Underappreciated Toons: Firebreather
With the sheer amount of cartoons out there, it’s no surprise that quality will be all over the place. As with most things, once you increase the volume you’re bound to get a lot of the bad alongside a lot of the good. It’s also normal for some of the good to get swept by the wayside, probably not good enough to float to the top but definitely not enough of a stinker to be noticed by people plumbing the bottom.
The hour-long, made for TV special “Firebreather” is definitely one of these middle-tier toons that should have received more attention than it did. For the uninitiated, Firebreather is based on a comic book series published by Image Comics in 2003 as a miniseries and in 2004 as a one-shot. The premise is simple, yet somewhat unique in the spandex-clad superhero-saturated medium: a young boy named Duncan tries to fit in school despite his unusual physical appearance, which results from being the hybrid son of a human and a powerful Kaiju king.
The film generally stays close to the comic book’s premise: Duncan still has his scaly appearance and struggles with fitting in among humans. But the short runtime meant that things are hurried along, with pacing favoring the setup of the main conflict. Namely, Duncan’s father’s return in order to force his son to inherit his throne, his reluctance to inherit the throne, and protecting himself and the people he cares about from both the Kaiju and humans who wish to destroy him for being a kaiju.
Technically, it is understandable for new viewers to ignore the film. It’s certainly not as popular a franchise as some of DC’s, Marvel’s, or even Image’s other properties. And to be honest, the CG animation has dated terribly. But for its time, Firebreather was worth watching. The story can be interesting, especially when you consider the mystery of how a giant Kaiju managed to sire a child with an average-sized human. I mean, how does that even work? And more importantly, it’s got action in spades.