Monday, April 25, 2016

The Miraculous French Duo of Ladybug and Cat Noir!


It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...Miraculous Ladybug! The teenaged heroine of Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir (2015-present) has captured the attention of a sizable fanbase with her adorable charm, indelible kindness, and incredible strength. Working along side her faithful companion, Cat Noir, Ladybug sees to it that no harm comes to the citizens of her beloved city, Paris, and that good always supersedes evil at the end of the day. The show has quickly become a favorite of many children as well as young adults, with a plethora of fan art adorning the web for the series. Now that the series is in a hiatus, it is an excellent time for the uninitiated to discover what the show is all about and why it is worth checking out.




With the help of her Kwami, named Tiki, Marinette is
able to transform into Ladybug and
protect Paris alongside Cat Noir.

The French CG animated series created by Thomas Astruc initially premiered in South Korea on September 1, 2015 followed by a premiere in France on October 19, 2015 and an English dubbed US premiere on Nickelodeon on December 6, 2015. The series follows teenagers Marinette Dupain-Cheng and Adrien Agreste who utilize their magical companions, referred to as Kwami, in order to transform into their alter super hero identities, Ladybug and Cat Noir. With enhanced abilities the two work together to defeat villains who have been imbued with power through akuma, butterflies infused with dark energy, by main antagonist, Hawk Moth. Each episode follows the duo as they battle the main villain of the episode while also dealing with normal school and teenager problems.



While at first glance the series may seem quite run of the mill, a closer look reveals that there are plenty of aspects that set it apart from the rest. A wonderful quality that the series possesses is the diversity of its cast of characters. Marinette Dupain-Cheng herself is half French and half Chinese and many of her classmates represent diverse backgrounds including Marinette and Adrien's best friends, Alya and Nino respectively. It's an excellent reflection of the diversity present in many large cities in our present day and is a breath of fresh air to see a series that acknowledges the wonderful diversity that our world has.

The animation is another wonderful component of the series for it is quite smooth and polished. There are excellent fight sequences and delightful character animation throughout with a great deal of attention paid to detail. It's clear that the crew put a great deal of effort and care into this series. You will be amazed by the high level of animation quality.

A diverse cast who all get their time to shine
adds to the quality of the series. 
One of my personal favorite aspects of the series is its gender equality in the treatment of its characters. Women are given just as much time to shine as their male counterparts and both are portrayed in ways that forego many accepted stereotypes and cliches. Probably my favorite example of gender equality in the series is the fact that both Ladybug and Cat Noir have their own magical transformation sequences. Each character is given their time to shine and be explored in a way that really enhances their stories. You grow to care for each of Marinette and Adrien's classmates as each of their stories are revealed, in addition to Marinette and Adrien themselves, and learn that not everyone is as they seem on the surface.

Marinette had to overcome fear and self doubt
to fully accept her role as Ladybug.
[Mild spoilers ahead]

The series does an amazing job at female empowerment, especially with the special episode, "Origins: Part 1 and 2". In this episode, the story of how Marinette and Adrien became Ladybug and Cat Noir is revealed and it is shown how Marinette initially felt herself incapable of taking on the role of Ladybug to the point where she turned away from it completely. She had to discover the inner strength that she possessed in order to accept the role of Ladybug and become the hero Paris needed. It's an inspiring episode that illustrates how we can all overcome our fears and become strong. Overall the series is a must see for young girls everywhere as there is still a severe shortage of well developed heroines for girls to look up to.

The writing on the show is also top notch and imparts strong themes of friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, and love. Although the series is initially formulaic in its episode set up, the latter half of the initial season deviates from the established formula in order to further develop the over-arcing plot line. Who is Hawk Moth and why is he intent on obtaining Ladybug and Cat Noir's Kwami? The series has hinted at his identity throughout and fans are chomping at the bit to find out his identity.

Neither knows the other's secret nor real identity.
The more important question hanging on every fan's tongue though has to be this: when will Marinette and Adrien figure out each other's super hero identities? In the series, Marinette has a huge crush on Adrien while Adrien longs for Ladybug. Unbeknownst to either of them, Marinette is Ladybug and Adrien is Cat Noir making for an interesting love...quadrangle? We'll go with that word. It's a great twist on the typical love triangle and makes the wait for the ultimate identity reveal that much more intense, especially considering how Marinette rebuffs Cat Noir's advances and Adrien has yet to really take a romantic interest in Marinette. The reveal of their identities to each other will surely be an event no fan will want to miss.

Together Ladybug and Cat Noir
make an unstoppable team. Pound it!
Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir is a wonderfully inventive and thrilling series that is fantastic for anyone of any age. The first season has completed airing in France and South Korea. Unfortunately the US airings through Nickelodeon have been on hiatus since February and there is no confirmation of when they will be back. The series is renewed for a second and third season, so there will certainly be more of the show and it is estimated that the series will return in its original French dialogue around September of this year. You can check out this amazingly crafted animated series on iTunes and Amazon as well as on Nickelodeon's website. In the meantime, be sure to follow creator Thomas Astruc for updates and enjoy the incredibly catchy extended theme song below along with scenes from the show! Good luck getting it out of your head. Miraculous Ladybug! 

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