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Scott Pilgrim Takes Off (2023)

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off
is not the show you think it is. You may be expecting a more faithful adaptation of the series of graphic novels, covering the same ground as Edgar Wright's 2010 live-action movie. That would have been entertaining enough for fans, but the producers have taken a very different- and arguably more interesting- approach.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is based on the Scott Pilgrim comics written and illustrated by Bryan Lee O'Malley. The showrunners and writers are O'Malley and BenDavid Grabinski. The series is a Netflix Production, with the animation produced by Science Saru. Abel Gongora is the director and Eunyoung Choi, Edgar Wright, Nira Park, Jared LeBoff, Marc Platt, Adam Siegel and Michael Bacall are executive producers. The first eight-episode season debuted on Netflix on November 17, 2023.

The series begins by sticking closely to the story as depicted in the graphic novels and in the movie. It follows 23-year-old Scott Pilgrim as he develops a crush on the enigmatic newcomer Ramona Flowers. He soon finds out that if he wants to date her he must first defeat her seven evil exes. It follows the original comic pretty faithfully, with a few updates or changes. For example, in a smart change, Ramona now works delivering DVDs for Netflix instead of working for Amazon. Otherwise, the scenes play out exactly like in the source material.

It closely follows the comic storyline... until it doesn't. It unfolds as expected until the end of the first episode when the plot makes a radical departure from the original. It zigs rather than zags and completely changes the story in the process.

The first episode is the only one to take its name directly from the graphic novel- Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life. The remaining seven episodes are completely original material.

At this point the show completely diverges from the story as we know it and heads in a totally different and unexpected direction. It's no mistake that this is Scott Pilgrim Takes Off and not Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. It's an entirely different storyline- albeit one that starts in the same place.

Unfolding across eight episodes allows the characters more screen time and characterisation than they have ever had before. It enables them to be more fleshed out, with some who previously were almost glorified cameos becoming more rounded characters. Particularly benefiting from this is Ramona Flowers, the archetypical magic pixie dream girl. Here she graduates to practically co-lead. She has a lot more agency than she's had before and is a major force in driving the plot forward.

Visually, Science Saru have done an absolutely fantastic job of turning O'Malley's original art into animation. It has a westernised manga/anime look to it and a pleasingly chunky feel. It's animated dynamically and captures the spirit of the original work perfectly. It's hard to imagine a Scott Pilgrim animation looking better than this.

The series brought back virtually the entire cast from Edgar Wright's movie to reprise their roles. Michael Cera and Mary Elizabeth Winstead are joined by Satya Bhabha, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick, Brie Larson, Brandon Routh, Jason Schwartzman, Johnny Simmons, Mark Webber, Mae Whitman, Ellen Wong, Anna Kendrick. Allison Pill and Aubrey Plaza.

Not every on-screen actor is suited to voice acting. It's a different skill, and quite often even big stars don't have it. Luckily, everyone here equips themselves well, channelling their original performance from all those years ago.

Also on the sonic side, original music comes from Anamanaguchi, who provided the soundtrack of  Scott Pilgrim Vs The Video Game. There are also a few musical cues lifted from the movie. As a whole, it helps to add to the series's nostalgic vibe. It seems to be set in an unspecified year in the past- everyone has flip phones and both VHS and DVDs are used.

So Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is not the show we were all expecting (sequel? reboot? somewhere between the two?) but is it any good? In short- yes. Yes, it's very good. By turns funny, thrilling and at times surprisingly moving, it's the full package.

There's lots of references and nods for the eagle-eyed fan. There's even a reference to events that took place in Scott Pilgrim Vs The Animation, the promotional Adult Swim short released around the time the movie was released. Still, if you're completely new to Scott Pilgrim you shouldn't find yourself too lost.

The series comes to a satisfying conclusion but definitely leaves room for further adventures. And if they are of this quality- then they'll be very welcome.Very welcome indeed.

FORMAT: SERIES AVAILABLE ON: Streaming  FROM: Netflix RATING: 12 [UK]  RUNNING TIME : 8 episodes, times vary


 Combining the best of the graphic novel, the film and even the videogame to make something new, Scott Pilgim Takes Off to the stratosphere.