The story is set several years before the events of the live-action Netflix TV show, The Witcher starring Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia/The Witcher. The animated show featuring Geralt’s mentor, Vesemir, takes the narrative from Vesemir’s childhood to becoming a Witcher, a powerful being with supernatural abilities who is a monster hunter for hire. The main focus of the story is about the mysterious new breed of intelligent monsters killing people across the region.
The animation for most of the new content being released has deviated from the usual aesthetics. The DC universe for instance has adopted thick lines for their character animation designs in the current DC animated interconnected universe, the new animated series What if…? uses a cel-shading animation technique where 3D objects are rendered to resemble 2D animation. The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, however, uses the popular anime-influenced animation style and they have executed it to near perfection.
This animation style of the show by Korean studio, Studio Mir, closely resembles other Netflix animations such as Castlevania, Blood of Zeus, and, Masters of the Universe: Revelation — all of which were produced by Powerhouse Animation Studios. The show has rich details of colour which has helped add to the quality of the action sequences, which were violent, swashbuckling, intense, and expertly choreographed. The R-rating for its content advisory has certainly offered a degree of creative freedom to the writers, something which is fundamental while exploring the lore of The Witcher.
The Witcher franchise gained prominence after CD Project Red’s video game, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt smashed sales records and became the most acclaimed open-world RPGs in the last decade. The popularity of the video game also boosted the sales of the Andrzej Sapkowski novels, the source material of The Witcher franchise. The live-action adaptation was inevitable and with its popularity so was the spinoff.
Theo James essays an excellent version of a younger Vesemir, taking inspiration from his role as Issac from the critically acclaimed Castlevania. The performances by the supporting cast were excellent as well which included another cast member from Castlevania, Graham McTavish, as well as a cameo by voice-acting royalty Nolan North. The script is laced with mystery, supernatural elements, and medieval political squabbles, while of course not in the same ilk vis à vis Game of Thrones, but certainly holds its own as an intriguing narrative.
The protagonists have fleshed out character arcs with each character’s motivations well defined. While the villain’s arc could have benefited from additional screen-time, the script nevertheless manages to give the villain’s arc a convincing conclusion. The TV series is not without its minor flaws but it more than makes up for its well-written characters, excellent animation, and intriguing storyline.
The animated show is an excellent addition to Netflix’s expansive plans with The Witcher franchise. It is in fact a step up in quality when compared to live-action with its more streamlined and coherent narrative.