The Dragon Prince promises a fantasy world filled to the brim with wonder and adventure around every corner. It tries really hard to make this a reality by showing off magical creatures, wacky characters, and liberal use of magic. Right from the get-go, you can tell this is a kids’ show. It doesn’t pretend to have a wider appeal and doesn’t show any sophistication above elementary school logic. There are no lessons to be learned, no insights about life, or how to be a better person. This is strictly child fodder and it works in that regard; it would actually be worse if it tried being anything more than it is.
Most aspects of The Dragon Prince are surface level things; not much comes across as important or deeply engaging. One of the things that really creates a layer of disconnection from the audience is the poor animation quality. Stills of the show are pretty stunning but in action, it's distracting and janky. It feels like the show is stuttering or buffering due to how jumpy it’s is animated. The studio behind the show attributed the weird animation choice to “combining CG with the process of 2D animation”. Whatever poor excuse is given, it makes the show hard to watch when the effect happens and does not go away.
Other than the jumpy animation, The Dragon Prince had a problem keeping me invested in its story. The plot has too many conveniences where things happen just to move the show along. Since it ends up being a long line of circumstantial events, it is hard to connect with the characters because I don’t believe the events happening to them. Seemingly important things will pop up out of nowhere just to create another plot point for the moment. For example, the main characters are traveling to a destination, but they randomly hear a local urban legend. Instead of progressing forward on their limited timetable, they take the time to check out the rumor. It takes them a couple of days to do so but its fine since the detour provided the answer they needed all along.
This leads to how ineffective the characters come across. They are passive in their own story, letting events happen to them instead of causing them. The feeling of disconnect widens as you realize the main cast are really the children they are portrayed as. There is nothing special about them, and not in a good way. They are supposed to be a group of unlikely heroes to this segregated world but their action amount to nothing.
But somehow I am still excited for season 2. I watched all the episodes which is more than I can say about other shows. So even though the show's mediocrity shines brightly, it seems appropriate for this unabashedly children’s show.