Plot: In ancient times, before toys ever existed, there was a deep rift between the world of humans and the world of immortal creatures like nymphs, fairies and pixies. An angelic wizard named Ak ruled over the land of immortals and was one of the few creatures allowed to visit the human world, without interacting with them of course.
One day, Ak finds a baby in the woods. All alone in the world, he decides to take the child in and gives him to the lioness, Sheigra, to mother him. Nicelle, a beautiful fairy with the task of preparing the first nectar of the season, which Ak uses to predict the fortune of the coming years, yearns for a child of her own since immortal creatures cannot have children. Coincidentally, Ak predicts that the coming years will bring a new source of joy to the world.
Nicelle asks Sheigra if she could mother the child instead. Sheigra agrees, and Ak eventually agrees as well. Given the name Nickolas as a melding of Nicelle and Claus, meaning small one, the child grows up happily in the world of immortals, but feels like he doesn’t quite fit in since he is human and mortal. As he learns of and visits the human world he came from, seeing massive amounts of pain and suffering, especially in children, Nickolas decides to live between the worlds of humans and immortals and is given permission to freely travel between the two at any time.
He aims to bring some sense of hope and happiness to the world of human children, and the key to his goal lies in little wooden carvings he calls ‘toys’.
Breakdown: Time to start the second ever A Very Animated Holiday Special! And what better way to start off the holiday season than with the origin story of Santa himself?
If the plot synopsis puts you off, don’t let it, because this movie is actually pretty damn good. It’s a nice and somewhat refreshing view on the origins of the Santa tale, and they actually go through the trouble of explaining many of the aspects of a traditional Christmas in a believable way to the plot they’ve created. For example, the stocking thing started because Nickolas would put smaller toys in the socks that were hanging up to dry by the fireplace.
I liked their approach to this, even if the initial plot is a bit of a pill to swallow before we get to anything Christmas related. I mean, really, Santa came from a world of fairies and pixies and was almost raised by a lion?
I also appreciate that Santa didn’t start off immortal. They start from the very beginning with him as a baby, keep him human the whole way through, and the way they make him immortal as an old man is well-written enough. I’m surprised and almost impressed that they addressed Nickolas’ impending death because of his age.
Despite liking their story and their classic storybook-type feel to the movie, I did have my problems with it.
First of all, outside of showing that mortal beings age and die, Sheigra had no real point. Her whole character could’ve been removed and nothing would be different. I mean, I liked her because she was nice and motherly, but she didn’t have much of a point. Also, do I even need to bring up how friggin’ crazy it is to give a baby to a lion? I know she follows Ak’s orders, but she’s still feared and even Ak was concerned she might end up eating the poor kid.
Second, it’s really hard to ignore one major problem with Nickolas aging and dying….his cat, Blinky. When Nickolas first sets out to live on his own, his friends and mother give him a cat that he names Blinky as a gift and companion. Blinky is still exactly the same kitten between when Nickolas is an adult and when he’s nearing death as an old man. Yeah, aging is a big problem for mortal creatures, but apparently not that never-aging 50 year old cat. This is even more glaring because the one animal they used to depict mortality and aging was technically a damn cat.
Third, there’s not much conflict at all in this movie. That’s not necessarily a deal-breaker since this really is just a nice whimsical tale of how Santa came into being, but the only real conflict is in the pretty pathetic Ugguwas. (Forgive me if I butcher the name, I honestly have no clue how to spell it) They’re golem-like creatures who live for causing trouble and making human children miserable. They hate Nickolas and keep trying to sabotage him because he’s making the kids happy.
They also terrorize the immortal creatures, like the pixie sidekick Wisk, to a degree, but most of them have never even seen one. It takes an inordinate amount of time for the immortals to finally do something about them, and they defeat them really easily. There really seemed to be no real point to these creatures other than to force conflict in there. Plus, their motivations were just dumb. They just like causing mayhem to the little human children and Nickolas is making the children happy. Oh no.
Overall, I was surprised at how much I really liked this movie. The animation is…..uhh……it ranges from ‘alright’ to ‘are you kidding me? Were the animators blind?’ It’s nothing great, but I’ve seen a lot worse. It reeks of that direct-to-DVD budget-y smell.
The music is actually really good……except the last song…..that was just painfully horribly constructed.
The voice acting….is something else that ranges from ‘alright’ to ‘Ew.’ Kath Soucie, hi! Haven’t seen you in a while. I see you’re putting on your most obnoxious version of your Phil and Lil voices.
Jim Cummings, how ya doing? I see you using your Pete voice today.
Seriously, though, give it a shot. It takes a while for it to finally get into anything Christmas or Santa related, but it’s a bit of holiday fun that brings an interesting and even somewhat somber angle to the Santa tale. I was never bored while watching it, and I’d gladly watch it again.
Recommended Audience: They talk about inevitable death and Sheigra dies off-screen, but it’s completely harmless outside of that. E for everyone!