It can be said without a shred of doubt that the 1990s and early 2000s were truly the golden age of Western cartoons. It was a period when not only innovative storytelling became the forte of multitudes of classic animated ventures, but every single aspect, from animation styles to voice acting to sound design, also became pioneering in its own accord. With time, Western cartoons gradually lost their charm and were eventually substituted with the anime fervor of Gen Z.
However, thanks to streaming platforms’ commitment in rejuvenating Western cartoons in recent years, a steady increase in the quality of animated adaptations is noticeable. Netflix, for instance has assembled an animated gallery that can even rival Crunchyroll’s rich anime repertoire and has offered a number of titles that can make classic cartoon fans hopeful for the genre’s future. Hilda, adapted from Luke Pearson’s children’s comic series of the same name, is one such beautiful, animated entry that has amazed fans right from the premiere of its first season in 2018. With mesmerizing colors poured into simplistic, picturesque line art-drawn backgrounds, Hilda is one of the most aesthetically pleasing cartoons we have come across in recent years, which truly does justice to the charm of the source material. Adding to that a rich lore of Scandinavian myths and legends presented with a sensibility that is even more mature than so many adult-oriented fantasy adaptations, it is no wonder that Hilda has garnered a fanbase of its own. With the third and final season of the series around the corner, let us take a look back at the previous chapters of Hilda and discuss how the upcoming season can play out.
Hilda And Her World
The world of Hilda is full of otherworldly beings like trolls, spirits of various kinds, elves, Moomins, Marras, Vittras, deer-foxes, and various creatures of the same kind who co-exist with humans. Sometimes, their mischievous ways create problematic situations for humans, but most often, the creatures are at the receiving end of suffering due to human encroachment on their environment.
Hilda, an 11-year-old curious and brave girl, lives with her mother, Johanna, and her pet deer-fox, Twig, in a forest far away from human settlement. Living amidst mystical creatures, Hilda has grown a natural affinity for nature and all the denizens of the wilderness, and she has formed a deeper connection with them as well. Prior to the series’ events, Hilda had rescued Twig from a landslide, and the little deer-fox later showed its gratitude by saving her from an attacking eagle—but in the process, Twig was separated from its herd and has lived with Hilda and Johanna ever since. As the series begins, Hilda is informed by an Elf, Alfur, about the Elf Prime Minister’s electoral campaign promise to evict her family from the wilderness. With the help of Alfur, Hilda managed to plead with the Elf Prime Minister and Elf King to negotiate terms of peaceful coexistence, but unfortunately for her, a giant of the land, whom she had helped to reunite with his friend, mistakenly trampled their house. As a result, Johanna, Hilda, and Twig had to move to the city of Trolberg, where Hilda enlists as a scout, gets admitted to school, and makes friends with Frida and David.
Much of the first season of the series progresses in an adventure-of-the-week format, where Hilda helps others solve various mystical creature-oriented problems using her wits and compassion. Hilda saves the school from the wrath of a troll by returning its baby, whom David had unknowingly brought from the wilderness. Hilda also saves David and later Frida from the influence of Marra, a kind of malevolent spirit. Hilda befriends a homeless Nisse (house spirit) named Tontu and gives her refuge in her home. Viewers are also introduced to Hilda’s idol, meteorologist Victoria Van Gale, who is exposed to having abducted a child, Weather Spirit, leading to her being shunned by Trolberg and receiving much disdain from Hilda. The first season ends with Hilda and her friends helping a misunderstood Black Hound named Jellybean reunite with his Nisse friend.
How Did Hilda Become A Troll? Did She Revert To Normalcy?
A major part of the second season revolves around Hilda coming into conflict with Erik Ahlberg, chief ranger of Trolberg’s city patrol unit, an arrogant, idiotic fellow who is hell-bent on incriminating non-human creatures and gaining false glory by capturing, pillaging, or undermining them. Victoria Van Gale again returns to the story, and Hilda and Co. again foil her machinations, after initially getting befooled by her reformed demeanor. Victoria gets transported into an unknown dimension after her plans to modify Nowhere Space (the home dimension of the Nisse creature) go awfully wrong, and Hilda fails to save her despite putting in her best efforts to do so. The numerous adventures of Hilda in the second season include reuniting undead creatures (Draugens) with their close ones, coming across a Kraken, going to the past and almost jeopardizing the flow of time, dissuading an ogress named Gryla who hunts naughty children, and so on and so forth. In the final episode of the second season, Hilda accidentally sends herself and her mother Johanna into Stone Forest, where they overcome the threat of trolls and other creatures. The duo gets help from a kind Troll, Trylla, and her daughter, Baba, and finally manages to return to their home at Trolberg. However, Johanna’s motherly love and the prospect of a better life as a human prompt Trylla to cast a changeling spell, which swaps Hilda and Baba with each other. Hilda is now a troll, living with Trylla, while Baba, now a human child, is living with Johanna at Trolberg.
In the movie Hilda and the Mountain King, Hilda slowly adapts to her new life, and Trylla’s love and care help her cope with her new form. However, she misses her friends, Johanna, and the life she had to leave behind, and Trylla comes to terms with the fact that her impulsive decision was detrimental to everyone. Eventually, a reunion with Hilda’s mother and Baba revert the children to their old selves. Meanwhile, a new threat arises in the form of Trundle, the eponymous Mountain King, who unites the Trolls to awaken the Troll Allmother Amma. Trundle is slain by the Trolberg patrol led by Erik Ahlberg, but Hilda manages to protect the trolls by changing Erik’s perception of them. It is revealed that despite being cut off from her children due to human intervention, the Allmother Amma, who lies underneath the Trolberg, chose not to wake up for the safety of human beings—until the point where the city patrol riled up against trolls and almost sought to exterminate them. As Erik and his crew cease the attack and let the trolls get inside the city, they connect with Amma, who breathes new life into her children and assures them of her continual presence by their side. The movie ends with Erik resigning from his duties in shame, his assistant Gerda becoming the chief ranger and announcing an annual Troll Night observation and a glimpse of the lovely relationship shared between Trylla and Johanna’s family.
The third and final season of the series is likely to adapt the final chapters of the graphic novel series Hilda and the Faratok Tree and Hilda and the Fairy Village, where Johanna’s past will be in the focus along with Hilda’s family heritage. Hopefully, the series gets a spin-off or similar continuation after the final season, as it so deserves.