'The Idhun Chronicles' Review: Clunky pacing and slow exposition make the Spanish anime pretty hard to watch
A dark Necromancer sends his agents to hunt down refugee magicians hiding on Earth, including Jack's parents
Spoilers for 'The Idhun Chronicles'
With 5 episodes of about 20-25 minutes each, it's hard not to wonder why 'The Idhun Chronicles' wasn't simply made into a feature-length animated film. Had it been done, it might have had a better handle on its pacing problems, which is the only thing that makes this by-the-numbers fantasy anime stand out in any way — and that's not a good thing. 'The Idhun Chronicles' might have a great story behind it, but that has not translated well into Netflix's very first Spanish anime.
Based on a series of novels known as 'The Idhún's Memories' by Laura Gallego, 'The Idhun Chronicles' follows the story of two worlds — Idhun, and Earth. When the six planets aligned, an evil necromancer known as Ashran took over the land, and hunted magicians down, who all fled to Earth. Now, the 15-year-old Kirtash (Sergio Mur/Johnny Yong Bosch) and his wizard servant hunt down the remaining magicians on Earth — but a Resistance of four children Jack (Itzan Escamilla/Griffin Burns), Victoria (Michelle Jenner/Erika Harlacher), Shail (Nico Romero/Griffin Puatu) and Alsan (Carlos Cuevas/Billy Kametz) stand in their way.
There's obviously a lot of lore behind the setting, and 'The Idhun Chronicles' does a terrible job of explaining it all. The show throws its audience into the deep end right at the beginning, as nearly all of the first season's main characters appear at once for the murder of Jack's parents. Clunky exposition uncovered episode by episode then catches the audience up to where they should have been when the story began. There's a difference between starting a story in medias res and not knowing how to let a story unfold in a way that suits it best.
There is a hint that the show's protagonists might have interesting stories of their own if the series gets a longer run. Jack is brave and foolhardy, Victoria is reserved but determined, Shail is the friendly leader, and Alsan is the noble hero turned into a monster. However, the show ticks off so many familiar fantasy tropes in its short first season that it's hard to get more than a surface read on any of the characters. This includes a prophesied hero orphaned by tragedy, a sword of destiny only one person can wield and children standing up against an Empire where thousands before them have fallen. There's nothing new about 'The Idhun Chronicles', and nothing that makes it especially worth watching either.
'The Idhun Chronicles' also features a frustratingly dull villain — a brooding 15-year-old dark prince, determined to be as monotonous as possible. Many stories are defined by their villains, and 'The Idhun Chronicles' is no exception — for those craving an all-new fantasy epic to explore, they would be well advised to go straight to the source and start Laura Gallego's books instead.
All episodes of Season 1 of 'The Idhun Chronicles' are now available to stream on Netflix.