Harley Quinn E1 Review
The Layers of Story
Physical Layer: The art, music, lighting, and general components that make up the medium that the story is presented through.
Structural Layer: The way/style the story is presented and written.
Surface Layers: The fore-story and backstory being currently told. (Composed of two layers)
Layers of Depth: What the audience can take away from the story.
I want to go ahead and say that I am NOT a long time fan or dedicated comic reader. I am coming at this with a relatively light knowledge of the DC universe compared to many dedicated fans. (This is largely due to a childhood prejudice against liking ‘boy shows’ due to having three brothers. As a young adult I am now curious and open to exploring.) That being said, I did do a lot of general research over the last week leading up to this show’s debut, and that includes learning (objectively) about how a lot of fans feel toward their beloved characters and their favorite storylines. That is to say, I have no personal biases due to long-term story investment, but I most certainly see where and why people do feel the way they do about particular aspects of this show. This review will address various perspectives.
The Physical Layer:
I think it can generally be agreed by everyone that the physical presentation of this show is stellar, even for those who are not big fans of cartoons. I personally love the art of animation. It’s attraction to me is the amount of fine emotional expression and manipulation it is able to pull off that doesn’t always work through a live cast. (Not saying that live casts cant have this, just that animation has more freedom and control.) Harley Quinn has a simple yet beautiful art style that I already love. The background is kept simple and artsy which allows the sharper foreground to clearly shine. Whereas most Gotham depictions rely heavily on black with color undertones, this show is doing the opposite. It’s like going from a raven to a parrot. This gives a very new feel to an old setting and it suits the story to a tee. This is meant to be represented through Harley’s perspective, and so it makes sense.
I like how much color and lighting is already being utilized in order to set mood and tone. Lots of greys and muted colors to mark Arkhem as a depressing drag, sunlight and clarity at Ivy’s apartment to show a sense of ease and security (also sanity), the neon-on-shadows to evoke mystery for the Riddler’s hideout (love the sphinx), and, of course, the bright splashes of color throughout the action scenes to mark Harley’s manic energy. Even the gray-scale photo of Harleen Quinnzell gave the aura of a ‘lost’ aspect of Harley’s personality. I especially love that even though Joker and his goons wear the typically vibrant colors of violet and green, they are muted and drab so that they are not mistaken for the fun of Harley’s world. All the goons have a greyness to their skin and opaque eyes to make them look already dead and zombie-like before they are actually killed. It makes it easier not to feel so bad about it.
I loved the music in this. The moment that creepy carousel music started, I was hooked by it and the suspension of disbelief was put up. The music serves as the constant and perfect undertone to it all, never overcoming the story until the right moments.
On the subject of sound, all voice acting was phenomenal. I wont say too much as I can’t add to what’s already been put out there, but I did enjoy it all with Ivy being my favorite. I do understand people’s reserves about Harley’s lack of accent, but better no accent than a bad one. I have not watched much of Big Bang Theory, so Cuoco’s voice was not off-putting for me. I think that this voice shift will be easier for younger generations than those who grew up with Batman: TAS, but can still be enjoyable for those older audiences once they adjust. (No one likes changes to their favorite characters, but I think this is one change that can be glossed over as Harley isn’t defined by her accent; she’s defined by her energy and optimism.)
(I am still learning this site, so I have to break up my review to make it fit)