I sat down with no real objective other than to see what I could find to watch. I selected Netflix, and although I usually think the auto-playing of whatever featured thing was being recommended to me at that very moment is pretty annoying and I wish could be turned off, Netflix squared up and hit my sweet spot for once. After letting it auto-start the first episode of Love Death & Robots, I didn’t switch to anything else until I had finished the entire series.
To cut to the chase, Love Death & Robots was pretty much the best thing I’ve watched in a really long time. That’s not to say I abhorred everything I’ve seen between like, Black Mirror and Love Death & Robots, but it’s the shows that really spark all my senses and most importantly get me thinking and analyzing that tend to stand out for me. And it’s a little by design that I mentioned Black Mirror, because the easiest way for me to describe Love Death & Robots is that it’s kind of like an animated version of Black Mirror, in the way that it’s an anthology of self-contained stories that are well written, entertaining and provoke a lot of thought.
I know after the first film, the Matrix receives a lot of flack and is a constant source of ridicule, but I will admit that I was a big fan of the Animatrix anthology released in the midst of the film series. In the same vein as Love Death & Robots, it was various animation styles on display, but they were all thematically tied together in some way shape or form, all relevant to the whole concept of the Matrix. And although Love Death & Robots has no central theme, and every single episode is a self-contained storyline, the various forms of animation were all mind-blowing, ranging from obvious Unreal engine movie making, traditional cel animation, to some of the most realistic looking CG cinematography I’ve ever seen.
Seriously, I look back to things like Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within and the Polar Express, and remember all the skeptics of CGI declaring that the fallacy of computer graphics would never ever be able to capture the humanity of live action in CG. Claiming that no matter how realistic the people looked, their eyes would always look dead and soulless, and be incapable of conveying the subtle nuances of human emotion that real life people do. Such is not the case in Love Death & Robots, where there are some episodes where I had to really narrow my vision and really look hard to be able to tell that certain things were actually CG. Seriously, episodes like Shape Shifters and Lucky 13, are so realistic looking, that if I weren’t wearing my glasses, I’d probably imagine that they were live action.
On the flipside, there are the other episodes employing various other forms of more traditional looking cartoon animation, and then a few that were kind of in between. But all were still done tastefully, and don’t undermine the clever storytelling that just about every episode was capable of. And although I’m capable of being very decisive about the episodes I liked the most (Good Hunting, Shape Shifters), this isn’t to say that I didn’t find enjoyment and/or appreciation in all of the other episodes in the series.
The best part about the series as a whole is that there’s not a single one of the 18 episodes that is over 16 minutes. Some are as short as six minutes, but they’re still no more concisely to the point than any of the other episodes that are a little bit longer. But this is the kind of stuff that I gravitate towards, especially as I always feel like there’s never enough time in the days as I get older, so things that are short and sweet are definitely up in my wheelhouse.
I also appreciate the direction that Netflix has allowed for with Love Death & Robots, going fully all-in with the whole, very NSFW adults-only TV-MA kind of programming, that is not shy about showing full frontal nudity for both men and women, as well as some horrific, cringeworthy gore. I’m not saying that these are things I need to see in order to think something is good, but I do appreciate when programming isn’t sugarcoated and implied that such things in the world don’t exist.
Overall, Love Death & Robots is the best thing I’ve seen in a long time. It’s the perfect combination of innovation, storytelling, creativity, all while being wrapped up in a super short and sweet package that doesn’t require a huge time commitment, and can be easily completed in a single day, and be enjoyed completely.