Tales of Frost Cricket, a podcast series by the Cave Goblin Network, harkens back to tales told around the fire. Each episode immerses the listener into a different tale within the fantasy world of Frost Cricket. The podcast follows her journey as a former bureaucrat (or “prefect”), as she steps out of her comfort zone to explore the world outside of her safe Celestial City walls. It’s a world filled with creatures that inhabit dead bodies, demons that run cultish communes in deep forests and dragons that darken the night.
However, Frost Cricket is not the stereotype of the typical fantasy protagonist. For one, she is an older woman, a group rarely represented as the hero in the genre. Instead, they are usually relegated to the oft repeated tropes of the wise old mentor, the kindly grandmother, or the crone with evil powers. Secondly, she is a multidimensional character — unlike the aforementioned roles — being kind enough to hold a dying soldier, in one tale, while still looting and betraying a dragon royal in another. She even has her moments of weakness, such as cruelly bashing a cult-leader demon’s head. She can be quick-witted and powerful in one story, but also foolish in another tale. I could see myself in her — especially in the first episode, when she decides to step back from her beloved work in law administration, succumbing to wanderlust.
Her tales don’t only fit into the fantasy elements, though — some serve as a great allegory for our modern times, as fairy tales often do. Of this, the tale “The Philosopher Demon” is most fitting. It tells the story of a demon that lures people into the forest, under the guise of achieving enlightenment. However, he is only using people to gather food for him so that he doesn’t have to work. Eerily, his followers get thinner, are told not to think and to trust his “alternative” facts. The philosopher demon meets his end at the hands of Frost Cricket through a violent bashing, though after she tried to reason with him and his followers. Although I am personally against violence, I understand Frost Cricket’s actions. By removing the source of these untruths, like removing misleading Facebook ads, we can hope to prevent any further damage.
The podcast itself is rich in the way it conveys each tale. Each story crafts a vivid image through creative voice acting, beautiful music, and sound effects that enhance the atmosphere — I feel like I’m listening to a darker Studio Ghibli story. I can feel the genuine love the creators put into the stories in the series, it creates new and original tales that aren’t just alternative retelling of common fables.