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


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Rikka66

Adventurer
Saw the first two episodes. The first one is pretty bad. The second one is better. I don't mind vulgarity, but there's an art to using it to maximize humor that I don't feel like they are any good at.
 


TheSword

Legend
Saw the first two episodes. The first one is pretty bad. The second one is better. I don't mind vulgarity, but there's an art to using it to maximize humor that I don't feel like they are any good at.
I think that’s what I was trying to say. When you look at something like Rick and Morty, the crudeness is usually there to make a point. There isn’t actually that much swearing. In the first episode about the worse thing that’s said is “crap”. They certainly don’t toss f-bombs around like strewn flower petals. Adding that at the end of every sentence just makes me think they’re trying to add weight to the line without crafting the line better.

The sex is added in a way that’s genuinely funny (and generally a bit disconcerting or subversive) it’s not used in a “hey… look how cool I am” kinda way like it seems to be with Scanlan.
 

jasper

Rotten DM
I wonder what people complaining about CR feel about Invincible.

It's based on a comic books, so clearly it should pertain to kids despite the source material not being aimed at them at all, it's full of blood-splosions and cursing. The only difference is no musical numbers and a lack of desire to dump on Robert Kirkman.
Thanks. I was trying to remember the toon. The Barbarian is drawn like the twins villains from there.
 

The sex is added in a way that’s genuinely funny (and generally a bit disconcerting or subversive) it’s not used in a “hey… look how cool I am” kinda way like it seems to be with Scanlan.
I assume the original idea was that it would be unusual for the gnome of all characters to be the ladies' man, especially in a party alongside Percy and Vax.

It gets much more of a payoff later.
 

TheSword

Legend
I assume the original idea was that it would be unusual for the gnome of all characters to be the ladies' man, especially in a party alongside Percy and Vax.

It gets much more of a payoff later.
I suspect that works better in the context of gnomes being wrinkly old looking men/women. Rather than just small people. It’s kind of an old fashioned humour that any particular type of person would be bad with ladies. Tyrion Lannister kind of did that one better and earlier… though I take your point.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
I think that’s what I was trying to say. When you look at something like Rick and Morty, the crudeness is usually there to make a point. There isn’t actually that much swearing. In the first episode about the worse thing that’s said is “crap”. They certainly don’t toss f-bombs around like strewn flower petals. Adding that at the end of every sentence just makes me think they’re trying to add weight to the line without crafting the line better.

The sex is added in a way that’s genuinely funny (and generally a bit disconcerting or subversive) it’s not used in a “hey… look how cool I am” kinda way like it seems to be with Scanlan.
I dont think they are "adding" the f bombs, they were always in the play/podcasts.

Eventually got used to it, but my grandma would frown.
 

billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him)
I dont think they are "adding" the f bombs, they were always in the play/podcasts.

Eventually got used to it, but my grandma would frown.
Chances are, most grandmas wouldn't approve of the homoerotic implications of the meeting between Vax and Gilmore either. My grandma knew a lot about gardening, crocheting, and cooking farm meals and if she had advice about those, I'd listen. But grandma didn't stay current on everything so there are things on which I wouldn't be looking for her approval.
 

Urriak Uruk

Gaming is fun, and fun is for everyone
Funny you should mention those, I much preferred this show to the po-faced angst of Arcane, and the headache inducing animation of Spiderverse.

To each their own. Those two properties in my view stand out to me as exceptionally good (the latter in my opinion is the greatest Spiderman movie, and it's not even close) and can stand out amongst all TV, not just animation.
 

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