Review: "Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia," Season 2

Will work hard once again for a spoiler-free review.

Trollhunters left off at a moment where you know Jim doesn’t die, because he cannot as the lead, yet we’re teased relentlessly as if he could. Every TV show, animated or not, pulls this one.

In my season 1 review, I remarked how it felt like a book. My best comparison is if you like Harry Potter books, this show is for you. Jokes get told about stuff happening way back in the early episodes. Characters from all the way at the beginning you don’t expect to be as relevant now are. Never before have I “watched a book” like in Trollhunters.

Season 2, without spoilers, is excellent until the mid-season 2 slump. You wonder how a show so good stuck in slow episodes out of place with the storytelling. They don’t add anything to the plot. And, the awkward episodes are far from fun for chunks of them.

Luckily, they are exceptions, not the rule. As quickly as it slowed down, after those 2-3 stale episodes, the series is full blast back to adventures. You’re glad you stuck with it. My favorite episode in the second season is the one wondering about Jim Lake’s what if. How might his life be had it been normal again, him never being the troll hunter? The life lesson in there reaches me as someone in my early 30’s. To be profound like that in a children’s cartoon is beautiful on the writers’ end.

People who have watched my own animated work thus far know my love of rainbows and neon color schemes. Season 2 in The Darklands goes crazy neon, dubstep, club rave NEEEEEEOOOOON.

Another connection I loved. A baddie turned good explains her love of Peer Gynt. Coming off using my own version of the most famous classical tune from it for my O Girl of a Dream film, my heart adored the music reference for young people. Who knew I might someday find my emotions expressed in a CGI female monster describing how I felt the first time hearing it, through her experience?

Initially, del Toro envisioned the idea as a live-action television series; however this was deemed impractical due to budgetary concerns, and as a result he instead turned the idea into a book. DreamWorks then planned to turn the book into an animated feature film. The feature film was going to be directed by Guillermo del Toro and Rodrigo Blaas. Eventually Dreamworks decided to instead turn it into a TV series with Netflix. Rodrigo Blaas became an Executive Producer and Supervising Director on the series.
— Wikipedia

Guillermo Del Toro’s vision of good and bad monsters is lovely. Monsters are misunderstood companions. I love seeing his sketches come to life, born from his mind into the best CGI Dreamworks Animation has ever done for their TV shows.

Season 2 is sad when you realize it is the last time you will hear real Jim Lake, Anton Yelchin, who died in a shocking home accident after recording the voiceovers. I am not looking forward to season 3 without him.

The show feels almost like philosophical and life lessons being told to us, the audience taking it all in within the silly storytelling. The original YouTube promos leave us thinking it’s like every ordinary children’s TV show. See what I mean here in the trailer telling us absolutely nothing outside of the basic plot. Trolls exist. A boy has to help them. Jim leads two lives. Nothing unheard of in children’s animation.

Or this promo, interviewing creator Guillermo Del Toro about creating Blinky from a quickie drawing. Number one, it gets on my nerves. Who subtitles a very successful man speaking perfectly clear English, penning scripts in perfect English, writing a whole Trollhunters book in perfect English?! Oh, yes. He’s from Mexico! Mr. Del Toro cannot possibly speak good English! Ughghgughghghghhhhhhhhhhhh.

Did you know? This show is available en español. Claire becomes “Clara.” Another rip out your hair moment. Nobody markets it as bilingual. Why not!?!?! Come on, every Spanish language student’s dream is their fav teacher playing stuff like this. Have you ever been an actual foreign language class student? You watch stuff from the 70’s. A cassette tape goes on like, “¡Ojo! The conjugation changes, students.” At best, you get a 90’s movie with cussing bleeping out as subtitles play below. Like, really?!

This clip directly means “Clara’s supreme portal,” for anyone who can’t figure it out. I’ll translate the rest. Hang on.

“Se avecina una batalla épica. Pero, primero, Clara debe abrir el portal más grande de la historia trol. ¿Pondrá en juego su vida para lograrlo? ¡El gran final se develará en la nueva temporada de “DreamWorks - Trollhunters”! ¡Ya disponible en Netflix!”

More or less, that means:

“The epic battle is around. But first, Clara should open the biggest portal in troll history. Can the risk endanger her life? The grand finale reveals itself in Trollhunters! Now available on Netflix!”

Also cool if you like bilingual entertainment. I am 100% serious, my goal on my list after wrapping this English language animated work I am drawing right now is to begin including some Spanish language material. Spanish is a beautiful language very expressive of emotion you can’t explain in English. I’m Midwestern and evidently speak American, or more precisely, Midwestern. In Spanish, when I sit and think about stuff on my mind, it comes out eloquently. My English is like, “Hey, what’s up!? I’m hungry. Wanna get some food?”

How do I view this in Spanish? For real? I’m now intrigued.

I don’t know why. Spanish in Trollhunters comes off beautifully. As if it enhances the storytelling. Watch the show and hear how personal it is when Claire/Clara gets called “niña” by her monster faux baby brother Non-Enrique. Very poetic in the acting.

Notice the really strong, beautiful brass section going in the orchestral score and the animation-as-total-inspo CGI FX. DreamWorks made a heap of an effort.

In season 2, the monsters and young people grow as characters. Loved it.

Cannot say more without giving away the major plot points. Watch it for yourself!

Read my other Trollhunters reviews:

Season 1

Season 3

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