Shows like “The Witcher” and “Game of Thrones” seem to be recent proof that we can’t get enough of dangerous quests, fantastic beasts, epic battles, diverse characters and intertwining storylines. In fact, much like how “The Witcher” is built off of the namesake videogame’s vast lore and world-building, Netflix’s new anime series, “DOTA: Dragon’s Blood,” is inspired by the world from Dota, a multiplayer online battle arena developed by Valve.
It’s hard to miss the fact that the show is inspired by another well-developed piece of media — the methodical yet complex storylines are perfect indications. The show, despite including dozens of characters and several major plotlines, is still easy to follow and well worth the build-up. It ensures that for every twist, there is foreshadowing, and for every buildup of suspense, there is payoff. It’s clear that having a source of established base material, like a video game or book series, leads to thoughtful storytelling.
What sets “DOTA: Dragon’s Blood” apart, however, is the fact that the show is animated and incorporates creative visual elements one wouldn’t be able to accomplish in a live-action series. The animation is particularly impressive during the show’s action sequences. Certain shots from the show seem just like panels from a graphic novel, depicting a rich amount of information in single stills. The style of both the animation and the dialogue is reminiscent of story mode video games, giving the show a distinct and immersive feel.
Aside from the visual elements, the greatest strength of “DOTA: Dragon’s Blood” is its ability to find dramatic depth within its breadth of characters and storylines. Key plot lines include battles between dragons and humans, conflicts between people representing different moon gods and a demon and … everyone?
What’s most compelling is the way that each plotline has no clear moral superiority, and every character has rational motivations for defending their point of view. While you’re not sure who to root for, every character is still likable or at least interesting, producing multiple high-stakes plotlines where nothing feels like the B-plot.
With just eight 25-minute episodes, “DOTA: Dragon’s Blood” doesn’t waste a single minute with filler content. The range of personalities and motivations keeps viewers enthralled in the adventure and quest of understanding how all battles can lead to one. Even for those who are hesitant about watching an animated series, this is the perfect one to showcase all the magic the medium has to offer.
Daily Arts Writer Sarah Rahman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.