- Griffin Robert Faulkner, Alkaio Thiele, Romy Fay
- J. Chris Wall
- Animation, Action, Adventure, Children, Family, Fantasy
- Release date
- December 2, 2022
- Where to watch
- Angel Studios
Angel Studios’s The Wingfeather Saga introduces us to the world of Aerwiar. It’s a magical realm full of carnivorous cows, huge sea dragons, and two competing sentient species: humans and the serpent-like Fangs. Nine years before the events of Season 1, the villainous Fangs conquered and subjugated the human lands on the continent of Skree. Now they rule as tyrannical fascists while humans live in fear and poverty.
The Wingfeather Saga (S1E1 – Leeli & The Sea Dragon)
Episode 1 of The Wingfeather Saga introduces us, not only to the inhabitants of Glipwood Township in the land of Skree but to the Igibys as well. They are a somewhat broken family who is still feeling the effects of the loss of their husband and father some years before. Much like the rest of the local population, the Igibys are just barely getting by thanks to the oppressive rule of the Fangs, but all is not darkness and desperation. The Igibys have love and, thanks to the strong and steadfast influence of their grandfather (who lives with them) and their stalwart and hardworking mother, they have discipline and stability as well.
Episode 1 deals primarily with the Dragon Day Festival. It’s the one day of the year that the Fangs let the local populous let loose a bit and enjoy themselves with good food, entertainment, and general frivolity. It’s also the day that the Sea Dragons congregate below the cliffs at the edge of town. There they sing their mournful songs as townsfolk look on in wonder and are magically filled with different emotions.
During this year’s festival, the Igiby children get themselves into a bit of trouble that promises to turn into a lot of trouble as the series progresses, but they also discover that each of them may possess a special quality, something magical that will surely have life-changing consequences.
The Wingfeather Saga is one of the most beautifully animated programs that I’ve ever seen. It’s full of imaginative creatures, and Episode 1 lays enough foundation upon which to build a truly enjoyable program. However, the first episode has some pacing problems, and the voice talent has some growing to do, but when the setup was done and the action began, the show showed promise to become something wonderful for families to experience together. We are very much looking forward to episode 2. Stay tuned.
INAPPROPRIATE ELEMENTS FOR CHILDREN
There are some tense and intense moments of threatened violence that may be too much for the littlest of children.
There’s some diversity for the sake of diversity that doesn’t fit in a fictional land largely influenced by Tolkien and British mythology and geography.
The Wingfeather Saga (S1E2 – A Mysterious Map)
There’s very little to say about Episode two of The Wingfeather Saga, as it revealed next to nothing that was germane to the series’s story. This entry continues a few days after the end of Episode 1 and focuses almost exclusively on the Igiby children’s daily lives. While the animation remains beautiful, this episode primarily consisted of establishing that this world is different from our own, hinting at the future importance of certain characters, and positioning other characters where they need to be for upcoming set pieces. In fact, only the last five minutes served the overall narrative in any meaningful way.
The Wingfeather Saga still has great potential but if it doesn’t get started soon, it’s going to run out of gas before it even gets out of the garage.
Nothing new from Episode 1 to report.
The Wingfeather Saga (S1E3 – The Catacombs Below)
Episode 3 of Angel Studios’s The Wingfeather Saga continues the story of the Igiby children, Janner, Tink, and Leeli as they navigate life in the magical and dangerous world of Aerwiar. The Catacombs Below is an improvement over episode 2, in that it finally begins to move the story along. In the last episode, the children found a hidden map that they think will lead them to the secret hideout of a rumored group of freedom fighters, whose sole purpose is to free the citizens of Aerwiar from the evil clutches of Gnag the Nameless, and his cruel army of Fangs from Dang. In this episode, they actually take action and follow the map. However, even though it is a much more complete episode with a clear motivational catalyst that leads to contextually logical action being taken by the protagonists, the first five minutes of the 30+ minute episode are spent re-establishing the world and characters that were already established over the course of the two previous episodes. That being said, it’s a huge improvement over the last installment which did virtually nothing to further the season’s narrative.
The Wingfeather Saga (S1E4 – Escape to Peet’s Castle)
Hot dog! The show has finally begun. We’re done with all of the expositional setup and gas has been tossed on the fire. It took a little too long to get there but the show that I suspected was coming looks to have arrived. Episode 4 continues immediately where the previous episode left off. The Igibiys are still trapped in the catacombs of Anklejelly Manor and it doesn’t look like the horned hounds are going to leave on their own. Fortunately, Peet the Sock Man just happens to be there and comes to their rescue. He’s also very likely more than he appears.
This episode not only gives us some much-needed and relevant action but it gives us meaningful hints about the mystery that is the Igiby children, their absent father, and why they appear to have some special abilities that others don’t seem to possess. It is by far the best episode to date, precipitated by thoughtful action and the realization that Peet isn’t just the town idiot but, much like the Igibys, he is something much more.
The Wingfeather Saga (S1E5 – Fruit for Zouzab)
In the previous episode, Grandpa and Momma Igiby had been captured by the Fang. Now, they sit in the local jail waiting to be taken away by the Black Carriage, while the children plot their rescue.
While it’s not quite as good as the previous episode, and it still relies too heavily on exposition, by the time it hits the midway point, Fruit of Zouzab takes off and gives children and parents alike an entertaining and engaging story. It reveals more about some of the hinted mysteries and sets up, what looks to be, a satisfying and exciting season finale.
The Wingfeather Saga (S1E6 – The Jewels of Anniera)
The final episode of the 1st season of The Wingfeather Saga was fantastic. It was well-paced and told a cohesive and compelling story with weighty consequences. As satisfying as it was, its tight focus and economical storytelling stood in contrast to many of the episodes that came before. If Angel Studios can keep up the momentum that they’ve built, season 2 is sure to be a family classic.
FINAL SAY (THE WINGFEATHER SAGA – Season 1)
Season 1 of The Wingfeather Saga is more than just another cartoon series for Angel Studios, it is a testimony that timeless Christian themes like self-sacrifice, bravery in the face of implacable foes, and the importance of family can be made into a program fit to stand along mainstream entertainment as its equal and in many cases its better. Furthermore, it proves that gratuitous violence, sexually explicit content, and questionable language do not a quality program make.
While the first season of The Wingfeather Saga was not perfect, spending much too much time expositing and rehashing things from previous episodes, if the showrunners can economize their storytelling and build from what they’ve done so far, this series will easily become a classic that families will be able to share with one another for generations.
James Carrick is a passionate film enthusiast with a degree in theater and philosophy. James approaches dramatic criticism from a philosophic foundation grounded in aesthetics and ethics, offering insight and analysis that reveals layers of cinematic narrative with a touch of irreverence and a dash of snark.