Maya and The Three created and directed by Jorge R. Gutiérrez is another addition to Netflix's surprisingly great catalog of original animated properties, where this one has elements of his previous works, El Tigre and The Book of Life. However, while it has the similar character design of his previous works, Maya and The Three has a much more fluid and vibrant animation style, it almost pops off from your screen, literally. Be it the aspect ratio changes, the characters standing outside the black bar of the widescreen, or the visually cosmic fight sequences, this animated miniseries is certainly recommended for kids as well as some themes that could be relatable for adults too.
The plot follows Maya (voiced by Zoe Saldana), a young girl turning 15 ready to get coronated to become the princess of the Eagle Kingdom. But her rebellious spirit and her yearning to go for an adventure make her doubt herself to proclaim responsibilities as being a princess involve diplomacy and less fighting, something which Maya doesn't like to be. But as her coronation begins, she gets an uninvited visitor announcing the underworld gods wanting Maya as their sacrificial offering as she happens to be a product of an affair between her father, King Teca of the Eagle Kingdom, and the goddess of Death, Lady Micte who left Maya under the care of King Teca. Maya, rebels as usual and decides to fight against those gods who want her for their powers to get stronger and instead tries to fulfill an initially misunderstood prophecy, where warriors of 4 different kingdoms: Luna Island, Jungle Lands, Golden Mountains, and the Eagle Kingdom unite to fight against the gods. So, it's up to Maya and her newly founded friends from different islands: Rico, a wizard from Luna Island, Chimi, a reclusive yet skillful archer from Jungle Lands, and Picchu, a Golden Mountain barbarian despite limited vocabulary has a profound, tragic backstory. Together, they form a team called Maya and The Three, and their adventures and battles against different gods tell the rest of the story.
...The humor is on point by then as well as some great dramatic moments are introduced near the last few episodes. Be it with Picchu's backstory or Lady Micte's reasoning behind abandoning Maya when she was an infant, and of course, a sacrifice made by Maya, in the end, would move any cynic around...
So, right off the bat, the voice cast here is superb. Zoe Saldana as Maya has the childlike enthusiasm of going to a battle locked down and also provides some heartfelt moments in the end. The other three warriors are also great, Rico voiced by Allen Maldonado, Chimi voiced by Stephanie Beatriz (who basically goes full Rosa-mode from Brooklyn 99), and Picchu voiced by a deep baritone Gabriel "Fluffy" Iglesias. The underworld gods are brilliantly distinguishable and uniquely designed, their voice cast compliments their looks as well especially Lord Mictlan by Alfred Molina, and Lady Micte voiced by Kate del Castillo. As aforementioned, the animation is vibrantly colorful, fast-paced, the battle sequences almost feel like Lucha Libre blending the style of anime. While it does have a shaky start as the humor is heavily reliant on slapstick in its initial episodes, the momentum picks up as soon as the adventures begin. The humor is on point by then as well as some great dramatic moments are introduced near the last few episodes. Be it with Picchu's backstory or Lady Micte's reasoning behind abandoning Maya when she was an infant, and of course, a sacrifice made by Maya, in the end, would move any cynic around.
It also is great to see the strong influences of Latin-Meso America shown here with distinctive cultures shown in each kingdom displayed. It's as if there's a lot of pride, and care shown whenever the world-building lore behind the warriors' home is told. With Coco, Book of Life, Encanto, and now Maya and The Three, it's evident that creators from Hollywood would love to tell stories from Latin-American regions and tell beautiful stories with exquisite animation.