In kids' TV, it's the end of the world. But don't expect 'gloom and doom'

Tracy Brown, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

The postapocalyptic world of "Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts" includes lumberjack cats, rocker snakes and wolves that rap about science.

Full of giant mutant creatures called "mutes," this fantastic and dangerous place would harden anybody trying to survive in it. But that doesn't stop 13-year-old Kipo Oak from being excited about pretty much every new thing she encounters.

The first season of the DreamWorks animated series, now streaming on Netflix, follows Kipo (voiced by Karen Fukuhara) as she tries to reunite with her underground community after she has been flushed out into the surface world for the first time in her life.

Set around 200 years after the world has been turned into a whimsical wasteland, the show is anything but a bleak story about the end of civilization.

Despite the prevalence of postapocalyptic TV shows, from the gritty, zombie-centric "The Walking Dead" to the comedic "The Last Man on Earth," children's programming set after a global catastrophe is still rare.

The exceptions -- "Kipo," Cartoon Network's "Adventure Time" and Netflix's "The Last Kids on Earth" among them -- present their postapocalyptic worlds as places of wonder and adventure, not to mention backdrops for standard adolescent issues like crushes and having a falling-out with friends.


Executive producer Bill Wolkoff told The Times in a recent phone interview that he and Radford Sechrist, "Kipo" creator and executive producer, wanted their apocalypse to be "dangerous but also a wonderland."

Sechrist explained that his original plan for "Kipo," initially envisioned as a web comic, was to go "super dark, like 'Game of Thrones' or 'Walking Dead.'"

"But my drawing style just came out kind of fun," Sechrist said. "I just kind of leaned into it."

In the show, Kipo befriends surface-dwelling humans Wolf (Sydney Mikayla) and Benson (Coy Stewart), along with the talking insect Dave (Deon Cole) and four-eyed pig Mandu (Dee Bradley Baker). The new friends help Kipo navigate the dangers of the world and, in turn, learn that there is more to life than mere survival.


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