Working Through The Queue: Dota: Dragon's Blood (2021)
As I'm not a DOTA (Defense of the Ancients) player I can't really comment on if this is in any way accurate to the game. As a casual viewer though who doesn't mind a well crafted fantasy world with a strongly executed story and characters I have to say this was a really pleasant find for me. It's the kind of show that does make me curious about the game, but from what I can tell the show mostly (and loosely) adapts the background lore of the game and then expands on it through character driven arcs. I'm not sure if that would sit fine with a dedicated DOTA player, but from a storytelling and enjoyment standpoint it all works out for me.
The series revolves around four core characters whose paths start to interlace as the various plots are nicely developed. Davion the Dragon Knight is front and center as his fate becomes intertwined with one of the Eight Great Dragons, Slyrak. Meanwhile, an exiled princess named Mirana and her companions are searching for some stolen magical lotuses. The lotuses were stolen by Fymryn, a young elf who wants to bring about a prophecy with them. And that plotline leads us to the Invoker, a powerful elven mage who's manipulating the strings behind all of the different plot threads in mysterious ways.
It's really well paced and each character gets a solid amount of time to develop and make you care about the stakes at play. A lot of this is also enhanced by the really solid voice acting throughout, which isn't a surprise because they've got such talents as Troy Baker and Tony Todd contributing to the series.
The animation by Studio Mir is pretty gorgeous throughout, presenting a nice mix of western animation infused with anime stylings along with just the right amount of CGI animation. The studio worked on shows such as The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts so it's not a surprise that it just feels so well balanced and fluid.
I've mentioned before how I'm not the biggest fan of CGI animation in general, but when it's well used for the right sequences it really makes a nice difference in the overall quality of the show. It benefits a lot of the action scenes of course, but where it really stands out is with the nicely designed dragons. I can really appreciate it when a fantasy world goes the extra distance to create, develop, and design different species of dragons and then interweaves them into the general plot and lore.
On the subject of lore, I also appreciate it when a show like this presents its lore in a few different ways. There's the usual exposition, which it needs to get out of the way but handles cleanly so as to avoid too many info dumps, and then there's the slow discovery of lore through the experiences of the characters. Davion's backstory allows for exploring the history of dragons and the knights dedicated to killing them, while the conflicts between Mirana and Fymryn peoples slowly reveals the different elven cultures and more. There's still plenty of additional mystery though, so they know how to tease just the right amount of info to bring you into the story and world.
It's been a good long time since I've been able to get really hooked into a strong swords and sorcery style fantasy story that's pretty self contained. Despite this coming from a game it feels perfectly stand alone, so I don't feel like I'm getting sucked into a huge franchise. There are only eight episodes that clock in at a little less than a half hour each, so this is a pretty quick binge as well. The downside of that is that you are left on some cliffhangers, and while the show has been renewed for another season we probably have a bit of a wait.
So if you're looking for a strongly executed and engaging fantasy story with some nice animation, then I definitely recommend giving this series a shot. As a plus you get to see this sassy dragon who looks like he fell out of an Evangelion episode, and who definitely needs more time in the next season.