The Legend of Vox Machina: and how it plays a critical role in animation
I first heard about the Legend of Vox Machina (available on Amazon Prime) a few weeks before it was supposed to come out (which was back in January of this year). As soon as I read about it I immediately put it on our lengthy list of things we must watch, but due to our crazy schedules, here we are in April, just getting around to it. And I have to say, it was totally worth the wait!
To start, a brief gander at the origin story. One of the things that immediately drew me to this show, without knowing anything about the characters or plot, was the fact that it was created by voice actors. It seems, a group of voice actors got together and started a DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) game that they decided to make a YouTube show out of. They call themselves Critical Role. The channel gained popularity and as I type this has over 1.6 million subscribers (yours truly included). I don't recall all of the details and I don't want to fudge anything, so basically, as their YouTube channel continued to gain insane popularity they figured, let's make an actual animated show of this. And I'm so glad they did!
Based on DnD Campaign one of Critical Role, the Legend of Vox Machina, is set in the magical land of Tal'Dorei and follows a group of misfit mercenaries who somehow found themselves working together, sort of. You do not have to be familiar with DnD to appreciate the witty humor, magic, quests, and of course, bard music. The show is definitely for adult audiences as it does come with its fair share of profanity and sexuality. While I have no quarrel with "foul" language, I can't stand it when a show (or anyone for that matter) seems to throw it in just for the sake of it, but with the Legend of Vox Machina I feel every explicative is realistically placed. And the same can be said for the gore. Yes, I may be staring 40 down the barrel, but I still hide my eyes from gross scenes on TV and am therefore selective in what "gory" shows I will put myself through and critical when it is used needlessly or in excess. Again, the writers and animators of Vox Machina kept things appropriate to the story line without going overboard and honestly, without being overly cautious as well. I liken it to Castlevania. It fits.
I want to avoid any spoilers because, well, I hate spoilers! However, I will say that after finishing the season neither my husband nor I can pinpoint a favorite character (even though he does have a tendency to randomly sing "Scanlan's haaaaaannnnddddd" now). They are all amazingly created and performed. Every time I told my husband another character was voiced by Matthew Mercer he was mind blow and increasingly impressed with his talent. And not just his talent, the talent of all the cast. The careful selection of additional voices so the core group wasn't voicing everyone is evident. I also really enjoyed watching some of the Watch Party videos on the Critical Role YouTube Channel. I love seeing how things are made and it was awesome seeing the passion and excitement the actors have for their characters and the story in general, and the videos of the actors recording in their closet studios! Which brings me back to how this show plays a critical role in animation (no, I wasn't JUST being punny!). Even if you don't care for the show, if you LISTEN, and just pay attention to things individually like writing, the acting, the audio quality. This show was born from some folks just sitting around together having some fun. The production was made from several home studios. It is a perfect example of how the industry is changing, in my opinion, for the better. It's a reminder of how a brilliant idea can blossom from unconventional sources, not just sitting at a desk determining to write a show. It also demonstrates that the reach of the Hollywood hand no longer need be only as far as LA. Talent resides everywhere and now that talent is accessible from anywhere. One need only to be open to the idea.
Also, if Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, Liam O'Brien, Marisha Ray, Sam Riegel, Travis Willingham, and/or Matthew Mercer read this, thank you for this treasure of a tale. Well done, absolutely brilliant, and I can't wait to see more!!
Have you watched the Legend of Vox Machina? If so, what did you think? Do you have a favorite adult animated show? What is it?