By Sophia Monastra
Forget movies, an author’s new dream is to have his or her book series turned into a TV show. Because of the episodic nature and length of the medium, shows are the best way to stay faithful to the books and allow enough time for meaningful development.
The popular semi-allegorical four-book children’s series, “The Wingfeather Saga” has recently become Angel Studios’ latest show. It follows the adventures of siblings Janner, Tink, and Leeli as they are drawn into the war between the evil Fangs of Dang and the remnants of the Shining Isle of Anniera.
One of the strengths of “The Wingfeather Saga” is how it balances respect for the books while revising the story to create a faster-paced, more compelling drama better for an animated series. This may be due to author Andrew Peterson’s involvement in the show. While several story details have been changed, such as the earlier introduction of characters The Florid Sword, Esben Wingfeather, and a mysteriously creepy cloaked woman, this helps compress the story into seven six-episode seasons. Other changes, such as the increased role of Sara Cobbler, allow the audience to bond with her and fully experience loss when she is taken.
The painterly animation style has been praised for differing from the typical hyper-realistic Pixar style most other 3D animated media uses. “The Wingfeather Saga” employs techniques commonly found in video game animation.
As a concept, the animation is beautiful, but when applied, a number of problems surface. I found the animation to be stiff and under-expressive, especially in the first episode. The characters struggle in interacting with the environment and the jerky movements and a number of consistency errors detract from the show’s experience. Some of the character models don’t quite fit the style, leading to a relatively high case of the uncanny valley. The style has grown on me, but it took all three episodes of season one’s first wave to do so. The second and third episodes improve the quality slightly, but I’m hoping for improvement further into the show.
As of the first three episodes, the story isn’t groundbreaking. The first two episodes serve as worldbuilding, and it’s only in the third episode that the larger conflict begins to directly affect the main characters. While the production quality may not be on par with Netflix or Disney+ animated shows, I look forward to future episodes.
“The Wingfeather Saga” is available for streaming on Angel Studios.
Sophia Monastra is a freshman Environmental Science major and writer for Cedars’ Arts and Entertainment section. She lives in mortal fear of longboards and enjoys reading comics, writing fiction, and experiencing deep emotions about teenage mutant turtles.
Images courtesy of Angel Studios.