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The Animation Series Families Are Binging On Netflix

Tis the season for dark and spooky Halloween favorites, but there's another holiday right around the corner: Día de los Muertos, otherwise known as the Day of the Dead. Back in 2014, the gorgeously animated movie "The Book of Life" brought this Mexican holiday to life with its tale of a love triangle twisted by meddling gods and a journey through the afterlife. 

Now, after dazzling everyone with that movie's visuals, "The Book of Life" director Jorge R. Gutiérrez has brought another animated story rich in color and style to audiences, that has a little underworld action to liven up the season. This time, the adventure is not in a theater but at home, in a nine-part series on Netflix called "Maya and the Three." 

The new kids' cartoon series brings back the voices from "The Book of Life" – Zoe Saldana (Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) plays the titular Princess Maya and Diego Luna (Cassian Andor in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story") is Zatz, the Prince of Bats. This time, our story takes us through the jungle to the fictional Teca Kingdom in Mesoamerica, where the adventurous and rebellious princess Maya (Saldana) is more enthusiastic about pit fighting than her coronation day. She's stronger than she looks, but is perhaps a little overconfident and reckless, which only serves to deepen the conflict between her and her mother, Queen Teca (Sandra Equihua), in a relationship that is reminiscent of another animated tale, Pixar's "Brave."

 "Maya and the Three" is charming audiences, both young and old, and has climbed up to Netflix's Top 10 in the U.S after its October 22 debut. Here's why everyone is watching it.

Critics and audiences alike are delighted by Maya and the Three

However, in "Maya and the Three," everything isn't thrilling wrestling matches and fancy outfits — as there's also a prophecy looming over the Teca Kingdom and an underworld full of jeering dark gods who want Maya for their own. Thus, Maya sets out on her adventure, on which she meets interesting new friends and fights an array of unique gods. It's the setting here that really shines, as it's inspired by the indigenous cultures and mythology of Latin America, gorgeously rendered in rich and whimsical 3D animation.

"Every scene in 'Maya and the Three' is a feast for the eyes," Lovia Gyarkye wrote for The Hollywood Reporter in a review. "Gutiérrez's masterful screenplay succeeds at teasing out the stress [Maya and Queen Teca's] arguments put on their relationship without dumbing down the dialogue (a pitfall of many shows geared toward kids)." Meanwhile, in a review for Variety, Caroline Framke wrote, "While the setup feels familiar, though, the setting is anything but for a television project of this scale ... imbuing this particular tale of misfits making a noble pilgrimage with a history and timbre all its own." In particular, Framke praised the deep character building for the three characters who join Maya on her journey and become protagonists in their own right. "It's an epic, in all senses of the word, with a palpable love for its world that proves hard to resist."

Evidently, by the way "Maya and the Three" has rocketed up the Netflix Top 10, audiences aren't resisting this lovely new animated series.