The Legend of Vox Machina: Let's get to know the Critical Role TV series better

The Legend of Vox Machina: Let's get to know the Critical Role TV series better

The Legend of Vox Machina

On January 28, the animated TV series The Legend of Vox Machina made its debut on Prime Video, a very special product that will pique the attention (if it hadn't yet done so) of all players and / or fans of Dungeons & Dragons, but not only.

The first season consists of 12 episodes of half an hour each, published in groups of three every week until February 18th. The second season, also of 12 episodes, has been confirmed but does not yet have a release date (easy to think, however, that it will be within the year).

The story of the TV series, partly realized thanks to a Kickstarter campaign, follows the exploits and misadventures of a group of mercenaries who found themselves "almost by chance" in the role of heroes. The Vox Machina are, in fact, a disorganized and bizarre group of adventurers in search of fortune.

Not quite the canonical heroes, plus a gang of drunkards make trouble but who, in reality, have more strength and power than they themselves have ever imagined. A little for fun, a little to test themselves and a little spurred by that morality deeply buried in their hearts, our protagonists will find themselves facing the most incredible, and terrifying, adventure of their existence to save the world of Exandria.

With an irreverent, ironic and light tone, La Leggenda by Vox Machina is a very interesting product, which on the one hand gives us a precise, direct narrative aimed at a rather wide audience; on the other hand it recalls all those classic dynamics of the role-playing game, not only from the structure of the adventures and how the characters move, but precisely from the interactions between these that do nothing but bring to mind those played between friends that the spectator could have done. Why is this?

Simple! Because The Legend of Vox Machina is the stark (quite condensed) representation of a Critical Role campaign. So ... let's take a step back and explain better!

The Critical Role Phenomenon

Without a doubt you have heard of Critical Role, right? If not, it is an American web series created by a group of professional voice actors (especially in the videogame field) including: Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, Liam O'Brien, Marisha Ray, Sam Riegel and Travis Willingham.

Like any great friend, our brave adventurers simply started their D&D campaign created by Dungeon Master Matthew Mercer, and found themselves playing together passionately. The dynamics of the game - and friendship, which is the thing that characterizes the light, irreverent and ironic tone of both the web series and the animated series - began to be streamed in a real show that staged the first campaign. in March 2015.

From that moment on, Critical Role has become a veritable phenomenon with millions and millions of views both on Twitch and on YouTube, where the group of voice actors gathers to carry on their campaign, playing both main and secondary characters, sometimes even with special guests. A real D&D session which, obviously, has expanded more and more over time. If you are a player, you will know well that you rarely go straight along the marked path, but the continuous crossroads become the law that "keeps the session going".

In fact, the plot of Critical Role unfolds in campaigns made up of multiple narrative arcs during or in between during which the protagonists rest, stock up on tools or carry out secondary missions; Furthermore, each player's character has his or her own backstory that can be relevant to the campaign or even central to the events of a narrative arc.

Each campaign focuses on a different group of adventurers, while the setting is always one of the various continents of Exandria, the fictional world conceived by Mercer. The first campaign ended in 2017 with 115 episodes, while in January 2018 the second began which ended last June after 141 episodes. If you are passionate about it, then know that the third one has just begun!

Thanks also to Critical Role and the continuous pop and nerd cultural contaminations in cinema and TV series (see Stranger Things) have allowed role-playing games to get out of their niche a little. The Legend of Vox Machina is proof of this, but even before the series, this incredible game campaign also developed in other forms such as, for example, books and comics (which I recommend recovering). Added to these are also video games and, of course, merch. Not bad, huh !?

The Legend of Vox Machina: what to expect

The Legend of Vox Machina, as mentioned above, is the transposition of the first Critical Role Campaign. Obviously, since the premise was: crossroads, crossroads, crossroads, the first thing that catches the eye is the adaptation and consequential "drying" work that has been done. This is because the series, like any adaptation, must be attractive especially for those who do not know the project behind them, but are attracted by the mood, by the genre, by the world, by the characters. And, I don't know if you have noticed, but in this period the fantasy genre is back to the great. Maybe with some ups and downs, come on.

This intense work on the project does not lose the soul of the narrative, on the contrary; what we have is a stark story, obviously studded with a whole series of over-the-top jokes typical of the speech of the characters in question. A story made up of continuous adventures, trials, mythical creatures, lighter moments alternating with much more critical situations and, of course, BLOOD. Lots of blood!

The protagonists are a mismatched group of mercenaries in search of glory: the half-elf twins Vax (thief) and Vex (ranger); the barbarian goliath Grog; the gnome cleric Pike Trickfoot; the bard gnome Scanlan Shorthalt; the half-elf druid Keyleth and the human gunslinger Percival.

Like it or not, the Vox Machina find themselves taking on the role of heroes - more for fame and glory than for morals - to save the Kingdom of Tal'Dorei from a terrifying threat. But this is just the beginning. Each episode (or pair of episodes) will have a new adventure that will put our wacky adventurers to the test.

I had the chance to see the first six episodes of the series, so half of the first season. This is not meant to be a review, but more of "cold" impressions and a "what to expect" from this series in case you haven't started watching it yet.

Although the animation is not always the best, reminding a little of the edgy way at Invicible (to make you understand what we are talking about), the episodes are extremely pleasant and smooth. The language is undoubtedly foul and vulgar, but I don't find it a malus at all, quite the contrary. Recall that we are talking about an adult series, so profanity and explicit sexual references are practically the basis.

At the same time, however, nothing is gratuitous or gross. The characters are all consistent with themselves and every action and word they say does not betray their characterization. So the brutality of the language is still part of the "color" of the series. Furthermore, there is always a time to joke but also a time to be more serious. This is to say that there is certainly no lack of more intense, intimate and dramatic moments. When things start to get dangerous, serious and of a certain depth, even the vein of the most hilarious characters fades to become decidedly more concentrated.

In some episodes the tension is extremely sharp, almost unnerving in the rhythm. The dramatic, and at times even brutal, images manage to give even more depth to the action, to the themes, to the story itself. And the transition between drama / action / comedy manages to give an even wider breath to the series.

Each episode also seems to be aimed at bringing out both the alchemy that is in the group as well as the peculiarities of each individual character. In a group of adventurers in diving into a quest you know how fundamental teamwork is. In this series, being taken from a real campaign, it emerges well and knows how to empirically involve even the most alien viewer in this world.

The story works perfectly, the adaptation work is dry, intelligent but also knows how to take a few more moments of play and fun. You never lose focus on the action and you want to go ahead for the vision, thanks also to the fast pace of events.

Considering the immense material that was available from the first campaign, not an easy undertaking and certainly not an easy undertaking with a positive outcome.

We want more, much more!

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