Hit-Monkey is an adult animated series based upon the character of the same name from Marvel Comics, developed by Will Speck and Josh Gordon (Blades of Glory). It premiered on Hulu on November 17th, 2021 and is the streamer’s second adult animated series based on Marvel Characters following M.O.D.O.K. (2021). It is notably the last overall series produced by Marvel Television before being absorbed by Marvel Studios.
The series follows Hit-Monkey, a Japanese snow monkey who is mentored by an American assassin's ghost while he navigates Tokyo's crime underworld seeking the people who killed his tribe as well as his new mentor.
The cast includes Fred Tatasciore as Hit-Monkey himself; Jason Sudeikis as Bryce, Hit-Monkey’s ghostly mentor; George Takei as Shinji Yokohama, an honest Japanese politician; Olivia Munn as Akiko, Shinji’s niece and speech writer; Nobi Nakanishi as Ito, a drunken cop investigating Hit-Monkey’s trail of destruction; Ally Maki as Haruka, Ito’s honest new partner; and Reiko Aylesworth as Maki Matsumoto/Lady Bullseye.
In February 2023, more than a year after the first season, a second season was announced, with production moving to 20th Television Animation and Leslie Jones set to join the cast. However, the Marvel branding will be removed as of season two, much like Helstrom, another Marvel-based Hulu series.
Tropes in Hit-Monkey:
- Adaptational Superpower Change:
- Yuki is a Badass Normal assassin in the comics, but her animated counterpart is a ghost with a host of powers that include flight, Hand Blasts and Extendable Arms.
- Silver Samurai is still described as a mutant, but does not display his comic counterpart's ability to form a tachyon field around his katana. Instead, he relies on a combination of martial arts and high-tech gadgetry, while the closest thing to an outright superpower he displays is the ability to Wall Run.
- Air-Vent Passageway: Monkey attempts to sneak into the casino using these, forcing claustrophobic Bryce to do the same. They end up falling through directly onto a card table.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: The entire premise of the series is a Japanese macaque with an uncanny talent for assassination.
- Androcles' Lion: Several examples:
- In episode four, Hit-Monkey rescues a mouse from a trap while infiltrating the prison. The same mouse later helps him to safely escape the prison.
- In the same episode, Hit-Monkey chooses to spare Fat Cobra’s life. Fat Cobra returns the favor by helping him fight off the other prisoners and retuning in the season finale to help him reach Shinji.
- Animal Talk: All animals are shown being capable of understanding each other, with occasional subtitles for audience benefit.
- Artistic License – Ornithology: In "Home Sweet Home", a snowy owl claims it cleared the remains of Hit-Monkey's tribe and later wants to eat Bryce's remains. While owls can scavenge it's still rather rare and certainly not enough to make eating dead primates a regular thing.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: Bryce and Hit-Monkey both clean up nicely.
- Blind Seer: At a Shinto temple, there is a blind monk who can communicate with both Hit-Monkey and Bryce. At one point, he makes a prediction that Lady Bullseye will die by their hands.
- Canon Foreigner: Most of the cast, including Akiko, Shinji, Haruka and Ito.
- The Cameo: Wilson Fisk appears in a photograph in episode five.
- Child of Two Worlds: Monkey. In episode eight, the spirit of his late chief tells him that he is destined to walk between the human and animal worlds, belonging to neither, but protecting both as a killer of killers.
- Close-Call Haircut: Happens a lot over the course of the series when bladed weapons come into play. A stand out example is episode 2, where Hit-Monkey narrowly escapes a Conveyor Belt o' Doom and gets a large patch shaved off his behind, which remains days later.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Bryce abandons his daughter after accidentally killing his stepfather.
- Deal with the Devil: After going to the "warm place", Bryce signed one so he could return to Monkey's side. He didn't bother to read it before signing it and does not expect to be held to it.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Lady Bullseye kills anyone that causes her even the slightest inconvenience or annoyance.
- The Dreaded: When Bryce sees Lady Bullseye's calling card, he flat out tells Monkey to run.
- Drowning My Sorrows:
- After checking into his hotel room in episode one, Bryce starts a bender to deal with his loneliness.
- Hit-Monkey outright states in episode 3 that he is drinking to numb his emotional pain.
- Elites Are More Glamorous: The 128th deployed Ranger-trained soldiers to assassinate Bryce. Kato in "Bright Lights, Big City" complains that he deployed the most skilled and trained soldiers and was furious when he heard that they were killed.
- Fastball Special: A favorite method of Fat Cobra’s, he launches Monkey out of the pit towards The Accountant after Monkey earns his respect by sparing his life and again towards the finale when Monkey needs to reach the top of the building where the true villain of the series Shinji Yokohama is waiting after winning the election. The method backfires the second time.
- Generic Cop Badges: Ito shows Akiko his official police ID and badge. The Lieutenant rank does not exist in Japanese law enforcement. The actual rank would have been Inspector. The emblem in the middle is not the official Asahikage emblem.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ito jumps in front of Haruka when Lady Bullseye attacks her, later dying from his wounds.
- Icon of Rebellion: As the first season goes on and Monkey takes down more and more criminals, the people of Tokyo come to respect him and note him as a symbol of good. This comes to a head in the season finale where the crowd outside the tower Shinji’s campaign is holed up all wear masks of Monkey’s likeness. The cherry on top? When Monkey is exposed while trying to infiltrate the tower, the masked crowd quickly joins the brawl.
- Invisible to Normals: Nobody is able to see, hear, or touch the ghost of Bryce. The only ones who can are Monkey (who he is spiritually bound to), Yuki (who is herself a ghost that others are able to see), the Monk, and at one point, Ito (for unknown reasons). By the season finale, Bryce learns he can make himself visible and capable of interacting with the human world by covering himself in salt, which causes him great pain.
- Major Injury Underreaction: Crazy Old Lady barely reacts to having her arm brutally severed in a meat processor while trying to kill Monkey.
- Mythology Gag:
- Akiko reads a The Punisher manga in "The Code".
- A news crawl mentioning that M.O.D.O.K.’s A.I.M. organization has been purchased by Grumblr briefly appears in one episode.
- The scene where Lady Bullseye has one of her teeth knocked out and then proceeds to use it as a weapon is a nod to a similar moment from Kevin Smith’s Daredevil run.
- No Party Given: Despite the election of the Japanese prime minister being central to the plot of the first season, no political parties are given for either candidate.
- Odd Couple: Monkey is a serious, thoughtful animal, while Bryce is a cocky, talkative human ghost.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: After dying, Bryce finds that his ghost is spiritually tethered to Monkey, meaning the two are unable to be outside a certain distance of each other. Additionally, Bryce can only be seen by other spirits and can be trapped and injured by salt, although salt can also make him temporarily visible and tangible. He also develops telekinesis in his last scene of season one.
- Revenge: Monkey and Bryce’s motivation. Bryce was taken out by the same people who hired him to begin with and Monkey’s tribe was wiped out in the same attack. They wind up working together to track down the mastermind.
- Red Herring:
- Despite being an all-around jackass, Ozu is not the one behind the conspiracy. He even lampshades it when confronted by Monkey, pointing out he was already beating Ken substantially in the polls and had no reason to order the hit.
- The Monk and the Bonsai Master are not one and the same.
- Salt Solution:
- Bryce cannot cross a line of salt. Monkey uses this to trap him in a public toilet in “Sayonara Monkey”
- Touching salt causes Bryce immense pain, but temporarily grants him physical form.Lady Bullseye uses salt as a weapon against him during their finale showdown, inadvertently giving him the ability to fight back.
- Sequel Hook: Season One ends with Hit-Monkey and Bryce fleeing to America, with Bryce now having gained the ability to affect physical objects. Meanwhile, in The Stinger, a heartbroken Akiko dons the dead Lady Bullseye’s mask, implying she plans on taking up her mantle to get revenge on Hit-Monkey.
- Shared Universe: Despite having a different animation style, this show officially shares a setting with M.O.D.O.K. (2021) which is designated as Earth-1226.
- Supernatural Repellent: Bryce can be trapped or injured by salt.
- Take That!: In episode four, Bryce gets a dig in at Lance Armstrong by comparing being a killer with a moral code to doing the Tour de France “without getting ‘roided up”.
- Take Up My Sword: Two examples:
- At the behest of a dying Bryce, Monkey becomes a hitman and seeks out the criminals that ordered his death.
- With Akiko’s encouragement, Shinji takes over the assassinated Ken’s candidacy for Prime Minister. By the end, we learn this was his plan the whole time.
- Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: The bulk of the first season is set in Tokyo.
- Troubled Backstory Flashback: Bryce is forced to relive his troubled past when a janitor sweeps salt onto him, causing him to black out.
- Wham Episode: "The End Part 1" reveals that Shinji was behind Ken's murder, not Ozu.
- Would Hurt a Child: After helping Monkey during the turf war between the two macaque tribes, young Koji is bludgeoned and killed by the leader of the Red-Stripes.
- Wunza Plot: One’s an unusually intelligent Japanese snow monkey with a bad temper, the other is the ghost of an American hitman who doesn’t know when to shut up. Together, they seek vengeance in the crime-ridden streets of Tokyo.