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Anime / Super Crooks (2021)

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Super Crooks is a Capepunk heist anime based on the comic Supercrooks by Mark Millar. It was directed by Dai Satō, written by Motonobu Hori, animated by Studio BONES, with music by Towa Tei.

The show is a Spin-Off of Jupiter's Legacy. It focuses on a group of superpowered criminals who drum up huge heists. The crew is comprised of:

  • Johnny Bolt, the protagonist, a man who once had dreams of using his electricity powers for heroism. But after causing a tragic incident in his hometown, he falls into a life of petty crime.
  • Kasey, Johnny's beautiful and more sensibly ambitious girlfriend, who has psychic abilities.
  • The Heat/Carmine, Kacey's elderly mentor who, in his prime, was reputed as a formidable villain despite having no powers of his own.
  • Sammy and Roddy Diesel, a pair of brothers with powerful Healing Factors.
  • The Ghost, a Gentleman Thief with the power of intangibility.
  • TK McCabe, a telekinetic and Johnny's friend from prison.
  • Forecast, a cheery man who can manipulate the weather.

Together, they try to pull off their thefts while steering clear of both the Union of Justice and the villainous Network, a secret organization of supervillains who have small-time crooks under their thumb.

The 13-episode anime was released on Netflix on November 25, 2021.

Tropes in this show:

  • Adaptational Superpower Change: The Heat in the comics has fire manipulation powers. In the animated version, he's got no powers at all.
  • Adaptation Deviation:
    • The setting for the Bastard heist is Japan instead of Spain. More specifically, it's an island close to Japan.
    • Both the Praetorian and the Gladiator work together to capture Johnny Bolt and his friends. The comic only had the Gladiator accomplishing this.
    • For some reason, the Bastard's favorite Mondrian is changed from one of the Tableaus to Broadway Boogie-Woogie.
    • Gladiator's motivation is changed slightly from the comics in the anime. Instead of being an Armored Closet Gay who sleeps around on the downlow (like in the comics), he's out and married to a man — but still sleeps around on the downlow. Johnny still blackmails him into joining the crew, but by threatening to reveal his indiscretions rather than his sexuality.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Ghost is straw-blond in the comic but silvery blond in the anime, which helps visually distinguish him from Sammy.
    • The Gladiator's criminal costume is pink in the comic, but red in the anime.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The animated version expands on how each characters know one another, and the events leading to the original storyline.
    • The Bastard heist itself is more complicated in the anime, with the characters having to face off against gun-toting Ninja mooks and dabbling in Hollywood Hacking.
  • Ascended Extra: Due to the Adaptation Expansion, everyone gets more to do than they did in the original comic, but special mention goes to Johnny's old crew (Frostbite, Kismet, and Transmit) who go from one-panel characters to a group that gets to do two low-level heists with Johnny.
  • Bag of Holding: The Bastard's space-case looks like an ordinary briefcase on the outside. However, it is actually a four-dimensional container capable of storing an entire warehouse worth of gold.
  • Bald Head of Toughness: The animation takes time to focus on the bald head of Gladiator, a brawny and powerful superhero, such emphasizing how it shines when he leaps out of the water.
  • Berserk Button: The Bastard hates surprises. Makes sense given some control freak tendencies he has, especially in his later years. Poor Count Orlok learned this the hard way. Especially harsh since the two of them used to be friends a long time ago.
  • Beware the Superman: On the villains side, The Bastard can make people's heads explode any time he pleases from a distance and makes liberal use of it; he also runs most of the villain activity in the world and has many authority figures in his pocket. On the "hero" side Rubberball starts destroying residential buildings, crushing cars and tearing up roads in an attempt to catch Johnny and his friends, who to that point hadn't harmed anyone. The Praetorian starts murdering innocent bystanders the second he's off security cameras and is working for The Bastard. Even true heroes such as The Union of Justice and Gladiator, barely think twice about property damage.
  • Break the Fake: Episode 8 has the gang breaking into the Union of Justice's headquarters to steal a villain's helmet. They are discovered by the Praetorian who destroys the helmet and reveals that it, along with other items on display in the building are replicas of the real deal which are stored in underground vaults.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Inside the Bastard’s vault, when the crew’s superpowers are nullified, Preatorian still easily beats up Johny and his accomplices. Then a depowered Gladiator fairly easily beats up Preatorian.
  • The Caper:
    • The first act involves Johnny and his friends doing a low-level plan to rob several jewelry stores.
    • The second act starts with Carmine recruiting the group to infiltrate a superhero headquarters, in order to retrieve a helmet of an old villain. They pull it off, if barely, but it doesn't last, and it was All for Nothing in the end.
    • The third act of the anime adapts the original comic story where Johnny rallies the gang himself five years later. This time, to steal a valuable suitcase from The Dreaded Christopher Matts, AKA The Bastard, as revenge for the last heist.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Heat, as in the comics, is an elderly ally who uses a heat gun. Unlike his comics counterpart, he had a decent career in villainy without the need of superpowers. He's also able to make successful robberies and heists without the need to kill anyone.
  • Convicted by Public Opinion: Surprisingly rare for stories where a big bad has great publicity, it actually doesn't take Johnny and the crew taking down the Praetorian once and for all to crush his fake persona in the eyes of the public. While he is acquitted of the charges, at some point during the period of the time skip he has been exposed for his crimes with many citizens sure of his guilt even after trial. Some even go as far as saying they knew he was a villain, suggesting that his public image was actually see-through to lots of people.
  • Creator Provincialism: The Bastard heist's setting moving from Spain to Japan allows the Japanese writer, director, and animators to include many Japanese cultural hallmarks.
  • Disaster Dominoes: In the first episode. Johnny accidentally electrocuting dozens of poolgoers is terrible by itself. But then the confused crowd runs out into the streets and causes a multi-car crash, including a truck that crashes into and collapses a church, killing the congregation inside. And then another confused truckdriver sees this, his truck is thrown into the air, and he lands right back at the public pool, causing even more damage.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Kasey doesn't strictly speaking have a problem making money through crime; it's just that Johnny's usual capers don't make that much money a piece and are likely to land him in prison. Instead, she wants to focus on one single lucrative heist the score of which she can invest into a comfortable future.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Kasey has long hair for the first two acts, but has cut it into an approximately shoulder-length bob five years later.
  • Extranormal Prison: Supermax Prison ostensibly is a prison for villains, as it suppresses many superpowers, and inmates are electrocuted if they misbehave. However, they're in the pocket of the villainous Network and Christopher Matts.
  • Fanservice: Equal opportunity fanservice even. The opening theme features Kasey, a beautiful, buxom blonde, as well as Johnny, a handsome, dapper man in sharp clothing, dancing along to the song.
  • Fat Best Friend: As a kid, Johnny had a chubby best friend named Tom who stuck by him as he discovered his powers and tried to help him make his superhero debut. Post-turn to villainy, Tom disappears from the story until the very end, now a considerably slimmer reporter who covers the Union of Justice. Johnny sends him a photo of the crew holding Matts' haul, knowing he'll publish it and Matts will learn about it.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Bastard can convincingly put on a facade of pleasantness when he wants to but the slightest provocation can cause him to flip out and kill someone, often for the pettiest of reasons. To say he has no regard for human life is an understatement.
  • Finger-Snap Lighter: In addition to the traditional "snapping your fingers to light a cig" version, Johnny holds his palm over a cigarette and uses his Shock and Awe powers to light it. He later lights TK's cigarette from a distance.
  • First-Episode Twist: The first episode is built like a standard superhero origin. An ordinary youth discovers he has powers, dreams of becoming a hero, and strives to make a hero debut. But he decides to debut his Shock and Awe powers at a public pool, things get exceedingly bad from there, and he falls into a life of crime instead.
  • Genius Bruiser: Roddy Diesel graduated from Princeton with a degree in Astrophysics. He puts his share of the loot towards developing a time machine.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Roddy and Sammy have regenerative healing factors and put them to very good use; they're frequently losing limbs and taking injuries that would kill a normal person dozens of times over, and can tank hits by Gladiator due to their Healing Factor. At one point, Sammy jumps head-first into a plane's propeller and gets turned into a bloody mist, but he's alive the next time we see him.
  • Hidden Depths: Roddy actually has a PhD in Astrophysics and his proposal for a time machine is based on real (in-universe) science.
  • Hookers and Blow: The "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue explains that while Roddy put his share of the haul towards high-level academic research, Sammy spent it all on hedonistic pursuits.
  • Legion of Doom:
    • Presently, the Bastard maintains the aptly-named Network, an organization of supervillains who keep tabs on each others' activities.
    • In the past, The Heat and Count Orlok were two founding members of another Legion, the Syndicate, comprised of several villains during its heyday. The Heat mentions that Legions of Doom normally don't work out because villains are prone to infighting and backstabbing each other. After the Heat tries to help Count Orlok make a comeback, their third founding member — the Bastard — shows up and kills Orlok.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Johnny and the main crew are villains, but on the "petty criminal" end of the scale. Going up against an international supervillain crime lord who relishes in torturing people makes them look like nice people in comparison.
  • Lightning Lash: Roddy fights the Gladiator using a whip that channels electric currents.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kasey, again.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Gladiator doesn't join the heist for the money, nor does he care about screwing over Matts. He hates the thought of working with villains and only does so because they're blackmailing him and he wants to get back at Praetorian for besmirching the superhero name. Indeed, Gladiator lets Praetorian give the rest of the team a beating before stepping in and easily handing Praetorian's ass to him.
  • Oh, Crap!: For most of the show, Praetorian is comfortably smug that he'll be able to beat Johnny and his allies. But when he sees that Johnny's last teammate standing is his powerful former teammate Gladiator, his face morphs into one of abject terror and he tries to scramble away.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Necromancer (if the illusion is anything to go by) fits the trope.
  • Plot Armor: Johnny and the gang escape with The Bastard's loot without him touching a hair on their heads. This is the same man who once took the time to track down every person that had ever met someone who stole from him, but he makes little to no effort to investigate the heist of his loot in this story, taking a photo sent to the press at face value and killing the wrong people without even bothering to check to see if they had really done it.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Like most of Millar's works, the anime had to take many liberties and changes to adapt it for a wider audience. While it still maintains a darkly comedic tone, a lot of the author's usual cynicism and over-the-top crassness is absent from the anime. In particular, most of the gay jokes at Gladiator's expense were removed and his intentionally pink heist costume was changed to red.
  • Repeat Cut: Happens when the Bastard makes Kasey’s head explode, unaware that it was an illusion she put on him, with the camera cutting to a couple more angles of the same moment.
  • Shock and Awe: Johnny has powers over electricity. While he sometimes goes for good old-fashioned electrocution, he can also use it to control electronic devices of all sorts, from ATM machines to planes.
  • Shout-Out:
    • A lot of traits about the Praetorian, both physical and power-wise, are reminiscent of characters in Jojo's Bizarre Adventure (particularly characters from the first three arcs of that series).
  • Smoking Hot Sex: Johnny has a smoke after a reunion tryst with his girlfriend Kasey.
  • Spanner in the Works: Carmine's plan might have gone off without a hitch had Praetorian — a "superhero" in league with the Network — (a) not gone to the bathroom while the other Union of Justice members left to deal with their fake Zombie Apocalypse and (b) had Super-Hearing as his randomly activated power.
  • Spin-Off: It's set within the world of Jupiter's Legacy, with the Utopian and the Union of Justice is a big part of the setting (even showing up in person later on) but follows an otherwise unrelated set of characters.
  • The Starscream: Invoked by Johnny, who frames the Bastard's successor Salamander and his henchmen for the heist by dressing up the crew in their supervillain costumes to make Salamander look like a traitorous second-in-command. This is a deviation from the comic, which didn't hint that the Bastard was related to the casino owners the Heat was indebted to.
  • Start of Darkness:
    • The first episode serves as the criminal protagonist's origin story. Upset at causing a terrible incident that hurt many people, Johnny realizes he can use his electricity powers for the crime instead when he accidentally triggers a nearby ATM to release money. Smash Cut to him being an adult criminal in jail.
    • Subverted by the Bastard, the world's top supervillain. During his farewell speech, he relates that his villain career probably started when he killed his mother...but then says he was probably a terrible person from the start.
  • Technopath: Downplayed. Though he doesn't have the ability to manipulate technology fully, Johnny's electricity powers give him some control over electronic devices by messing with their circuitry.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Played With. Many minor villains toe the line religiously since they do not want the kind of heat hurting, or worse, murdering people would bring. Many heroes on the other hand show vanishingly little regard for life and property, willing to engage in acts that could potentially kill a whole bunch of people.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: One year later, we get a look at the crew and what they're up to now just like the source material did:
    • Tk took his family on a vacation to Asia with a yacht he paid for in cash.
    • Forecast invested in space venture so he can use weather satellites to measure the scope of his powers.
    • Ghost took advantage of the financial crisis in Greece and bought most of the land there with his government connections.
    • Roddy surprised everyone by investing his fortune into the time machine designs he was working on. Turns out he wasn't lying about having a degree in temporal physics from Princeton University.
    • Sammy on the other hand invested his money in booze and women.
    • Gladiator went clean about his affairs and his husband forgave him, leading to a beautiful renewal of vows. His popularity and status are still positive today.
    • Free of debt, Carmine used his wealth in Manila, gambling and indulging in luxury.
    • As for Johnny and Kasey, he ended up proposing to her again. She playfully teases she'll think about it, but he knows her answer is yes.
  • Wicked Cultured: Supervillain Matts keeps Piet Mondrian paintings in his office and waxes philosophical about the art's abstractions and meanings. Later, Kacey accuses him of putting up a facade of classiness to hide how despicable and empty he is.
  • Winds of Destiny, Change!: Kismet's power is to induce bad luck around him.
  • With Friends Like These...: Johnny's crew are also his friends. Really they are buddies that run heists together. Unfortunately, a devastating lack of foresight and planning means that they have screwed him over on more than one occasion. The most notable is getting Johnny thrown into the slammer, causing him to miss his wedding to Kasey, which also ruined their relationship.
  • Your Head Asplode: The Bastard can increase the pressure inside a person’s head and cause it to explode, which he inflicts on anyone he can physically see in his sight. What seemingly happens to Kasey in the finale, except it turns out to be one of the Bastard's men.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Invoked by the crew, who use TK's telekinesis and Forecast's Weather Manipulation to draw corpses out of their graves and move towards civilians in hordes. They pin it on a "resurrected" necromancer villain in order to draw the Union of Justice away from their headquarters. Lampshaded repeatedly, as a reporter compares it to Dawn of the Dead (1978), Forecast namedrops George A. Romero, and Paragon likens it to Call of Duty: Zombies. The couple who are in the graveyard when the whole thing kicks off even look like Johnny and Barbara from Night of the Living Dead (1968).

Alternative Title(s): Super Crooks