As of this month, all three seasons of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts have released on Netflix. It was previously announced that the DreamWorks Animation animated series would conclude with the third and final season. Ahead of its premiere, ComicBook.com had the opportunity to speak with creator and executive producer Rad Sechrist as well as executive producer Bill Wolkoff about all things Kipo -- and everything that happened in Season 3.
To be clear: what follows is an extremely spoiler-heavy interview with Sechrist and Wolkoff. If you haven't watched all of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts quite yet, you'll likely want to do so before continuing on. Here is how Netflix and DreamWorks Animation officially describe the final season, in case you missed it:
"After dethroning Scarlemagne, Kipo and the Brunch Bunch face a more daunting foe: Dr. Emilia, who plots to eliminate mutekind to make the surface 'safe' for humans. But Kipo has an optimistic vision of a world where mutes and humans get along with each other. To achieve that dream, she must lean on her friends and rise to a role she may not be ready for."
As noted above, all three seasons of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts are now available to stream on Netflix. You can check out all of our previous coverage of Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts right here. And keep reading to check out our full interview with Sechrist and Wolkoff!
ON ANIMATING DURING A PANDEMIC
ComicBook.com: Now I have to ask, obviously the COVID-19 pandemic has hit different productions in wildly different ways, especially for animation, which can be held for years sometimes. What sort of impact did that have on Kipo if any?
Rad Sechrist: The week we went into quarantine we had just finished our last mix. So we got lucky. We were done before we quarantined.
Bill Wolkoff: Yeah, you work far ahead in animation. So you need a lot of time to get things done and it is just a little bit of a weird state that we premiered with a show about humans having to go underground and isolate themselves from the world three months before that actually happened in the world. So we weren't doing it in isolation and just happened to make our show more relevant than we had expected it to. And hopefully people have enjoyed seeing this group of awesome kids overcoming the complex that that kind of a world presents.prevnext
ON RELEASING DURING A PANDEMIC
Obviously releasing the final season during the pandemic has its own hurdles. What do you hope people take away from the show at the end of the day?
RS: It's so interesting. I'll never forget what year our show came out, right? The entire show came out in 2020. I mean, I do like when people are stressed out and they're worried about everything, it is nice that we were able to give something to get people's minds off it and make them feel a little better during this time. I mean, I'm glad that we were able to do that.
BW: Thematically our show is about finding hope in a place of hopelessness and in a world that has driven the hope out of most people. And you have this beacon of unrelenting hope in Kipo. And, I mean, I think for me personally, I hope that, that gives people a little more optimism in a time when legitimately it feels like we have no reason to have optimism.
So, that would be a big, big thing for me. And I hope that there's a takeaway -- and I think Rad would agree with me on this, that we hope that people get to see themselves represented in the show in a way that maybe they haven't seen as much representation in kids animation in the past. It's happening more and more. We certainly hope that that's a big takeaway from our show.prevnext
ON CLOSING OUT WITH THREE SEASONS
Now the show is coming to a close with its third season, at least for now. How do you feel about that? In any other year do you think we would've seen a renewal?
RS: Yeah. I mean, I'm bummed the show's ending, obviously. It would be so cool to do more stuff in the Kipo universe in some kind of way. I mean, we definitely knew we had the 30 episodes from Netflix from the very beginning -- they were very clear. Like, "You're doing this many and then you're done." So it wasn't like a surprise or it wasn't that there wasn't like a thought of, "Well, maybe they'll do more after the 30 come out." That's just sort of the way Netflix wanted to operate. But yeah, I mean, we'd love to do more and in any kind of venue.
BW: The advantage of knowing how long we had to tell this story meant that we were really able to pull everything out that we wanted to unambiguously, without being afraid that we’d be like, "Oh, we want to hold that off for Season Two or Season Three." And I mean, I think for all of us we feel like it's a satisfying ending. And at the same time it's the ending to this book but there could be another book in this universe with these characters at different junctures of their lives. And both of us would love to get to continue to tell their stories if that opportunity presents itself.prevnext
ON POSSIBLE MOVIES
Right, because obviously Kipo's Netflix series isn't even its first form and could possibly not even be its final form. Rad, you mentioned when the third season was announced as the last, wanting to do a movie potentially with Netflix. If the stars were to align, what sort of things would you still want to explore given how the show ends?
RS: I mean, I love the idea of doing like a wolf movie. I love the idea of doing like a Benson and Troy go search for an Oz the Originator LP they never found... there's so many things you could do. It'd be fun to explore. Or even just a straight Kipo and the gang film, or there's.... it's kind of endless this stuff me and Bill thought about. Like you could do how Yumyan Hammerpaw became the Axe Lord of the Timbercats.
BW: We only had so much real estate to tell those stories and it wasn't a priority for us to get into Kipo's romantic life. We do touch on it a little bit. But she's only 13, so that priority isn't front and center for her. But if we were to continue telling stories, I think digging into what it would mean for Kipo's romantic life as she becomes a teenager at the end of the world is ripe for storytelling. I'd love to dig into that too. And she discovers more and more who she is as a grownup.
I also, personally, like one thing I wish we had done more of, we just didn't have time. We never got to tell more stories about Jamack in the early days. Like our art director, Angela Sung, made this amazing set in Season One where his office has a waterfall going through it. And I want to see the early days when, like he was the Don Draper in that waterfall-logged office.prevnext
ON YUMYAN HAMMERPAW AND CONSEQUENCES
Since you brought him up I have to say, even as an admitted fan of Hugo, the Yumyan Hammerpaw arc was the one that hurt the most this season. How did you decide which character should get the formula? Obviously we have other important ones, Margot among them.
RS: Yeah it's interesting. Like the Yumyan seems to be like such a... you love that character so much so that's probably a good choice. I'm trying to remember Bill, were there ever talks about it possibly being Jamack?
BW: We did talk about that. I mean, the big thing was we knew we wanted there to be a consequence to Emilia's presence on the surface and we wanted that to be real. And it hurts with Yumyan. It hurts people personally. He's one of the very first mutes who she befriended against all odds. And Yumyan means so much, not just to her, but to an entire village. It was an inflection point that really helped us turn the season in a significant way. For people personally and for the world at large. And we loved Jamack, it would've been traumatic if it were Jamack also, but it might not have had the bigger world effect if it had been him.prevnext
And things get pretty dark this season, but you do also manage to inexplicably include a prom episode. What sort of conversations were there about that balancing act between the comedy and the genuinely suspenseful drama?
RS: Yeah, that's interesting because like I remember -- Bill, I don't know, was it Joanna and Kristine that came up with the prom idea?
RS: Yeah, I remember them pitching that to me. And I don't know what it is, there's just that nostalgia of being young and going to the prom that just kind of struck a chord that through all this trauma to add in that kind of classic nostalgia that you remember from childhood. It was the same thing with the episode Bill wrote, I think Episode Six, where Benson and Kipo go to that sort of amusement park. It's like, I grew up in Orange County so I have all the memories of going to Knott's Berry Farm and Disneyland, like at that age. So for me that was a very like nostalgia type of an episode. But the prom thing was a similar type of thing where it just kind of brings back that flood of you almost feel like you are a kid again when you see that.
BW: I want to call out Kristine Songco and Joanna Lewis our Story Editors who Rad referred to and we also have had an amazing writer's room in addition to them. It's the prom man. [laughs] To get a show about kids growing up, you got to have a prom. Everybody has a prom. And we have been talking about, how do we do that? How do we do a prom like in the apocalypse? How can you possibly do a prom in the apocalypse?
And Joanna and Kristine saw it as a way to stop a war from happening. And everybody in the room said, "Yes, that's what people would do to stop a war. And, you know, it actually might work?" So we decided to live in that world that you can stop a full-on legitimate war with some awesome music and frilly dresses, and awkward dances, and our characters dealing with all the things that young people deal with. While the world is reinventing itself.prevnext
FAVORITE PARTS OF SEASON 3
Now, with Season Three there is a lot going on from the Korean narwhals to the Dave and Benson war to just... it's packed. So potentially difficult question: what was your two's favorite part of this season?
RS: Ooh, that's interesting. I mean, the K-pop narwhals are kind of a standout set piece. Like, my wife's Korean so she'll take me to the BTS concerts so that whole genre is close to my heart.
BW: For me it was Wolf and Scarlemagne's teaming up towards the end of the season. And that's like the joy of getting to write a show like this is, we create this kind of like tapestry of characters that would never have any reason to be with each other or united with each other, but they become united by this larger-than-life force that is the whole premise of our show. And then because of that they become closer and you get to do these very unexpected pairings. And the very unexpected pairing of Wolf and Scarlemagne, I think, might've been my favorite in Season Three.
RS: You know what was one of the most fun things to make was the episode where they're making traps. It was written where Jamack like, was annoyed he had to make these traps. But when Jake Green came to the recording studio he started ad-libbing these lines where he was excited about making traps like, "Oh man, I'm going to make a trap. It's going to be so great." And we literally, because of his ad-libs, we just like changed all of his lines to be like... “That was really fun!” Like it just kind of came out of the recording.prevnext
ON THAT TIME SKIP
So at the very end obviously Hugo dies, we have some big cathartic scenes, and then we have a time skip. Why cap off Kipo Season Three with the time skip at the end there?
RS: That's interesting. I mean, for us we're making the show, but we're also fans of this show, like we really enjoyed it. And it was just something, I think, it got us so excited at the idea of seeing that. And like a lot of the stuff we make in the show is in a way for ourselves, like, it's like what excites us. You know what I mean? And there is just something about that idea for me and I assume for a lot of the crew like, get to see them as like older, like, "Hell yeah, I want to see that."0comments
BW: If you look at Season One as being about Kipo discovering the surface, and then Season Two is her starting to change the surface. And then Season Three is how the surface starts to change her? Then I think jumping forward that five years to see how that turns out felt like... After we had played out those three big overarching beats, it felt satisfying to us to get to them and see, "OK, well, how did it turn out five years from now?" And it allowed us to end this chapter, this book in Kipo's story and leave room for the possibility of that story to continue in some other form.
RS: It's funny because when I was doing the comic I always knew in my mind, for the comic, I had a very specific ending which was, I actually wanted to cut like 400 years in the future and Dave is still around. Then like, there's like a statue of Kipo and like people are thankful to her. So it is interesting that a cut to the future was sort of always in the back of my mind, even though we didn't go that far.prev