By Sean Stanley, Staff Writer
Most people are aware of the power house Netflix has become in providing interesting and original content. Netflix has put out critically acclaimed original series dealing with everything from super-humans, to a con-man finding his way to the White House. In my opinion, this year they raised the bar.
I have been a fan of gritty, adult themed animation since I first saw the original animated series, Spawn, on HBO back in the 90s. This new animated show on Netflix brings me right back to that moment when I realized how powerful animation can be when telling a story.
Fair warning this show earns its TV-MA rating.
First, with the series adaptation of The Umbrella Academy, a comic created by once angsty emo pop idol Gerard Way of the band My Chemical Romance. And now with the a visually stunning and engaging anthology “Love, Death and Robots,” a collection of mind-blowing animated stories any sci-fi fan would love.
“Love, Death, and Robots” is the brainchild of the man who gave us the Ryan Reynolds Deadpool we all deserved, Tim Miller. With 18 episodes, each is animated in their own style, adding to the individual mood of every story.
While nearly every episode in this series is visually impressive, the episode Zima Blue follows an artist that paints the cosmos in order to find his purpose. A premise like this sets a high bar for its presentation. I may not know art, but I know what I like and I love aesthetic Zima Blue.
Call me biased. Since I just finished an astronomy class, but seeing some of these artistic interpretations of distant planets in galaxies I will never see, is something I can’t help but enjoy. The use of deep shades of black makes contrasting colors feel more vibrant and creates rigid boundaries. In his journey for meaning, the artist traverses the universe allowing the show to make alien landscapes a focal point of the episode.
I will admit the story in Zima Blue feels light, but ends with some powerful thoughts about our place in the universe. While not every art style seemed as… “artistic” as Zima Blue, they each add a certain level to the mood of each episode.
The episode “The Witness” follows a woman as she runs through the city after witnessing a murder. Yet, it feels like we never quite know what is going on, which is reflected in the art style. The animation style immediately reminded me of the early 2000’s film “A Scanner Darkly,” which was animated using rotoscope ( a technique that takes a live actor and allows an artist to animate over them).
The shifting water color like images move and distort over the — what I assume are — green-screen body suits of the actor. This style and the story work in tandem to keep the watcher guessing about what is really going on. This show has a TV-MA rating and at one point the story moves into some type of VR brothel.
I would like to sum this series up for you, but I can’t.
With every episode being different from the next, no matter which three episodes I tell you about, they would still only represent a small portion of what this series has to offer. From sentient yogurt to a sanity shattering horror that may be laying at the edges of our universe and even a full episode of different ways the world could have gone if Hitler had died before World War 2 (I’ll tell you now, it’s a comedy piece and its graphic).
“Love, Death, and Robots” is not only a great example of how engaging short story format can be, but displays how diverse and impressive animation has become.
While I think the whole of the show my not appeal to everyone, if you enjoy Sci-Fi this series has something for you. Again got to stress the TV-MA rating.