Review: 'Kairos. T.1/3', by Ulysse Malassagne
Kairos, volume 1 of 3, has just been published in France. It was announced here last month with an animated trailer from Studio La Cachette in Paris that had me salivating for the album! (Ankama’s catalogue lists a volume title that does not appear on the volume; “His Kingdom”.)
Now the book is here. Is it worth the hype?
(My thanks again to Lex Nakashima for making this review possible.)
Oh, yeah. This first album is both disappointing and tantalizing, only beginning to show the world in the trailer; its first scene, where the dragons emerge at night to kidnap Anaëlle, does not come before page 23 in the album.
Tome 1 ends with Nills, Koyot (the short, brown, beaky character), and Kuma (the big, green dragon? with short chin whiskers) walking towards the castle. Much is to be revealed in t.2.
Nills and Anaëlle, in their late teens or early twenties, are introduced driving toward an old abandoned house in the countryside. “It’s been years since anyone was here,” Anaëlle says. “It feels strange to be back. This place brings back so many memories.” They’ve come to spend a weekend together roughing it (no electricity or heat), but no more.
“I think that we ought to live together,” Nills says.
“I don’t,” Anaëlle answers him. “I already told you why I left my parents. I need independence. You always plan too far ahead. You already imagine that we’ll spend the rest of our lives together, while I can’t even imagine what tomorrow will bring us.”
The dragons that emerge from the fireplace to capture Anaëlle are led by a “Captain of the Guard”, they’re using “the Queen’s magic”, and they’ve been assigned to “bring the Princess home”. Nills follows them through the fireplace portal and emerges not quite alone on a rocky beach, while the others with Anaëlle return to a royal palace. Anaëlle is resigned to the loss of her life on Earth, but still refuses to accept the future her royal parents have planned for her. Nills doesn’t care where he is or who she may be; she obviously didn’t want to go there, so he will rescue her. He joins two pilgrims journeying to the distant castle “for the big festival being held for the return of the Princess.” To be continued.
Malassagne’s art style is more cartoony than realistic, against full backgrounds. Nills is drawn without a nose, with a pair of huge eyeglasses that seem to float in front of his face. Nills’ and Anaëlle’s faces in profile look like animal muzzles. For us, that’s no problem. Almost the first half of the album is without any anthropomorphism, but from the first appearance of the dragon soldiers and priests, it is clear that Nills is about to go into a very anthro world.
The kairos is an instant to be seized,
The decisive moment when everything can be overturned.
The fraction of a second when destiny is changed.
He who can control his kairos is invincible.
Malassagne’s biography on the Ankama website is that he is a graduate of the Gobelins animation school; he worked on the recent Ernest and Célestine animated feature; and that “2013 will be his year because he has at least three albums coming out!”, including the first two of Kairos. (The third, Jade, coming in June from a different publisher, is not anthropomorphic.)
Malassagne has a blog, Odysseus. In it he makes clear that he was one of the principal animators of the Kairos trailer.
Finally! The Kairos trailer is on line! It took a year of working in our spare time, 2 years since we came together to start our little studio La Cachette, and here it is! We’re out of the shadows … What an adventure! The day after it went on line, it had 50,000 views! We’ve already gotten proposals and offers of financing to do a longer film. […] One thing is sure: you’ll soon be hearing again of STUDIO LA CACHETTE!
And in the meantime, we can look forward to Kairos t.2 later this year.