18 votes

Love, Death, and Robots: A Hit-and-Miss Anthology (Mild Spoilers)

Love, Death, and Robots is an animated scifi anthology on Netflix. Season 1, which released earlier this month, comprised of 18 short films, ranging from 5 to 20 minutes in length. The episodes also vary wildly in quality. While most of the shorts have promising concepts, very few of them actually reach their potential. Some, like "The Dump," are awful in every way. A handful are excellent.

The show bills itself as "adult animation," but most episodes are "adult" in the same way many video games are rated as "mature;" they're filled with nudity, violence, and blood, but little of any mature substance. Some of the episodes don't feel like they're aimed at adults, but rather teenagers who want to think they're watching something made for adults.
In more than one episode, the characters speak like they've just discovered swearing. In "Sucker of Souls" for example, an otherwise entertaining and fun short, they make two jokes revolving around the concept that "pussy" can be slang for a cat, or for a woman's vagina, in the span of thirty seconds. It's an attempt at comic relief that falls very flat, as if someone went through the script once it was done, looking for a place where they could insert vagina jokes. It's jarring.

Some episodes are fantastic, without having to rely on excessive violence or nudity. Both of those things have a place in fiction, but they should generally be handled with a maturity that most of the shorts lack. "The Secret War" is a fairly violent short, but it is rarely excessive, and the violence usually serves the plot and theme.
A couple episodes have neither, my favourite being "Zima Blue," a quiet episode with a Camus-esque message. The art style may take some getting used to, but it is one of the more beautiful of the series. "When The Yogurt Took Over" is also a fun short, narrated by Maurice LaMarche, voice of The Brain.

Overall, I'd say if you're a fan of the genre and have some free time, give the show a watch. Be warned though, binge-watching the show can cause some serious tonal whiplash.

5 comments

  1. bub Link
    I have to agree with other commenters here and with what appears to be the majority opinion: This is edgelord material aimed (whether intentionally or not) at the 13±2 year-old crowd. That being...

    I have to agree with other commenters here and with what appears to be the majority opinion: This is edgelord material aimed (whether intentionally or not) at the 13±2 year-old crowd.

    That being said, I did enjoy the underlying stories, the plentiful plot twists, and the science fiction themes. And I don't call it science fiction lightly - in the true form of science fiction, many of these stories did a good job of exploring "what if" scenarios about as deeply as traditional sci-fi short stories might.

    I do think they could have accomplished the same thing without 1.5 flamboyant genitalia per minute.

    4 votes
  2. Akir Link
    This collection of shorts is best viewed as a collection of demo reels from the major animation and effects companies. Note that many of them focus on realistic characters (which is why they are...

    This collection of shorts is best viewed as a collection of demo reels from the major animation and effects companies. Note that many of them focus on realistic characters (which is why they are frequently naked) and features gore, a frequent area where effects studios are called in.

    When viewed through that lens, I think I liked Number Thirteen the most. It had the most times I forgot that the characters were CGI. Plus they have that super realistic fluid simulation at the beginning.

    4 votes
  3. deknalis Link
    So I'm about 2/3 of the way through. Most of these felt like edgelords trying to write mature stories, and also totally hitting against the wall when it came to runtime. I have no clue why they...

    So I'm about 2/3 of the way through. Most of these felt like edgelords trying to write mature stories, and also totally hitting against the wall when it came to runtime. I have no clue why they picked Sonnie's Edge as the first episode, because I think it leaves a horrible first impression. There's nothing but constant exposition, interrupted only by a monster fight that feels like it takes up half of an already strained 17 minutes and a sex scene (of which there are plenty in show if that's your thing). A lot of the shorts are like that, constant attempts at world or character building by just spewing facts at the viewer without any really interesting thing to do with those worlds or characters. I honestly thought the second one was the best one so far, not because it was particularly good, but because there was no real involved attempt to worldbuild or explain a ton of details in a format that doesn't facilitate detail oriented stories. I honestly thought "The Dump" was one of the better ones as well, simply because it wasn't filled to the brim with facts spouted at you unnaturally, and its world was built out a little more (note: I did say a little more) naturally and organically.

    3 votes
  4. Defluo Link
    I watched the first 3 shorts with my wife and we both left with the same impression. The stories and tone feel "immature" for a lack of a better word. While watching I kept thinking "This is...

    I watched the first 3 shorts with my wife and we both left with the same impression. The stories and tone feel "immature" for a lack of a better word. While watching I kept thinking "This is written by a 12 year old edgelord". The 2nd short with the robots didn't come off as "12 year old edgelord", but it felt like a final project for a 3d animation class. I didn't want to give the series more chances after the first 3, but I'll go back and watch "zima blue" and "secret war".

    2 votes
  5. frisson Link
    Also watched 2/3 of these episodes, I've probably been able to avoid the disappointment of first episodes (based on other comments) by picking the ones that appealed to me first, based on the...

    Also watched 2/3 of these episodes, I've probably been able to avoid the disappointment of first episodes (based on other comments) by picking the ones that appealed to me first, based on the preview picture (for the styles) and the mini-summary.

    1 vote