All good shows must end, and in the case of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, that end comes perhaps sooner than expected.
The Netflix animated series premiered in January of this year, with a second season coming out in June. The third and final season of the show premieres today, wrapping up the post-apocalyptic tale. Through only three seasons, creators Radford Sechrist and Bill Wolkoff have created a wonderful, zany story, which balances just as many wacky and fun moments as it does big, moral questions.
The final season proves that Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is a treasure. The show is a fun romp, but also interrogates the lessons it upholds. The young heroes question whether or not their pacifist approach is even the right one as more and more of their friends are hurt. It’s a nuanced take on an idealistic hero, making Kipo’s final season a perfect finale.
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts takes place in a post-apocalyptic society where humans have been forced into underground Burrows after sentient animals known as Mutes took over the surface world. Throughout the first two seasons, former Burrow-dweller Kipo learns that the surface world isn’t as scary as the humans have been taught and along with a new set of friends, she’s determined to show both humans and mutes that they can live alongside one another.
[Ed. note: This post contains big spoilers for previous seasons of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, as well as slight spoilers for the third season]
The third season of Kipo kicks off with the protagonists searching for ruthless Dr. Emilia, the human scientist bent on returning the mutes back to simple animals. Throughout the previous seasons, as Kipo and the other humans grew to understand the mutes — and the mutes them — it became clear that while tyrannical mandril Scarlemange’s scheme to crown himself ruler of the surface world was probably not good news, the bigger threat lay in the humans wanting to wipe out mute-kind once and for all.
But not all mutes and not all humans are ready for a possible alliance — heck, not all mutes are super happy to be teaming up with each other. Kipo and her friends are determined to unite the mutes and the humans and convince Dr. Emilia that mutes and humans can live alongside one another. The road to peace, however, is not so simple as getting everyone in the same room to have a roundtable discussion on their thoughts.
Much like Steven Universe, Kipo is a protagonist who believes in peace, who would rather everyone set aside their differences and talk through their problems. She ultimately believes that humans and mutes just need to understand one another. Her idealistic beliefs win over some hard-hearted individuals on both sides, but one of the most compelling conflicts in Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts happens when Kipo’s conviction in her own creed begins to waver.
When one of her ideas to bring the two opposing sides together goes horribly wrong, she starts to doubt her pacifist strategy. Is it fair for her to totally forgive the other side when they’ve hurt hers so badly? How many chances can she give her former Burrow as they continue to take advantage of her kindness? The entire season sees Kipo and those closest to her grapple with this conflict. The fact that Sechrist and Wolkoff don’t hold back from some irreversible casualties hammers this point even more.
The world of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts continues to delight. This season brings back favorites, like the rocker snakes and the rats who own an amusement park, but also introduce new creatures, like a narwhal Kpop-band throwing a concert on the edge of a dock. The show may grapple with some big questions, but it also relishes in the fun of it all. The last few episodes see Kipo putting together a big celebration in order to get both sides talking — called Prahm (yes, pronounced “prom”) — which becomes a fun way to get everyone in fancy attire and to let loose for a bit. It serves an important plot point and becomes the backdrop for the final conflict — what is a dance if not a way to get a lot of characters in one place for a designated amount of time? — but also it’s just a fun, colorful moment.
From its first season, Kipo has been a joyous, brightly-colored adventure, celebrating family and friendship. It seemingly takes place in a post-apocalyptic world, but three seasons later, it’s clear that is not quite the case. For the mutes, anyway, this world has been lush, vibrant, and their chance to build a society of their own. Going forward to make the world a better place for everyone isn’t an easy path, but Kipo and her friends strive for a better future for everyone involved. The characters might struggle in doing the right thing — especially at their lowest points — but the message of peace and friendship remains their beacon of hope. Kipo ultimately is a celebration of differences and what a wonderful place the world can be if we understood that.
The third season of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts is available to stream on Netflix.