Review: It's Kill or Be Killed in Genndy Tartakovsky's Engaging 'Primal' - The Complete First Season

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday June 8, 2021

Review: It's Kill or Be Killed in Genndy Tartakovsky's Engaging 'Primal' - The Complete First Season

The creators of the award-winning "Samurai Jack," Cartoon Network's Adult Swim and Genndy Tartakovsky, have brought a new animated series to Blu-ray and DVD. "Primal: The Complete First Season" is a survival tale for fans of the uber-violent that fits nicely into a global entertainment market, because it transcends language barriers by using no verbal or formal written language at all.

"Eat or be eaten, kill or be killed," is the motto of this animated series and it achieves its goal by concentrating solely on action from beginning to end.

The artistic merits of "Primal" are undeniable, and its goals are simple: To tell an engaging story entirely through moving pictures. That's not to say there's no sound, no music or effects. The sound design is remarkable — there's just no dialogue. If language has been invented in the prehistoric fantasy setting in which this series takes place, there's no need for it. The story involves one solitary human being struggling to stay alive in a completely uncivilized world.

This world imagines a prehistory full of hyper-real dinosaurs, and presumably long-extinct races of animals, insects and apes. At the center of this is one man, perhaps the last one on earth, because from the outset we see his family and entire society wiped out by ravenous monsters. (We call this man Spear because of the tool to which he clings, and we know to call him this because we've read the Blu-ray insert. There's no need for names if there's no one to utter them.)

While searching for either revenge or sustenance, Spear encounters a giant lizard, Fang, with two small offspring. And he watches her lose both of her descendants before her very eyes as they are consumed by a bigger beast. United by grief and the mutual need to survive in this harsh landscape, Spear and Fang join forces — hunting, defending and endlessly killing side by side.

The storytelling is fundamental. Like Greek myths, samurai tales and wild westerns, nearly supernatural heroes battle insurmountable foes. Still, relationships are formed and subtle psychological details are revealed.

The poetry of this series comes totally from the images, the way each shot is placed next to the previous one, the way each camera movement travels through space, color, light, sound effects and music. Each episode in this series guarantees that the protagonists' lives will be put in peril, a lot of blood will be spilt and there will be epic fight sequences.

Ultimately, the difference between the Blu-ray edition of this series and the digital version is the difference between a newsprint comic book and a finely bound graphic novel.

This Blu-ray and DVD includes:

- All 10 episodes of the first season
- Behind the scenes interviews with Genndy Tartakovsky and the French animators who designed and created this series
- The Blu-ray comes with a digital version

"Primal: The Compete First Season" — now released to Blu-ray and DVD, June 1.