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Scott Pilgrim Takes Off overview: Netflix’s anime remixes the story

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When the information got here that Netflix was making an animated model of Scott Pilgrim, one that brought back all of the original film actors (along with the director and series creator), it raised some attention-grabbing questions. Largely, I used to be curious simply how a lot would change because the story shifted mediums. Whereas the unique comics and the live-action movie adaptation had their variations, they each nonetheless largely instructed the identical story a few 20-something slacker from Toronto combating his approach by way of his girlfriend’s relationship historical past. However for the brand new sequence, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, the story isn’t only a departure — it utterly blows up the timeline.

Be aware: This text contains some spoilers for Scott Pilgrim Takes Off.

At first, it doesn’t actually really feel that approach. For many of the first episode (of eight), Takes Off performs out like, properly, an animated model of Scott Pilgrim. There are some superficial variations — Ramona now delivers DVDs for Netflix as a substitute of packages for Amazon, because the present is on Netflix — however in any other case issues are principally the identical. Which means it’s a narrative about Scott (Michael Cera), who’s nerdy, lazy, and oblivious to the emotions of everybody round him. He meets the (literal) lady of his desires in Ramona (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and so they exit, although he’s already relationship a high-school lady named Knives (Ellen Wong).

After which issues get fairly bizarre. Ramona, it seems, has seven evil exes, and with a purpose to date her, Scott has to defeat all of them. It’s principally a love story with the construction of a online game, utilizing Road Fighter violence to discover a complete lot of emotional baggage. Takes Off follows that story up till the very first battle between Scott and the preliminary evil ex, Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha). Then it, ahem, takes off in one other route.

Okay, significantly: if you wish to keep away from spoilers, now is the time to go away.

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Takes Off is a sequence designed across the concept of what if? On this case, creator Bryan Lee O’Malley and co-writer BenDavid Grabinski ask what would occur if Scott truly misplaced that battle towards Matthew? And never solely misplaced however was pulled right into a mysterious vegan portal in order that nobody had any concept the place he was? That’s precisely what occurs, and it has every kind of ripple results. Matthew will get a lot confidence from profitable that he takes over the League of Evil Exes and the multimillion-dollar empire of its chief, Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman). Knives channels the lack of Scott right into a songwriting profession alongside Scott’s bandmate Stephen (Mark Webber). And Ramona turns into a detective of kinds, trying to find the kidnapper by investigating each potential suspect.

It’s an enormous shift, and as a longtime fan of the Scott Pilgrim mythos, it was plenty of enjoyable watching these characters in new conditions. However the change is definitely rather more important than that. By eradicating Scott from the equation for a big a part of the sequence, Takes Off shifts the main target to everybody else. Ramona, specifically, is now entrance and heart, spending every episode wanting into her exes (and others) because the attainable culprits for Scott’s disappearance.

The result’s that we get a a lot deeper take a look at characters who beforehand acquired brief shrift, significantly within the rapid-paced film. You get to see Ramona come to phrases with, and apologize for, how shitty she was to Roxie (Mae Whitman) once they dated, and the way Romana breaking apart with Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) is what impressed him to turn out to be the world’s most well-known skater / actor within the first place. Even the Katayanagi twins (Shôta and Keita Saitô), who barely do something within the film except for summon an enormous holographic dragon, have a compelling arc. Issues have modified a lot that Gideon — Gideon! — turns into a sympathetic determine at sure factors.

The story ultimately will get fairly meta. Younger Neil (Johnny Simmons) writes a screenplay in his sleep, which bears a placing resemblance to the unique Scott Pilgrim film and ultimately it will get changed into a movie. There are characters cosplaying as different characters and every kind of different weirdness that, I promise, will make sense by the tip. I received’t spoil the large twists from later, however Takes Off’s meta-ness will get cranked as much as 11, with every kind of shenanigans involving time journey and, at one level, a musical. Once more, it’s not simply a chance to see beloved characters in bizarre new conditions but in addition an opportunity to research their selections — each on this present and in previous variations of Scott Pilgrim — in a deeper approach.

Inversely, the factor that makes Takes Off so fascinating to longtime followers additionally means it’s not essentially one of the best entry level for the sequence. A lot of the delight I acquired from the present got here from the way in which it subverted my expectations, taking a narrative I believed I knew so properly and twisting it into one thing stuffed with surprises, whereas opening up house for characters who aren’t named Scott. It does nonetheless in the end comply with a number of the identical beats and touches on the identical themes of self-awareness and acceptance. And just like the film, it additionally appears to be like cool as hell. As one character says towards the tip: “the sport has modified, however the gamers are the identical.”

I’m unsure if it’ll have the identical affect when you have no historical past with the franchise. However both approach, Takes Off does one thing very sensible for many who do have that historical past: remixing a well-recognized story as a substitute of retelling it.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is streaming on Netflix now.

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