Hello interweb, Nate here! So here’s my second cartoon review on this blog and it’s neither of the ones that was on the end poll of the last one. Yeah sorry about that, I’m planning on reviewing Spectacular Spider-man soon but I need to re-watch the series so my thoughts are fresh in my mind. In the mean time, I found this little gem that I decided to give a little review for: Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug and Cat Noir. And unlike Steven Universe, this is actually a superhero cartoon! So it actually fits with the content on this blog. Anyways, let’s jump right into it!
Miraculous is 3D CGI animated French cartoon airing in the U.S. on Nickelodeon and created by Thomas Astruc; who also helped with shows such as Code Lyoko, W.I.T.C.H., and Totally Spies. The protagonist of the series is Marinette Cheng who’s alter ego is the superhero known as Ladybug and her partner in crime (only by figure of speech) is Adrien Agreste whose superhero alter ego is known as Cat Noir. Together, protect Paris from the villain of the week created by the main villain of the series known as Hawkmoth.
That’s pretty much the entire story tight there. While Season 1 isn’t over yet (or at least the English dub of Season 1) a second and third season is already confirmed to being made. The series only have about 10 episodes out yet but each episode follows the same formula. A normal citizen is unhappy for whatever reason and Hawkmoth takes advantage of this to “evil-ize” them with their own super powers. In exchange, the new villain must take Ladybug’s and Cat Noir’s Miraculous (the source of their powers, I’ll get to those in a minute) but of course Ladybug and Cat Noir frees the citizen from Hawkmoth’s control and magically revert everything back to normal. I’ve heard from other reviewers that the series is basically Sailor Moon but in Paris but I’ve never seen Sailor Moon so I don’t really have any personal comparisons to that franchise myself. While the plot of the series is rather repetitive, it does have it’s own little charm to it and the characters are cute enough that I kinda enjoy it and I’m hoping that the repetition pays off in the end.
The two protagonists are the shows strong points for me and the main reason I didn’t just quite watching the show after episode 1. The dynamic between Marinette/Ladybug and Adrien/Cat Noir is actually really interesting and fun to watch. For unexplained reasons (hopefully they explain later) Ladybug and Cat Noir can’t reveal their secret identities, even to each other. With that said, Marienette has a huge crush on Adrien and acts super awkward around him as a result, on the other hand Cat Noir has a crush on Ladybug and is constantly flirting with her. This does leave for some interesting set up that I’m hoping will pay off to see where their relationships go from here. Like what will happen if the two of them learned each other’s secret identities?
So with all this talk about the plot and the two characters, you’re probably wondering what they heck are their powers and where do they get them from. Well both Marinette and Adrien are in possession of items known as “Miraculous”. Marinette’s Miraculous takes the form of ear rings while Adrien’s Miraculous takes the form of a ring. Along with the Miraculous, both of them has a character called a “Kwami” which are tiny (about a few inches tall) humanoid creatures. When the Kwami combines with their Miraculous, the miraculous magically gives them their costumes in a magical girl style transformation sequence that transforms them into their superhero identities and gives them their abilities. The catch is that because they ultimately gain their powers from their Kwamis and thus uses their Kwami’s energy for their powers, they have a limited amount of time before the Kwamis grow tired and reverts them back to their civilian form. They must wait for their Kwamis to regain their strength before they can transform again. As a result, they must be careful when fighting so they don’t reveal their secret identities.
As superheroes, they’re gifted with enhanced strength, speed, and agility. But along with that, they both have individual weapons and abilities of their own. Lladybug has a magical yo-yo that she uses as a grappling hook or long range attack and Cat Noir has a metal staff that he can make longer or shorter and fight with it. However on top of weaponry, both characters posses a special move that can help in a fight but also shortens the time in their superhero identity that they have. Ladybug has an ability called “Lucky Charm” which I like to jokingly call the “Deus Ex Machina Attack” as it produces a random object that basically helps end the fight right there and then. Cat Noir’s ability is the “Cataclysm” where he can destroy whatever he touches for a few seconds.
The animation was actually originally going to be in 2D animation and they even released a 2D trailer for the cartoon prior to production where they decided to go for a 3D CGI animation instead. On a personal level, I kinda wish they stuck with the 2D look since I’ve never been a fan of the 3D CGI look. But on a business level the change makes sense. 2D animation has a weird stigma towards it where it’s seen by many as “childish” so a 3D look would draw in a bigger audience. That’s why Tangled did so much better than Princess and the Frog when those movies came out. Although one advantage to the 3D animation is that the we get really neat camera angles during action scenes and the action is overall a lot of fun to watch.
Now let’s get to the characters starting with Marinette aka Ladybug. Marinette is a pretty cute character and is a nice person to follow as the protagonist. She’s sweet yet awkward and this makes her relatable. Although her awkwardness is exaggerated around Adrien and it can be kinda cringe-inducing to watch. As Ladybug, she’s a bit less awkward and more confident which is common among superheroes. While she is pretty generic as a character, her cuteness and relatability somewhat makes up for that. Her main hobby outside of being a superhero is a fashion designer which I kinda find stereotypical, given she’s a girl in Paris, but whatever.
Adrien is my favorite character of the show. As Adrien he’s kinda shy and reserved but not in an awkward way like Marinette is. His father’s rich and he lives in a mansion but he’s not spoiled or anything. That’s been done before so I can’t say that’s a super original idea, but I wouldn’t want him to act spoiled so I can’t exactly say I dislike that idea. It’s kinda interesting that his design is based off of a cat since most cat based characters are women like Catwoman or Black Cat. He’s a lot more flirtatious and fun when he’s Cat Noir. One thing I like about this show is that both Ladybug and Cat Noir are equals. You know how shows like Kim Possible may feature a BA female superhero as the lead and then have the dorky male sidekick. This show doesn’t do that and both Ladybug and Cat Noir are equal in strength and skill level and that’s not shown often in television shows.
Hawkmoth is the main villain. He doesn’t really do much besides turning people evil to fight Ladybug and Cat Noir but he’s clouded in mystery so it will be interesting to see if he actually becomes a threat later in the series. Depending on how strong he is though, it’s a wonder why he doesn’t just go off to fight Ladybug or Cat Noir himself. I mean he has mind control powers and can give ordinary citizens superpowers so he must have some degree of strength. So does he just send other people after Ladybug and Cat Noir because he’s lazy? I hope they give a reasonable explanation for why he just sits back and let other characters do his dirty work.
Overall, this is a cute show that kind of hold a nostalgia to people who grew up with cartoons like Ben 1o, Danny Phantom, My Life as a Teenage Robot, or American Dragon: Jake Long since teenage superhero cartoons aren’t that common nowadays for some reason. I’ll give it a 4/5, not the best cartoon out there but definitely deserves to get a look at if you’re just curious about it.