Amazon Prime has announced that two seasons of animated series Critical Role will be made available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video. The series, created by voice actor Matthew Mercer, was originally a web series that premiered on YouTube and was streamed live on Twitch. In the series Mercer and several other veterans from the voice acting industry play Dungeons and Dragons. Fans of the series funded a Kickstarter campaign to animate the very first episode of the series but was so successful that they were able to fund an additional 9 episodes. Now Amazon is providing funding for an additional season and both be available for streaming. Voice actors Laura Bailey, Taliesin Jaffe, Ashley Johnson, Liam O’Brien, Marisha Ray, Sam Riegel and Travis Willingham will all be reprising their roles in this new series, as well as serving as producers on the show.
To me this is a great decision for several reasons. I have always enjoyed animation, and I feel this form of storytelling has largely been left unexplored or underutilized in its current form. I am glad Amazon is willing to risk an animated series where other companies may be more hesitant. Though Netflix often is credited as the innovator in the streaming world, I am glad to see that Amazon is willing to bring unique and creative content to their platform. I think this move is also a testament to how far web-based content has come. Years ago, the idea that YouTube was a creative but not very viable outlet for content. Now with this move and the rise of the YouTube celebrity, web-based content is demonstrating that it is a media market with a vast potential. Finally, as a fan of Mercer and his show, I am glad to see that it is getting the mainstream attention it deserves.