Returning from earlier this year is from their Star Wars Visions Vol. 2 episode “Aau’s Song”, Triggerfish return with their own sci-fi anthology series with Kizai Moto: Generation Fire. We’ve got creators ranging from Uganda, Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Zimbabwe and South Africa. Triggerfish isn’t the only notable name attached to this project: Peter Ramsay, the well acclaimed director of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has an executive producer title on this. As someone who has helped positively transformed animation, it explains why Kizai Moto had so many unique styles, ranging from hand-drawn to anime-inspired animation.
Although the same studio animates every episode, the show successfully introduces a distinct animation style in each episode, providing a refreshing experience. This made it fun to watch the series but it’s also one of the weak points of the series. Similar to other series like Love, Death and Robots, Black Mirror, and Star Wars Visions, not every episode will appeal to viewers. However, rest assured that there is an episode for everyone to enjoy. Personally for me, there were two episodes that totally grasped me and I will be getting into them quite shortly.
The main downfall of Kizai Moto is that it focuses more on style over substance. Every episode was visually pleasing, with its color palettes and the unique animation style it had with each episode. However, where they start to fail at is the narratives of these stories. Some episodes had a message to tell like “Herderboy” with its message of responsibility and trust or “Mkhuzi: The Spirit Racer” with its message of heritage and acceptance. Whether through a powerful message or stunning action sequences, each episode of the show captivates with its visuals. However, if an episode lacks a message or thrilling action, it may fall short and fail to engage.
Kizai Moto was able to still tell some amazing stories, but as an African myself, I do wish that they touched on African mythology more. Certain episodes feature fictional gods specifically created for each respective episode’s storyline. Africa is a continent that is so rich in its mythology and stories that it’s a real disappointment that Triggerfish didn’t take advantage of this and create stories with characters like Anansi who originates from Akan folklore.
There are two episodes that really grabbed my attention and I’ll be personally going into what I liked about these episodes while also giving my take on them. “Mkhuzi: The Spirit Racer” which follows Manzo (Nasty C), a half-alien, half-human teenager who wishes to become like his mother, the famed masked racer Mkhuzi. This has one of the strongest narratives throughout Kizai Moto as it deals with Manzo struggling to reconcile his Zulu heritage with his alien blood.
There are some moments within the episode that I feel will help younger children who watch this, who face a similar situation, come to terms with their heritage and become more accepting. We live in a day and age where some kids truly have this struggle and this episode seems like a great eye opener for them. The episode also features anime-inspired animation and in doing so, the characters ended up having unique character designs with really expressive emotions.
“First Totem Problems” follows Sheba (Rene Setlhako), a teenager who’s about to receive her digital totem, a mark of adulthood that connects every citizen with their ancestors and gives full access to the privileges of society, things end up going terribly wrong for Sheba and she ends up in the ancestral plane and in the middle of a feud between two sides of her family. I personally enjoyed this episode for two reasons, the animation style feeling very Disney like in its cartoons and watching a dysfunctional family bicker.
This was also another one with a strong narrative even though while watching it, it seemed ridiculous. The episode tackles generational trauma imposed on kids by their families and the pressure to meet unrealistic expectations. Despite the harsh reality, it portrays this theme in a surprisingly positive light. It’s another learning point for kids who are going through this but are unaware as we see Sheba tackle this situation in a unique way that fits the story.
Overall, Kizai Moto: Generation Fire is the perfect show for the African youth and the youth in general. There are heartfelt messages hidden in some of the episodes with learning points dispersed throughout. The episodes clock in around 10-11 minutes so it’s an easy watch and a very bingeable show. While not every episode clicked with me, I had two favorites, yet all episodes remained visually captivating. A second season exploring African myths with futuristic twists would be a fantastic opportunity to leverage existing stories.
Kizai Moto: Generation Fire is now streaming on Disney+