Created By: José Alejandro García Muñoz
No. of Seasons: 1 (Currently)
No. of Episodes: 13 (Currently)
Production Company: Ánima Estudios
Original Release: February 24, 2017
Legend Quest, a relatively new cartoon series featured on Netflix, is one that I have found to be equal parts extremely good and foolishly bad. No, “bad” is perhaps too strong a word to use more like… serious lack of effort put into solidifying any kind of reasoning behind the more important plot relevant aspects of the show. It doesn’t help that Legend Quest itself is based on a series of animated films that are extremely hard to find and watch outside of Mexico, and so a lot
Case in point, our main hero of the show is a boy named Leo who can see and commune with ghosts.
The reason for this is that there is always one person in every village who can do this. That’s it. One person in every village can do this because reasons. Reasons that become virtually moot as it soon becomes rapidly apparent that most people can see ghosts whether or not they are “the one in every village.” It’s not that the reasons aren’t fairly obvious, from being actual legendary creatures to being in places of great spiritual power thus ensuring even the most mundane folks can perceive the dead, it’s that for all the emphasis that was put into why Leo can see the dead, virtually none of that is done elsewhere.
The abject lack of reasonable reasoning continues with our main villain Quetzalcoatl who is dead-set on destroying the world despite being a creator god and, generally speaking, an all-around good deity. The reasoning is, and I quote, “only when he’s in a good mood and he’s NOT in a good mood now.”
So… a god of agriculture, sun, wind, and education is going to destroy the world because he’s in a mood? How the heck this hasn’t happened a thousand times over with the Greek pantheon alone remains one of many unanswered mysteries in the show overall. Though it’s not been a common trope among deities, the concept of gods being empowered by the faith/worship of humanity has steadily grown over the years as greatly demonstrated in a certain book made television series. Though I do not doubt that Quetzalcoatl had his fair share of worshipers back in his prime, I severely doubt that’s the case anymore in the 19th century and especially compared to other, far more widely recognized gods and beings of similar ilk.
Really though because he’s in a “bad mood?” What happens if he’s in a good mood then huh?
As I’m sure many have already surmised, the main plot revolves around Leo finding a means of stopping Quetzalcoatl’s plan of destroying the earth by way of globular trek. Not intentionally mind you and oftentimes with little to no reasoning as to how or why he and his companions end up in the places they do but whatever.
Most episodes are arguably self-contained in a typical “monster of the week” fashion though most do contribute to the overall plot of stopping Quetzalcoatl and, surprisingly, his right-hand witch Baba Yaga. Credit to the show, it doesn’t try and keep the legendary creatures/beings limited to knowing only those in their specific regions/legends/pantheons and, for the most part, consists of creatures that aren’t as widely known as some others or haven’t been utilized that greatly in more recent years.
Onward to the actual main characters of the show we get our… arguable hero named Leo, the boy who talks to ghosts because reasons and whose job it is to stop Quetzalcoatl because prophecy. Ugh, just to break the mold I’d love there to be some big prophecy that states that this supposed hero is set to vanquish this ultimate evil only for someone else entirely whom actually get the job done.
But I digress. For all the hardships he has faced, for all the trials he has overcome, and the multitude of malicious monster met, Leo is still a kid. Not a young kid but one that clearly doesn’t know what kind of person he intends to be. There are some episodes/moments where he is well and truly brilliant and brave and others where the exact opposite is more than a slight understatement. Generally speaking, he’s a good person all around it’s just that his attitude and mannerisms appear to vary by the episode from dumbstruck with love and a whole heap of false heartbreak to angsting avenger set on achieving his goal no matter the cost.
Next we got a rather interesting breed of monster, a creature known as an alebrije named Alebrije simply for the fact that his actual name requires one to be missing the tip of their tongue to properly pronounce. He is a rainbow hued creature that, to us and Leo, as a mishmash of shapes. To others however, he appears as a creature that, quote, “says more appear them than it does him,” which I think means that who they are as a person is reflected in his own form.
Overall, he’s something of the mother-hen of the group, not only actively looking out for them as a whole no matter their age or (lack of) maturity but also he’s quite the cook apparently. His sense of smell is second to none as far as tracking anything deemed extremely important to the overall plot of the episode, be it mundane or magical.
From there, we go down to the dumb and useless side that is the long deceased and frankly far from departed Don Andrés, a supposed Conquistador with a very British accent whose escapades took him to Germany. He is, without a doubt in my mind, the most useless character in the entirety of the show. Admittedly, he has had one shining moment in preserving the after-lives of some ghosts bewitched by an equally spectral Medusa’s wicked gaze but any other were nothing short of lackluster.
He is a coward, openly screaming in fright and fleeing despite the fact that he is already dead and nothing short of certain magical spells can hurt him. Something that we do NOT see nearly enough for him to act in that way. He is also undeniably greedy, openly trying, and failing because you know dead as a doornail, to steal bits of gold and other treasures despite being in a dire situation with the monster-of-the-week.
The pirate-styled Marcella has the poor fate of being Leo’s love interest in this show, and I only say this because while their romance was played rather well at the beginning, it pretty much degraded to dust when she reappears later and becomes a part of the main cast. Not to say that Marcella is a bad character. Far from it in fact. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, is not afraid to step up whenever and however she may need to even if it involves hurting those involved, and is probably the most sensible person in the whole group bar one other and even that one is questionable at certain times. Instead, much like Leo, Marcella has similar elements of severe lack of reasoning.
The primary example of this being that she is a sorceress who inherited her power via touching her mother after her mother was struck down when she refused to allege herself to Baba Yaga and Nu Gui whom, by extension, serve Quetzalcoatl. Given that the two, Baba Yaga in particular, are one of the most powerful and globally recognized witches, there is little to no backstory given for Marcella or her mother and how it is that they could possibly rank up to them though I’ll give them points for the “power of three” aspect of witchcraft.
The auburn haired, and modernly dressed, Teodora is by far my favorite of the cast because she, more than even Marcella, has the proper attitude and mindset in regards to Leo’s quest and how to accomplish it. … For the most part. She is a teenage girl and a Millennial at that. No, that’s not a typo either. Rather than being a ghost like Don Useless, Teodora is actually the astral projection of a girl from our time period and not the 19th century whom was taught this skill in order to aid Leo in his quest.
I’d question the validity of this if it weren’t blatantly obvious from the get-go that Teodora is the only person capable of keeping Leo’s head on straight for him and has pulled more than her fair share of weight in most circumstances with whatever monster-of-the-week our heroes encounter. What I find particularly amusing about her though is that somehow, someway, she has somehow managed to not only bring her smartphone along for the astral projection ride but is still able to utilize most of its functions such as the camera and, surprisingly, going onto the Internet. I honestly don’t know if I should call this brilliantly stupid or stupidly brilliant.
Overall, Legend Quest is not a bad cartoon though it does not rank anywhere near my top ten overall though it does just manage to squeak in under the Netflix only banner. If you want to see a cartoon that features the more obscure myths and legends from across the world that have rarely been under the spotlight, or even if you are just intrigued by a show made and produced in Mexico, then I wholeheartedly recommend Legend Quest. It might not be what you expect but then, isn’t that precisely what any show, cartoon or not, should be?