Anikulapo Rise of the Spectre (2024) Season 1 Review – All the potential to be a great show but fails to deliver

Season 1

 

 

Episode Guide

Episode 1 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 1.5/5

 

Netflix’s ‘Anikulapo, Rise of the Spectre’ had the potential to be among the all-time best afterlife shows, but it falls short due to its own failings. Despite having some intriguing elements, the series doesn’t  quite hit the mark. In a genre populated by hits like Soul (2020), The Five People You Met in Heaven (2004), Bedazzled (2000), Defending Your Life (1991), and Always (1989), ‘Anikulapo’ seemed promising when it debuted on the popular streaming platform.

The show, directed by Kunle Afolayan, follows the success of the 2022 Yoruba film ‘Anikulapo’ and comprises six episodes, each running for one hour to one hour and ten minutes. You can enjoy the series in either Yoruba or English, with subtitles available in the same language.

However, the series takes an unexpected turn, deviating from the balanced blend of fantasy and human narratives that makes a good fantasy drama. While the 2022 film received applause from the audience, ‘Anikulapo, Rise of the Spectre’ seems to miss the mark in maintaining that delicate balance.

The Yoruba term ‘Anikulapo’ translates to ‘one who carries death in his pocket,’ a fitting title for the 2022 Netflix film. In this installment, the story unfolds with a captivating romance between a textile weaver and a queen. The plot takes a mystical turn when Saro, the weaver, utilizes the power of the gourd astute to achieve resurrection.

However, the narrative takes a twist as Saro, now a thug, deceives the former queen, leading to a fate that ultimately undermines his power. In a surprising turn of events, destiny catches up with him, leading to his demise. The 2024 show picks up right where ‘Anikulapo’ left off, continuing the storyline that began with the film.

The show kicks off with Saro’s soul facing a hurdle at the gates of heaven. In order to secure his entry, he needs to reclaim the 20 souls he brought back to life using his power if he wants to enter the afterlife. Now, the ‘Anikulapo’ has to step into the shoes of the messenger of death, but it’s no walk in the park, even for someone as clever as Saro.

As if that’s not enough, eerie things start trailing him, casting a dark shadow over his life. The big question is, what’s in store for cunning Saro? Can he outsmart his gloomy fate, or will destiny once again hold the upper-hand, just like it did in the 2022 film?

On the flip side, Queen Arolake faces her fair share of misfortune and stumbles upon Akin, who later becomes her main squeeze. Meanwhile, King Oyo and his chiefs hatch a plan to bring back the youngest queen, Arolake, in a bid to shake off Akala’s curse. Amidst all the royal drama, there’s a heated rivalry for the throne involving the Oyo chief Bashorun and Saro.   

The show really shines in the human drama department, offering a thought-provoking commentary on society. In Oyo, the king casually picks a random girl for his pleasure, and shockingly, everyone in his parliament seems okay with it, even the women in leadership roles. The series introduces a bunch of misogynistic characters, and it’s not just limited to the king.

Bashorun, the chief of Oyo, is a prime example. He’s all about hyper-masculinity, going as far as scolding Princess Omowunmi for playfully removing Awolaran’s bandana, deeming it a shameful act for a man. In a tough situation, Bashorun goes to extreme lengths, suggesting his own child should die rather than be killed by Kuranga.

He views women as commodities, comparing Princess Omowunmi to a pot of water and referring to both Kuranga and Awolaran as sheep. To add to the drama, there are flashbacks showing Saro engaging in domestic violence and beating Arolake. The show doesn’t shy away from shedding light on the darker aspects of societal norms.  

Hats off to the production team for creating a truly immersive medieval Nigerian world in ‘Anikulapo, Rise of the Spectre.’ From the lively Oyo marketplace with its bustling goat and animal trade to the intense rivalry over palm wine, every detail is thoughtfully crafted. The king’s palace, adorned with a striking crocodile replica, the prison cell, a regular civilian’s house, and even the dining room; the set design is top-notch.

A special shout-out to the costume designer who nailed the historical vibe too. However, fair warning for the faint-hearted – there are some scenes that might make you a bit uneasy. There are gory depictions of dead bodies, a severed head taking an unexpected flight, and more. 

Bashorun, the powerful antagonist, makes the show all the more interesting. The clash of ideologies, whether it’s between father and son or Bashorun and Awolaran, keeps you hooked. Arolake, who once tossed aside her queenly crown for love, finds herself heartbroken by the ungrateful Saro.

Akin offers his love in exchange but Arolake, wary of another heartbreak, is facing a real dilemma. It’s the kind of situation that will make you wonder which way things will go. The actors really nail this, with standout performances from Owobo Ogunde as Bashorun, Kunle Remi as Saro, Bimbo Ademoye as Arolake, and Lateef Adedimeji as Awolaran. Their acting chops bring the characters to life in a way that’s hard to forget.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on human drama, and the series successfully weaves an eventful storyline with well-developed characters and plot points. The technical aspects enhancing the screenplay, are commendable. However, despite all this, the series sometimes feels directionless. 

Sometimes, it seems to revolve around the rivalry for the throne of Oyo, and at other times, it presents something else entirely. The overall lack of clarity and the meandering subplots are drawbacks and despite its potential, falls short of being a great series.


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  • Verdict - 3/10
    3/10
3/10

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