‘Daniel Spellbound’ Review: Say Hello to the Magical Indiana Jones

Netflix is still the biggest streaming service currently on the market. They have managed to build their brand by covering every single aspect of what people like to see on television. You can find dramas, comedies, action, horror, contests, and so much more. Recently, they had their first decrease in subscribers in a long time, and things looked a bit scary for a while. One of the first casualties of this decrease was the animation department, which is a shame because Netflix has some of the most interesting animation divisions on the market. Daniel Spellbound is just an example of that.

The closing of the animation division came as a low blow for many productions that were hoping to get picked up, and also quite stressful for the productions that were still on their way. We don’t exactly know what is going to happen with this division, but it would be a great loss for the medium if Netflix stops investing in animation as one of the pillars of its content roster. Daniel Spellbound, a new show coming to Netflix this week, feels like one of those things you never want to miss again.

The series is created by Matthew Fernandes and Alan Gregg and stars Alex Barima, and Deven Christian Mack, along with a plethora of worthy voice actors that bring quite a unique cast of characters to life. The series tells the story of a young man named, Daniel Spellbound. Daniel appears to be a simple human, and yet, he is closely involved in the magical world. He is what is known as a tracker, which means he is able to find magical objects needed to make other stuff. From potions to traps and even magical cakes. If you need it, Daniel can track it and get it for you.

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Daniel works alone, but he quickly joins forces with an extravagant pig named Hoagie, and together they embark on a fantastic adventure that will take them through many realms and face many enemies. Daniel Spellbound is clearly a show aimed at kids. The plotlines feel very simple, and the characters are all quite attractive and funny. It is not hard to imagine children getting attached to this universe very quickly. The tone of the show is mostly humoristic, but it also knows when to take things more into the action or into the dramatic side of things.

When it comes to animation and visuals, the series stands tall with shows like Guillermo del Toro’s Trollhunter, so if you like that kind of aesthetic, Daniel Spellbound will probably be for you as well. Both shows are very similar, as the main characters dwell in a secret world of magic, and their humble beginnings develop into an adventure that might end up having global repercussions. The animation feels very standard for the budget and turn-around time that these TV productions have. This is not Pixar quality by any means, but it is quite solid.

The element that will really make people like this show is going to be the characters. The Magical World is filled with unique characters, all of them with their own agendas and expertise. Because of that, it is really quite entertaining to see how Daniel and Hoagie go around meeting many interesting but strange people. The cast of creatures is pretty big, but you wouldn’t want it any other way. It is sad when you’re in a magical world and most creatures look very similar all the time. Of course, some races are depicted as similar, but the variety still remains.

While the characters are the best things about the series, the plot is also quite interesting, and it is nice seeing development by adding more stakes and obstacles. However, the pacing might be too fast at times, and you might blink and something really important just happened. Going this fast isn’t a big issue, but the story sometimes lacks weight because problems are introduced and resolved at a break-neck pace. A bit more space for things to breathe could enhance the sense of urgency and relevance within the story.

Nevertheless, the series knows how to simplify its lore and plots well enough so that everybody in the family might be able to understand. For the parents that decide to watch the show with their kids, the stories might not be as interesting or compelling for adults, but they are for children they are not complete boredom.

Daniel Spellbound is a great and simple adventure that children will love and parents might find amusing. It has a good sense of humor and it is completely family friendly in all aspects without being just plain lame. The animation quality isn’t exactly the best in the business but it is good enough to create a sense of a universe that could exist. As it is, this is a perfect option for young kids to get into the world of fantasy and adventures in general.

SCORE: 7/10

  • Nelson loves all things related to storytelling. He has spent most of his life studying narrative, applied across all mediums; film, TV, books, and video games. Mulholland Drive is his favorite film.