Netflix’s Love, Death and Robots finds ‘nerd fun’ of adult cartoons

What happens when animation lovers get the green light to create whatever they want? You get Netflix’s Love, Death and Robots, an anthology series intended to remind viewers that cartoons aren’t just for kids. You’d think that would be a foregone conclusion in 2022, decades after anime went mainstream, Adult Swim’s raunchy comedies have taken over dorm rooms and just about streaming/networking platforms have their own “shrewd” animated series (Arcane and Big mouth on Netflix, Invincible on Amazon Prime).

However, it’s all too common to see vehicles scaled down. At this year’s Oscars, the Best Animated Feature award was introduced as something purely for children, prompting filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Lego movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), arrive instead, ask Hollywood to elevate the genre. Even Pixar’s library of smart and engaging movies isn’t considered “adult” stories.

Love, Death and Robots, which just released its third season on Netflix, feels like a crash course in the boundless storytelling potential of animation. It bounced back from a cute entry about cyborgs exploring the ruins of human civilization (first sequel to the series, 3 robots: Exit strategy(Jibaro), to a harrowing tale of whalers being eaten by a giant crab (Bad travelfirst animated project directed by David Fincher, who co-created the series).

Jennifer Yuh Nelson, supervising director for Love, Death and Robots, told Engadget that the animation industry has certainly made progress when it comes to telling more mature stories. “Everybody who works in animation has been talking about trying to get more adult work done because it [about] “You don’t have to try to do things for a certain age group,” she said. “

Love, Death and Robots


However, she says, animators don’t necessarily tell audiences about mature projects either. “I think it needs a program like [this] to prove that it can [work]and that makes the whole business and the whole town of the company basically look around and say, ‘Oh, this is a possible thing that people really want to see.’

Series co-creator Tim Miller (Deadpool, Terminator: Dark Fate) also points to the power of video games, which have been telling adult stories with interactive animation for decades. It’s another industry that was initially thought of as children’s toys, but has grown significantly with rich storytelling from independent projects, such as Kentucky Route Zeroto big budget blockbusters like Our Last One. Games and animation are in fact evolving together, with audiences demanding more complex ideas and creators raised on previous generations of those mediums. You’re not getting the excellent Disney+ remake DuckTales, or recent from Sony God of Warwithout liking the simple pleasures of the original.

“Animation has evolved a lot and reflects the tastes of the people who make it and the people who are watching it,” Nelson said. “It’s a generational change. People ask for a certain level of complexity in their story, and so it’s not a princess movie anymore.”

Love, Death and Robots

With every season of Love, Death and Robots, Nelson says that she and Miller are focusing on finding stories that evoke feelings of “nerd joy”. With no overarching themes, they instead seek out projects that have scope, emotion, and the potential to be visually interesting. And while no short has yet to be turned into a series or indie, Nelson notes that’s a possibility, especially since some authors have explored other ideas in that world. (I certainly would have loved to see those three quirky cyborgs poke fun at humanity over the course of a season.)

The series is also home to a variety of animation techniques. Some shorts show off the meticulous craftsmanship, while others like it Bad travel Use motion capture to capture the intricate details of an actor’s movements or face. Jerome Chen, director of military horror short film In Vaulted Halls Entombed, based on Unreal, makes his work sound like a cutscene from a game I’d love to play. And there’s still a lot of love for more traditional 2D techniques, like bloody awesome Kill Team Kill (directed by Nelson, far from her playfulness Kung Fu Panda next part).

Love, Death and Robots


“Technology doesn’t replace art, but experimentation allows these studios to figure out how to make things better,” says Nelson. “[The show gives] free for all the different studios to try their language. “

Miller takes a slightly different view, saying that to some extent, it’s like “technology is art and they’re somehow mixed together.” While he agrees with Nelson, who was quick to point out “artists can make art with a stick,” Miller says you’ll still need a certain level of sophisticated technology to create. true stories.

The great thing about an anthology series like Death and Robot Love? Both of those philosophies can coexist while both embodying the power of animation.

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