Let’s get it out of the best way: This isn’t a spoiler-free evaluate of Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. Netflix’s anime tackle Brian Lee O’Malley’s online game reference-ridden romantic comedy graphic novels and their subsequent live-action film adaptation is inconceivable to speak about whereas tiptoeing round specifics. I’m not going to let you know the way it all ends, however I do need to set the stage in a method that may give away an awesome second within the first episode if I’m going to speak about this present with any type of conviction.
In case you’re simply on the lookout for a fast thumbs up or thumbs down, then sure, it’s best to watch Scott Pilgrim Takes Off if you’re a fan of the unique story and have additionally seen the movie. Hell, throw the excellent online game in there, too. The anime is in dialog with the supply materials, and regardless of nonetheless being in regards to the titular dopey, irresponsible fuck-up and his enigmatic supply woman love curiosity Ramona Flowers, it’s nonetheless finest skilled when you already know what this sequence is all about. And right here’s why:
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off begins off equally sufficient. Many of the first episode is a devoted retelling of Scott assembly Ramona, turning into infatuated together with her, after which ordering a film for her to ship to his house so he can ask her out. Their date is nice, their respective pasts are shrouded in thriller, and as issues begin to choose up between them, their budding romance is interrupted by Ramona’s ex Matthew Patel attacking Scott at a battle of the bands present. Anybody who’s seen the film or learn the books is aware of that Scott is meant to win this combat. However this time, Matthew comes out victorious, seemingly killing Scott, and it turns into clear we’re on a very totally different experience.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is just not a retelling of Scott Pilgrim or its film adaptation. It’s a 3rd, alternate model of the story that examines the very premise all of this was constructed on. Assume The Rebuild of Evangelion or Last Fantasy VII Remake. Whereas the supply materials focuses on Scott going through Ramona’s Seven Evil Exes in a need to win the “proper” to this point her (wow, that sounds extremely loaded all these years later simply typing it out), the anime’s title is fairly apt as a result of, for a number of episodes, Scott Pilgrim is barely even within the present.
That’s as a result of it’s not likely about him this time round. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is Ramona’s story, and after the live-action film did her so goddamn soiled (A thoughts management chip? Actually?) I used to be truly pleasantly stunned with this framing and exploration of the Scott Pilgrim story. A part of me is a bit of dissatisfied that we bought all these unimaginable actors again from the movie to voice these characters and didn’t get an opportunity to do higher at re-telling that story, this time avoiding issues like relegating Nega Scott to a bit, fully stripping Ramona’s story of nuance with the aforementioned thoughts management chip, and chopping out characters and relationships for time’s sake. However the second I noticed what Scott Pilgrim Takes Off was truly about, I knew this was the precise name and was glad to be on the experience.
Even when it’s not a direct retelling, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off nonetheless manages to tug some story beats off with extra sincerity than the live-action movie did. I purchased into Scott and Ramona’s relationship extra right here thanks to raised writing, pacing, and performances from each Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead. As a result of I used to be having fun with that relationship far more this time round, I did have a quick second of disappointment when it grew to become clear this present wasn’t going to be telling the story I already knew, however that was shortly changed by a heartwarming delight as I used to be drawn into the anime’s personal intricacies and its willingness to look at the sequence’ blindspots.
The complete premise of Scott Pilgrim is that Ramona’s exes have fashioned a bunch of superpowered villains who’re out to spoil her love life for the remainder of eternity. As quickly as a brand new paramour throws their hat into the ring, the exes swoop in to curb-stomp them in order that Ramona will get again along with whoever wins the combat. That’s the thought, no less than. It doesn’t seem to be any of them truly stopped to consider whether or not or not Ramona would willingly go together with any of them. However these exes are villains of the week who Scott and Ramona combat collectively after which transfer on from in a short time.
Even when Ramona talks about them, it’s typically in a dismissive tone. Scott Pilgrim’s core battle originates from ex-lovers who demonize one another whereas absolving themselves alongside the best way. Finally, what makes Scott Pilgrim so nice isn’t the stylized motion, the witty quips, the nerdy references, however its perception into its surprisingly advanced characters. And Scott Pilgrim Takes Off’s shifted perspective lets it study characters who’ve typically been left behind: the evil exes.
Ramona spends a lot of the eight-episode sequence begrudgingly reconnecting together with her exes whereas investigating Scott’s mysterious disappearance originally of the present. Certain, it’s bought all of the zany motion sequences and over-the-top exaggeration long-time followers know and love, however at its core is one thing introspective and illuminating, lending new depth to characters who beforehand existed largely simply to gesture at Ramona’s underlying points. For instance, take Roxy Richter, the only real lady within the League of Evil Exes, who is commonly dismissed by Ramona as a part. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off begins off with the 2 confronting one another, and after the swords and big hammers have stopped swinging, Ramona begins to mirror on how she is simply as a lot an Evil Ex in Roxy’s story.
By specializing in Ramona and placing Scott on the again burner, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off critically re-examines the inspiration it was constructed on almost 20 years in the past with the primary e-book. Love is difficult, and it’s solely pure that even when we cared for somebody at one level, we would begin to resent them when issues finish. There are exceptions, in fact, however as a rule the individuals who damage us and the individuals we damage in form aren’t malicious; they’re flawed individuals identical to us attempting to determine all of it out.
Whereas the anime is all about unpacking the narrative baggage Scott Pilgrim has carried all these years, the characters stay as emotionally and psychologically advanced as ever. Their thorny interpersonal dynamics are nonetheless core to the story—they simply manifest in new, actually efficient and subversive methods.Subversion is the idea of Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, in spite of everything. At the same time as Ramona is making issues proper with the individuals she’s wronged and who’ve wronged her, that very same demonizing of 1’s previous flames continues to be foundational to the story, and the present’s late-season twists are a number of the finest realizations of every thing it seeks to discover. I gained’t spoil them right here, however suffice it to say that this present additionally takes time to make up for the movie’s shortcomings as an alternative of repeating them.
I’ve spent lots of time speaking about Scott Pilgrim Takes Off’s subversive components as a result of that’s the place it excels, however the present additionally nonetheless presents a tasty recreation of the sequence’ finest components on this new framing. It’s gorgeously animated and colourful, with some glorious choreography to its over-the-top fights. The writing is simply as sharp, witty, and full of popular culture references, however doesn’t really feel so beholden to that tone that it’s simply continually winking on the digital camera. The present brings the sort of laugh-out-loud absurdist humor that made the unique’s gags so memorable however doesn’t really feel prefer it’s simply taking part in the hits. That refreshing newness is effectively married with its comfy familiarity and comes from its understanding subversion of what we’ve come to count on, and fortunately the brand new materials provides the voice forged lots to work with. Characters who barely work together within the books or film get complete arcs collectively, and it’s all so recent it retroactively makes the considered a devoted adaptation much less thrilling.
However with all that newness comes trepidation. At first blush, I’m not thrilled that Scott Pilgrim Takes Off ends on a cliffhanger. Getting invested in something Netflix does is simply setting your self up for ache as a result of the streaming service cancels reveals like I delete tweets that don’t pop off. An animated Scott Pilgrim sequence that introduced again all the film forged appeared too good to be true when it was introduced, and now that it appears Netflix is entertaining a second season, any unabashed glee I’ve towards this present feels prefer it’s on shakier floor.
Netflix has been chopping jobs in its animation division whereas additionally counting on AI to do animation work as a consequence of what it calls a labor scarcity. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off succeeds as a result of the individuals on the coronary heart of it love and perceive it, and folks loving one thing is what places it on the chopping block at Netflix, it appears.
I depart Scott Pilgrim Takes Off with a mixture of feelings as a result of its full re-examination of Scott and Ramona’s story satisfied me everybody concerned would do proper by a second season, however I additionally simply felt content material with the remixed story it instructed. I felt happy revisiting this story and taking a look at it from a special perspective and didn’t really feel like I wanted a second season. However hey, if Scott and his buddies do go on extra adventures, perhaps there shall be one other likelihood to lastly see Stephen Stills and Joseph smooch on display screen.