CGI animation usually comes in one of two flavours when it comes to anime. Gorgeously breathtaking or horrifically ugly. In recent years, Japanese animation has been shifting toward CGI projects at an increasing rate, rather than the conventional hand-drawn gems of old. Whether it be budgetary concerns or just an easier medium to work with, stories like Make My Day don’t do the future of CG anime any favours.
The story itself is a well-worn bag of tropes and ideas that have been pedaled in this medium since the 70’s with gems like Alien. The plot itself takes place on a prison planet aptly titled Planet Coldfoot. On this inhospitable barren wasteland, a big secret is about to be uncovered. A recon team of prison guards find mysterious creatures, along with the remains of an earlier survey team, and it’s up to plucky part-time prison guard Jim and a ragtag group of misfits to find out what these creatures are and stop them before it’s too late.
Across the 8 episodes, the show throws up a number of obstacles for our characters to overcome, including betrayals within the group, a pregnant woman called Marnie whom Jim has ties with and issues spanning planet-wide that could change the fate of the world as we know it.
The story itself is very straightforward, and although there are glimmers of an interesting world being built early on, it mostly comes down to the capitalist hierarchy we’ve seen so often in these sort of shows. The poor eke out a living while the greedy upper echelons of the rich awaken an ancient evil that wants to destroy them all.
While the story is perfunctory and at times reasonably enjoyable, the animation is a real eye-sore. Landscapes are passable, although the saturated colours sometimes cause foreground and background objects to blur together, which isn’t a great look. The character models though, are atrocious.
The animations are stiff and awkward, while the entire project feels like it’s been ripped from an early PS1 or Sega Saturn cut-scene. Case in point comes from simple things like animating sweat. Big blue teardrop shapes roll down cheeks for characters in stressful situations. Likewise, every single facial expression has to be accentuated to comical levels, rather than a more nuanced portrayal we’ve seen in some of the better CG animated projects in recent years. And that’s before getting to the running and fighting animations, which leave a lot to be desired.
We’ve seen with projects like Love, Death and Robots exactly what can be done in this medium, but Netflix’s latest anime is much closer to the horrific 3D remake of Saint Seiya than it is toward its anthological gem. With a simple and forgettable story and bog standard character arcs to boot, Make My Day is underwhelming to say the least. If you’re looking for a really good space anime, check out Cowboy Bebop or Planetes instead.
Read More: Make My Day Ending Explained
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Verdict - 4/10
1 thought on “Make My Day Season 1 Review – Underwhelming, formulaic and woefully animated”
I can’t let this pass.
This anime is actually a pageant of disparate human character set against a beautiful sci-fi backdrop. Typical anime denizens are probably not in the market for unexpected and unpleasant insight into human character. And, how deep can one drill in a very fast moving eight episode anime? This series drilled pretty far.
I was first stunned that the protagonists are mostly non-white. Our reviewer somehow overlooked this feature of utmost significance. I have never seen a sci-fi anime of presumably Japanese origin (or of any origin) in which the main character is black. But it is not a choice just to be perverse. “Are we told that hundreds of years from now the human race is STILL reserving the least desirable jobs in the most god-forsaken places to black people?” Right off the block this is a bold proposition. And as you progress through the episodes the white males model all-too-familiar white male character defects and sins. The only redeeming white guy is Walter, the prisoner serving time for murder. This may not be a formula for North American popularity.
Early on the plot looked like a re-tread of Alien. The triggering event of the fiasco indeed copies Alien, and makes no attempt to hide this. But rapidly it takes off in its own direction.
In anime the heroes and heroines are permitted to overcome impossible odds. But this plot gets pretty specific about the mechanics of each artifice by which Jim survives and is able to save others. He does not prevail by shooting the biggest gun or by “kicking ass.” He rapidly advances from the pathetic, weak innocent to which are are introduced in the first scenes. You see him pausing to recoil from emotional onslaught and to think of a next plan. We see him rapidly sketching has ideas and coordinating with others. We see him and allies improvising equipment and venues for defense, having been disdained and abandoned by authorities and superiors. We see him delivering a baby while all medical personnel are out of commission.
I credit the specifics provided about infrastructure, logistics, technology and the physiology of the aliens. Our understanding progresses with that of Jim and of Walter as they learn the aliens’ vulnerabilities and in-vulnerabilities. When we first meet the aliens they look like “creepy scary monsters” like those of Alien. But gradually Jim and other other observant characters (mostly not white) learn enough about their organs to devise defense. Jim says, “they’re actually kind of cute if you forget they will eat you.”
My wife observed, Dr. K. looks like Sigourney Weaver. This is possible, and is a tribute. In the final seconds we learn the rough plot model is not “Alien” but “Dune,” an undisguised homage to Frank Herbert. In anime one often finds homage to Western icons.
Visually I found much delight. Glowing floating yellow aliens which from a distance resemble enormous cicada larvae I have not seen before. The distant views of the “swarm” in a night landscape – love it. The glowing yellow in interiors and exteriors of various dark blue tints – wonderful. I love the monumental scale of the prison views, the prison dining room, the mining pit. The anime moves rapidly. Time to savor these is insufficient. 3D modeling of urine streams is new to me; maybe it’s a computer game thing.
“Original” and “fresh” are scarce and precious; I forgive much in a work that supplies them to me. Clumsiness, an occasional cliche, I don’t notice if my attention is on elements more interesting.
Apparently no qualifications are required to post on the web a review of anime. I regret that a review that misses almost every wonderful about this series is so prominently displayed.
“Cowboy Bebop” is classic, but 30 years old. But for about three episodes it has no plot. “Planates” is wonderful and should not be missed. Occupying a place in the sci-fi realm that is logical and plausible, it’s a completely different kind of work. Neither of these open eyes to the toxic void of undisguised human avarice and opportunism.
I hope my admiration reaches the makers.