Based On: Disney’s Descendants (Film)
No. of Seasons: 2 (Currently)
No. of Episodes: 15 (Currently)
Distributor: Disney-ABC Domestic Television
Original Release: September 18, 2015
Short-form animation is an increasingly popular trend of cartoons that have been on the rise as of late, particularly in Japan or so I’ve seen. They are, in essence, cartoons that are between three to ten minutes in length, if even that long. Descendants: Wicked World is one such series that falls under the extremely short category of short-form shows and has been something of a surprise for me regardless.
While I have many thoughts and opinions towards the film, that will have to wait until a later time, preferably when the film’s sequel is set to premiere, but for now I will speak briefly on its sequel series alone.
Being released primarily through Youtube, though the first season can be watched on the Disney Channel website as well, Wicked World has the unfortunate luck of being extremely lacking in anything remotely resembling a proper series introduction.
Thus far, each and every episode begins, quite literally, at the end of the film wherein Evie, daughter of Queen Grimhilde AKA the Evil Queen and stepmother to Snow White, calls upon her fragment of the Magic Mirror and asks it what the future of her and her friends hold and we get sucked into the mirror to see a giggling Evie and her best friend Mal, daughter of Maleficent, posing for the camera before the title is shown.
While I understand the need to try and connect the live action film to its animated successor, I for one cannot stand the concept. Aside from just not being a mere seventeen seconds in length, which I’ll admit does grant more time to the episodes, I’d rather have just a direct title and be done with it rather than the bit with Evie.
Those who are coming in to the series without having seen the film will have little to no idea as to why the series is being introduced by a live action person much less who she and most of the other characters are, especially when one considers that there are a surprising number of redesigns done to a select few.
As to the series itself, I’ll confess that I was surprised to actually find myself hooked into watching more than a singular episode let alone that the majority of the first seasons is actually one long story that introduces to us a new descendant or three.
With Wicked World being a short form show, there isn’t really anything resembling a introductory episode per say as we jump right into the sequence of rather unfortunate events that lead to the introduction of Freddie, daughter of Doctor Facilier, being welcomed into Auradon whilst also secreting another, currently unknown, Disney Villain’s kid.
While incredibly short, each episode doesn’t come as being cut to the quick or rushed in any fashion. Though they are connected by an overarching plot most of the first season episode can stand on their own as being individual stories. If I had to pick one in particular… I’ll admit, I liked the episode “Good is the New Bad” but that episode, alongside another, is two-thirds music video than actual story despite it introducing my own favorite among the descendants.
As such, my favorite is episode three, “Audrey’s New Do? New Don’t!” In this episode we see that Audrey, daughter of Princess Aurora AKA Sleeping Beauty, is more than a bit envious of the rising attention/adoration aimed towards the Villain Kids, particularly when it comes to their appearance so she encourages her friend Jane, daughter of Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother, to use magic to give her a new hairstyle. The results are… interesting to say the least.
Out of all the episodes thus far, I feel that this is the one episode that really shows off the amount of work and dedication put into the animation. With how short the episodes are, one would assume that the animation quality would be lackluster but this episode proves that idea wrong. There are so many minor and subconscious motions done by Audrey and Jane that, for the briefest of moments, one would think that this show was being animated using performance capture. Thankfully, that is most definitely not the case.
I’ll admit, while the overall concept of Descendants is aimed towards the young girl demographic, trying to ride on the coattails of the surprisingly popular franchises of Monster High and its sister series Ever After High, the show and film alike do not cater to this concept. Well, save for one episode in particular but I’ll give it a pass as Jordan, daughter of the Genie, makes a fourth wall comment worthy of her father.
Is it the best of short form animation as a whole? Eh, I’m afraid that there are a few far more worthier titles to be found out amongst the endless seas of anime but as far as cartoons are concerned, a most sincere and definitive yes.