Updated: Nov 13, 2022
Mesoamerica are the territories of pre-Columbian societies. Mesoamerica flourished for more than 1000 years before the Spanish arrived. Although, these societies were viewed as barbaric in the eyes of the Spanish and Europeans the indigenous people had a very intricate and organized way of life. From a complex mythological and religious tradition, to an elaborate calendric system and a unique architectural style that allowed them to thrive. This anime tries to capture the beauty and culture of Mesoamerica predominantly the Aztec and Mayan culture.
Onyx Equinox created by Sofia Alexander is the third Crunchyroll Original to premier. Onyx Equinox takes place in Mesoamerica based on the mythologies of the Aztec and Mayan Empire. In this series we follow a young Aztec boy named Izel who finds himself caught in the middle of a dangerous game from the gods. In order to save humankind, he must complete an impossible mission—closing the five gates to the underworld. His journey to become humanity’s champion, where Izel must confront humanities darkness and decide if the human race is worth saving.
In the beginning of the episode, we see Danibaan (Monte Alban today) ruins. Unlike today, where these ruins are flocked with thousands of tourists each year; they were once a vibrant bustling home for many people. Onyx Equinox does a fantastic job at capturing the beauty of the indigenous people and how they vary within the culture. In Danibaan, we are introduced to 3 Gods in the Mesoamerica Mythology: Quetzalcoatl, Mictlantecutli and Tezcatlipoca.
Mictlantecutli is an Aztec Lord of Mictlan (Land of Dead) and was worshiped across all Mesoamerica.
Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent, was one of the most important gods in Mesoamerica. He represents the fertility of the earth.
Tezcatlipoca, also known as ‘Smoking Mirror’ in Nahuatl is the celestial creativity (constellation).
Many Mesoamerican legends say that Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca are brothers who have a huge rivalry amongst each other. This concept can be seen in the anime when Quetzalcoatl proposes a bet to Tezcatlipoca. This bet is the driving force of Izel’s mission to save humanity.
Aside from the astonishing representation of the Mesoamerica culture being able to see a rich and deep brown skin tone like mine animated, is truly stunning. The usage of the bold black outlines to frame each character is pops against the vibrant and colorful background. The of the most striking scenes is when Nelli dressed up in traditional indigenous garments with bright face paint. The designs are still uniquely Mesoamerican in color scheme and identity. Color is the strongest element of the animation making it difficult to take your eyes off it.
So far, I am enjoying the series after episode 1, however one of the issues that I have run into is the voice acting. The voice acting makes it hard to watch. You are able to notice that the actors are forcing themselves to pronounce the Nahuatl names and Spanish names. It is frustrating to watch and can be a turn off to those watching. Although, the voice acting is a bit cringey, Onyx Equinox is visually striking and a new perception of Mesoamerican culture. An anime you don’t want to miss!