Fantasy animes and coming of age stories have been done to death and new ones that come along really need to have a lot of originality, personality or depth to make them stand out. Unfortunately, the Idhun Chronicles doesn’t have much, if any, of that. It’s a totally predictable and standard tale of a young boy being thrown into a magical world and then being the one powerful being to save it. It’s cool to see the efforts of the first Netflix Original Spanish anime come to fruition, it’s just too bad that it’s so short, full of exposition, and as basic as can be.
The art and quality of animation in the show is pretty bland. The general design of the characters, locations, creatures, and the world feels heavily recycled. This is clearly a lower budget anime, but with well-thought ideas and good use of resources, something really good could have been made. But some odd choices in design and animation brought this anime down a lot. It often felt more like a Saturday morning cartoon than an anime.
The story was so predictable that it was difficult to not predict every single thing in the show. Most of the choices and things were fine, but just totally and completely unoriginal. A young boy’s parents die, he’s saved by resistance fighters and then has to learn to wield magic and special weaponry in order to fight unstoppable bad guys. But even worse than the cliché-ness of the story was the extremely boring and one-dimensional characters. The smart in sleek mage, the big buff warrior, and the girl healer? We’ve seen these archetypes in every single fantasy story for the last 50 years. Why not mix up some of the genders, change the lifestyles of the characters or the personalities?
The last issue with this story is that it’s terribly short and way too full of exposition and plot. I understand that Netflix purposely makes shorter animes and series to see if it’s worth investing more money in them. But the writers for the anime really should have cut the story in half and told left it as a cliffhanger instead of just being a massive dump of explaining and exposition. Everything was so rushed that there was no real or earned character development. The main character (SPOILER ALERT) learns how to fight and wield an impossibly powerful weapon and defeat one of the greatest warriors in the universe of a matter of months. Not only is that not possible, but it is also illogical and totally unearned in five episodes.
I can see that the studio put in a lot of effort to make something epic and amazing, but it ended up falling flat on its face and becoming an expository pile of boring. It would’ve been nice to have something small, sincere, and intimate instead of grand and world ending. I just wish that the studio and writers had made better choices fitting their budget and shortened season.