Thursday, January 19, 2017

DOFUS: The Best 2016 Animated Film You Never Heard Of

Last Night I finally got the chance to see Dofus Book 1: Julith (or just Dofus in many promotional materials), an animated film by the French studio Ankama Animations, based on the MMORPG of the same name and its various spin-off cartoon series, including Dofus: The Treasures of Kerub and Wakfu.  And it was awesome.

In the high-fantasy World of the Twelve, Joris is a young boy who lives with his adopted feline father and helps run a curio shop.  He learns that his parents were powerful sorcerers and one day his mother shows up to use him for a dark purpose.  Action, intrigue, and much drama ensues as they search for an artifact that can stop her: the Ivory Dofus, an egg that contains the soul of a dragon and channels near unlimited magic power.

One thing I really liked was how all the characters were flawed and made mistakes, sometimes big ones, and their motivations were not always black and white,.  There were a few times where things seem to shift, and doubt is cast onto who is really the bad guy, or if there is really a bad guy here or not.  Everyone is given plenty of story and most is made of that for both comedy and drama.  Even the numbskull comedy relief character, an insanely narcissistic gobbowl (fantasy version of soccer/football) player is given a pretty full arc and some genuine emotion.

I also really liked how (minor spoilers here, I guess) the good guy sorceress takes a few dark turns, drinks obsessively out of regret, and then has to face the final confrontation while too drunk to cast spells.  Bet you won't see that in a Disney movie anytime soon. X)

The animation is very fluid and dynamic, with a lot of very inventive visual designs for both characters and background.  The World of the Twelve offers a very rich background for world building.  If anything, the film's one major flaw is that the lore is a little too dense and may lose viewers in places who aren't familiar with its source material.  But things are still explained well enough that the basic story is easy enough to follow.

I don't think it's the very best animated film of last year--that would go to Kubo and the Two Strings followed by Moana.  But I do consider it on the same level as Zootopia, which itself was an amazing film and my previous third place pick, which will hopefully give potential viewers an idea of how highly a life-long animation fan like me regards this film.

Plus I just realized that Dofus has accomplished something no Hollywood studio has done yet--made a genuinely GOOD film based off a computer game!

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