Scott Pilgrim fans rejoice! After living off scraps for years, it’s finally time to revisit the beloved tale in Netflix’s snappy 8-part animated series, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. This journey first began in 2004 when author and comic book artist Bryan Lee O’Malley released Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, the first of six collected volumes, subsequently bringing what has turned into the Scott Pilgrim franchise to life. Now, nearly two decades later, O’Malley has spearheaded the Netflix original anime series based on his iconic characters as showrunner, writer, and executive producer alongside writer BenDavid Grabinski (Are You Afraid of the Dark?).
The 2010 feature film adaptation Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, directed by Edgar Wright, continues to be a comfort watch to many. Wright’s passion for the source material is undeniable, having also played a part in requesting the Scott Pilgrim video game to be rereleased to celebrate the movie’s 10th anniversary. Showing no signs of permanently separating from the franchise, Wright came on board Netflix’s anime series as an executive producer. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off is directed by Spanish animator Abel Góngora, who is best known for his work with the Japanese animation studio behind this project, Science SARU. Viewers who watched Star Wars: Visions on Disney+ will recognize him as the director of the T0-B1 short from the first volume as well.
It’s not only the creatives behind the scenes who have continued to show their overwhelming loyalty towards Scott Pilgrim’s story and characters. A large portion of the 2010 film’s cast previously came together for a virtual table read for charity during the 10th anniversary. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, however, has managed to entice the entirety of the main cast to reprise their recognizable roles. From the infamous League of Evil Exes led by Gideon Graves (Jason Schwartzman) to Scott’s sister Stacey Pilgrim (Anna Kendrick) to superstar Envy Adams (Brie Larson), every single actor is back to voice the characters you know and love from the series. Moreover, they’re given more development than ever, despite initially seeming as though this anime was going to play out identically to the feature film, barely diverging from the movie’s chronology of scenes.
In the first episode, Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is living in Toronto, Canada with his exceedingly sarcastic roommate Wallace Wells (Kieran Culkin). Causing a minor scandal, Scott recently started dating teenager Knives Chau (Ellen Wong) and brings her to watch rehearsals for his band Sex Bob-Omb’s upcoming gig, but his bandmates Stephen Stills (Mark Webber) and Kim Pine (Alison Pill) know something is off. Scott has been consistently dreaming about a rollerblading girl with vibrantly dyed hair. And by chance, Scott soon meets this girl from his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), at a party hosted by Julie Powers (Aubrey Plaza). Everything feels strikingly familiar to Edgar Wright’s movie until the story takes an unexpected turn when Scott fights the first of Ramona’s seven evil exes, Matthew Patel (Satya Bhabha).
From this point onwards, we explore an entirely new narrative that expands on the fan-favorite wacky characters. In a turn of events, Ramona ends up seeking out each of her exes herself, including Todd Ingram (Brandon Routh), Lucas Lee (Chris Evans), Roxie Richter (Mae Whitman), and Kyle and Ken Katayanagi (Julian Cihi). Ramona gives each of her exes the benefit of becoming more layered and humanized through expositional backstories that dive into both their previous romances and the life experiences that led them to become who they are. Despite the title of the show, Ramona Flowers is the character who is given the most time to shine and is far more active in the fate of her relationships this time around. This is the greatest difference that makes Scott Pilgrim Takes Off its own unique adaptation that can stand side by side with the 2010 movie.
This anime series is sure to be a huge hit with pre-existing fans of the franchise. Scott Pilgrim Takes Off completely reinvents the primary story in Edgar Wright’s film and offers a whole new angle on Scott and Ramona’s complicated romance. Yet, nestled in amongst the plethora of new content are familiar callbacks to the lines and songs that have contributed to the movie’s reputable status in pop culture. If the returning star-studded cast isn’t enough for you, be sure to stay tuned for the credits and check what celebrities make voice-acting cameos throughout the show.
Even if the pacing slightly wavers towards tediousness during the concluding episode, this Netflix original series is otherwise an entirely compelling viewing experience. Fans are treated to a colorful art style and character designs which are taken straight from the Scott Pilgrim comics, inspiring pure joy and at times even evoking a sense of comforting nostalgia. It’s everything that you would want it to be; fun, quirky, and loyal, capturing the spirit and tone of both the film and Bryan Lee O’Malley’s original graphic novels. The ending offers room for further expansion should there be the desire for it, but for now comes to a satisfying conclusion that is a meaningful meditation on the way we simultaneously desire and fear relationships as we continue to grow as people.