With the Kung Fu Panda franchise boasting a very rich fictional world and having made more than a billion dollars due to the animated film trilogy, it makes sense for DreamWorks to keep it around. And I don’t blame the studio. Considering how enjoyable Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny season one ended up being, I’m looking forward to more.
I was provided free screeners of Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny season one for review. The opinions are my own.
The entire (half-hour) 13-episode first season of Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny is currently available on Amazon Prime. It continues the story after the events of Kung Fu Panda 3 and introduces the audience to a new mythology and characters without feeling out of place.
The series has been created by Emmy Award-winning executive producers Mitch Watson, Elliott Owen and Lane Lueras. The CG animation also looks very impressive which adds to the overall fun of the series because it doesn’t feel like a budget project. There is a lot of color, amazing Chinese-inspired designs, and flowing fight choreography.
The cast includes Mick Wingert as Po, Chrissy Metz as Mei Mei, James Hong as Mr. Ping, Amy Hill as Grandma Panda, Steve Blum as the villainous Jindiao and Cherise Boothe as his minion Jade Tusk. While the grownups do a very good job voicing their characters, the young talent steals the show.
The story is about four young pandas being given the chi of the Four Constellations. The young voice cast had a lot on their shoulders because the current series is about them. So, I was happy to see the young talent being more than up for the task. The group consists of two girl pandas and two boy pandas.
Nu Hai (Haley Tju) serves as the leader who gets the chi of the Blue Dragon. Her brother Bao (Gunnar Sizemore) gets the chi of the Black Tortoise. The siblings’ friends Jing (Laya DeLeon Hayes) and Fan Tong (Makana Say) get the chis of the White Tiger and the Red Phoenix respectively. The personalities of the kids are different from the ancient kung fu masters they got their chis from and this leads to character development as the panda kids try to control their new powers.
I liked how each type of chi had a specialty. The Blue Dragon chi involved being a good archer and a strategist, the Black Tortoise chi had an impressive defense, the Red Phoenix chi involved being courageous and an energy sword while the White Tiger chi was about remaining calm and healing.
Also, considering it is a kid’s show, it was to see Nu Hai as the leader. Jing also got a lot of screen time due to her connection with Jindiao. The girl pandas of the team are just as strong as their boy counterparts and I think showing such equality in a kid’s show is important.
With Po being in charge of training the four panda kids, the team must prepare for the upcoming attack by Jindiao, a vulture capable of draining the chi of others. The 13-episode series, while giving enough time to the panda training sessions and small missions, has a mystery which connects to the first Dragon Warrior and his thirst for power.
It was fun to see the franchise come full circle with Po having to become the teacher to a new generation of fighters. With Po being a very powerful master, I liked how the animated series didn’t do him a disservice by decreasing his power levels just for the sake of storytelling. Everyone knows he is super strong. So, it was good to see him getting nerfed in ways which made sense and allowing the young pandas to show their skills.
The series has a lot of humor and I found myself laughing a lot during the episodes. The rest of the inhabitants of the Panda Village also got to play a role in the final battle. I would have liked to see more Mei Mei though.
With how the first season of Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny ended, I can’t wait to go on more adventures with the new Four Constellations. Here’s to hoping they get to meet the Furious Five!
Have you watched Kung Fu Panda: The Paws of Destiny season one yet? Feel free to share your thoughts with us.
Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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