Bright Lights, Big City
Legend of the Drunken Monkey
Run Monkey Run
The Long Goodbye
Home Sweet Home
The End: Part One
The End: Part Two – | Review Score – 3.5/5
There seems to be no end to superhero shows and movies, with the genre constantly reinventing the wheel and delivering fresh or innovative takes on tried and tested tropes. Deadpool did what Deadpool does best, breaking fourth walls and adding R-rated violence.
The Boys and Invincible added a somewhat satirical edge to proceedings, taking an alternate stance to Marvel and DC. And further still we have shows like M.O.D.O.K. which essentially turned a Marvel villain into an animated sitcom. These ideas don’t always stick but the ones that do deserve some credit.
Hit-Monkey then is a brutal, bloody series that’s every bit a hit as it is a miss. The premise is suitably bonkers; Jason Sukeikis is a mixed bag of comedy and you’ll see the big twist coming a mile away. And yet, this is an utterly enthralling, enjoyable trip from start to finish despite its flaws.
Unlike M.O.D.O.K., Hulu’s other comedic IP in this field, Hit-Monkey isn’t trying to be a typical family animation with Marvel IPs. Instead, this is a very different proposition, leaning much closer to that of Invincible and conventional action anime. The ensuing result is a rip-roaring good time; 10 episodes of explosive action, banter and visual flair.
The story essentially sets the scene around the first two episodes before slipping into a more episodic format. At the center of this is American hitman Bryce. He’s been hired to take out a political candidate in Ken Takihira. After assassinating him from the top of a skyscraper and making a quick Oswald joke in the process, Bryce is double-crossed by his employers and left for dead.
Bryce is taken in by a tribe of mountain monkeys though, who nurse him back to life. One among them remains suspicious of Bryce and his hostility ultimately results in his exile. When Bryce is ambushed and the entire tribe is slaughtered, Monkey returns and remains dead-set on enacting a revenge mission. Only, Bryce too is killed in the conflict but his ghost remains tethered to Monkey while he carries out his mission.
Adding extra depth to the field is that of Shinji Yokohama and Akiko, who both take up the political mantle and try to fight back against Itaru Ozu, the man allegedly responsible for ordering the assassinating on his opponent.
If that wasn’t enough, Lieutenant Ito and Haruka both rock up on the scene together, determined to track down Monkey as he begins his long list of killings.
Most of the episodes from this initial set-up follow the same conventional story beats, with a “target of the week” feel as Monkey and ghost Bryce work together to tick names off their list of enemies.
There are the usual set-backs along the way, including that aforementioned twist that arrives at the end of episode 9 and the ensuing betrayal and flashback episodes respectively. All the usual mechanics for this genre are in play and they arrive like clockwork exactly where they should in the plot.
Despite the simple machination on offer, Hit-Monkey shines when it leans into its action. There’s some great sequences here and while it never reaches the illusive highs of shows like Invincible, there is a good amount of bloody violence and swordplay that makes for much more mature viewing than one may expect.
Less effective here though is the humour which can sometimes feel at odds with the dark revenge tone running through this. Fresh off his wildly popular Ted Lasso gig, Jason Sukeikis essentially uses his same charm and wit here and it can sometimes be distracting.
In essence, it’s the Detective Pikachu effect, where Pikachu was voiced by Ryan Reynolds and everyone just pointed out it’s Deadpool 2.0. Go figure. While that’s okay if you’re a massive fan of this type of humour, if you’re not then this is going to be a rough ride.
Where Hit-Monkey thrives is with its action-packed plot. When the show actually focuses on this rather than trying to pack one-liners and comedic quips through the episode, the story really shines. There’s a colourful cast of characters at the helm and the fulfilling character arcs conclude nicely at the end, which this show deserves brownie points for.
Overall though, Hit-Monkey is a fun ride and if you’re sold after the first 3 or so episodes, you’re bound to find a lot to like here – even if the humour is a bit hit or miss at times.
Verdict - 7.5/10