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

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Honestly that's the only thing in the entire series so far that has bugged me.
It bothers me as a gamer thinking tactically, but not from a story sense. In the heat of battle, it was (1) unexpected and (2) the golems would seem the like the most immediate threat. It totally makes sense that a bit of time would be wasted adjusting to the new threat. Now they are not level one characters, you can argue that they should know better and be able to act more tactically. But did they know that taking down the caster would stop the golems? That's not how golems usually work. Maybe it is reasonable that it wouldn't immediately occur to them that the objects were being animated by a concentration spell.
 

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werecorpse

Adventurer
Well I have watched the whole first season now and enjoyed it. I may even re watch it. I am not a critter but would be happy to see more of the story & would be happy if future D&D tv shows or movies were similar quality.
There were bits that were obvious D&D like bigbys hand, counterspell, lightning bolt and others that were just narrative stuff like Deliliah’s blasts - I thought it was a good mix.
well done again to the critical role team
 




Oofta

Legend
Watching this just reminds me what amazing voice actors these people are. They do a little bit on the streams, but if I didn't know who the people were voicing the animation I'm not sure I'd always know who was who much of the time.

While I enjoyed the first half of the series the latter half was awesome. I think the only (minor) criticism is Pike's reason for leaving. Ashley did a fantastic job and I know on the stream it was because she had to go do her (at the time anyway) real job as an actor. However I wish they had hinted a bit at her conflict of faith with supporting the church and the group being so non-heroic and just out for gold and glory.

Now my wife wants to watch the campaign 1 stream so we know what really happened.
 

MarkB

Legend
While I enjoyed the first half of the series the latter half was awesome. I think the only (minor) criticism is Pike's reason for leaving. Ashley did a fantastic job and I know on the stream it was because she had to go do her (at the time anyway) real job as an actor. However I wish they had hinted a bit at her conflict of faith with supporting the church and the group being so non-heroic and just out for gold and glory.
Hinted at it? They flat-out made it the central issue of her crisis of faith. They had a whole extended scene of her admitting that she felt like she was abandoning her faith and principles to be with them, and the Everlight telling her "no, you really can do both - you just have to choose it."
 

Oofta

Legend
Hinted at it? They flat-out made it the central issue of her crisis of faith. They had a whole extended scene of her admitting that she felt like she was abandoning her faith and principles to be with them, and the Everlight telling her "no, you really can do both - you just have to choose it."
I'm talking about before she left. There didn't seem to be any hint of conflict. Of course it wasn't really her story arc either.
 

Levistus's_Leviathan

Autistic DM (he/him)
I'm talking about before she left. There didn't seem to be any hint of conflict. Of course it wasn't really her story arc either.
From what I remember, there was a bit of hinting in the earlier episodes about this, with her trying to get the party to do heroic things just because they were good things to do, and the rest of the party being like "But, money!"

It wasn't super in-depth and didn't go on for as long as I would have liked, but it was there.
 

werecorpse

Adventurer
From what I remember, there was a bit of hinting in the earlier episodes about this, with her trying to get the party to do heroic things just because they were good things to do, and the rest of the party being like "But, money!"

It wasn't super in-depth and didn't go on for as long as I would have liked, but it was there.
Yep, she suggested the party be motivated by doing the right thing early in episode 1 and was rebuffed. Then I think the not knowing how to bless a house and towards the end of episode 2 she was unable to heal a villager because she had healed Grog and that seemed to trouble her. I got the impression right from the beginning that she was troubled and looking for guidance
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
There was a lot to like, and a lot that made me roll my eyes. The whole, I can't love you thing is just stupid. .... But, mostly I liked it. But it still isn't everything I want from a fantasy show.
 




Vaalingrade

Legend
I know that they only have two seasons, but I personally like a much slower burn on my romances.

And absolutely no will they/won't they. Ross and Rachel were never on fire enough for my tastes.
 



She loves him.... But won't be with him because she has unnamed responsibility... Like a Jedi or something.
Err, yes? Putting responsibility before personal happiness is what heroes do!

We do know something about what her responsibility is, it was mentioned in an earlier episode.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
Err, yes? Putting responsibility before personal happiness is what heroes do!

We do know something about what her responsibility is, it was mentioned in an earlier episode.
Why, though? How does it make the world a better place? We won't agree on this. It serves no purpose other than tension will they/won't they. If she is in season 2, and gallavanting around adventuring, she still can't love him and be with him? That changes what she does for her responsibility how?
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
This idea that you can't be a hero and be in love is part of the problems in the world. We just can't ever be fully happy, we MUST sacrifice our happiness. I call BS on this idea, that our "leaders" and societies have put on us.
 

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