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A REVIEW By Piper Testa

  When I first heard of Nimona, I wrote it off as just another Netflix movie in an ocean of animated works being produced and pushed out. However, I am glad that I finally got around to watching it.

  The movie follows Ballister Boldheart, a knight being framed for causing the death of Queen Valerin during his knighthood. Ballister meets a girl named Nimona, a shape-shifter with a knack for chaos and destruction, when she finds his hideout and later helps him escape imprisonment. Together, they travel around the Kingdom causing trouble as they try to prove Ballister’s innocence and find out who is truly responsible for the Queen’s death. In addition, Ballister’s relationship with Ambrosius Goldenloin and Nimona’s non-gender-conformity and her fluidity with shapeshifting add a deeper touch to the story.

  Nimona originated as a Tumblr webcomic drawn by ND Stevenson. His characters and story gained such popularity online that it was later adapted into a graphic novel. The animated movie was directed by Troy Quane and Nick Bruno, who fought for the movie’s release. Between animation studios shutting down and companies being nervous about the LGBTQ+ themes, Nimona was almost scrapped before it was picked up by Annapurna Pictures and distributed by Netflix.

  More specifically, the relationship between the two main male characters Ballister and Ambrosius and a kiss scene involving them as well as the main character being non-gender conforming. How Nimona is portrayed is meant to show how identity is fluid and changing, that it is not necessary to constrict oneself to one identity to have for the rest of their life.

  When it comes to the LGBTQ+ representation, the plot does not revolve around the fact that Ballister and Ambrosius are gay. The relationship simply exists, as would any other, and if anything, it just shows that the characters had a history which clarifies why the tension is high between them when they reunite. I feel that this is the right way to go about it, as so many instances of queer relationships in movies or shows don’t treat it as if it were a normal relationship by making it the main plot point or only characteristics of the characters or hidden and treated as if they weren’t.

  I ended up falling in love with the chaotic character Nimona and her escapades with Ballister. Their shenanigans always made me smile and their familial relationship that  develops throughout the movie is heartwarming. Their banter is endearing and the adventures they go on are interesting, not just in action but also in the humorous situations they end up falling into. 

  At some points, the movie seems a bit too silly, and at first the animation style didn't help. There's a moment where Ballister and Nimona agree to work together, and when they go to shake on it, she shifts into a shark. She acts oblivious to the change, insisting that she's a shark, and ends up forcing Ballister to shake hands (or “fins”) with her in this form. While this does show the important first steps of their friendship, it takes away from the seriousness of their situation and what is causing them to team up in the first place.  

  Yet, the serious scenes as well as the messages help balance out the goofiness of some parts of the movie.The movie touches upon some important and heavier topics like identity and living true to oneself. Nimona describes what it's like for her to stop shapeshifting, how uncomfortable it is for her to not be who or what she wants to be. When asked what would happen if she never shifts, she first jokes that she would die but then afterwards she remarks, “I wouldn't die die, I just sure wouldn't be living.” For Nimona, not being able to be who she is and who she wants to be, not being able to shift, wouldn’t feel like living to her. It wouldn’t feel like she's living her life.

  Nimona is a captivating movie with characters that aren’t hard to fall in love with and an emotional rollercoaster of a story. Even if the story does not sound appealing, then the silly shenanigans and lovable characters will make the watch worthwhile.