Picture this, it is 200 years in the future and humanity has been forced underground to live as “burrow people,” while mutant versions of common day animals roam the surface. From giant speaking hummingbirds to mega mutants of all species reaching 300 feet in height, the surface definitely has had some major modifications made to it. For humans, going up to the surface is practically certain death, so no one goes up there unless they have to.
The show opens up to the main protagonist, Kipo, being shot up to the surface through the sewer system in her burrow after a mega mute, short for mutant, attack. Her father sent her to the surface to protect her, not knowing there were better procedures in place for an event like this. The first few episodes are dedicated to Kipo trying to get back to her old burrow with her people, and on the way the viewer is introduced to the rest of the main cast. First is Mandu, a mute pig with six legs and four eyes, and while she does not have “intelligence” like other mutes, she still proves herself as a valuable asset to the cast as the show progresses. Planning to eat her, however, is the first surface human the viewer meets, dubbed by Kipo as “Wolf” due to the wolf skin that she wears on her back. In episode two, the viewer meets Benson and Dave, a human boy and an immortal insect mute that actually try to rob the two girls early on.
When arriving at the site of her old burrow, Kipo discovers it was destroyed in the attack, but being the optimistic person she is, she insisted that her people managed to escape, and she was right. As the season progresses and Kipo and Co. follow clues Kipo’s dad had left her so she can find her people. They followed the clues while being on the run from mute gangs trying to capture and turn them over to Scarlemagne, a human-hating dictator. Scarlamange is bent on taking power over the surface and using his ability to mind control other primates to not only use the humans to build this world for him but to torture them in the process. This season’s main job was world building and establishing the story, which it did very well with the help of a unique soundtrack to back the scenes, and the interesting choice in animation, as Kipo is one of few animated shows currently to be drawn on paper. Every character the main cast met would play a role later on in the show, and each group was bizarre and unique in their own way, but not out of place.
Though the majority of Kipo season one felt like filler, it was enjoyable and well placed. Characters the viewer meets like Mulholland in season one episode seven would not be expected to really show up again for any specific purpose, but spoiler alert: that episode will not be all the viewer gets to see from him and what a fundamental asset his character turns out providing. Not only that, but in the sixth episode of the first season, where Kipo is working herself day and night trying to get back to her father, Benson takes her on birthday surprise day where it is revealed that he is gay. This scene does this expertly as it doesn’t make it an outrageous deal, but it doesn’t go away, as Benson does end up with a love interest by the end of the show.
The second season of Kipo picks up with her still trying to save her people from Scarlemagne. his season is when the viewer gets insight on into his back story and roll in Kipo’s father’s life, primarily shown in season two episode eight, “Sympathy for the Mandrill.” As the viewer begins to develop said sympathy for Scarlemagne, they are introduced to a secondary villain in the show, Dr. Emilia, a scientist aiming to cure the “great mutant outbreak,” believing all mutes to be a plague on society and should be wiped out. Overall, this season did an excellent job building on the world and characters previously developed in season one. Despite the animation quality going down, due to Netflix not prioritizing the show as much as others on the platform, that did not sway the greatness Kipo had already been providing.
Then there was the third, and final, season of Kipo, the show’s main antagonist role hasnow fully shifted to Emilia with the threat of a cure for mute kind looming over the protagonists and viewer’s heads. This season was much more grounded, as now they actually had a home base to fall back on, the crew was not always moving around and the viewers actually got to see how characters that would not normally spend time together interacted. Not only that, but this season tore at viewers’ heartstrings with nerve-wracking and heart straining scenes left and right. The emotional value this show put in was astounding and left viewers ready to be hurt again after its finale.
Although it felt like Kipo was cut short, show creators say that they successfully told the whole story in the three seasons they were given. While the show had a satisfying and fitting conclusion, it left viewers still wanting more. Recently on Oct. 23, the day the world supposedly “ended” in Kipo’s cinematic universe, fans attempted to get the hashtag ‘wolfmovie’ trending on Twitter. They may not have succeeded, however, the show’s creator, Radford Sechrist, explicitly mentioned that he wanted to do a Wolf movie based on her character five years in the future, giving fans hope that just because Netflix may be done with Kipo, Dreamworks is not.
All in all, Kipo is a fantastic story that was told in seemingly such a short time. It taught viewers valuable lessons like fighting is not the answer, and should only be used when there is no other option, and that forgiveness and sympathy are far better tools than hatred and anger. Not to mention, there is an openly gay couple in this show, and they are not overly emphasized like in other shows. They are completely natural and not over expressed, which is incredible since gay relationships have a sort of stigma attached to them where as lesbian relationships are more common in media as they get sort of fetishized.
Kipo’s style and sound, grand storytelling, and inclusivity are what make this show great, and is one of the greatest things to come out of 2020. Due to all of these factors the show has earned itself a 10/10, and can be watched on Netflix.