Lego’s Legends of Chima was first introduced as a series of play sets featuring classic Lego designs similar to Lego’s Ninjago. However, the toy has branched out beyond action figures with a new TV series bearing the same name. Cartoon Network has started airing weekly episodes of the series, and before the show is ruled out as just another form of advertising for Lego toys, it’s worth a closer look.
Prior to actually watching, I was a little wary. I was never really a big fan of Lego toys, and the cartoons were even less appealing to me. My justification was that the hands on their characters were shaped like a “c.” I always found myself asking, “Where are their fingers?” Needless to say, I was skeptical when the 6-year-old I babysit insisted we watch the premiere. I was expecting another feel-good show with a few laughs here and there, and was pleasantly surprised at what I saw.
The show is an animated series made in the same vein as most children’s cartoons, with a charismatic hero. Legends of Chima, however, follows a group of animals at war in the land of Chima, and the hero at the center of it all is a lion name Laval. Laval is the prince of the Lion Tribe, who suddenly finds himself and his tribe at war with his best-friend-turned-enemy, Cragger, and his Crocodile Tribe.
The plot sounds simple enough, but the show also explores heavy themes such as conspiracy, emotional manipulation, and prejudice. These are, of course, introduced at an age-appropriate level, but teach a message nonetheless. At the end of each episode, kids are taught important lessons, such as being altruistic, compassionate, honest, and merciful.
The issue between Cragger and Laval stems from Cragger’s misuse of Chi. Chi is an energy source that randomly appeared in the distant past. Different groups of animals drank from the mystical pool of Chi and evolved to be smarter forms of their predecessors, and now walk on two feet. A caveat however is that an animal from each tribe did not drink from the pool, and therefore remained “pure.” It is said that these legendary animals will return to Chima one day when they are needed.
Every tribe is given Chi, even if the lions who guard the Chi don’t agree with their views (another important lesson). In spite of this, rather than waiting until his coming of age ceremony to get his Chi, Cragger tricks Laval into showing him the Chi pool, and proceeds to use it, even though he’s not ready. This leads to negative consequences, and ultimately war between the lions and crocodiles and their allies.
Besides the interesting storyline, Legends of Chima also offers laughs characteristic of any clever children’s show. Laval doesn’t just defeat his foes, but does so with witty banter that even adults can appreciate. The show is aesthetically pleasing, and well crafted, making way for beautifully designed toys kids will no doubt want to play with.
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