Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir is a French cartoon, created by Zagtoon and Method Animation in conjunction with Toei Animation (Sailor Moon, One Piece) and South Korean studio SAMG Animation. Although it premiered in South Korea, its primary distributor is the French television network, TF1. Its original airdate is listed as September 2015 and in the United States it first aired on Nickelodeon before moving to Netflix beginning with the 2016 Christmas Special.
(Believe it or not, all that background information is important to this post.)
Okay, so what is it about? *SOFT SPOILERS AHEAD*
Well, it is about the teenage superhero Ladybug and her partner, Cat Noir (Chat Noir (“Black Cat”) in France) as they combat the evil machinations of Hawkmoth (Papillion (“Butterfly”) in France). Hawkmoth is looking to get Ladybug and Cat Noir’s Miraculouses, the items that make them superheroes. The Ladybug and Cat Noir Miraculouses are considered the most powerful and acquiring them will enable Hawkmoth to get his greatest wish. Hawkmoth has his own Miraculous, one that gives him the power to take control of people’s anger and turn them into supervillains. He uses them to try and take the other Miraculouses.
The show has global distribution and, most recently, won a Teen Choice Award this past summer. Last year, there were plans for 5-6 seasons and a live action movie with Lionsgate. So, what’s the problem? Well, as I mentioned, the show originally aired 2015-16, with a Christmas Special in 2016. The fanbase, although somewhat obscure, is huge and passionate and was deeply looking forward to season two… which didn’t premier in France until the end of October 2017.
It didn’t come to the US until the end of March 2018.
Okay, so shows have hiatuses, what’s the problem? Well, here we are almost a year later and France’s sporadic airdates have resulted in only 16 episodes airing in France, 13 in the US (the remaining 12 are expected to drop on Netflix this December), of an expected 25 episodes. Now, Miraculous isn’t the first show to be so sporadic. In the US, fans of Adventure Time (2010-2018), Star vs. The Forces of Evil (2015-), and especially Steven Universe (2013-) have long been frustrated by long hiatuses. However, these shows aired more episodes more close together before their hiatuses, though they too fall out of interest over time.
Adventure Time was a huge success for Cartoon Network, but I hardly hear about it anymore, even though the SERIES FINALE literally just aired this week. Star vs. The Forces of Evil was another popular show, but over a year hiatus between seasons led that to fall out of high interest. Steven Universe has aired sporadically enough that the rabid fanbase has stayed consistent. Miraculous, with its grand plans of a global franchise, does not have this luxury.
Miraculous relies on when it airs in France. Episodes here and there will premier earlier in other countries, but in the US, the episodes will not be released until a certain number have aired in France. Now, this would not be a problem were it not for the grand plans Zagtoon has for its property. Despite its Teen Choice Award win, it has yet to gain a strong foothold in the US. While the United States is not the be all and end all, it is a huge producer and exporter of entertainment properties.
Additionally, for many of these shows, while they are meant for children, the most excited and excitable fans are adults. However, it’s merchandise that sells. Cartoon Network does it best, flooding stores with toys, apparel, school supplies, etc to get children not only buying but keeping the show in the public interest. Essentially, in absence of content, the goal is to keep visibility across the market.
Although I cannot imagine a scenario in which Miraculous and Zagtoon are not reliant on TF1, the unpredictable hiatuses in conjunction with a season of controversy has frustrated and alienated fans. The first season, which has less continuity was a huge success for everyone, but did not rely on a constant schedule, though it did have that. After years of waiting, fans are impatient and frustrated and the release schedule is only exacerbating the problem.
This “Miraculous” Mistake is costing the show.
I’m not at all familiar with the French Entertainment Industry, but it seems like a great disservice is being done to what was an ambitious and creative project to begin with. I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done to rectify it beyond TF1 just airing the episodes (which are ready to be released in multiple languages). My concern is that the show will be canceled before it can accomplish all it looks to. I’ve had my own frustrations with the content, but have tried to remain optimistic that, given enough time and episodes, the show will return to and surpass the quality of the first season. Perhaps in another post I can better address my opinions on the show itself, but for now, it’s difficult to move past the frustrations.
I’d like to close this post by giving you a taste of the show. The Pilot Video, which demonstrates a greater amount of influence from Toei Animation, and a Trailer for what has actually aired/been released. (Believe it or not, the 45 second Netflix trailer is a better representation than the original 2 minute one.)