Love, Death and Robots, Netflix’s latest animated offering, is one of the best things I have seen from the streaming service in a long time. With each stand-alone episode produced by different casts and crews, this smorgasbord of animation, released on March 15th 2019, quite literally has something for everyone.
The series, produced by Joshua Donen, David Fincher, Jennifer Miller, and Tim Miller, follows eighteen different stories – 16 pre-written by authors including Alastair Reynolds, Joe Lansdales and John Scalzi, and two original stories written specifically for the series – all of which link back to the series’ overarching thems: love, death, and robots.
“A celebration and loveletter to modern animation and storytelling”
By taking inspiration from anthologies like Heavy Metal, known for its blend of dark fantasy, science fiction and steampunk comics, the team produces a series that is a celebration and loveletter to modern animation and storytelling. The series was led by Miller’s own animation studio, Blur, which itself produced three of the episodes, and aided with a fourth.
“Every episode of this series is a visual delight”
Every episode of this series is a visual delight – even those with slightly weaker storylines more than make up for it with the sheer beauty of the cinematics. Whether you prefer pure comic-style animation, or favour photo-realism, then at least one episode from this series will tickle your fancy. One episode – The Witness – uses a combination of programs and animations styles that have never been used together before to produce a mind-boggling effect and style that has become one of the most talked-about features of the entire series.
“Mind-boggling effect and style that has become one of the most talked-about features of the entire series”
The longest episode of Love, Death and Robots is only 17 minutes long, yet every episode manages to fit in more narrative and characterisation than I’ve seen from some feature-length films. Some episodes are a little weaker, but the strongest really knock the ball out of the park. My personal favourite (perhaps predictably) was Sonnie’s Edge – Cyberpunk 2077 meets Pacific Rim, with a little steampunk thrown in for good measure. Even if you don’t want to settle in for the long haul and watch all 18 episodes, I strongly urge you to watch a few of the best – Sonnie’s Edge, The Witness, Secret War and Zima Blue – simply because they’re some of the most visually impressive out of the series.
The only criticism I can remotely conjure up about this series is the sheer amount of nudity and unnecessary sexualisation that emerges throughout the series. Producer Tim Miller – the brains behind the sadomasochistic opening sequence to Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – said in a press release: “”I’m so f**king excited that the creative landscape has finally changed enough for adult-themed animation to become part of a larger cultural conversation.”
“The nudity and sexualisation just seems uncalled for”
While I’m all for breaking down the barriers and taboos surrounding the human body, half of the nudity and sexualisation just seems uncalled for – it’s borderline uncomfortable at times. Some of it is to be expected – one episode features a BDSM strip club – but all too often it goes too far – the same episode includes a girl running for her life, but during the pursuit her kimono flaps open constantly, exposing her nakedness for seemingly no reason than to let the audience ogle her.
Another episode drops gang rape into a character’s backstory as nothing more than a plot device, and another has the two protagonists sleep together – all on-camera, of course – for no obvious reason. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s something that I couldn’t shake, even after watching the series through twice.
“One of the strongest releases from Netflix so far this year”
That being said, I still wholeheartedly recommend this series to anyone interested in seeing some jaw-dropping animation combined with some really great narratives. With each story packaged up into a bite-size blockbuster, Love, Death and Robots is one of the strongest releases from Netflix so far this year.
Featured Image courtesy of Gaumont International Television and Netflix via IMDB