The Scott Pilgrim Netflix Anime Series Is A Triumphant Follow-Up To The Hit Indie Comic

When former indie comic book creator/writer Bryan Lee O’Malley made his debut with his work Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life in 2004, which ended in 2014, he took the indie comic book story world by storm with his video game references and workarounds in a love story. Said tale is about Scott Pilgrim winning the love of Ramona Flowers by defeating the latter’s seven evil exes, with both of them learning to fix their own flaws and messed-up takes on relationships. The series also spawned a 2010 live-action film with spot-on casting, though it didn’t set the world on fire. Still, the series had its loyal fanbase.

Versus The Universe

Netflix’s Scott Pilgrim Takes Off anime series explores a “what if?” scenario from the aforementioned adaptations: what if the show focuses on another main character? What if the other half of the couple that carried the entire comic book series of 2004 ends up in the spotlight? The first episode starts out with familiar beats: Scott awkwardly asks Ramona out after enacting a lame plan, with both of them being made for each other after a low-key date. This is even though Scott is already dating an underage girl named Knives Chau, who obsesses over him and his band to no end while looking super-cute doing it. As his big night at The Rocket event space happens, he gets waylaid by one of Ramona’s evil exes, Matthew Pattel.

It’s in the last few minutes of the first episode where things take a different approach with the conclusion of the fight. Thus, we get a more fleshed-out backstory on Ramona and her evil exes, as well as some expanded roles for some side characters all tailor-made by the writings of Bryan himself and BenDavid Grabinski, with animation work from Science SARU of Devil May Cry: Crybaby and Japan Sinks fame.

For fans of the comic book series and 2010 Universal live-action movie, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is a lovely new take that adds a new perspective, now focusing on Ramona Flowers and the other side characters. Heck, even the antagonists of the series, the League of Evil Exes, have their moments to shine in each episode as they move on with their lives and have more character and dimension to them. Instead of being foils and “boss characters” to defeat, we get to see more of Matthew Patel, Lucas Lee, and Gideon Graves, with poignant and hilarious results. Avid readers will be also glad to see how favourites like Knives and Julia turn out in this iteration, as they received the upgraded story beats they deserve if you take their previous roles into account.

The themes of revisiting past mistakes and making amends one’s own faults are here; it’s just done differently. Mirroring the comic too much would be a retread, so kudos to the co-writers for this alternate take. And the visual and animation work from Science SARU is top-notch. The setpieces and action scenes, now with more Ramona being active in the fighting department, get fantastical and chaotic. One of them takes place in a video store where the two fighters get transported in different films and picture styles in a video store with sprinklers turned on, while one involves skateboarding ninjas/paparazzis and a song from a Tony Hawk game. Each fight from start to finish is animated and stylized well, as well as fits with the theme each episode represents.

It’s not just in the fisticuffs; the talking bits and character-development moments do flow well while not overpowering the key animated portions. One heavily-animated segment I loved the most involves a girl playing bass with a drummer; it conveys not just the passion one finds when playing music for fun together, but also acts as a nod to the previous comic’s “fling” scenario.

Also, the gag involving running lines in one’s trailer followed by the payoff deserves mention, which also leads to another fun fight scene.

Finest Hour

I wasn’t expecting much from this new alternate take on the series, but I was interested and willing to follow through to the end. And I was pleased with what transpired; I thankfully went into it blind and was all the better for it, from its animation to song choices to its remix of the plot. Think of this as the Final Fantasy VII Remake or Mortal Kombat 1 of the series, and you’re not too far off as what to expect in terms of changes and shenanigans.

The only issue here is that you need to read the comics to get all the lessons and changes here. All the nuances and nods of this remix will fly over the heads of newbies who are getting into the Scott Pilgrim experience for the first time with this series. So stop right now, go through all 6 volumes of the comic, then watch this with an open mind. You’ll be glad you did.

Final Score: 80/100

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