Along with the War of Thorns’ update also comes the first of three animated shorts in a series called Warbringers.
The first focuses on Jaina Proudmoore, former Lady of Theramore & leader of the Kirin-Tor (Mage Guild).
First, let me just say that this animation gave me chills, I’ve watched it about 50 times and hum the tune around the house as I go about my day. Even at the time of writing, I find the lyrics still on my lips.
Powerfully emotional stuff. If you haven’t watched it yet do yourself a favour and check it out before reading on.
World of Warcraft Warbringer – Jaina
This animation goes in a very bold direction for Blizzard, leaning heavily on her Kul Tiran heritage by taking the form of a Sea Shanty folk song. To best appreciate the weight of the lyrics and the accompanying animation, a short history lesson is needed.
Jaina is the daughter of Grand Admiral Daelin Proudmoore, leader of Kul Tiras. He was a tactical genius and proud warrior, loved by his people he fought side by side with them and would not ask anything of those under his command he would not expect of himself.
His hatred of the Orcs and other Horde races consumed him, he believed they could never coexist and vowed to destroy them before they could set up on the continent of Kalimdor. He raided settlements up and down the coast until the Horde was able to defend themselves better, at which point he retreated to the isle of Theramore, where he was reunited with his daughter Jaina.
Daelin and Jaina disagreed on the threat of the Horde, she believed that peace was an option and when her father took influential Horde members prisoner she helped them escape. This would be Daelin’s undoing as he felt betrayed by his daughter, he doubled his efforts in establishing a naval blockade to cut off the Orcs supplies.
Daelin usurped his own daughter as leader of Theramore and prepared for a long and bloody war. The Horde laid siege to the island citadel and fought all the way to his keep. Thrall, affectionately known by WoW players as ‘Green Jesus’ begged Daelin to see reason, but ultimately the Grand Admiral stood his ground and was slain by Rexxar, a half-orc/half-ogre hybrid lone ranger with ties to the Horde.
As Jaina mourned her father, she cried out her frustration that he would not see reason, that his hatred blinded him, and that it cost so many lives on both sides. This betrayal is what we are hearing in the folk song during the animation. So great is the stain upon Jaina Proudmoore that her own people sing a song to remind them of the fallen hero, and his daughter who chose monsters over her own father.
A Change of Heart
To say Jaina has led a difficult life is a massive understatement. She was briefly romantically connected with Arthas before he went nuts, burnt down Stratholme and became the Lich King. She briefly considered following him and becoming the Lich Queen at his side.
Jaina saw her father die at the hands of Horde and accepted it as the price for potential peace. Only a few years later, she witnessed the new Warchief Garrosh Hellscream turn Theramore into a crater with a huge bomb during the events of the Cataclysm expansion. All of this she took with a grain of salt and kept the pursuit of peace in her heart.
Eventually, however, the events during Legion broke her. As the Horde was forced to fall back during the assault on the broken shore they exposed the Alliance and King Varian Wrynn, Anduin’s father, to the overwhelming demon forces. Varian fell and something inside Jaina snapped, the costs were finally too high and here we see what she has done with her time.
A Hatred Reborn
The sword and chain you see Jaina kneeling at were her fathers, as she accepts the mantle of responsibility. Finally, her father’s words reach her, she resigns herself to the fact that peace was never an option.
We see a haunting ship graveyard, bodies drift amongst the wreckages and broken sword jut forth from the shore like a grim reminder of her shame. Using her powerful arcane abilities she raises the scuttled Grand Admiral’s ship, magically restoring it she sets off home to Kul Tiras for the first time in a long time.
It is an amazing piece of animation and accompanying score and Laura Bailey does a brilliant job of bringing a haunted and ashamed vocal range that mirrors what the animation portrays. I’ve been a big fan of her work for quite some time, including Critical Role and Tabletop.
Jaina has had a makeover, shunning her usual Kirin Tor mage getup for a more typical Kul Tiras garb, hair plated to the side and a heavy coat and shawl wrapped around her. I have to say that the art team for Battle for Azeroth have done a great job on making ‘old’ zones and their style feel new and inspiring since we haven’t seen Kul Tiras since Warcraft 3.
There really is the look and feel or a hardy people, practical and hard working with a powerful naval influence. I can hardly wait to have my Demon Hunter kick around in an edgy knee-length leather coat.
With this video locked firmly on my favourite playlist, the only questions left to ask is ‘When can we look forward to the Queen Ashzara and Sylvanas Windrunner animations?’ And will they all be songs?
My guess is we will get a new animated chapter in the Warbringers series each week until Battle for Azeroth’s release, and I wouldn’t be disappointed in more songs.