If you think about it, Brian Jacques' Redwall series is perfect for a cartoon series -- you've got action, adventure, a hint of romance and lots of fuzzy animals. "Redwall: The Adventure Begins" is a solid first half to this animated adaptation, and it has a mellow medieval charm and optimism, as well as some endearing rodent creatures. The only problem is the "to be continued" ending.
Set in the middle of Mossflower Woods, Redwall Abbey is a place of peace and cooperation between all creatures that dwell there. But then the cruel sea rat Cluny appears and demands that the abbey surrender to him, and all its inhabitants become his slaves. A clumsy young monk named Matthias (whose family was murdered by Cluny) openly defies him -- and Cluny swears to get Redwall somehow.
Cluny and his allies begin a sneak assault on Redwall -- he sends his spy Shadow, infiltrates via a circus troupe, tries to tunnel into the abbey, and steals part of an inspiring tapestry. But Matthias, his friend Cornflower, and the elderly monk Methusaleh are searching for the sword of the legendary Martin the Warrior, founder of Redwall. Unfortunately, finding the sword will take Matthas into some deadly places outside the abbey...
"Redwall: The Adventure Begins" is only the first half of the story, ending on a positive but definitely unfinished note. But it's an entertaining little adventure story that happens to star mice, badgers, sparrows, rabbits, snakes and rats -- and it it maintains the warm, medieval flavor of Jacques' original novel, as well as the feeling that this is a world where good really does win.
Along the way, it has plenty of sword fights, skullduggery, danger ("Assssmodeeeeeuuus.... I will show you eternity!") and a budding romance between Matthias and Cornflower. The writers do a good job both with Cluny's continued assaults on Redwall, and Matthias' quest for Martin's sword (even as he discovers his own destiny as Redwall's next champion).
The major problem? It feels a bit... kiddiesque. It's very recognizably aimed at children, especially since Cluny isn't a very terrifying villain.
These six episodes also had a large cast of rodents and other animals that are usually pretty endearing -- Matthias is an endearing little mouse who dreams of glory, and gradually discovers that glory only comes from conflict. There's also the sweet Cornflower, kindly old Methusaleh, the feisty badger Constance, the quirky "sparras," and the bombastic Basil Stag Hare.
"Redwall: The Adventure Begins" is only half the story, but it's a pleasant, down-to-earth little animated story for anyone who enjoyed the adventures in Redwall Abbey. Fun and cute.