Wakfu series – and comics – there is a strange little man with nothing revealed under his hood but a long nose and big round eyes but who helps the heroes with his incredible fighting prowess by the name of Master Joris. When the Dofus feature film was announced, it was soon made clear that the protagonist would be that same Joris, his name now revealed to be Joris Jurgen, but his timeline a full 1000 years before the events of Wakfu, with hints of him somehow making himself immortal by transplanting his soul into a little puppet.
So fans were expecting something quite epic from the first Dofus series. But that’s not what The Treasures of Kerub is – or is meant to be. Refreshingly, and amusingly, it is a very light little comedy series about Joris’ childhood – living with the old Ecaflip treasure-hunter-turned-shop-owner Kerubim Crépin, who has adopted the future hero and takes care of him in his shop. Plus it becomes clear that Joris simply has jet-black skin rather than being hidden in shadow, in a rather Sand-People sort of way, and can even blush.
Though the action begins with a new cleaner coming into their lives to turn things upside-down, her story is really only there as a convenient introduction and the real thrust of the series is that in the short 12-minute episodes, a particular treasure is dug out of the shop and Joris asks his ‘Papycha’ to tell the story of how he came upon it – segueing into a fanciful story of when Kerubim was one of the premier heroes of the land…pretty much all of it true. He finds love and loses it, he meets gods and obtains a legendary dofus or two, he loses his best friend (but still lives opposite him and occasionally competes with him in present-day stories to break up the pace a little) and he amasses enough of a treasure collection to eventually open his shop.
It’s all very small-scale and light-hearted, which makes it not only a great compliment to Wakfu but gives a very strong basis to build a movie that gets rather darker from. I care about Joris and what happens to him, and I really don’t want his story to begin with the end of Kerubim – even if that’s quite likely to be what happens. Sometimes the pace is broken by stories in the present day, perhaps involving the heroes getting shrunk down to a tiny size, or the old gang getting back together, but all the action is tied to Kerubim’s colourful past, and more often than not stories are designed to pastiche other styles – from gambling films to kung-fu to potboilers. There’s also some brilliant experimentation where a giant woman is purposely put into the uncanny valley in some very impressive flash that’s on the realistic side, which I found very striking.
Ankama have by now developed their Flash animation to a standard that it very much hangs together, looks distinctive and occasionally gets very, very impressive – even in a light and fluffy series like this. The old and young Kerubim are very identifiably the same character and the world is extremely well-drawn, especially with characters that are clearly the same class as some well-loved Wakfu characters without being very similar to them at all – like two hulking Iop sisters.
It’s all very cute and innocent and never challenging, but it has charm by the bucketload. More a complement to the other Ankama properties than a strong starting point, it nevertheless comes highly recommended and was a pleasure to watch every week, up to the satisfying three-part conclusion of this half-season, or possibly season. Likely there will be more before the feature film – the French wiki site says there’s going to be 52 episodes and we’ve only had 27 so far – but the time seemed ripe to write impressions, rather like with the new Thundercats.