“Onyx Equinox” Season 1 Review: Violence, Gore, Queers, and More!

Onyx Equinox Crunchyroll
Onyx Equinox (Image: PR)

With all 12 episodes in Onyx Equinox season 1 currently available to stream on Crunchyroll, I decided to binge-watch the latest Mexican-American animated series. And I’m glad I did. It gave me the type of mythological quest I’m interested in. There’s gore, violence, queers, and tough decisions.

This review of Onyx Equinox Season 1 contains minor spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

I recently talked about Onyx Equinox debuting on Crunchyroll on November 21, 2020. I appreciated the streaming service giving a platform to a Mexican-American show. I’m all for more diversity in animated content. While I had this series on my “to watch” list, I decided to wait until all of the episodes were available so I could binge them. However, Crunchyroll released the remaining 7 episodes on December 26, 2020, instead of making fans wait until February of 2021 to enjoy the entire story when following the weekly release model.

So, it was time for me to binge-watch and I ended up enjoying the entire fast-paced season. I have my fingers crossed it gets renewed for a second offering. I need to know what will happen to Izel and his crew as they try to survive the shenanigans of the Gods.

Created by Sofia Alexander, the premise deals with the young Aztec boy Izel (Olivia Brown), whose entire life changes when his older sister decides to take his place as a sacrifice to the Gods. The incident, piling on Izel’s already tough life, makes him lose interest in humanity. Caught in a bet made between the two Gods Quetzalcoatl (Zeus Mendoza) and Tezcatlipoca (Arin Hanson), Izel’s tasked with a quest to close the five gates to the underworld before time runs out.

The 12 episodes follow Izel being forced into a quest he didn’t want while still grieving the death of his older sister. Of course, as expected of such shows, Izel meets a bunch of young people that join him in his race against time.

Izel’s team includes a grumpy guardian Yaotal (Alejandro Vargas-Lugo), the twins Yun (Patrick Pedraza) and K’in (Juan Arturo Maldonado) who find themselves in possession of a magical ball, the ferocious Zyanya (Carolina Ravassa) who wants Izel’s help to protect her city, and Xanastaku (Kimberly Woods), a healer who harbors a dark secret. Basically, everyone has issues that lead to a lot of tension while trying to operate as a team.

I liked how everyone argued with each other. These young people have been forced into a high-stress situation and they don’t know each other. There are legitimate trust issues. Everyone trying to tolerate one another felt more real compared to how certain quest-centric stories are known to make strangers become fast friends as soon as they meet on the road.

While Izel and his crew are trying to close the gates, the Gods have their own plans. They can’t directly interfere, but we all know such powerful beings have their ways of making things play out the way they want, humanity be damned.

There’s a lot of gore and violence in Onyx Equinox. So, keep that in mind if you decide to watch it. Even Izel’s weapon activates after getting a blood offering. Another thing I enjoyed about this show is how it made our heroes make tough decisions. Yes, we would like our heroes to save everyone. But that’s not realistic. I liked how Onyx Equinox showcased how high the stakes were during the battle between humans and the underworld. While painful, Izel had to realize he couldn’t save certain people if he needed to save the world.

Certain heroic narratives weighing the lives of a few against all of humanity and making things worse doesn’t make sense to me. I’m glad this show offered something different.

The Mesoamerican cities, lore, and character designs of the Gods in Onyx Equinox are stunning. Yes, there’s violence and death. But look at all of that color and vibrancy. I loved it! Kudos to the animation team.

The writing crew took time to flesh out as much of the lore as possible in the 12-episode long season (each episode being approximately 22 minutes). I liked the explanation about how the Gods have been restarting humanity, with Izel’s timeline being the latest cycle. The Gods featured in the first season had distinct personalities. I loved the episode focusing on Mictecacihuatl (Lady of the Dead) and getting to know about her motivations. It’s obvious that there’s still a lot to explore. Again, I hope we get a second season. 

Mictecacihuatl Onyx Equinix season 1 review
Mictecacihuatl in Onyx Equinox Season 1 (Image: Screengrab)

As for the queer stuff, with Netflix’s Blood of Zeus being very heterosexual (which was disappointing considering it’s a show about Greek Gods), I didn’t know what to expect from Onyx Equinox. However, I’m glad to announce that queer characters do exist in this show and they play a role in the main narrative. The series also didn’t shy away from showcasing queer intimacy.

Also, after seeing what the show’s fandom has been talking about, turns out, I’m not the only one who thinks there’s something brewing between Izel and Yun. My gaydar pinged when The Legend of Korra began showing Korra blush around Asami during the final season. The same thing happened when I watched Izel and Yun blush around each other. I’m looking forward to seeing what will happen between them if and when we get a second season.

As for my other ship, I’m totally here for K’in and Xanastaku being a thing. You know I like a cast of characters when I begin shipping them. That’s one of the major reasons I can’t wait for Jurassic Park: Camp Cretaceous to release the second season on January 22, 2021.

The characters in Onyx Equinox will butt heads at the drop of a hat, but seeing them beginning to trust each other and finding strength as a team (as a family) is handled well by the writing crew.  

Izel and Yun Onyx Equinox Season 1 review
Izel and Yun in Onyx Equinox Season 1 (Image: Screengrab)

I hope you consider watching the first season of Onyx Equinox on Crunchyroll and learn about myths and lore other than the Greek or Roman kind. The narrative features a lot of twists, expansive lore, and a cast of characters you will find yourself rooting for.

Have you watched the first season of Onyx Equinox already? What did you think?

Let us know.

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

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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About the author

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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