I don’t think anyone predicted Netflix making a Dota anime.

We’ve had webcomics, limited-time events, and even the battlepass Immortal cosmetic descriptions playing a significant role in expanding the Dota 2 lore we have today, but never in my wildest dreams did I expect an animated show based on Dota 2 to ever exist. 

So when Netflix was kind enough to give me early access to DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, you can be sure I immediately binge-watched all eight episodes.

Before you settle down and binge DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, keep in mind the show is classified as M18+. So if you were expecting a light-hearted fantasy anime like Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra (which was made by the same animation studio, Studio MIR) guess again.

This is way closer to Netflix’s Castlevania in style and tone, and there are even a few casual F-bombs thrown out. Honestly, it was a little jarring at first, but I got used to it after a few episodes.

So what’s the show about? Without spoiling anything, it follows the two main characters, Davion the Dragon Knight and Mirana the Princess of the Moon. Davion slays dragons for a living (obviously) while Mirana is out on a mission to recover Selemene, the Goddess of the Moon’s stolen lotuses. We discover through Davion that dragons are much more than just killing machines whilst at the same time learn why Mirana chose to commit herself to Selemene.

One thing that concerned me at first was that the show has a total runtime of just three hours and 20 minutes over eight episodes. Was the plot going to feel rushed?

Fortunately, my fears were unfounded. The pacing felt just right, it was fast but straightforward. Thank you Studio Mir for not inserting long plot-heavy monologues or side plots that go nowhere. I wouldn’t have minded some extra details here and there, but I always felt like I understood enough before the show moved on to the next scene.

Dota 2, Sensual Selemene
Credit: Netflix

A show based on Dota will obviously have its fair share of fight scenes, and I have to praise Studio Mir here with how well they managed to recreate the visceral feel of combat in the Dota universe through some incredibly well-animated action scenes. Combat was smooth, easy to follow, and downright brutal at times. And yes, there’s buckets of blood — M18+ indeed.

Dota 2, Dragon's Blood Mirana
Credit: Netflix

As a big-time lore nerd, one minor complaint I have with the show is that, while we do learn most of the important aspects of the show’s characters, we don’t get any of the juicy nitty-gritty stuff that I was hoping for. To be fair, with only eight episodes, that’s probably fair, but I do hope we learn more in Book 2 (yes, this season is listed as Book 1, so there’s almost certainly going to be a Book 2 a.k.a. Season 2).

Even so, I did enjoy learning more about the personalities the show does spend time on. The contrast between Mirana and Luna, Davion’s ambitions, understanding Selemene’s role in the realm, why dragons exist, and even Invoker’s backstory were all fascinating insights into Dota lore.

As a Dota fan, I really enjoyed watching DOTA: Dragon’s Blood, and I think you will too. Hardcore fans will enjoy all of the ‘aha!’ moments spotting in-game items and additional cameos sprinkled in throughout the show.

While this is a must-watch for all Dota fans, I would say there’s plenty here to enjoy even if you’re not familiar with Dota. The show is action-packed, fun, and has a great storyline that has me eagerly anticipating Season 2.

Be prepared to binge it all in one session, because once you start, you won’t want to stop.

Verdict: A must-watch for any Dota fan, but accessible enough and super enjoyable for non-fans too.

READ MORE: Every major character you can expect to see in Netflix’s Dota: Dragon’s Blood anime