Unashamedly, I am a huge science fiction nerd. Besides for the usual suspects of Asimov, Dick, Scalzi and Atwood, one of my favourite collections to get my hands on is the Mammoth Book of Best New SF. It’s an annual collection of short stories from authors, both new and seasoned, brought together in one hefty tome of mixed sci-fi goodness.
So, what does this have to do with Netflix’s latest animated anthology series, Love, Death + Robots? It’s basically The Mammoth Book of Best New Sci-Fi, brought to life by Tim Miller, David Fincher, and a varied team of excellent animators and artists. Thanks to the book, I’ve even read a few of the short stories that some episodes are based on (Beyond the Aquila Rift and Zima Blue).
Short stories are a difficult medium to get right, authors are balancing backstory and theme with plot and conclusions and only have so many words to achieve their objectives. A well written short story can stick with you far more than a lengthy novel. As an anthology series in this vein, Love, Death + Robots wastes no time on world-building.
Each episode has a run time of 10-15 minutes and trusts that you are paying well enough attention to follow the plot. In this, it’s incredibly refreshing to not be bogged down with lengthy and unnecessary exposition, with a lot of the storytelling left to clever visuals. And, as J.K. Rowling has recently proved, sometimes backstory is best left in the author’s imagination.
As far as the animation goes, each episode is done in a different style. Some cartoonish, some jarringly realistic, every episode is a feast for the eyes. In the same way that Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse broke barriers when it came to animation in film, Love, Death + Robots is surely poised to do the same for TV shows.
The only potential drawback with anthology series is that, while you are guaranteed to find a story that absolutely blows your mind, you’re probably not going to love all of them. Even so, here at Critical Hit HQ, we’ve had some spirited discussions on which episodes we loved, which ones we didn’t, and why. It’s an expansive talking point, and one that we have gotten carried away with more than once.
Thanks to the short run-time, if you try a few episodes and decide you don’t like it, you won’t feel like you’ve wasted an entire evening. But my advice is to hop on to Netflix, pick an episode that grabs your attention, and just go for it. You’ve got 18 to choose from, and I guarantee that one of them is going to get you hooked.
Last Updated: March 22, 2019