Despite its kiddish title, Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness is a true accomplishment of animated storytelling. One with great messages for adult viewers too.
Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness
It’s a world where hares are royalty and skunks are adventurers. But even in such a crazy world, life can be tough when you’re some sort of a feathery hybrid between a hare and a chicken. Every day is especially heartbreaking when you yearn to be an esteemed adventurer, but the whole city just regards you as a joke.
This was a hugely fun watch, in an indulgently silly yet meaningful kind of way.
The humor doesn’t always take flight. There aren’t real surprises in the tale too. But more than making up for these shortcomings is how the whole show is such an amazing labor of love. One that is so rich with details, both visually and character-wise, a viewer just can’t resist being swept up in euphoria.
To cite an example, there’s a truly amazing explorer’s obstacle course. From moving trees to crocodiles, to sweeping waves, it’s as if everything is suddenly moving on the screen.
There’s also how even the most minor characters exhibit quirky quirks that reflect or oppose their real-life dispositions. A gorilla criminal dad who babysits, ‘cos his wife is busy (?!) Rabbit royalty protected by loyal wolf warriors?
It’s a topsy-turvy, hilarious world brought to life by top-notch animation. One that is such a joy to lose myself in.
There’s also, of course, the message about diversity, this being the brightest gem of the show. Now, such statements are nowadays no longer anything rare in pop entertainment; you struggle not to encounter the statement when going through Netflix releases.
What places Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness many cuts above others, though, is how the message is not just told from the viewpoint of Chickenhare the protagonist and Lapin the villain. In other words, not just the traditional positions of embracing oddity or giving in to destructive anger.
The sardonic Abe serves up a third position, one that is a midway between I-don’t-let-my-difference-get-to-me and I-don’t-openly-celebrate-it-too. Personally, I’ve seen many people of physiological or lifestyle diversity prefer this position. They expect to be treated equally but the last thing they want is also to stand out in a crowd, even if it’s for a hooray. They just want to be left alone to live their lives.
Further expanding the message is how the outrageous pygmy piggies and diabolical hamsters found strength in numbers. But without giving more story away, they aren’t exactly in the best of places too.
For an animated comedy targeted at kids, Chickenhare seriously exhibits impressive depth and thought.
On another note, nWave Pictures, the Belgian studio behind this wonderful adventure, is one of the top European names in animation. To be honest, I didn’t particularly like their The Queen’s Corgi and that’s the only one from them that I’ve watched.
I will now eagerly check out their Bigfoot series. The two flicks might not be as great as Chickenhare, but I suspect I wouldn’t be too disappointed.
Check out my other snappy movie reviews.