DOTA 2: Dragons Blood (Season 1 Review)
Videogames have long had a troubled and embarrassing history with on screen adaptations of their lore and universes. Too often, the game is just used as an excuse for a B (or C or D) grade life-action film of action set-pieces and eye candy. In addition, they tend to just replay the set pieces of the game... but with real people. Ultimately, it doesn't work... unless you happen to be 15 years old.
Netflix has commissioned a series that tries to capture the spirit and universe of DOTA2, Valve's evolution of THE original MOBA game, DOTA. However, they have taken a different direction with the series, and instead of trying to recreate a 5 on 5 MOBA battle (cough cough, Street Fighter...) which would be a terrible story-line... they have taken the lore and just ran with it to create an 8 episode long season of anime!
The South Korean Studio Mir has been tasked with this adaptation. I have no doubt that they had some trepidations about being handed such a huge IP, after all, gamers can be a notoiriously difficult crowd to please! However, if you look at their Wiki page you will find that they have had adequate experience in bringing other cherished IP to life on the cartoon screen! Including Voltron!
So, it appears that our beloved franchise is in good hands... but I have to make a quick disclaimer here. I was more of a fan of League of Legends over DOTA 2 (don't flame me!)...
Dragon's Blood tells the an overarching story over several different levels, something that worked very well with other epic game adaptations like The Witcher. At one level, there is the near eternal feud between the Invoker and Selemene, which has drawn in a mysterious ancient evil which even the legendary Dragons are wary of.
However, most of the story-telling occurs on the mortal plane, obvlivious to the "god-like" meddling and petty squabbles with realm-shaking consequences. We are introduced to the world of Dragon's Blood with the theft of sacred Lotuses from the temple of Selemene.
Mirana (and her mute bodyguard, Marci) are on a quest to recover the Lotuses as they were lost on her watch. These two characters are just so touching and relatable, they draw you into the world. I'm torn over which character I like better, Mirana or Marci... but every time I see Mirana (especially in the action sequences), I can only think about Ashe from League of Legends. They aren't at all identical in looks, but they have the same playstyle... and Ashe was one of my preferred characters in LoL!
Anyway, there is talk that Marci is a rumoured new character coming to the DOTA2 game.... it would be pretty awesome if she was there, she is one silent badarse!
Meanwhile, their paths eventually crosses with Davion (Dragon Knight from the game) and Fymryn (another potential new DOTA2 character) who was the original Lotus thief! The four of them form an unusual band of heroes who have different goals and quests (and quirks...), but become united in their opposition to this mysterious ancient evil.
The first Season ends with it being quite unclear as to who is truly evil or good and who has been a pawn in a larger scheme. The viewer is definitely more drawn to our unlikely band of heroes (Mirana, Davion, Fymryn and Marci) than the almost childish desires of the "gods". However, despite the fact that the gods seem to be infantile, their actions have profound consequences for the universe and themselves...
Season 1 is a great exposition that is promising something quite epic for the second season! I can only hope that Netflix doesn't end up axing this promising series... they have had the habit of throwing up many ideas and then not following through on them. This is definitely one of the good ones, but it is a bit of a niche audience... gamers and anime fans.
Speaking of Anime, this is a MUCH better format for video game adaptations. Real Life adaptations are often quite cringy... and if the special effects and budget isn't really huge like the Marvel series, then they can come across looking quite terrible as well!
I wish someone will do something similar with the League of Legends universe... I LOVE those characters, and I think that the lore is better fleshed out there!
PS: You will end up seeing this quite often....
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