“Maya and the Three” Review: It’s like no other in animation, and the animators create stunning visualizations of their captivating fantasy epics

After years of behind-the-scenes development, Book of Life director and animator Jorge R. Gutierrez is finally back, this time with a particularly epic adventure set in a Mesoamerican-inspired world.

A nine-part series is declared an “animated event” (a spectacular way of saying that is the whole story, not the start of an ongoing series).

Maya and the trio get excited when Netflix asks Guitars for an idea she doesn’t want to come up with anywhere else. And she returns with a vivid fantasy epic about a Mesoamerican warrior princess who saves the world.

While Maya and the trio’s plot structure gives it a slightly repetitive start:

Dynamic and powerful visualizations amplify deep combat sequences and make them brilliant eye-catchers. Gutierrez fills the show with a nuanced approach to death and defeat. As the pieces come together, adding something memorable to the experience.

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Maya and Tiga’s opening episode, Warrior Princess Maya (Zoe Saldanha). To learn that Miktlan, the god of war (Alfred Molina), wants to sacrifice him for power. And if he doesn’t give up on him, he does. And will attack and destroy your entire kingdom.

Determined to save her country (and not be sacrificed), Maya searches for three great warriors to fulfil an ancient prophecy. The only problem? Each of the fighters – crazy magician Rooster Rico (Alan Maldonado), distant recluse shooter Chimi (Stephanie Beatrice), and simple-minded and prolific Picchu warrior (Gabriel Iglesias) – struggle with their inner demons. However, Maya and the three travel to the underworld’s gates to prevent the gods from destroying humanity.

Episodes in the first half of Maya and Tiga follow the same formula. Almost like T: Maya wants to appoint a new warrior from an allied kingdom. So she travels there and discovers that the candidate she thought was the wrong role. It is found that the wanted person was indeed a kind of seclusion and persuaded this person to accompany them.

Every time the rejected warrior hesitates to join Maya. He encounters several gods of the underworld, a new warrior wholeheartedly joins Maya’s cause. The structure is repetitive, but the joy lies in the unique aesthetic appearance of each country. As well as in the great design and power of not only the heroes. But also the gods they face in battle.

Different character designs:

This translates seamlessly into the way each character moves and fights – what makes each action scene unique. Maya had a sizeable glowing sword. So she had to take action at close range.

But Chimi, who animals raised, lurked from afar to attack with her bow. Each god has its fighting style depending on its particular domain. And when they first appear on screen, it’s with colourful title cards advertising them as superheroes or special guest stars.

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It feels like a clean, modern twist to a historical setting. They are waiting for the closest opponent’s little messages to be an enjoyable experience because their messages are bold and engaging. For example, Maya and her friends finally meet the crocodile goddess (Rosie Perez).

Who can transform into a giant crocodile? And her various limbs separately turn into crocodile heads. He is just one of many gods in an impressive lineup. Which includes the singing talents of Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, Diego Luna and Kate del Castillo.

Thankfully, the show takes a quirky twist in the final third and breaks a lot of expectations from heroic fantasy epics. At least when it comes to most animated shows and films made in America.

On the one hand, Maya and her friends often fail. Because they are a group of young adults fighting against mighty and mighty gods. Maya and the trio face defeat and death in a unique way to the canon of American animation. Death isn’t the only happy event, but like Pixar’s Book of Life or Coco. Maya and the trio see it in nuance and treat it. As something other than the usual ending of life.

The stunning ending of Maya and the trio makes sense for all the characters involved.

Their aspirations were not fulfilled as expected, and their victory came at a high cost. But this result is a natural evolution of who the characters are. And how their personal and collective journeys have gone. The show unfolds into the most epic battle of all in the final episode.

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By giving equal weight to moments of victory and heart sacrifice. The final conflict further deepens Maya’s heroic journey, as this quest is also marked by loss and reflection. Check out Maya and Tiga for action-packed and visually creative combat. But to stick to the emotional character arcs built for a satisfying ending.