Nuha Hassan says that the spectacular anthology series returns with a diverse collection of stories and exceptionally gory sequences.
Love, Death + Robots (2019) is an Emmy winning anthology series created by Tim Miller and David Fincher that offers creative and gruesome animated short stories spanning the genres of science fiction, fantasy, comedy, horror, and more. Volume One includes 18 bloody and violent episodes, whereas Volume Two consists of eight with sharper and more poignant storytelling. Volume Three introduces nine new stories with substantially more gore, violence, and blood than previous volumes but the same high-quality and visually stunning stories that explore important themes.
This season features a direct sequel to Volume One’s "Three Robots," directed by Victor Maldonado and Alfredo Torres. In the premiere episode, “Three Robots: Exit Strategies,” directed by Patrick Osborne, the three robots (K-VRC, XBOT 4000, and 11-45-G) embark on yet another post-apocalyptic trip around the world, now depleted and empty but for human remains, to observe how humans lived before they were wiped out. They discuss the strategies humans adopted before robots took over, from apocalyptic shelters, survivalist camps, oil tankers revamped for billionaires, and underground shelters for politicians. It’s a grim and, at times, hilarious take on how humanity will destroy the world in the process of bettering itself. Society is challenged by greed, power, and class hierarchies this time.
The following episode, "Bad Travelling," directed by Fincher, highlights the horrifying story of a group of sailors attacked by a giant crustacean. The crew must re-evaluate their priorities while their morals put to the test. After one proclaims himself captain, he sacrifices his shipmates to the giant hungry crab. While the animation is jarringly realistic and exceptionally gory, the story focuses on the themes of righteousness and survival. This tale of morality tests the Captain’s loyalty and the cruel things the crew will do to keep themselves alive, no matter the cost.
Emily Dean’s “The Very Pulse of the Machine” is one of the strongest episodes in the entire series. When a space exploration to one of Jupiter’s moons ends in disaster, the surviving astronaut, Martha Kivelson (Mackenzie Davis), drags the corpse of her dead co-pilot to safety. To survive the excruciating journey, she takes drugs to stay alive, leading her to hallucinate. While the beautifully animated short is rendered in bright colors and shapes, it falls short on the relationship between the characters. While their camaraderie is well-established when the surviving pilot begins to imagine her dead colleague talking to her, nothing happens after that, despite concluding captivatingly and poetically. The short is a 2D animation that explores the vastness of the human consciousness with swirling landscapes and trippy visuals.
Alberto Mielgo’s “Jibaro” infuses fantasy and horror in a traditional folklore setting. The terrifying animated short focuses on a golden siren, outfitted head to toe in gold jewelry, who dances and shrieks on top of the river, luring men to their death. A deaf knight watches as his entire company succumbs to the mythical creature. “Jibaro” is one of the best shorts in the series. It contains gorgeously animated characters and a rich and colorful palette. Mielgo pushes boundaries with his camera work and sound design, leveraging the deaf soldier’s perspective. As the deaf knight and the mythical creature dance through the forest, Mielgo explores their limits of love, betrayal, and power.
Love, Death + Robots animated shorts are diverse in their creativity, with photorealistic CGI animation, motion capture, and 3D modeling. They all achieve remarkable visuals and grounded, complex narratives. Miller and Fincher, once again, provide a new set of animated shorts that are spectacular, gory, violent, and sometimes funny and yet, impactful.
While the season doesn’t have a lot of episodes, it varies in style and substance, and the craftsmanship is impressive. Every aspect of Love, Death + Robots expresses the brilliance of the animators behind this series—the direction, sound, animation art, and design. It showcases an overabundance of immense talent.
Love, Death + Robots is streaming on Netflix.