Daniel Spellbound

Daniel Spellbound season 2





Lauren Cook
Emily Tsiao

TV Series Review

Welcome to New York City—just not the New York City you know. There’s a secret magical world hiding just beneath the surface; around every corner lurk wizards brewing potions and crafting spells unbeknownst to average folk.

In order to operate, however, they need magical ingredients that tend to be fairly dangerous to acquire.

Enter Daniel Spellbound. He may not be magical, but he’s got a gift for tracking down ingredients—a gift that makes him loads of money from local witches and wizards. Or so it used to, anyway.

Tracking may be a booming business, but Daniel isn’t exactly seeing much profit right now. The Tracker’s Guild has cracked down on Daniel for bringing Lucy, a Dowser (a type of law officer who makes sure that magic users don’t wreak havoc on the non-magical world), to the Tracker’s Outpost. Despite the fact that he and Lucy saved the world from the Dark Mage in Season One, that was against Tracker Code. So now, Daniel has to find an Untrackable (an incredibly rare magical item) to earn his spot back or else the Guild will put out a bounty on him.

Of course, that’s easier said than done.

Meanwhile, Lucy has her own magical issue to deal with: Out-of-control magic users. The solution,  she feels, is to track down the magical Scepter, take over the Bureau and bring some stability into the world. She wants Daniel’s help. And she’s not the only one.

Complicating matters is Shakila Chinda, the youngster sister of legendary Tracker Jayce Chinda. Shak says her family owns an Untrackable that Jayce found. And she’ll give it to Daniel. But first, he has to help her find Jayce, who’s been missing for several years now.

Daniel in the Wizard’s Den

At first glance, Daniel Spellbound is just an action-packed adventure through a magical world with a teen and his talking pig. What’s not to like?

However, the Netflix animated show wastes little time in showing its dark side. From the very first scene in the series, which shows Daniel breaking into a lair filled with ogres and a surprising amount of skulls, it’s clear that this kids’ show is intent on pushing its Y7 rating. Frightening elements such as monsters and menacing witches are prevalent, and while we don’t veer into the realm of realistic violence, just the presence of some of these elements may be frightening to younger viewers.

Of course, there’s also the issue of magic, which is obviously integral to the story. It mostly manifests itself as spells that alter the world around them; Daniel uses a magical gadget to create holes in the ground and stun monsters. As far as spiritualism goes, it seems fairly mild, though parents may still want to be aware of it before setting their kids on Daniel’s adventure.

The real problem with Daniel Spellbound, however, is the titular hero himself. Daniel makes his priorities painfully clear: He’s willing to break any and every law to get what he wants. He’s constantly on the run from magical law enforcement and is more than happy to steal dangerous ingredients for an evil witch if it’ll make him a quick buck. “Dirty hands, filthy rich!” Daniel announces gleefully after acquiring a magical mushroom for a witch.

Daniel Spellbound may be built on a fun premise, but some perilous situations, off-color humor and a less-than-upstanding hero make this magical adventure one that may be worth a skip.

Episode Reviews

Jan. 27, 2023 – S2, Ep1: “Swing Batter Batter”

Daniel teams up with Shakila Chinda to find her missing brother in order to obtain an Untrackable.

Daniel uses a “Hex Crystal” to turn a painting into a portal. Witches try to reverse the effects of old age by submerging themselves in a slimy potion. A woman uses magic to paralyze others. Dowsers have non-magic-users drink a magical potion to wipe their memories. They also use magic to create an illusion of a quarantined area. We hear that Hoagie, Daniel’s pig companion, is actually a human boy who was turned into a pig. A girl uses magic to levitate objects and create a shield. Shakila picks up her family’s war hammer, inadvertently activating a spell that causes her to levitate in the air and glow green in a trance-like state.

Daniel and a witch use their respective powers to fight each other. Hoagie steals the witch’s ring (an Untrackable) but breaks her bony finger off in his mouth in the process (and the finger continues to move on its own). Daniel, Hoagie and Shakila face booby traps of darts, spike pits and swinging axes. (A spell on these traps prevents them from being injured, but they only have three chances to complete the trial before that spell ends.) We hear that the Tracker’s Guild will send Trackers to kill Daniel if he can’t find an Untrackable by their deadline. Someone wonders if Shakila’s brother might be dead.

Characters lie and steal. A talking pig frightens an art gallery curator. There are some scary-looking witches and situations that may not sit well with younger viewers. Hoagie makes a rude comment about a woman’s appearance.

Oct. 27, 2022 – S1, Ep1: “Dirty Hands”

Daniel Spellbound, a teenage tracker of magical items and ingredients, sets out to find a mystical Fugu Rose in order to repay his debt to fearsome witch the Pie Lady.

For a show with a Y7 rating, the first episode of Daniel Spellbound gets dark, and it gets dark fast. We first meet Daniel as he sneaks into a sewer inhabited by dozens of sleeping ogres. Human skulls are everywhere, in piles and stacked onto pikes and even in some of the monsters’ mouths. The whole tone of the opening scene is fairly ominous, though Daniel does break it up by cracking the occasional joke. Eventually, the ogres wake up and chase Daniel through the sewer; he uses a magical gadget to zap them with electricity and knock them off ledges. Later, Daniel and his talking pig sidekick, Hoagie, encounter a giant squid-like monster called a tentacore, complete with huge tentacles and a mouth containing several rows of teeth. Daniel uses a sword to cut through the tentacles, and it slams him against the ground a few times before finally exploding into blue, blood-like goo.

In one of the most surprisingly disturbing scenes, the Pie Lady comes very close to taking out one of Daniel’s eyes with a star-shaped brand. He’s able to kick it out of her hand and escape, but Hoagie has a button where one of his eyes should be, suggesting he wasn’t so lucky in the past.

A few crude jokes also appear in the episode. Daniel has to dig through a giant pile of ogre feces to find a magical ingredient (“I’m  just here for your poop!” he says defensively when they start to chase him), and we hear some flatulence from the monsters for comedic effect.

Daniel says that he “screwed up,” and Hoagie calls him “stupid.”

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Lauren Cook Bio Pic
Lauren Cook

Lauren Cook is serving as a 2021 summer intern for the Parenting and Youth department at Focus on the Family. She is studying film and screenwriting at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. You can get her talking for hours about anything from Star Wars to her family to how Inception was the best movie of the 2010s. But more than anything, she’s passionate about showing how every form of art in some way reflects the Gospel. Coffee is a close second.

Emily Tsiao

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and geeking out with her husband indulging in their “nerdoms,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything they love, such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate and Lord of the Rings.

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