Kashurra worships Arc Warden! One character is the same species as Pangolier’s! Some other member of Sand King’s species tried to take over… that place! The Venari tracking Mirana (a good character with a decent performance and design) is from the same family as Night Stalker!
Of course, the flip side is that it turns Mirana, Priestess of the Moon, into the sun; Winter Wyvern is Rylai’s mount who turns into a ditzy woman; Troy Baker is good as the Pangolier-person but the character’s slight humour and particularly comical abilities simply do not fit into this dour world, as expected.
There’s too little Tony Todd. While JB Blanc is much better as Vander in Arcane, his Terrorblade is superior to almost every other performance. The scene of him invading the minds of the protagonists in ‘My Sword, My Life’ is the closest thing I’ve seen to good pacing and performances throughout; another memorable moment is Terrorblade threatening Invoker in ‘Desolate and Empty the Sea’. Michael Dorn, as expected, brings a gravitas to Asar that this show doesn’t deserve. Toby Schmitz does a reasonable job as Emperor Shabarra, considering.
The dragons continue to be a disappointment, vocally. (I can’t for the life of me understand why the Robert Englund turns in such an unpleasant performance as Aetherak.) It’s quite boring, too, how they’re ultimately responsible for every bit of plot; I was quite hoping to see Underlord. Rylai is a caricature of a stereotype of a British person. Kaden stands out as an especially bad performance in a sea of them, although I can’t blame Anson Mount personally given the context.
Marci, with no poorly delivered dialogue to bring her down, is once again a darling. She’s rewarded for it by being killed outright. No second chances, no ambiguity, just the fourth woman killed in a row: Lina, Auroth, the Legatus (somewhere in that order), and now poor, sweet, capable Marci, who just one episode earlier was arm wrestling people, getting drunk, and shoulder pressing a bemused Sagan. I don’t understand the sense in killing off the single universally loved character. Bram was right there. So was Fymryn, after having abandoned the dragon knight she wanted to protect, spent her days being ensnared by Terrorblade, and freed Selemene to terrorize the world once more.
I still like the opening credits a lot, though, and I noticed a pleasant sort of recurring motif based on that music. I also continue to appreciate that, as with Luna in the first season, Dragon’s Blood avoids gratuitously sexualizing Lina, instead rendering her similarly to Mirana: unrealistically fit and buxom, but only due to the poor choice of æsthetic.
I wonder what the opposite of ‘attention paid to every detail’ is?
- I only realized while writing this entry that the third season released in August last year. I’m sure I’ll watch it soon.↩