The latest Cyberpunk series, Love, Death & Robots, is finally out! Or rather, the latest sci-fi/fantasy animated short anthology is out.
Love, Death & Robots is a wonderful combination of short films loosely connected around the theme of the title, combining visually stunning stories from some deep concepts to ridiculous tales of sentient yoghurt.
No, I’m not kidding. It’s episode 6 and is called “When the Yoghurt Took Over”.
With 18 episodes in total running between 6 minutes and 17 minutes, there are only four stories that could truly be considered “Cyberpunk”, with a few others similar and style and then the rest that are simply unrelated.
One of the best, in my opinion, is the very first episode: Sonnie’s Edge. A well-delivered tale in an interesting world, it reminded me of Pacific Rim meets Altered Carbon a la death cage match. Visually stunning, this first episode set the bar too high for me, resulting in my somewhat disappointment that (practically) no other episode could compete in quality and themes it touched upon. It has the Cyberpunk visuals, the Punk vibe, Cybernetics and Sexuality to make it an excellent first episode. I’ve purposely decided not to share the premise, since it does a great job world-building and part of the fun is finding out how the world works.
The second Cyberpunk-like tale is Suits, and tells the tale of a community of farmers from the south US that need to protect their turf against alien creatures that threaten to invade their land and destroy their crops. It’s basically what would happen if the deep south had to contend with alien wolves attacking their farms, but instead of guns, they were equipped with lasers, mech suits and overpowered artillery. A lot of fun, and a heart-warming tale of killing and community.
The next Cyberpunk tale, Beyond the Aquilus Rift, is more Pseudo-cyberpunk and feels more like a tale of “Aliens” if you added a layer of fractured reality. It involves a ship’s crew who begin a routine deep-freeze to travel a long distance through space, only to end up widely off-course upon their awakening. This episode felt more like a Black-Mirror type animated short, with a tale that starts off well enough but slowly gets worse and worse as the episode continues. Great story-telling and visual effects again, but personally not my cup of tea.
Zima Blue is my favorite episode of the entire first season of Love, Death & Robots. Its premise is simple: a reporter is invited to interview a famous artist who is about to reveal his latest piece of work. Although a lot more animated cartoon than digital CGI (it felt reminiscent of Samurai Jack in terms of sharp ages and defined exaggerated features full of vibrant colors and beautiful shapes), the short tale comes full circle in a way that surprised me in the end, and although devoid of action or any fast pacing, replaces it again with a tranquil simplicity in the metaphor it tells of life. Definitely the most profound episode for me, which is perhaps why it’s the one that left the most lasting impact.
Finally, Blind Spot is the second perfect example of Cyberpunk, featuring a high-octane heist of punks trying to steal a valuable microchip from a convoy protected by robots. Another great set of visuals with a fun twist at the end, the artistic style of this episode reminded me more of Cartoon Network’s cartoons, and perhaps something that might show up on Toonami. No CGI digital effects here but also very stylistically different from Zima Blue. It’s a fun fast-paced tale with the right amounts of action and punk attitude.
Overall Love, Death & Robots is a great series highly worth a couple of hours to watch. I would give Sonnie’s Edge 9/10, Suits 7/10, Beyond the Aquilus Rift 6.5/10 simply because I don’t like those kinds of stories as much, Zima Blue 9/10, and Blind Spot 8.5/10.
You can watch Love, Death & Robots streaming on Netflix.