10 Reasons to Drop Everything and Catch Up on “Mysticons”
By: Dylan Hysen
Mysticons has quietly concluded one of the best first seasons in the past decade of animation. I have no idea why it’s been a quiet run though when you consider all the fantastic elements that this show has.
1) It’s action-heavy
The action-oriented North American animated show is a dying breed. Since Legend of Korra and Young Justice left the air a few years ago (Young Justice will return next year though!) we’ve had Star Wars Rebels, Voltron: Legendary Defender, and not much else. Well, maybe things are starting to turn around as Mysticons is exactly what we’ve been waiting for. The show’s four heroines fight evil with unique weapons and powers, leading to some kick-butt action sequences. The action scenes aren’t on par with a heavy hitter like Korra of course, but you’d be hard pressed to find such a focus on action elsewhere.
2) It’s wonderfully feminist
This was the reason Mysticons originally caught my attention before the first episode even aired: a series with four female leads airing on Nickelodeon?! Awesome, and it’s turned out to be even more feminist than I originally thought. The Mysticons world is full of interesting, well-developed female characters. There are heroes, villains, scholars, and of course our four leads. Even at the end of its first season the show is still consistently introducing new awesome women. There are still interesting male characters as well in prominent roles, but unlike a lot of similar shows those males don’t eclipse the female leads in any way. This is a show completely about Arkayna, Zarya, Em, and Piper.
3) It features an in-depth, continuous narrative
This is going to be the big selling point for a lot of people, and I don’t blame you. Animated shows that are genuinely serialized are few and far between these days. Even industry leading shows Steven Universe and Star vs. the Forces of Evil take large amounts of time off in-between plot arcs. Mysticons has had a few “filler” episodes to date, but this show’s plot does not stop. The narrative is interesting, mostly well-paced, and most importantly, recurs through every episode.
4) It has a hugely expansive mythology that works
The concept for the Mysticons world was apparently “Middle Earth meets Manhattan” and boy is this show not messing around with its genre combinations. Heavily inspired by Dungeons and Dragons, the show is hard fantasy, with Dwarves, Elves, and Pixies in an urban fantasy environment. Throw in superheroes and ancient artifacts, and you have a hodgepodge of genres and mythology elements that shouldn’t work nearly as well as it does. But Mysticons somehow makes all of its fantasy elements click by focusing on our lead characters and their relation to these different parts of their world. It’s a huge success for character-first storytelling.
5) It’s the closest thing to Legend of Korra since that show ended 3 years ago
This is admittedly a stretch considering Voltron: Legendary Defender exists and is made by a large portion of the Korra crew and animated by the same studio. I’d argue though that Mysticons captures the essence of Korra and Avatar: The Last Airbender in a way that Voltron hasn’t been able to up to this point. Between the show’s in-depth, continuous narrative, commitment to characterization, and just sense of fun, I’ve been getting major Korra vibes from Mysticons.
6) It features sympathetic, awesome female leads
We’re only 13 episodes in and I genuinely feel attached to all four of Arkayna, Zarya, Em, and Piper. The show made a smart move early on to temporarily move its plot to the back burner and give us a solid introduction to each. Thanks to that and the characters’ involvement in the narrative that follows, all of the leads’ portrayals are distinctive and relatable. I can’t wait to see more of each of them.
7) It shines through its production limitations
Maybe you had heard of Mysticons before but are surprised to hear me talk about it in such a positive light considering it has “terrible animation”. Mysticons is animated in Toon Boom and yes, its animation does pale in comparison to many major animated releases. I sometimes find the show’s lack of fluidity frustrating, but it’s a purposeful decision by the crew and one that clearly has been used to great effect as Mysticons has absolutely succeeded despite any resource limitations. There’s no doubt the show’s amazing characters and narrative shine through.
8) It already has queer representation
On top of being progressive through its commitment to female characters, Mysticons has surprised early on by genuinely showing the development of a female-female romance. We know there’s a kiss between two female characters coming later because of some ongoing drama, but unlike most of the few animated shows that have had any modicum of queer portrayals, Mysticons has not waited until the end of its run for this. There has already been genuine relationship development between main character Zarya Moonwolf and her childhood friend Kitty Boon (I’ve deemed the two of them to be “Moonboon”). It’s been breathtaking to watch unfold over the last few episodes, culminating with the two being part of a clearly romantic sequence along with the show’s other main couples.
9) It features real-life music
Off the top of my head I can’t remember any other animated show to license real music. Mysticons has done just that through several times through its first season, featuring small indie tracks with female vocals. It’s an incredibly striking and distinctive feature for the show to have and one I think has brought so much life to the show and has been so successful thus far. Oh yeah, and Mysticons’ score is wonderful as well.
Need any more convincing? Go marathon it now!
Mysticons airs at 8:30am on Sundays on Nickelodeon.