Review: 'Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts' Returns Netflix's post-apocalyptic animated series about a girl and her friends in a world of giant mutant animals is so colorful and sunny it makes the end of the world look ... kinda fun.
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'Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts' Returns, Weirder And Warmer Than Ever

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'Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts' Returns, Weirder And Warmer Than Ever

Review

'Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts' Returns, Weirder And Warmer Than Ever

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/874331469/875548126" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The second season of the Netflix animated series "Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts" is out today on Netflix. It might not seem like a great time to dip into an animated series about the last of humanity struggling to survive, but NPR critic Glen Weldon says it tells a sprawling, colorful, imaginative tale that makes the apocalypse look sort of fun.

GLEN WELDON, BYLINE: Cities lie in ruin. The surface of the Earth is overgrown with plants and with overgrown animals, mutated beasts 300 feet tall that stomp across the land hunting for prey...

(SOUNDBITE OF ROARING)

WELDON: ...Which is to say for humans, who have taken to living underground in vast burrows to protect themselves. Sounds bleak, no? - even depressing? And I haven't even mentioned the violent gangs of mutated animals who make the Earth's surface a deadly place for the few humans who still live there. But "Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts" manages to be anything but bleak and depressing. It's bright and sunny, colorful and funny. And then there's those tunes.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS")

KAREN FUKUHARA: (As Kipo Oak, singing) It's dangerous just like I feared on the surface world.

(SOUNDBITE OF ROARING)

FUKUHARA: (As Kipo Oak, screaming).

WELDON: That's our hero, Kipo, voiced by Karen Fukuhara, being attacked by a giant canary there. She's is a burrow girl who's lost her people and her home after it was destroyed by an enormous, six-armed mega monkey. She hasn't lost her spirit, though.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS")

FUKUHARA: (As Kipo Oak) I was not prepared. Why would humans stay underground when every night they could look up and see this?

WELDON: She remains relentlessly chipper and open, much more willing to talk to those gangs of mutated animals than fight them, even when they happen to be giant snakes obsessed with heavy metal who shred on electric guitars using their tongues. So in that sense, the guitar licks they play are very literal ones.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS")

WELDON: She also meets wolves dressed like Carl Sagan who study the cosmos. They're led by two alphas called Billions and Billions, voiced by John Hodgman and the Wu-Tang Clan's GZA, a match that seems weirdly inevitable.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS")

GZA: (As Bad Billions, singing) All life started with the Big Bang.

JOHN HODGMAN: (As Good Billions, singing) An explosion so great from which we all sprang.

GZA: (As Bad Billions, singing) The universe dispersed mass, traverses space-time past, space expanding mad fast.

WELDON: Season 1 had Kipo finding a group of friends who helped her search for her people. Along the way, she met more of those animal gangs - lumberjack kitties, skunks on jet skis. In Season 2, she meets a caravan of actors who call themselves the The-Otters - theaters, the otters - and the Chevre sisters, three goat witches who tell the future by communing with cheese.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS")

UNIDENTIFIED ACTORS: (As characters, chanting) Feta, gouda, chevre, fromage.

WELDON: That was a real thing in the Middle Ages, by the way, telling the future by studying cheese - tyromancy. Look it up.

If Season 1 was about Kipo discovering the weird visionary world of the series, Season 2 was about her journey of self-discovery. In a lot of ways, "Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts" is about identity. The stuff Kipo learns causes her to re-evaluate her relationships with her family and her friends and especially with herself.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS")

FUKUHARA: (As Kipo) Everyone I care about is depending on me to do something I've never done before. And if I don't do it right even one time, I'm putting them all at risk.

WELDON: That and the series' matter-of-fact commitment to diversity allows the show to comment on things like class, race and sexuality in specific ways that grow organically out of the characters. If you combined the vast worldbuilding of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" with the heart and inclusivity of "Steven Universe," you'd have something that looked a lot like "Kipo And The Age Of Wonderbeasts." Plus, there's a 300-foot-tall fuzzy bunny rabbit, so come on.

Glen Weldon, NPR News.

(SOUNDBITE OF DANIEL ROJAS' "MEGABUNNY ATTACK")

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