The stories in this anthology series draw you in close and then stab you in the soul with a sharp blade.

Disclaimer: This is a review, and as such will contain opinions, spoilers and (often) general shit talking. (If you talk about what you don’t like about a work, you learn a lot. When you think through a work with the stakes presented to you by the creator, by the context of the work, you learn a lot. I review things, not because I love to dislike things, but because dislike contains rich and vital information for the process of experiencing something, but I cannot access it without interrogating it.) So, if you don’t want to have this thing spoiled for you, or don’t know how to behave when a person on the internet, that you don’t know, has opinions that don’t line up with yours, this review is not for you. It’s also not for the author/creator of the work. Please and thank you.

Netflix’s science-fiction animation anthology, Love, Death + Robots is a collection of shorts. In each one, we peer into the future or an alternate reality.

This is one for the history books of sci-fi, a classic upon landing.

The animation is beautiful, whether it’s photorealistic or leans more into animation. Love, Death + Robots gave me that same feeling I got when I watched Æon Flux at a too-young age (the German-expressionist style animation, not the film, just to be clear) and was forever changed by the knowledge of what is possible.

LDR very much shows us that adult animation is a viable genre. The stories are violent, challenging, with very dark themes. This isn’t your typical mainstream mush.

The story themes have a huge range, from teenagers going for thrill rides to loneliness caused by centuries living alone to surreal drug trips to exploring humanity through the lens of extinction.

Speaking of which, my favourite characters that make a regular comeback, are K-VRC (Josh Brener), XBOT 4000 (Gary Anthony Williams), and 11-45-G (the Kendra text-to-speech program) who first appear in the first volume.

This trio is on a vacation, exploring the ruins of human civilisation as modern humans go to the Parthenon. Through them, we get to see ourselves through a new lens.

In some ways this reminded me of Into Eternity, a 2010 documentary that follows the construction of a nuclear waste repository. The film questions the repository’s intended eternal existence and addresses an audience far in the future, wondering if any of the information and warning signs left behind were effective or not.

Jibaro (S3:E9) is haunting.

I and my companions suffer from a disease of the heart which can be cured only with gold.

— Hernan Cortes, Spanish conquistador who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire

Jibaro tackles some of the most difficult things to animate — splashing water, glittering jewels, hair — and does so in a fluid style that, much like the Siren at the heart of its story, is hard to look away from.

Director Alberto Mielgo said in an interview that the story had deeply personal roots in terms of the theme and seeking out a toxic kind of relationship where you’re not really interested in anything other than what’s on the surface.

This becomes intensified and multiplied when the story is told through the lens of colonisation.

We are first introduced to the conquistadors on an expedition in a foreign land. They’re dripping in gold and have clearly been marching for some time. As they stop to take a break by a lake, a deaf conquistador finds a golden scale in the lake and is instantly possessive of it. As he takes it for himself, ensuring that none of the other men see it, his action awakens the Siren in the lake.

As the Siren emerges from the depths, she begins a deadly call that starts tearing through the ranks of the soldiers. For those who can hear, there is no escape, and all but the deaf conquistador soon run into the lake only to sink into its depths.

When the Siren realises she has no power over the deaf conquistador, she disappears back into the lake, flummoxed by the lack of power in her voice. But, soon enough, curiosity — or some other internal drive — brings her out again as she creeps up on the conquistador in his sleep.

They precede to chase and hurt one another in a brutal manner. This is a dark, haunting fairytale that shows us how avarice only leaves destruction in its wake, both the destruction of the victim and the perpetrator.

The violence is a dance between these two characters that leads only to more pain. We see how that which is looted and ravaged can never be made into what it was before, and that violence also changes the one doing it.

In the case of a relationship, both people walk away damaged. In the case of colonisation, the way the world looks is rewritten, cultures and societies reshaped into something different at great human cost.

LDR succeeds in avoiding the uncanny valley.

The uncanny valley refers to the discomfort humans feel when we encounter robots that demonstrate human-like qualities. Although this term largely relates to human interactions with robots, the uncanny valley can also occur with CGI in films and digital avatars.

LDR has avoided the uncanny valley by making the characters more stylised than the environment. This makes the animation visually more interesting and more artistic as well as makes the characters still believable, they feel deep and thought-through.

The creators have clearly paid attention to the small details to make these stories as good as they can be, which is why I absolutely love LDR.

It’s is a powerhouse of storytelling in short-form animation. The anthology format allows the series to explore vastly different settings that vary greatly in tone, intent and even length, while still feeling cohesive overall. You won’t find this kind of storytelling in feature-length films or even episodic series.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend giving LDR a try.

With three seasons already done, you’re bound to find something you like. And even if you don’t, you can’t deny that this is a really well-made series with interesting animation.

I’ve never seen anything like it in mainstream media.

It’s a piece of art. Many pieces of art. Disturbing, visionary, intense, creepy.

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