Created by: Tim Miller (Deadpool)
LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS is Netflix's newest adult-oriented animated anthology series, a kind of modern-day Animatrix or Halo Legends compilations, for those old enough to remember, or else Heavy Metal, for those even older.
Each episode has different writers, directors and animation studios, so thematically and tonally the series is all over the map. There's a hefty dose of military SF if that's your bag. I really like when they tried to be innovative either artistically or with the story, though sometimes it felt like nudity was shoehorned in for the sake of appearing more 'adult'. This is really apparent if you watch the series in order--I feel they front-loaded all the T&A (and PP) into the first few episodes, as the rest are actually a lot more mainstream in their appeal.
5-second episode reviews:
1. Sonnie's Edge: Cyberpunky. Human-controlled monsters fight in gladiatorial battles. Hoo boy, lots of weird rape imagery and Polar Express grade nudity in this one, which could put you off the series--but like I said, it's not really representative of the series as a whole. Felt a bit like when comic books try too hard, to be honest. Neato twist at the end.
2. Three Robots: Humorous post-apoc. A little cornball ("tell us what the humans were like") but the back and forth between the three robots of the title is pretty funny. Silly ending.
3. The Witness:Genre =??? Kinda cyberpunk I guess. Whoooooaaaah. This one is a trip and a half. More gratuitous nudity, but that ain't even the point. Very artsy, I really liked the way they played against it being CG, with "shaky" camera work, the "actors'" breath fogging the camera lens in closeups, visible sound effects, etc. etc. Easily the most visually innovative of the episodes.
4. Suits: MECHA! Yay! MECHA! A team of heavily-armed AgroMechs fight off an alien assault on their farms. In contrast to the first three eps, this one plays its story very, very, almost predictably straight. Like, almost cliche straight, which I think was the objective. You know exactly what's going to happen with these characters, and there's a kind of cozy comfortability with the way the story is handled.
5. Sucker of Souls: Horror. A team of mercenaries protect an archaeologist from the evil he has unleashed. Art style reminded me of the old Star Wars: Clone Wars animated shorts. Very simple premise and plot, but the banter among the characters elevates the experience and makes this a retro gem. Would shoot in the dick with a shotgun/10
6. When the Yogurt: Humor. Yogurt becomes intelligent. Eh, didn't think it was that funny to be honest. Just kind of goofy.
7. Beyond the Aquila Rift: Space Opera. This one was also very cool, with fantastic art direction/CG. Has a real Mass Effect/Alien/Serenity vibe to it, with space truckers stuck when something goes wrong with their ship. I thought the story (by Alastair Reynolds) was something we've seen before in SF (Star Trek sprang to mind), but the visuals make up for it. Zero Gravity banger/10
8. Good Hunting: Streampunk/Retro-future. The son of a spirit-hunter befriends a fox spirit in steampunk Hong Kong. Could have been a lot more fun but I felt the main story was a bit dull. Would not turn into a robotic sex doll/10
9. The Dump: Humor. Aside from "Three Robots", I thought the episodes that tried to be humorous were the weakest in the series. A lot of the jokes just don't land for me.
10. Shape-Shifters: Military SF. Werewolves in Afghanistan is an interesting idea. Pretty animation, but a bloody chewed-up mess thematically. Not really sure what it was trying to say.
11. Helping Hand: Hard SF. Kind of like a gross-out version of the movie Gravity. No, really. There's a sequence that can be a little stomach-churning even in CG. Still, once you get to this point in the series, something that moves slower, takes its time, builds the tension comes as a welcome relief.
12. Fish Night: Magic realism. A pair of traveling salesmen get stuck in the middle of the badlands and have to spend the night in their car. Loved the Through A Scanner Darkly style rotoscoping animation. Very pretty to look at. A bit "ah huh?" in terms of what actually happens, but it's more about the visuals than the story.
13. Lucky 13: Military SF. Again, great visuals save what is otherwise a fairly predictable story about a pilot and her notoriously "unlucky" gunship/dropship.
14. Zima Blue: Artsy. A far-future robot artist reveals the source of his inspiration. Color used to great effect.
15. Blindspot: Action. Vaguely Mad Max style road-warrior battle between a team of cyborgs trying to steal a microchip from a heavily defended transport truck. Okay I guess.
16. Ice Age: Humor. Couple discovers tiny, advanced civilization in their refrigerator ice box. Humor comes from their nonchalant attitude towards what's happening in their fridge. Charming, but not all that funny. But nice.
17. Alternate Histories: Humor. One of the better humor episodes, investigating possible histories based around increasingly improbably and unlikely scenarios of Hitler's death (e.g. killed by secret Russian gelatin gun, dies after marathon orgy with Viennese prostitutes etc.). The bizarro setups are pretty funny, but man o man, I can tell the two-second clip of Hitler's sex orgy is all anyone is going to remember about this one.
18. Secret War: Horror/Military SF. WW2 Russian soldiers on a mission to hunt down a pack of ghouls. Isn't Overlord based on much the same premise? Anyway, great CG work again, riveting and visceral battles set to stirring music. Very fun!