It's been 15 years since the Animatrix hit the screens with a themed anthology of shorts, geared towards adults, and fully computer-generated; yet, despite its crazy success, nothing has ever come close to it in the decades after.
Luckily, digital masterminds Tim Miller ("Deadpool") and David Fincher ("Fight Club") are here to change that with Love, Death + Robots - an anthology of 18 brilliant, bloody, sexy, violent, animated sci-fi shorts which will, without any doubt, take your breath away.
Love, Death + Robots is a brilliant collection of visual stunners. The stories vary in theme, art style, context and maturity, but are all quite great. And yes, you can watch LD+R in one sitting - but if you only have limited time and want to get the best this Netflix limited series has to offer, this is where you should start:
E1: Sonnie's Edge
Produced and animated by Miller's photorealistic powerhouse Blur Studio, Sonnie's Edge is an incredibly dark cyberpunk short about engineered beast fighting to the death. Think Pokemon, but for adults. The characters remind me of Sergey Kolesov's work on the Dishonored series, and just like in Dishonored they're all shitty people, liars, thieves, and murderers.
But at least the beasts are lovely - and so are the many plot twists and the visual spectacle awaiting you. The perfect gateway to Love, Death + Robots, a stunning visual piece, and an absolute must-watch.
E13: Lucky 13
The 13th episode of Love, Death + Robots lasts exactly 13 minutes and is christened Lucky 13, after the fighter ship who basically stars as this episode's protagonist.
In Lucky 13 rookie pilot Cutter gets assigned a ship which is, as one character puts it, "a flying coffin". Defying all expectations, Cutter and the ship make it out alive from quite a few hairy situations - but how long do they have until their luck runs out?
Lucky 13's incredible direction and visual delivery (it is produced and animated by Sony Picture Imageworks) is a notch above anything else in Love, Death + Robots - and given the incredible heights this Netflix anthology reaches, that's saying a lot. A must watch, if only for the visuals.
E8: Good Hunting
Based on my favourite story in Ken Liu's brilliant "the Paper Menagerie", Good Hunting is a beautiful story of love, revenge and redemption set in an alternate history steampunk Hong Kong.
The world Liu builds is incredible, and Korean animation powerhouse Red Dog Culture House definitely does the characters and mythology justice. Simply fantastic.
E14: Zima Blue
Based on a brilliant short story by Alastair Reynolds, and beautifully directed and animated by London-based Passion Pictures, Zima Blue is probably the deepest and most interesting of the shorts on display.
In Zima Blue a journalist travels to meet Zima, an old artist who's been building larger and larger murals installations, and whose fascination for a particular color - the eponymous blue - seems to have reached planetary proportions.
By far the most challenging story in Death, Love + Robots, Zima Blue will have you question what it means to be an artist, or even human, up to the very end.
E7: Beyond the Aquila Rift
My personal favorite from the whole series, Beyond the Aquila Rift's amazing direction, great characters, and unexpected plot turns make this one of the best shorts I've seen in the last few years.
In Beyond the Aquila Rift, a wrong course sends Thom and his crew a few light-years off course, leaving them stranded at a space station well beyond the Aquila Rift. Luckily for Thom, an old flame from the past - Greta - is on the station as well, looking to help him get out of the mess he's gotten himself into.
To say more would be to spoil the Lovecraftian pleasure of one of the best sci-fi stories ever written (Aquila Rift is also based on a novelette by Alastair Reynolds). From a technical point of view as well, Beyond the Aquila Rift is a triumph: incredibly well directed (by a team of four!), with its characters brought to life in an incredible manner by french animation powerhouse Unit Image. The music is also perfect; there's no filler, no fluff, no cringy lines and the ending is absolutely lopsided.
If you have time for just one episode, this should be the one you watch - and it's also the one that will stay with you for a very, very long time.