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Ark: The Animated Series

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Kennedy Unthank

TV Series Review

Helena washes up on the shore of a mysterious island in nothing but rags. Taking a moment to catch her breath, she stands up and fiddles with the strange, seemingly useless metallic device implanted in her arm. She has no recollection of how she ended up here—or how she got the device.

Wait … is that a dodo bird?

Indeed it is—and that’s not the only strange thing Helena encounters on this island. It’s full of plenty of sights: strange insects, massive, floating obelisks and even dinosaurs!

And she’s not the only human on this island. Plenty of others forage for whatever they can to survive, all with no idea as to how they got there. And all have similar devices stitched into their arms, too.

That’s not all: They’re all from different time periods, too. While Helena is from the 21st century, she’s somewhat of a futuristic outlier. Bob was an American soldier plucked right off the beaches of Normandy. Sir Edmund Rockwell is a 19th-century English chemist. Mei-Yin comes from China’s Han Dynasty—a dynasty that ended in 220 A.D.

But the most notable survivor on this island is Gaius Marcellus Nerva, a Roman general who’s risen to prominence through beating dinosaurs (and people) into submission. And he expects that Helena will submit to his leadership, too. And if not—well, Helena probably wouldn’t have survived anyway.

But there is, according to some survivors, a way to escape from this island. Some claim that three mysterious artifacts, when gathered, will provide the collector great power as well as the ability to return home.

Helena would definitely like to go home. And when Gaius reveals one of them in his possession to her, she knows she needs to take it—especially since it wouldn’t be good for a man like Gaius to return to his time and change her past and his future.

And when she does steal it and run off into the night—well, it’s not just the sharp teeth of dinosaurs she’ll need to survive.

Welcome to Jurassic Ark

As you might have gathered, the world of Ark isn’t as simple as being an animated Jurassic Park.

Of course, the show’s complexity is on par with the extensive lore that players may stumble across in the video game upon which the series is based. In that game (and its subsequent DLCs), players read notes left by those who have gone before, including the aforementioned Helena, Edmund, Mei-Yin and Gaius. And though we can’t say much more without spoiling anything, should the series follow suit with the game’s storyline, it’ll include many spiritual elements in the future.

Also true to its game, Ark: The Animated Series contains a lot of animated violence. Blood spurts from wounds as characters are mercilessly stabbed or eaten. Women are beaten down by men. And the prehistoric animals aren’t immune to having their throats slashed or their heads stomped, either.

What viewers might not expect, however, is the first season’s heavy focus on social or political messages, told throughout flashbacks that ultimately seem like they were written purely for the sake of political chest thumping. Additionally, LGBT content is present through the show’s main character and a few others.

All of those issues combined are why, after careful consideration, we’ve decided not to endorse this ark.

Episode Reviews

Mar. 21, 2024 – S1, E1: “Element 1”

Helena wakes up on a mysterious island filled with dinosaurs and dangerous people.

Helena (and all others) initially arrive to the island in nothing but underwear. One man, Bob, decides to remain this way, since he views it as “just as nature intended.” Helena kisses her partner, another woman named Victoria. A woman wears a sports bra. We hear a reference to sex.

A man is killed when someone shoots an arrow through the back of his throat. Other people are killed with spears and arrows as their huts are burned to the ground. Someone is pierced by a spear. Women are beaten by men. Helena accidentally cuts her hand. A few people are eaten or mauled by dinosaurs. A man is temporarily paralyzed. Someone commits suicide. A teenage boy is eaten.

A shark is eaten by a much larger fish. A dinosaur has an arrow removed from its side. Some animals are mistreated.

Some believe the island to be Purgatory or the afterlife in general. A man attributes Helena’s newfound affinity for dinosaurs as due to her female heritage. “As a daughter of Eve, the serpent’s ways come second nature,” he says. A boy prays the Catholic Hail Mary prayer. We hear a reference to the Roman god Jupiter. Helena tells Gaius that she’s studied much of history before Gaius’ time, “when there were only beasts and gods.”

Helena takes anxiety medication. She also drinks wine.

We hear a reference to flatulence. Helena’s work revolves around studying evolution.

God’s name is used in vain once. We hear “h—” used twice.

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kennedy-unthank
Kennedy Unthank

Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He thinks the ending of Lost “wasn’t that bad.”

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