KIPO AND THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS Is Fantastical Entertainment With Some Cautions
By Trevor Jones, Contributing Writer
KIPO & THE AGE OF WONDERBEASTS, or KIPO for short, is a 2020 2-D animated adventure series created by Radford Sechrist. It is based on Sechrist’s 2015 webcomic of the same name. The first season of KIPO is filled with endearing characters, well-executed Christian values, and an optimistic take on the post-apocalypse genre. However, there are some cautions, including fantasy violence, a gay character, and some cartoon evolution. The show may not be age-appropriate for its TV-Y7 audience, but engages older audiences with its grounded characters and deeper themes.
The series follows Kipo Oak, a 13-year-old girl with lavender hair and a curious attitude. After getting separated from her clan during an underground evacuation, Kipo wanders on the surface for the first time. Her goal is to reunite with her father. Along the way, she will encounter “mutes,” heavily mutated animals with full sentience that can also speak fluent English.
The show takes place in “Las Vistas,” a once bustling metropolis overrun by plants and wild mutes. It is set 200 years in the post-apocalyptic future, where humans are forced to live in underground burrows and mutes reign supreme.
The show’s vivid cast is extensive. Kipo’s entourage includes: Mandu, a feisty blue pig mute with six legs and four eyes; Wolf, a no-nonsense ebony girl with an emotional chip on her shoulder; a happy-go-lucky boy who jams to his cassette tapes; and Dave, an insect mute who rapidly evolves from baby to adult stages at random.
Throughout her adventures, Kipo will face extraordinary creatures like business-suit frogs, science-rapping wolves, and mountain-sized canines. The primary antagonist is Scarlemagne, a flamboyant primate who seeks to enslave all mankind. He commands the mercenary mutes to chase after Kipo’s group.
The content is a bit excessive for a TV-Y7 audience as it features fantasy/animated violence and simulated intense chases. Whenever Team Kipo engages in action, the camera jitters all around and fast motion is used but there is an absence of blood and harsh language. While the violence is fantastical, the animation conveys a lot of pain to each character, so viewers do see the consequences of violent actions. In two episodes, Benson explicitly states he is gay, but does not kiss anyone on screen.
The program portrays numerous Christian values like empathy, forgiveness, and helping one’s neighbors. Whenever Kipo faces a mute, her first instinct is to diffuse the tension and chat with him. In one episode, a group of guitar wielding snakes threaten to bite Wolf. Kipo takes a snake’s guitar and plays a heavy guitar riff. Benson and Dave join in as drums and the snakes become best friends with Team Kipo. Kipo was able to empathize with killer snakes despite their differences.
At the midpoint, Wolf withholds an important clue to finding Kipo’s father. Kipo becomes infuriated and chastises Wolf. In a moment of vulnerability, Wolf admits she is afraid of being lonely again. Kipo forgives her, noting they need to stay focused on the task at hand.
Kipo displays altruistic tendencies to friendly mutes as well. In the episode with the Timbercats (lumberjack kittens), Team Kipo is captured but Kipo’s selflessness ends up making the Timbercats her allies.
In terms of technical and artistic merits, KIPO holds up. The program is a visual marvel with sharp edges, great use of color, and constantly imaginative species designs. Each episode throws in a new exotic version of real world animals. Examples include two headed flying flamingos, 1980’s fitness obsessed raccoons, and business suit frogs. Despite the post-apocalyptic landscape, the program echoes an upbeat tone and a tangible sense of adventure.
Kipo also boasts an unconventional soundtrack. It mixes tunes from classical music, hip hop, rap, and the acoustic guitar. In one dream sequence, Wolf’s music is a “warrior guitar” warm-up with audible Japanese lyrics. The show is not shy with its musical tastes. It helps build on Kipo’s unique audible identity.
In conclusion, KIPO & THE AGE OF THE WONDERBEASTS is probably more acceptable for older children and teenagers than children. It features themes of empathy, forgiveness, and helping one’s neighbor despite the challenging circumstances. Season one of KIPO is an imaginative, hopeful story for viewers of all ages.
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