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Web Animation / HANDS UP (Joel G)

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The main heroines of HANDS UP. Left: Ula. Right: Margo.

HANDS UP is an animated series by Joel Guerra and Brian Zavala. The series follows the lives of Ula and Margo, two alien cops and Vitriolic Best Buds, and how they interact with each other on and off the job, often accompanied by groovy, rhythmic music that's usually relevant to whatever scenario is going on. One episode could be a typical slice of life, while the next could be a mini-musical.

While not quite as surreal as Guerra's other web series, ENA, it does have its own share of out-there moments, and the HANDS UP short "Elevator" was as an immediate precursor to the style of random trippiness that would set the tone for the ENA series, which premiered a month afterwards. Coincidentally, both series feature Lizzie Freeman voicing some of the main characters (Ula, Sad ENA and Moony).

All of the shorts can be viewed here, though the playlist isn't in chronological order.

HANDS UP includes examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Margo (which is less common but still a real name) and Ula.
  • Alien Blood: Margo appears to have purple blood, as evidenced after she shoots herself in the head in a rigged Russian Roulette bet.
  • Animation Bump: While the series always had expressive animation, it gradually got smoother as it continued, eventually drawing comparisons to Studio TRIGGER.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Margo was not happy about a shape-shifting serial killer finding her scent vomit-inducing after she tried to seduce him into a trap.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: In the ending of "Rhythm N' Ambush", both Margo and the serial killer are perfectly able to survive in deep space without issues, sans her being mildly annoyed by the inconvenience.
  • The Bet: The titular episode features Margo and Ula (though mostly Margo) playing a game of Russian Roulette, of all things, to decide on what to get for dinner. If the gun fired, they'd order pizza; if not, they'd get donuts instead. Margo wins; but given the stipulation, and how quickly the gun went off, it can be assumed she cheated when Ula was distracted.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": When Ula and Margo get into another argument in front of Chief Morgan, the chief, already at his wits end with them, loudly silences them, to the point where a giant gust of wind blows through the girls' house, despite Morgan being present as a hologram.
    Chief Morgan: SILENCE! ENOUGH from BOTH of you!
  • Da Chief: Chief Colton Morgan, who has little patience for Margo and Ula's antics.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Almost the entirety of "The Perfect Date." Who knew Margo was that in love with pizza?
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Being a policewoman, Ula's obsession with donuts is a reference to this trope.
  • Eldritch Location: The tall building in "The Void" and "Elevator" appears to be a space-time (and fourth-wall-breaking) anomaly of sorts.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "Elevator," one of the screens shows a shot of Ami from Gwain Saga.
  • Giant Spider: The serial killer's true form in "Rhythm N' Ambush" is that of a six legged spider-like creature.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: According to Joel Guerra, Margo is immortal. She tends to get into comedic accidents (such as falling off a building). Margo also uses this to her advantage in a rigged Russian Roulette bet, shooting herself knowing that she'd easily survive it.
  • Goth: Margo exhibits the fashion sense and some of the basic traits of the "Gloomy Goth" archetype (Moody and snarky), but otherwise averts it.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Ula to Margo, though this doesn't become apparent until "The Void". She resents the fact that Margo is more popular than her, despite being a moody slacker who does nothing but eat pizza all the time.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Margo, natch. Even her hair is green! (though she's dyed it on at least one occasion).
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Margo is implied to be in one in "Elevator," given how the episode begins and ends with her in the same place. It's unclear how she managed to break free from it.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: At the end of her rant in "The Void," Ula declares that she just wants some love too, before breaking down into a Wangst-y mess which fails at making the two cops stuck with her change their mind.
  • Jabba Table Manners: As "The Perfect Date" shows, Margo is such a messy eater, she actually manages to get an entire pizza all over herself... and all over her house! Ula, naturally, is not amused.
  • Jerkass: Margo is lazy, narcissistic and incredibly rude to Ula and others, including their Chief.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ula isn't as above Margo as she thinks she is, but she's respectful to authority and takes her job of protecting people and catching criminals seriously. Likewise, Margo, despite being AWOL at the beginning of the mission, actively goes to rescue Ula herself when it's clear she's in serious trouble.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Margo's status as the most popular character is referenced on three occasions in the series:
    • In "The Void," when Ula's subordinates insist on calling Margo for help in spite of her protests, Ula breaks down and goes on an angry rant about why she isn't more popular than Margo. Describing it here can't do it justice.
    • At the end of "The Plan," Ula forces Margo to be the bait to lure out the monster they're after. Margo's response?
      Margo: (smugly) Well, naturally, I should be the bait. Everyone's eyes are on me, anyway.
      Ula: Ooooh... SHUT UP!
    • During "Rhythm N' Ambush", the girls' initial plan goes south when it becomes clear the monster wants nothing to do with Margo, but she protests when Ula decides to launch Plan B, leading to this exchange:
      Ula: Our jobs are on the line, so let's do this with our crew! Plus, the trap's useless if he's not feeling you!
      Ula: (sighs) Here we go again...
  • Ms. Fanservice: Both ladies are pretty attractive, but it's rather telling Margo is usually the one shown in more revealing outfits when not on the clock, and even appeared nearly nude in one short.
  • Musical Episode: "The Perfect Date," "The Plan" and "Rhythm N' Ambush" all serve as musical episodes, with the former notably using "I Must Be Dreaming" by KNOWER.
  • New Jack Swing: Serves as the musical basis for both "The Plan" and "Rhythm N' Ambush."
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: According to Joel Guerra, Margo is immortal and downright has a hobby of killing herself in various ways, which could be why she's so reckless.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Margo attempts to seduce the monster in "Rhythm N' Ambush," but he's so repulsed by her, he vomits immediately after sniffing her. Margo, who was established to be an irresistible Ms. Fanservice up to this point, completely flips, and actually socks the monster right in his throat. Unfortunately, this causes her to get shot into space with the monster since she still had a death grip on him when he activated the trap.
  • Not So Above It All: While Ula is definitely more on the ball than Margo, she doesn't have as much high ground over her as she thinks: She's just as prone to go gaga over donuts like Margo does over pizza, and is openly jealous of Margo's popularity in-and-out of universe, to the point where she'll completely lose it whenever it's brought up.
  • Professional Slacker: Though it's implied Margo isn't incompetent at her job, she's still a notorious slacker who barely even does the bare minimum to get by, not to mention letting Ula take most of the heat from their boss.
  • Proud Beauty: Margo is aware of how attractive she is and both relishes it and flaunts it whenever she can, to the point of being offended (to put it lightly) when someone isn't into her.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: The ladies succeed in sending the monster into deep space in "Rhythm N' Ambush"... at the cost of Margo unwittingly being sent along with it (mostly due to her bruised ego), and Ula likely earning another talking to from Chief Morgan, who told them not to make any more mistakes.
  • Sci-Fi Bob Haircut: Margo usually fashions her hair somewhat in this style, her look in "The bet" and "The Plan" follows the trope more closely.
  • Serial Killer: The Monster from "The Plan" and "Rhythm N' Ambush" is stated to be as such.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Space Police: Both ladies work as such, and are implied to be at a fairly decent rank, but their exact jurisdiction is left ambiguous.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Pizza for Margo, donuts for Ula. To the point where they both have a hyperfixation on their favourite foods.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: As much as they argue and snark at each other, they won't leave each other for dead on a mission.