Critical Role The Legend of Vox Machina: Bawdy, Bloody, and Funny

With The Legend of Vox Machina, Critical Role comes full circle from being voice actors playing D&D (first in a private game, then streaming on Geek & Sundry) to an $11 million Kickstarter for an animated special. That success attracted streaming network interest, which then morphed into a 24-episode animated series where they're voicing their own characters.

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If you've never watched Critical Role Season 1 or read any of the stories, TLoVM the animated series is easy to jump into. Instead of being exposition heavy or thrusting viewers into a lot of world building, it starts with some classic fantasy – especially fantasy RPG – tropes like a drunken bar brawl and mercenaries being killed (a TPK) by a mysterious force. Those scenes are delivered with hefty dose of humor, a bit of blood, and some nudity.

This isn't the '80s Saturday morning Dungeons & Dragons cartoon for kids. While there is gore, it's less than an episode of Invincible and far less than that show's season 1 finale. Similarly, TLoVM has nudity and a bit of sex in the first few episodes, but far less than Game of Thrones.

Vox Machina is an established group at the start of the series, but one that needs money and has a less than stellar reputation. The land of Emon is being ravaged by a mysterious threat. A bit of desperation on both sides leads to the bickering heroes taking the job.

TLoVM is bawdy, bloody, and funny, but it also has heart. The first two episodes tell a complete story with an obvious hook at the end that leads into the rest of the episodes – and a stinger hinting at new threats.

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The animation style has clean lines with some anime influence, but nothing excessively intricate or artsy. At the same, the art direction has style, like a scene that adds interest to the characters walking by showing it through a spider's web dotted with raindrops.

The first episode establishes the eight members of Vox Machina quickly with the following episodes building nicely upon each character's traits. Matthew Mercer voices several of the supporting characters, but in this format he doesn't have to cover all of the NPCs. The guest star talent includes David Tennant, Stephanie Beatriz, Tony Hale. Felica Day is the voice of a bandit.

And if they don't sell a stuffed toy bear version of Trinket at some point, Critical Role is missing out on a merchandise opportunity. TLoVM hits the perfect sweet spot between making Vex's companion bear fierce in battle, amusing when waiting, and adorable the rest of the time.

No critic has been given advance access to the entire first season, let alone all 24 episodes, so it's impossible to say how well the entire story arc plays out, but the first few episodes are entertaining and well made.

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You don't have to be a fan of Critical Role to enjoy The Legend of Vox Machina, but if you're a fan of fantasy adventure, TLoVM might turn you into Critter. The Legend of Vox Machina debuts on Amazon Prime on Friday, January 28, with the first three episodes. Critical Role will be holding watch parties on their Twitch channel at 7pm Tuesdays.
 

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Beth Rimmels

Beth Rimmels



This should be available to watch on Amazon Prime on Friday, January 28, at Noon Pacific Time (USA).
Interesting, that's unusually extremely late in the day for Prime.

Generally speaking Prime seems to make shows/new episodes available at 6am UK time, which is roughly 10pm the day before in US Pacific time (given the current 8 hour difference). In a few cases they seem to have localized it so a show becomes available at just after midnight - i.e. 00.01 on the day, or very rarely, and seemingly only with not-Amazon-Originals it's not until 6pm UK time (about 10am Pacific).

Noon Pacific Time is 8pm UK time. That's actually by far the latest I've ever heard of a show becoming available.

Of course maybe it'll also become available at noon UK time.
 



Watched the first two episodes early last night as one of the Kickstarter backers and some of the fears I had about it from watching separate disconnected clips melted away when it was presented as a whole (for the record, like 90% of those preview clips you can find online are from the first episode alone). Definitely not hard at all to onboard newcomers to the characters, I would say.

Looking forward to getting the third episode during the Friday drop and the rest of the season weekly as we go forward!
 





Greggy C

Adventurer
Supporter
I've tried to get through critical role C1, but thats too much screen time. What did I love doing though is finding out from critters which were the best 5e Combat episodes so I could watch those. I found those quite interesting, comparing them with the big boss fights I used to have in 2e.

I look forward to the cartoons, especially the combat :)
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Very disappointed that it is rated TV-MA or R. That cuts out a lot of the younger viewing audience that is just getting into D&D. That also cuts out a lot of older viewers that don't care for or need all that gratuitous violence and sex in their shows.
If it is half as good as Castelvania, which also had that, I'll be thrilled. I don't share your opinion, but I understand it.
 

If it is half as good as Castelvania, which also had that, I'll be thrilled. I don't share your opinion, but I understand it.

If I was still 25, and not 55, I would not care as much either, but all of that is more likely now to turn me off to a show/movie/video game. I am old and tired and have no time for gratuitous crap. So no more fart or poop jokes either, thank you. ;)
 


Mezuka

Adventurer
Very disappointed that it is rated TV-MA or R. That cuts out a lot of the younger viewing audience that is just getting into D&D. That also cuts out a lot of older viewers that don't care for or need all that gratuitous violence and sex in their shows.
It's not a WoTC D&D series to promote the game. It's a Critical Role cartoon about their campaign Vox Machina. 5e just happens to be the system they use. I'm guessing you never watched them on YouTube.
 

darjr

I crit!
I somehow doubt it’s going to actually cut out that many folks who might want to check it out.

Some sure. And I’d actually prefer less too.

But these are more like guidelines, not so much rules.
 


Is there any other live-play show that could follow the same steps to become a multimedia franchise? We are talking of a production with relative low budget.
 


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