Review - 'Mighty Magiswords'

 

If you seek a burst of action, laughs, and new found desire to own a sword, then ‘Mighty Magiswords’ is the perfect series to pull from your animation scabbard

 

High-energy, comedy-rich, and swimming in medieval adventure, Cartoon Network’s ‘Mighty Magiswords’ is a series that does not simply ask for your attention, but hits you with a fist of action so intense you can’t help but take note of its world. It is a position that can lead fans to instant enrapture, where they follow full-heartedly into the heightened state of vitality, or one that may tired the less energetic viewer. Either way, ‘Mighty Magiswords’ is a series that is undoubtably pushing the boundaries of multi-platform entertainment, and testing the limits of how much one can contain in a twelve-minute episode. 

One of the most notable features of the series is the heightened energy and fast pace nature through which each story is explored. From the opening title to the final black screen, no time is wasted in lengthy exposition or tedious dialogue but instead jumps straight to the action like high strength dose of adrenaline pumped straight to your brain. From the comedy, to the dialogue, sword introduction, progression of plot and more, each aspect of the show moves swiftly in a heightened state that is vastly different to that seen among many of its peers. In many regards, it is an invigorating move, giving its audience a boost of energy to the point where you are compelled to rise from your chair and swing your own uniquely crafted sword, but with such a intense state comes the associated sense of fatigue. Where many series may be paced with more distinctive peaks and valleys, ‘Mighty Magiswords’ maintains its air of energy for the entire episode and thus keeps their audience in a similarly heightened state. This is not a criticism per se, as it is quite enjoyable to be part of the action for so long, almost as if you were involved in a high stakes battle surging with adrenaline, but just as there is with physical excretion, there is a limit to how long you can endure this mental barrage. Luckily, the short format of the episodes, being broken into 12 minute stories, is a near-perfect length for such an approach, taking you right to the brink of your capabilities before you come to the tale’s end and sit back in awe of the experience. Admittedly, some may find they reach their limit before its scheduled end, but overall there is a sense that the creative team is aware of their unique approach to the pacing and are intentionally pushing their audiences with the gentle hand of an avante-guard artist. It is this somewhat divisive quality of the series that distinguishes ‘Mighty Magiswords’ from a sea of action-comedies that permeate the animated world. 

It would not be amiss to expect a series titled ‘Mighty Magiswords” to include a range of magical swords - and on this front the show certainly delivers! Each episode not only includes a high volume of swords, but an incredible variety in their design, usage, and magical properties. Each sword is not merely used to slice and dice - some have powers, some change shape, and some are simply animals on the end of a decorated hilt. From the “Bacon Magisword” to the “Dolphin Magisword”, “Dummystein”, “Excaliburger” and more, both the writers and prop design team have delved deep into the endless bounds of imagination to offer one of the greatest weaponry sets one could hope to own. Perhaps the most enjoyable part of each sword's introduction is the hilarious voice over (by series creator Kyle A. Carrozza) that shouts its title with the same satirically super-heroed tone no matter the situation. 

Despite the vast range of swords, it is great to see that several become mainstays of the series, returning to assist the central heroes. Zombie Pumpkin Magisword and Dolphin Magisword make several appearances that is no doubt due to their entertaining qualities, particularly Zombie Pumpkin who’s quirky voice alone makes him a welcome sight in every scene. In this way, the swords also take on a level of consciousness that makes them as charming and “alive” as their human counterparts.

However, a series such as this could not truly flourish without strong and endearing central characters to ground the ever revolving cast of swords, foes, and extravagant adventures. Vambre and Prohyas are such characters - over-the top, comedic, and often ill-thinking, but anchored by their adherence to their morals, empathy, and established flaws. Though it may go onnoticed by the general viewer, the design of Vambre warrants particular praise for its positive approach to a female character. In a world where far too many female roles are stick-thin, busty, or one dimensional, Vambre is a much more realistic portrayal of the female essence and one which serves as a great role model to younger viewers. Beautiful in her strong and healthy shape, unperturbed by mess or danger, and a perfect blend of intelligence and humour, Vambre excels as a central character not because she is perfect, but because she carries flaws, fears, and weaknesses as human as those that afflict us all. When faced with an obstacle, it is refreshing to see Vambre steer far from the female tropes of whining or requiring a male hero, and instead tackle the issue head on - trying, failing, but eventually learning how to overcome it. It is a sense of humanity that makes her instantly relatable to the audience, but one that still fits well into the overall tone of the production when paired with her zany antics and incredibly dialogue as performed by industry legend Grey Griffin. 

Prohyas is in his own right a great anchor for the series, taking on the role of the aloof, spontaneous, and relentlessly caring hero and still managing to side step the cliches that can come with such a role. He is at once ready for action, confident, and strong, and yet forever just an adorable kitten face away from bursting into tears. Together, he and Vambre make a suberb pair that demonstrate the vast and often non-conforming traits that make up a well-rounded and interesting human being. 

While its writing, characters, pacing, and tone may form a strong animation skeleton, it is the triumphs in art design, sound, voice acting, and storyboarding provide it with a unique and charming body. The art direction is of notable beauty in its layering of detailed backgrounds behind a more simplistic 2D cast of characters that enhance the overall aesthetic without detracting from the central action. The switch to a differing style of 2D or more realistic portrait at varying points throughout the series is a welcome sight, breaking up the visual flow in a move that helps reset your brain so it may better notice the beauty it is presented with.

The music and sound design, by Kyle A. Carrozza, Andy Paley, and Jake Posner, helps enhance the multi-platform basis of the franchise, giving it a video game quality, mixed with a medieval essence. It is a merging of the classic and the modern that mirrors the visual qualities of the show and speaks the overarching unison of all departments and minds contributing to the project’s creation. Even the inclusion of several musical numbers are done with great insight, being timed just long enough in to put across their comedy but, thankfully, quite short as to not become tiresome or appear as filler in an ill-planned episode. 

For a series that spans several platforms, ‘Mighty Magiswords’ feels very much at home in its animated serial form. It is undeniably a high energy show that may appear slightly grating should your own mood not align, but to the majority of viewers it will come as an animated cup of coffee that perks up even the most underwhelming of days. As such, it is perhaps one best not watched before you intend to sleep, or wish to calm your children, but if you seek a burst of action, laughs, and new found desire to own a sword, then ‘Mighty Magiswords’ is the perfect series to pull from your animation scabbard.