Since independent comic book publisher Oni Press released the Scott Pilgrim series between August 2004 and July 2010, creator Bryan Lee O’Malley’s work has been adapted into a number of different mediums. The tale of the lovable Canadian slacker and his quest to win the girl of/from his dreams went from a black-and-white graphic novel to an acclaimed feature film to an epic throwback video game to a colorized graphic novel.
Premiere date/time: Friday, Nov. 17 at 3:01 a.m. ET
Where to stream: Netflix
Episodes: 8 total (all available)
But now, just before the 20th anniversary of the franchise, the League of Evil Exes, Sex Bob-Omb and the rest of Scott’s friends have returned in anime form thanks to Netflix’s Scott Pilgrim Takes Off.
The eight-episode streaming series manages to unite the creative forces from all over the Scott Pilgrim universe. Naturally, O’Malley signed on as the showrunner, writer, and executive producer alongside BenDavid Grabinski. He brought in Edgar Wright and Michael Bacall, who directed and wrote the 2010 live-action adaptation Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.
With their help, the production managed to secure the entire cast of the movie to reprise their roles for the anime (except for Shota and Keita Saito, who had no lines as the Katayanagi Twins in the film). That included Michael Cera as Scott, Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers, Kieran Culkin as Wallace Wells, and so on. Finally, after creating the music for Ubisoft’s Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World: The Game, the chiptune and bitpop band Anamanaguchi collaborated with composer Joseph Trapanese to provide the tunes for the new venture.
With all the key players in place, the final piece of the puzzle was animator Abel Góngora and the renowned studio Science SARU to bring the show to life. But with the high expectations of an enthusiastic fanbase to meet, does this retelling of this beloved story live up to the hype? After having the most excellent opportunity to view all eight episodes ahead of the November 17 release date, we have some rants and raves about Scott Pilgrim Takes Off.
This Scott Pilgrim review covers the all eight episodes and contains no major spoilers.
Rant: Story deviations
Despite each form of the story deviating from the source material in some way, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off features the biggest departure from the original story that we’ve seen yet. However, this isn’t really a bad thing. The new story that O’Malley and company came up with is dynamic, hilarious and pop culture-infused. It’s everything a Scott Pilgrim story should be. So why is this in a rant section? The storytellers totally got me with the cliffhanger at the end of episode one. Well played.
Rave: The music
Music is a hugely important part of Scott Pilgrim. It’s inherently infused in the DNA of the story. Even in the comics where you can’t hear the soundtrack, O’Malley’s artwork makes it almost feel like you can. But as the story was adapted, we were finally able to hear fictional bands Sex Bob-Omb, Clash At Demonhead, and Crash and the Boys.
Following down the path trailed by Wright and his team on the movie, Trapanese and Anamanaguchi craft a score that sets the stage and captures the mood of a scene perfectly every time. Then, they also weave established music into the episodes masterfully to enhance whatever’s going on. For example, every song in the Lucas Lee episode would fit seamlessly into a Tony Hawk Pro Skater game. The music team just assembles the best possible mixtapes (or playlists, I guess) for every episode.
RANT: Romance fail
This isn’t really a spoiler since it’s never been canon (no matter how much some fans want it to be), but Knives Chau and Kim Pine do not end up together. However, we do get to learn a lot more about these awesome characters and other standout supporting cast throughout the show.
RAVE: Theme song
The show’s opening theme is performed by the Japanese rock band Necry Talkie and I never skipped it once. It’s a banger for sure.
RANT: Amazing cast members who cannot be revealed
I cannot tell you about all the top-tier voice talent the production brought in for Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. There are a lot of really, really, REALLY awesome performers in the show — even beyond the all-star cast from the movie. But if I tell you who they are, then it ruins some really fun surprises.
RAVE: Scott Pilgrim himself
This is the most likable the character of Scott Pilgrim has ever been. Not to say that he’s been unlikable in the past. This version just seems like the ultimate evolution of our hero.
RANT: Sweet but short
Even though the show tells a complete, self-contained story, I’m still not ready to say goodbye after only eight episodes. (Pro Tip: Keep watching until after the credits of the finale.)
VERDICT: Scott Pilgrim Takes Off into the stratosphere of good TV
Overall, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off reaches and even surpasses expectations. This show was so fun to watch. It’s authentic to the anime genre and the story of Scott Pilgrim. Suddenly, I want a Sex Bob-Omb record of all their songs from the movie and the show on my record player now.
Though it doesn’t seem like the powers that be meant for it to extend beyond one season, I feel like they may reconsider once the audience reaction comes out. But even if they don’t, it’s really great that this series exists.