Originally started back in 2016 with Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia, the Tales of Arcadia franchise was an ambitious project when it was first announced for Netflix. The show was created by award winning Guillermo Del Torro which ended up becoming a trilogy of shows set in the same universe featuring characters that would cross over between series. I watched the first two series in this trilogy, Trollhunters and 3Below, a while back and really enjoyed both. Despite being made for younger audiences the shows did a good job blending comedy and drama to create a show that the whole family can enjoy. I was excited for the third installment Wizards: Tales of Arcadia which I am taking a look at today. Wizards: Tales of Arcadia is another enjoyable series continuing the tradition of the franchise even if it doesn’t quite reach the level of its predecessor series.
Wizards: Tales of Arcadia takes place after the events of both Trollhunters and 3Below. This show is headlined by the new character of Hisirdoux Casperan. Hisirdoux has been Merlin’s apprentice for hundreds of years along with his cat familiar Archie. The show begins in the present where a group of monsters lead by the Arcane Order attack Hisirdoux, Merlin, Archie and a majority of the characters from Trollhunters. In the attack Hisirdoux, Claire, Steve, and Jim are transported back in time to the time of King Arthur. There they meet King Arthur and his knights as well as some other not so friendly faces from their past. Can the group find a way to return to the present and stop the Arcane Order from destroying the world?
Before I talk about the series I wanted to quickly address the fact that Wizards: Tales of Arcadia is the third series in the Tales of Arcadia franchise. I wanted to bring this up because the show relies on you having watched the other series. I wouldn’t say that 3Below is essential as outside of the last couple of episodes none of the characters from that show make an appearance in Wizards: Tales of Arcadia. It is pretty essential to have watched Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia though. If you try to watch Wizards without having watched Trollhunters you probably aren’t going to know exactly what is going on as it utilizes most of the same characters and has a lot of callbacks. If you haven’t at least seen Trollhunters I would highly recommend checking it out before Wizards. I would recommend 3Below as well since it is a good show, but it is not nearly as important for watching Wizards.
With that out of the way Wizards: Tales of Arcadia shares a lot in common with the other two shows from the franchise. That is not unexpected as a majority of the characters are actually originally from Trollhunters. Just like the other shows in the franchise Wizards: Tales of Arcadia does a good job creating a show that the whole family can enjoy. The show blends elements that will appeal to children with things that will keep adults interested. The show does a good job maintaining the sense of humor from the other shows from the franchise while also being quite a bit deeper than you would expect from a children’s show. It also maintains the same great visual style of the other series.
The one area that really differentiates Wizards: Tales of Arcadia from the other shows is that it spends a considerable amount of time building up the backstory of the universe. The show is actually quite clever in using the time traveling mechanic to introduce the origins of many elements of the universe. The show does a really good job filling in a lot of the blanks left by the other series. I am not going to get into specifics to avoid spoilers, but if you had questions about the backstory of the world they will likely be answered by Wizards: Tales of Arcadia.
In addition to this I thought the show did a good job utilizing the King Arthur theme. With the King Arthur story being public domain there have been many different adaptations of the story. While Wizards: Tales of Arcadia shares some of the same elements as other adaptations, Wizards: Tales of Arcadia does a good job making the story its own. It crafts the story to incorporate trolls and other elements from the franchise. The story is also quite a bit deeper than I was initially expecting especially for a show that was made for younger children.
While I enjoyed Wizards: Tales of Arcadia I have to admit that it was probably my least favorite in the Tales of Arcadia series. I mostly attribute this to one factor. This is just a hunch, but I have a strong suspicion that Wizards: Tales of Arcadia was intended to be considerably longer than it ended up being. Watching the show it really felt like there was a much larger story planned for the series which had to be cut down because Netflix decided to shorten the series. With only ten episodes the show was forced to put a bunch of story into far fewer episodes than the other two series. This effects the overall story in my opinion as it feels rushed. The first seven episodes feel like they were meant to be the first season, but spread over thirteen or so episodes. The final three episodes feel like they were intended to be a second season. This doesn’t ruin the show, but it leads to a disjointed experience that fails to live up to the two previous series.
I genuinely enjoyed watching Wizards: Tales of Arcadia. In many ways it fits right in with the rest of the franchise. The show shares a lot in common with the rest of the franchise. The humor is similar and the show does a good job telling a story that appeals to both children and adults. The visuals are also on par with the other shows. What is unique about the show is that it focuses mostly on the history of the universe through the time travel twist. The show does a good job building out the world and answering questions left from the other shows. It also has an interesting twist on your typical King Arthur story. There is much that I liked about the show. It is just a shame that it really feels like the show was rushed were it was planned to be considerably longer than it ended up being. This is the main reason that I found it to probably be the worst show in the franchise despite still being very good. I am really interested in seeing how the franchise ends next year in Trollhunters: Rise of the Titans.
My recommendation for Wizards: Tales of Arcadia is quite simple. If you haven’t seen Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia or 3Below: Tales of Arcadia I would recommend checking them out first. If you have seen the other two series though and enjoyed them I see no reason why you wouldn’t enjoy Wizards: Tales of Arcadia as well.
Recommended For: Fans of the other Tales of Arcadia series, and those who like animated series in general.
Appears On the Following List Posts: None at the moment
Watch Wizards: Tales of Arcadia: Netflix
TV Completionist is our never-ending TV series review journal where the ultimate goal is to watch, write about, and curate as many shows (both new and old) as humanly possible. For more information on this post series and a list of shows already covered, see this post.
#003: Great Pretender <– TV Completionist Introduction Post and List of Series Covered –> TBA