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03/22/2019 08:04:52 •••

Sleaze, Blood and Mawk

Love, death and robots... I love all those things! Love Death + Robots is an anthology series of short animated sci-fi and fantasy films. Reviewing 18 different films in one review is a bit of a tall order, so bear with me, I'm going to have to work around that.

Despite the distinct animation styles, plots, settings and characters, there are certain common elements amongst a lot of the stories, and I'm not just talking about love, death or even robots. For starters, this is a Not Safe For Work series, which means its got people saying "fuck" and "cunt" all the time, and we get to see quite a lot of gratuitous violence, most strikingly against naked ladies. I'm kind of reminded of a much-maligned review I wrote a long time back about Black Lagoon, where (amongst other things) I slagged off the show's puerile ideas of mature content and coolness. I might have been a worse reviewer back then, but that thing I complained about is still something I see cropping up time and time again in animated shows. I am never that impressed by a story that's dark and edgy for its own sake, nor by the kind of writing where characters keep making "pussy cat = vagina" jokes over and over.

I looked over the credits and found it is the same writer for most the season, which might explain why so many episodes re-tread the exact same tropes: for instance, seemingly half of them involve someone heroically sacrificing their own lives by setting off a bomb. How could someone not realise they've re-written the same bit over and over?

It's not all bad though. Amongst all this try-hard nonsense, there are some diamonds in the rough. Personal favourites are:

  • Zima Blue, about an artist with a mysterious obsession with a shade of Blue.
  • Good Hunting, about an engineer who befriends a fox demon in a steam punk wuxia society.
  • Ice Age, where a couple find a micro-civilisation hidden in the back of their freezer.
  • When The Yogurt Took Over, which is self-explanatory.

All the best episodes forego the staid, hackneyed combat tropes I criticised, telling more inventive, heartfelt and generally more fun stories. And that's not to say mature concepts can't actually be done well: Good Hunting, which itself has an excess of female mutilation, at least uses that to tell an interesting tale about power imbalance and transformation, all in a far better way than the show's leading episode, Sonnie's Edge, which has the same ideas.

Besides all that, every episode has its own aesthetic, and some are astonishingly good looking. Fish Night in particular is especially beautiful and is worth watching for that reason alone. Love, Death + Robots is a true mixed bag. Watch the whole thing, but expect your mileage to vary a lot from story to story.

03/21/2019 00:00:00

\"seemingly half of them involve someone heroically sacrificing their own lives by setting off a bomb. How could someone not realize they\'ve re-written the same bit over and over?\"

That\'s a bit of an exaggeration. It happens in three out of eighteen stories (four if you want to count Lucky 13, which I wouldn\'t), and only two of those were by the same writer.

03/22/2019 00:00:00

I might be mis-remembering, but didn`t Blindspot also do a sacrifice? I do count Lucky 13, because even if the protagonist doesn`t get exploded, we still go through the, "you go on without me, I'm sacrificing myself to fight off the horde" + setting off the bomb alone. Oh, also most of these sacrifice scenes involve fighting off hordes of monsters. Suits somehow manages to have two of these scenes. All of these (at least according to wikipedia) were written by Philip Gelatt except for Blind Spot. He might have been basing them off of other writer`s short stories, but he still presumably picked these samey stories.

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