Vox Machine returns to Amazon Prime Video to the delight of all of us, who exactly one year ago were bewitched by an animated product that was fun, daring, full of imagination and above all different from anything we had seen until then.
It was only yesterday when, in 2019, a crowdfunding was launched to create a 22 minute animated short inspired by “Dungeons & Dragons“. We needed 750 thousand dollars but in 24 hours we reached 4.5 million thanks to the fans. It was just the beginning of one of the most incredible independent projects ever, then structured in a more congenial way for a general public thanks to the showrunner Brandon Auman (one of the best in the world of animation). Resounding success for the first season and now, here come another 12 episodes to guide us through bad jokes, monsters, blood and much more with the weirdest group of adventurers ever.
A small miracle of dedication and self-financing
Without a doubt to speak of Vox Machine means facing one of the most tangible tests of what the fantasy universe offers almost infinite storytelling possibilitieswhich if well exploited can give us incredibly satisfying entertainment products.
But this in all likelihood is a result much easier to achieve with animation, which by name, in addition to offering greater suspension of disbelief, also always has unique expressive abilities of its kind. Needless to mention then, that freedom of expression is usually much more guaranteed here than when there are flesh and blood actors.
Vox Machine had been one of the big surprises of last yearan animated series from Titmouse, Inc. somewhere between old-fashioned Western 2D, Japanese anime and computer graphics (though used sparingly), which had immediately won favor with the public.
But even more interesting was that Amazon Prime had decided to extend for another 12 pointsto continue along the lines of the first season, which as known was born from Critical Role, a 2015 webseries in which professional voice actors (respectively Matthew Mercer, Ashley Johnson, Travis Willingham, Laura Bailey, Liam O’Brien, Taliesin Jaffe, Marisha Ray And Sam Riegel) challenged each other to Dungeons & Dragons, the most famous RPG ever. Clearly inspired by some of the most famous story arcs of the game, as well as recovering the best of the rules, characters and complex world of the famous game, Vox Machine it made us passionate in an irreverent wayanything but banal and captivating to the adventures of a sort of Armata Brancaleone with which it is objectively impossible not to fall in love: the Vox Machina precisely, made up of Vex, Vax, Percy, Pike, Keyleth, Scanlan and Grog.
The first 12 episodes had guided us into it this world halfway between the serious and the comicalpopulated by monstrous creatures, mercenaries, sorcerers, kings, dynasties and demons of all sorts.
Vox Machine he has never let us down even for a minuteespecially for its ability to recover the best of the Fantasy universe and the gods great cinematic cults of the past (the 80s in particular) and often winking at the most popular videogame universes.
In this second season it is not so differentindeed, if possible, the stakes are raised.
The first three episodes already make us understand that if on one side there is the will to avoid narrative clichés and above all to entertain the public as much as possible, on the other hand we want to continue on the path of deepening the individual characters.
If in the first season he had insisted a lot on Percy and his “particular guest” so to speak, here, however, the twins Vox and Vax are in charge. Of them here we learn something more about their tragic past but above all we manage to have a clearer idea of why they have such a close relationship, almost on the verge of addiction. Dynamic, with great animationthe new installments take us to where we ended up in the previous season: with the imminent attack of four gigantic Dragoons to Cloudtop Castle where King Uriel resided, until recently so stingy with consideration for our heroes. We want to avoid excessive spoilershowever it is absolutely mandatory to anticipate you that death and destruction will roam on a scale never seen before, often shifting the overall atmosphere towards horroreven more than we were previously used to.
Between recovery and the desire for renewal
Vox Machine continues to have an incredible pacecrackling dialogues but above all a lot of self-irony, however always placed in an ingenious way, so as not to make the whole thing a parody, but rather an animated series that gives a nod to many things we have already seenwithout, however, being overly tied to a particular one. If it is extremely easy to think of the group as an elementary tribute to the Seven Samurai by Akira Kurosawa or to their western “disciples”, and it is also true that one cannot deny how much Vox Machine owes a great deal to the cinema of Sam Raimi, the Army of Darkness particularly.
The more experienced and seasoned then had immediately grasped also a certain familiarity with the atmospheres of Willowthe Fantastic Story, Legend, He-Man and so on and so forth.
One element that should be emphasized is how while having a clearly vintage identitythe whole is instead incredibly modern as regards the topics covered, as well as the characterization of the various characters. Pike, Grog and the others are in fact very far from being invincible, indeed their own frailties, their fears, hold court here, guide them towards a process of acceptance of the same by virtue of a very interesting personal improvement.
The animation is confirmed to be of the highest levelwithout however being excessively charged, the writing in the same way turns out to be interesting because apparently classic, but in reality inhabited by trashy frequent flashbackswhich make the whole far from monotony.
Of course, at a time when the giant is beginning to appropriate television serials, including animation, a product of such high quality perhaps deserves a longer playing timebut you just can’t always have everything in life.
Vox Machine remains a much more effective product animated by a profound experimentation and a desire not to take oneself too seriously, and it is one of the elements that often make the series very similar in some ways to what the saga of the Avengers for several years. We have a group of superheroes who are not always super, often messy.
Of course, it lacks the visionary sophistication and visual gigantism of a masterpiece like Castlevania, nor is it layered and semantically rich like DOTA: Dragon’s Bloodnor is it that gothic and punk odyssey that was the wonderful Hellsing. However, unlike these three, it has the advantage of being less stressful both in terms of aesthetics and above all in terms of plot. Here the rhythm counts, the dimension of an ensemble buddy movietrying to make this fantasy universe so famous if not realistic (it would really be impossible) if nothing else plausible in talking to us about adventures, battles, traumas and guilt.
Even more interesting, Vox Machine makes much fun of the macho myth that the fantasy world has always embraced since the time of Conan the Barbarianas much as the modern dictatorship of female characters as invincible and perfect, as in the final analysis truly sterile and boring. Reality? He pisses everyone off, included the Lord of the Rings and even herself. In this second season then there is no shortage swear words, vitriolic jokesas well as a very generous dose of violence and sexual metaphors which obviously make this series something inevitably studied for an adult audience. The same one who sacrificed and continues to sacrifice entire years of his life by rolling the dice as a Wizard, Thief or who knows what else. Because there may also be white hair or extra kilos, but an animated series about “Dungeons & Dragons” will always remain an irresistible attraction.