The first season of Genndy Tartakovsky’s Primal arrives on Blu-Ray this week, making Spear and Fang’s journey look better than ever.
Genndy Tartakovsky is one of my favorite cartoon creators out there. Dexter’s Lab and Powerpuff Girls were staples when I was younger, and something I still enjoy coming back to. Samurai Jack is a blast and his take on Star Wars in his Clone Wars microseries is still pure joy. As such, it was my great shame that I completely missed out on Primal when it originally aired on Cartoon Network.
Primal: The Complete First Season
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 1, 2021
Purchase: Affiliate Link
The timing of it, with the kiddos and such meant I kept missing out on it, and I just fell behind on it. Thankfully, I had the chance to make up for it when WB sent me the complete first season on Blu-Ray, and holy crap have I been missing out.
The animated series utilizes a sleek 2D style that’s at once sleek and dynamic, while bringing a simplistic approach that keeps the focus where it needs to be (and just looks STUNNING on Blu-ray). The style feels like a show that could have come from an earlier period of animation and yet something I don’t think anyone else could have pulled off for the story being told.
Unlike the sprawling multi-character stories we’ve seen from Tartakovsky in the past, the story of Primal is centered entirely on two main characters. There’s Spear, a neanderthal/caveman and, inexplicably, his dedicated partner Fang….a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Having formed a bond through shared tragedy, the entire 10-episode season is all about the dangers these two face and must work to overcome. It’s kind of strange in that there really isn’t any over-arching story for the show. It’s not like Samurai Jack where you know he’s working towards some primary goal. Instead, each episode of Primal sees the duo walking/running towards no particular destination. Their soul goal/purpose, seems to be survival.
Now, you may think that this is a bad thing, but it doesn’t detract from the awesomeness of the show in the least. In part, that’s because the driving purpose of the show is really about these two characters and they way they interact in the quickly changing world. They both must deal with threats they’ve never encountered before, all the while growing closer together and finding the sense of kinship/family they need.
It’s impressive to watch them grow and interact throughout the 10, all too short, episodes. Even more impressive when you consider the fact there’s no dialog in the show. The story we get in each episode is conveyed entirely through the animation and it’s so much fun to watch. Despite the lack of language, Spear and Fang’s unique characters still shine through. In the latter episodes of the season, you can even see how they’ve managed to “evolve” due to their journey and the camaraderie in their behaviors with one another.
The times where other characters do make an appearance (some just different prehistoric creatures), you get the sense of how the world the story takes place in operates. From demonic bats beholden to giant spiders, mysterious ape-men, and some seriously creepy witches, there’s an incredible amount of world building in the season. Even so, the focus is never taken away from Spear and Fang, and manages to infuse a surprising amount of emotion into certain moments.
Several scenes left my jaw on the floor, not simply from the brutal action on display, but the raw emotion it made me feel. I’m not ashamed to admit the show had me teary-eyed at multiple points and I’m still in awe over the fact they were able to bring that level of immersion without any words being uttered.
If you couldn’t tell, I fell in love with this show very quickly. At only 10 episodes, I breezed through it in a single sitting. I was crushed when the credits rolled on the final episode and I have to know what comes next for these characters. I can’t wait to give it another watch to see all the things I may have missed (for a “simple” story, it weaves a lot of elements into the background).
All in all, there’s very little reason to skip out on this Blu-ray. Yes, it’s streaming on HBO Max, but I’m always a big proponent of physical media (not to mention a Blu-ray won’t have any buffering blurriness) and this one is well worth supporting.