Why you need to watch DOTA: Dragon’s Blood on Netflix

Dota: Dragon's Blood - Credit: Netflix
Dota: Dragon's Blood - Credit: Netflix /

Over the last few years, Netflix has been releasing original anime series that have become a huge hit with anime-loving audiences. Blood of Zeus and Castlevania are among some of the most popular, and both have received many positive responses from critics and fans alike.

The latest in the series is Dota: Dragon’s Blood, a Korean-American animated anime series produced by Studio Mir, of The Legend of Korra fame, and Ashley Miller. It is based on the game series Dota. The series premiered on Netflix on 25th April 2021.

What is Dota: Dragon’s Blood?

DOTA is actually a series of video games released by Valve in 2003, the first of which was called Defense of the Ancients (DotA). It had a multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) mod developed by fans for the popular Warcraft III.

While the ownership and development of DotA changed many hands, ultimately the mod’s final developer allowed for Valve to inherit the trademark to the Dota name after a legal battle with the developer of Warcraft III, Blizzard Entertainment.

In 2013, DOTA 2 was released by Valve, a sequel to DotA, on which DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, is based.

DOTA 2 does not have any primary characters per se, but Davion’s storyline was chosen to be the central focus of the series.

I went into the series with absolutely no idea of what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Initially, the gore and obscenity was a little shocking and unexpected, but you get used to it as the characters are explored in depth and the plot unfolds.

The series opens with a brief introduction to the fundamental premise of the DOTA Universe, and the plot ties together toward the end. It’s a universe where dragons are a menace, and those with the ability to hunt them – not an easy task – are hailed as heroes. This establishes one group of characters in the form of the Dragon Hunters, and the protagonist – Davion – is a Dragon Knight.

Apart from this group are two rival factions – the worshippers of the Dark Moon Goddess Selemene and the elves. The latter believe in lore that describes Selemene – slowly revealed to be vindictive and arrogant – as having killed the kinder goddess, Mene, to ascend to the position of Goddess of the Moon. The Dark Moon Goddess’s worshippers are almost military-like, while the elves are depicted as peasant-like with rebellion factions among them.

Dragons are the fourth group, around which the plot centers, and while they make brief appearances, they are very crucial to driving the story forward.

Three of these groups attempt to achieve their own goals, unmindful of the dragons – save for the Dragon Knights – who are depicted as cosmic beings attempting to keep the all-powerful Terrorblade at bay.

The plot follows the arcs of these four groups until there’s a point of conflict where each has something to gain, and vested interests clash. Overseeing all of this is the powerful Invoker, an unnamed powerful sorcerer who has something each of these factions need.

Each of these groups have one character moving forward the plot, forming reluctant alliances with members of the faction which they’re supposed to be working against. Davion is the Dragon Knight is a reluctant ally of Slydrak, the dragon that possesses him ( that’s right, a dragon possessing a human ) and Mirana of the Dark Moon Goddess’s Warrior forms a temporary alliance with Fymryn, the elf, that sets part of the plot in motion.

Should I watch DOTA: Dragon’s Blood?

One commendable aspect of DOTA: Dragon’s Blood is, easily, the world-building. It is refreshing to see that a lot of the lore is not explicitly explained through monologues, and is, rather, to be gleaned from between the lines of the dialogue. It is clear that the story was written without the presumption that everyone in the audience has played the game, and it makes it easier for the newcomers ( like myself ) to ease into the series, even if we have never played the game.

The characters themselves are a very interesting set of people, and their motivations are somewhat reminiscent of Game of Thrones in the way that there is a clash between personal vendettas versus the greater good. It is similar to the way the characters were driven towards a seemingly mundane goal in comparison to the bigger threat looming in the shadows that barely anyone is aware of.

The obscenities, suggestive themes and graphic depictions of violence make it unsuitable for children to watch, but the animation and plot are both excellent. It builds up to an engaging finale, which feels like the final piece of a domino falling into place.

The show is engaging and creates a sense of sympathy for most characters, save for Selemene ( she deserves what’s coming to her, she’s really the worst ).

There is even a subplot for romance and an element of tragedy as the series explores different relationships, primarily that a goddess and her devotees, and father and daughter. The full extent of it is only revealed in a very engaging finale.

The series is definitely for you if you’re one to love stories rooted in lore and find characters with shades of gray engaging. The pacing could have been a little slower to allow for some more world-building, but I suspect they’re saving more of it for the second season.

The finale leaves a lot open and sets up an excellent story for season 2. Netflix is yet to confirm whether or not there will be a follow-up, but the odds are looking pretty great due to the excellent reception to the series.

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