You know, I really expected this to be longer. I'd heard that it was a six episode miniseries, but I thought that meant six twenty minute episodes, not six five minute episodes. As it is, this is less of a series as it is just a single episode broken up into six chunks, and to be honest, I'm kind of disappointed by that. Vixen is a superhero with some great potential, and my only hope right now is that this is either leading into a proper animated series, or to her getting a live-action series on the CW.
Set in an indistinct time in the universe of the CW's DC Universe shows Arrow and The Flash, Vixen follows Mari McCabe, a young aspiring fashion designer whose talisman - the only possession she has from her birth mother - allows her to gain the greatest strengths of any animal in the animal kingdom. As she discovers her powers, she draws the attention of her sister, Kuasa, who desires the talisman for herself; along with the attentions of the Arrow and the Flash themselves.
So, yes, in general, this is a good series. It's beautifully animated, in a way that's very similar to the pre-New 52 DC Animated films, whose simple but elegant and sharp animation I've praised repeatedly on this blog. Which is no surprise, really, because like those films, it's animated by Warner Bros Animation. The animation looks beautiful in almost any situation, except when it has to render characters we've already seen in live-action series. Barry, Ollie, and Cisco all show up and all look absolutely absurd, barely resembling the actors who play them and often having slightly odd, easily avoided changes (Barry is a bit too brawny, Ollie's stubble is literally green, etc), and it's actually quite bizarre to hear the actors' voices come out of those mouths.
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In general, it's the actors from the live-action shows that let down the voice-acting too. Emily Bett Rickards is fine in her brief work as Felicity, but Grant Gustin, Steven Amell, and Carlos Valdes are all terrible. Valdes mercifully only has a couple of lines, but Gustin and Amell show up in several episodes and are always just painful to listen to, as they alternate between barely emoting at all and hamming it up.
The rest of the voice cast is fine. Good, even: Megalyn Echikunwoke does a great job as main character Mari McCabe, and Anika Noni Rose steals the show as Kuasa, even though she regrettably only shows up in a few episodes.
The action scenes are fast-paced and exciting, the slower scenes manage to feed us enough information and exposition to remain interesting, and the whole thing has a great soundtrack, composed by Blake Neely (who also composes for Arrow and The Flash) and cleverly incorporating strains of both those series soundtracks for whenever Ollie and Barry show up. It's a genuinely good production.
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But by jove, the length. This isn't a series, this is an opening episode, cut down into five minute chunks, and that in and of itself makes me question the point of it. If it's testing the waters for a longer series, then that's fine, but as a standalone, it just does not work, providing enough of a taste of Vixen and the world she inhabits to get us interested, but giving us no real meat to work with. In a way, it would have worked better as one coherent mass, a pilot episode for a longer series, instead of awkwardly breaking it down into miniscule chunks, forcing it to have rather clumsily shoehorned in beginning and ending moments.
So, while there's a lot of good things I can say about this, I ultimately can't recommend it. It's bafflingly short, doesn't feel like a complete product, and that on its own left me kind of disappointed. I do hope this pans out into a longer series, or at least some appearances on Arrow or The Flash, but for the moment, colour me just rather underwhelmed. Still, it was a nice stop-gap to tide me over this week, since neither of the CW's DC shows have episodes this week.