Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 10 Best British Shows On Netflix

The United States creates some pretty amazing shows, but let’s face it, it doesn’t have a monopoly on quality TV. Some of the best television shows from across the pond, with the best minds in Great Britain backing them, and thankfully, some of these are available to binge-watch on Netflix right now. 

From gritty crime dramas to romantic comedies, the Brits sure know how to make a great TV show. Peaky Blinders will take you back in time to an era where crime ruled the streets of Birmingham, while The Crown peels back the layers of the British royal family. Whatever type of show is your “cup of tea”, Netflix certainly has you covered. 

Check out our list of the 10 best British shows on Netflix right now.

1. ‘Peaky Blinders’

Watch this show, by order of the Peaky Blinders.

Telling the story of the infamous “Peaky Blinders” street gang in Birmingham, England, the first season is set in the late 1910s and early 1920s. The main character is the gang leader and World War I veteran, Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), who attempts to establish himself as both a feared criminal as well as a businessman.

This requires some crafty planning on his part, but when a police investigator from Northern Ireland, as well as a spy that embeds herself within Tommy’s life, show up on the scene, all bets are off. 

Featuring a cast that includes Murphy, Sam Neill, Sophie Rundle, Tom Hardy, and more, Peaky Blinders is a show you don’t want to miss a second of.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/80002479
2. ‘The Crown’

A show that history buffs and Royal enthusiasts alike have lauded, The Crown has become a smash hit since its premiere. It documents the Briitish Royal family’s story with a focus on the life of Queen Elizabeth II from her coronation to the modern-day. She deals with the difficulties of her marriage to Prince Phillip, the responsibilities of her role as the Queen, and more. It isn’t the most historically accurate show out there, but then again, no one ever said this was a documentary.

Since the story takes place over the course of Elizabeth’s life, the show uses different actresses for not just the Queen, but the other characters as well. In the first two seasons, Claire Foy portrayed Elizabeth and was followed by Olivia Colman for seasons three and four. In the upcoming season five, Imelda Staunton will take over the role.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/80025678
3. ‘Bodyguard’

In one of his first major roles following his exit from Game of Thrones, Richard Madden portrays David Budd, the titular bodyguard for the British Home Secretary, who is in the process of introducing a controversial bill that would limit freedoms in the name of national security. 

The series progresses as Budd, a war veteran, not only deals with the increasing threat on the life of the Home Secretary but also his struggles with PTSD, a deteriorating marriage, as well as threats to his own children. 

It’s a tense thriller that is well worth a six-episode investment.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/80235864
4. ‘The Great British Baking Show’

Like British TV? Like cooking shows? Love watching people make food that you would never actually make yourself? 

Allow me to “introduce” you to The Great British Baking Show. I say “introduce” because chances are you’ve already heard about or seen this show, but trust me when I say that you’re going to want to check this out if you haven’t already. 

This show is the television equivalent of walking into your grandma’s house after she has pulled a fresh batch of cookies right out of the oven.

Quick tip, though: Don’t watch this show when you’re hungry because you’re going to want to eat literally everything in sight.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/80063224
5. ‘Derry Girls’

Growing up is hard. Growing up in a city that is under military occupation and where the threat of terrorist attacks is ever-present is even harder.

Set in Derry (or Londonderry, depending on your political, national, and religious affiliation), Northern Ireland in the 1990s, Derry Girls is based around a group of friends dealing with high school drama, Catholic school, not to mention the aforementioned military occupation. 

It’s hilarious from start to finish, and, considering the setting, it’s a delicate balancing act that the show must navigate throughout, but it manages to do so masterfully.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/80238565
6. ‘Sherlock’

Taking the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ mythos and placing it in a modern-day setting, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman star as the famous detective and his friend, Dr. John Watson, a war veteran struggling with PTSD.

For fans of the Holmes novels (or any other show/movie/book/etc.) that has featured the characters, this show is a must-watch, with fantastic performances, storylines lifted from the books themselves, and a great script.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/70202589
7. ‘Top Boy’

Do you enjoy crime drama series? How about hip-hop? Do you like Drake?

If your answer to these questions is ‘Yes’, then we’re sure that you’ll love Top Boy. Set in a fictional estate in Hackney, Top Boy originally follows the character Ra’Nell as he looks to adapt and survive in his crime-filled neighborhood. Other characters, including Ra’Nell’s best friend Gem, struggle to get by as well, with many living under the thumb of a ruthless drug dealer named Dushane. 

Although it was canceled after two seasons, rapper Drake loved the show and, along with Maverick Carter, signed on as executive producers and teamed up with Netflix to make another slate of episodes happen.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/80217669
8. ‘Bridgerton’

One of the newer releases on this list, you can think of Bridgerton as a mashup of Pride & Prejudice and Gossip Girl

Bridgerton takes place in 19th-century Great Britain centered around the Bridgerton family as they navigate the aristocracy of the era with all sorts of romantic drama and intrigue. The show also features a racially-diverse cast, with people of color being featured in not just prominent roles in the aristocracy but as full-fledged members of it. 

Bridgerton is not for a, let’s say, conservative audience, as it features many sexually charged scenes, and when we say many, we mean many. Those aspects are an integral part of the show, and the discussion around them has proven to be one of the things the show has been most lauded for.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/80232398
9. ‘Black Mirror’

The show that seems to dominate Social Media and the cultural zeitgeist whenever new episodes are dropped, Black Mirror has been likened to a modern-day Twilight Zone. Black Mirror takes a look at modern society through the lens of new technologies, albeit with a horror and dystopian twist. 

It is an anthology series with new characters and new stories being featured in every episode, which has allowed for big name stars such as Jon Hamm, Anthony Mackie, and Bryce Dallas-Howard to star in some of the episodes. 

Black Mirror is not for the faint of heart, but it is more than worth a watch and will leave you thinking and your mind racing.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/70264888
10. ‘Crashing’

Crashing is one part romantic comedy and one part drama, and comes from the brilliant mind of Fleabag creator, Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Crashing follows a group of twenty-somethings as they decide to live in an abandoned hospital since, well, the rent is super cheap. 

Something we can all relate to. 

While it never garnered a major audience and was canceled after just one season, Crashing is a funny, yet serious at times, show that deserves more recognition. Not to mention, the writing from Waller-Bridge, who was as sharp as ever in her first foray into television.

watch now
https://www.netflix.com/title/80133117
Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 18 Best Horror Anime Movies and TV Shows

So much horror cinema made in the United States is firmly rooted in a Western tradition, meaning that Judeo-Christian imagery and morality still dominate the genre — and with every generation, these movies become more and more self-referential. But other cultures have entirely different ideas about the afterlife and what demons lurk in the great beyond. That’s probably why so many horror die-hards are so obsessed with Japanese media.

Ever since The Ring, J-horror has deeply influenced Hollywood, but few American fans do a real deep dive on more obscure offerings. To help guide you through the cursed world of haunted cartoons, we’ve curated this (unranked!) list of the 18 best horror anime TV shows and films. Good luck sleeping after you’ve made it through.

18. ‘Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack!’

Haunting images of giant sharks crawling on land with insect legs protruding violently from their stomachs became a grotesque meme on a handful of imageboards. The strange iconography of Gyo, one of horror legend Junji Ito’s most bizarre masterpieces, seems silly at first, but the film (based on the manga of the same name) is actually deeply unsettling. The mythos behind how the sea creatures became terrestrial is complicated and obscure, but Gyo’s story evolves into something much more gruesome and nauseating before it concludes.

watch on crunchyroll
https://aniplexusa.com/gyo/
17. ‘Perfect Blue’

The late Satoshi Kon, an anime director known for his dreamlike mise-en-scene and intellectual, postmodern twists, was widely celebrated as a visionary before his death. Perfect Blue is often considered his greatest work — and it’s gone on to influence a handful of award-winning Western films like Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. 

Perfect Blue tells the story of Mima Kirigoe, a fictional pop singer stalked by an increasingly threatening doppelganger. Are Mima’s nightmares coming true, or has she totally lost her grip on reality? Kon’s lovingly detailed and deeply empathetic animations juxtapose horrendously against scenes of sexual violence that slip between waking life and dreams until the audience can no longer tell what a psychotic delusion is and what’s actually happening — reflecting both the young idol’s nervous breakdown and our schizophrenic media culture.

watch on Prime Video
https://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Blue-Junko-Iwao/dp/B07NNP4R4H
16. ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’

Jujutsu Kaisen has garnered an impressive cult following since episodes began airing on Crunchyroll in late 2020. The series has already achieved a perfect balance between horror aesthetics and traditional shonen plotting. Ostensibly about a school for young sorcerers, the ultra-violent art direction and stomach-churning monster design keeps this new show from being yet another by-the-books adventure story about a plucky young fighter battling both literal and figurative demons. It’s got exciting action scenes and real heart, but it’s not for the squeamish.

WATCH ON HBO MAX
https://play.hbomax.com/page/urn:hbo:page:GX8fnVgocBIZDKQEAAABF:type:series
15. ‘Paranoia Agent’

A staple of [adult swim] in the early ’00s, Paranoia Agent is another Satoshi Kon classic which deals with many of the same themes and motifs as the aforementioned Perfect Blue. This 13-episode TV series is a complicated story about the pressures of the animation industry, told from a cartoonist’s perspective driven increasingly mad by her own creation. It’s a self-referential warning about the psychological perils of late capitalism and the flattening of our emotional lives by information technology — expressed through a story about a serial murderer who escaped from a nightmare.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/paranoia-agent/
14. ‘Hellsing’

A steampunk update of the Dracula mythos, Hellsing uses perverted Christian imagery to tell a story equal parts bloody and campy. It’s not the highest quality animation, but the transgressive pleasures of this frequently juvenile show remain endearing, as does its early 00’s goth aesthetic. Spotting Hellsing’s influence on a plethora of contemporary anime (see: Castlevania) isn’t hard to do once you’ve seen the original show.

watch on hulu
https://www.hulu.com/series/hellsing-ae60fec0-4936-49a7-b00f-89de717bce07
13. ‘Devilman: Crybaby’

Artist Go Nagai created the Devilman character in the early 1970s, and he’s been endlessly reinvented ever since. Crybaby is the latest iteration of this iconic anti-hero, and Netflix’s high-budget adaptation is a great entry point for new fans, even if it is a bit abstract. Ultra-fashionable character design compliments the show’s slick techno soundtrack for an extremely stylish and gorgeously animated adventure that vacillates from sublime beauty to Oedipal terror. 

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80174974
12. ‘Promised Neverland’

A serene schoolhouse in the countryside filled with adorable kids belies some truly terrible dark secrets: When the children discover they’re being harvested as meat for demons, they begin to hatch an elaborate escape plan, but their every move is being watched! Emotional drama and psychological fear take center stage in this deceptively cute series with extremely morbid themes. 

watch on hulu
https://www.hulu.com/series/the-promised-neverland-3ef087c6-d967-4495-9730-b5ff54ded8e0
11. ‘Dorohedoro’

A battle between sorcerers and the slums rages in this highly stylized horror/action hybrid series. A citizen of a whimsical skid row one day wakes up with the head of a lizard and no memory of his past, leading him to embark on a grisly quest for both answers and revenge. Each episode gets stranger as more details of the surreal, magical world they inhabit are revealed. Although the show is rendered in CGI, the 3D models are very stylized and extremely expressive in ways reminiscent of more old-school anime.

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/80991903
10. ‘Berserk’

Berserk is a traditionally gothic fairytale about an orphaned knight betrayed by his impossibly beautiful commander. The Western medieval setting is fairly traditional, and the story is almost Shakespearean in structure — until the last few episodes when the plot suddenly takes an unexpectedly hellish twist. Maybe it’s the nostalgia speaking, but there’s something really special about late 90’s anime, and Berserk is a classic of that era — rife with overt queer overtones and filled with wistfully melancholy. 

The show’s first run lasted 25 episodes and told only a fraction of the original manga’s story. (The series was rebooted in 2016, but the poorly done CGI animation style in this latest iteration is nearly unwatchable. Stick with the original and seek out the books if you get hooked.)

watch on crunchyroll
https://www.crunchyroll.com/berserk
9. ‘Serial Experiments Lain’

Serial Experiments Lain is a cyberpunk anime from 1998 which uncannily predicted the rise of cyberspace as the defining feature of the new Millenium. Lain is a young student whose interest in hacking slowly takes over her life until she’s no longer able to tell what’s happening online or in reality. Lain’s psychotic break has philosophical ramifications, as she encounters a series of unhinged conspiracy theories on message boards, leading her to an entity that claims to be God — or is she just going insane? The show was way ahead of its time in its predictions about the Internet and its depiction of a mass shooting only a year before Columbine. This is slow burn horror at its best, but the social implications are what is really disturbing.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/serial-experiments-lain/
8. ‘Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust’

Fans of Final Fantasy might recognize the baroque and ornate art design of Yoshitaka Amano in Vampire Hunter D, yet another Japanese twist on the mythology of Dracula. In this breathtaking movie from 2000, the eponymous warrior D battles Carmilla, a sapphic demon based on the real-life murderess Elizabeth Bathory. It’s admittedly thin on a storyline, but the hand-animated action sequences and melodramatic imagery are stunning nonetheless.

buy on amazon
https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Hunter-Blu-ray-Artist-Provided/dp/B00WHZZAP6/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=%27Vampire+Hunter+D%3A+Bloodlust%27&qid=1614091265&sr=8-1
7. ‘X/1999 AKA X: The Movie’

Manga studio CLAMP is best known for dainty romance stories and cutesy magical girl adventures, but their apocalyptic sci-fi book series X is a frightening depiction of a cosmic battle for humanity. They produced a standalone movie of X in 1996, and while it’s nearly impossible to condense an 18 volume manga into a 1.5-hour film, they did a pretty good job of distilling the graphic novel down to its essence. Secret factions of psychic warriors fight to save or destroy civilization unbeknownst to regular people in this shockingly violent and stunningly delicate doomsday tale.

buy on amazon
https://www.amazon.com/X-Movie-T%C3%B4ru-Furusawa/dp/B00000JL4L
6. ‘The Short Films of Kago Shintaro’

You may have happened upon artist Kago Shintaro’s images while scrolling through the darker sectors of social media: his fetishistic portraits of schoolgirls with their intestines hanging out and sexy paintings of nude women with their brains exposed garnered a kind of viral popularity amongst goths and otaku. Described as “fashionable paranoia,” Shintaro’s satirical humor clashes extreme gore with erotica in fascinating ways. His short films, many of which are available on YouTube, are much more humorous in nature but are often deeply unnerving in a Lynchian way. Shintaro’s fascinations with human viscera remain the most notable motif, but he plays more with the mundane in his animations.

watch on youtube
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGVfVsG8lsQ
5. ‘Dororo’

Osamu Tezuka, often considered the Godfather of Manga, is best known for creating lovable cartoons like Astro Boy and emotionally compelling stories like Budha. One of his lesser-known works is Dororo, a brutal Japanese fairytale about a cursed prince born without limbs or skin. Although the original manga was drawn in Tezuka’s signature Disney-influenced aesthetic, the 2019 reboot adapted the novels into a more adult animation style that showcased the monstrous aspects of the source material — it’s a pretty faithful update otherwise. Hyakkimaru must battle the undead to wrest back his body parts from the underworld, but he’s unaware his unholy quest imperils all of Japan. There’s a lot of emotional depth in these 24 episodes, considering how vicious the actual plot is.

watch on prime video
https://www.amazon.com/Dororo/dp/B07MBT8FBF
4. ‘Witch Hunter Robin’

In the near future, witches are a secret criminal scourge hunted by a covert government agency known as the STNJ. Robin Sena is the branch’s newest recruit, hired for pyrokinetic magical abilities. Robin confronts her enemies and herself in this moody and dreamy gothic thriller. It’s not exactly fast-paced, but the story’s unfolding is filled with dark surprises and a fair amount of violence. This series was also part of [adult swim]’s lineup back in the day, meaning older anime fans probably remember encountering it late at night.

watch on funimation
https://www.funimation.com/shows/witch-hunter-robin/
3. ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

From the first few episodes of Madoka, it would be ludicrous to describe this short series as horror, but a major twist in the plot about halfway through casts a different light on the show’s opening moments.

What appears at first as a Sailor Moon ripoff — frilly rainbow transformation sequences and all! — quickly turns into something much darker when it’s revealed that (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT!) an alien entity disguised as a cute animal companion has actually been parasitically feeding off the magical energies expended by the girls. The extraterrestrial creature is planning on harvesting all of planet Earth as food, forcing the children into a time loop where their ill-fated destiny repeats eternally. This postmodern horror story is filled with experimental animation techniques and a truly devastating existential message: humanity is at the whim of vast and indifferent cosmic forces with a ferocity beyond our comprehension.

watch on netflix
https://www.netflix.com/title/70302572
2. ‘Seoul Station’

Seoul Station is an animated film coming out of South Korea intended as a prequel to the cult hit Train to Busan. The film made its way around the European indie cinema circuit in 2016 before landing on a few streaming services. Like its source material, Seoul Station traces the frightening rise of a zombie pandemic that threatens to destroy the world. Train to Busan was praised for its not-so-subtle social commentary that depicted the ramifications of the devastating wealth gap in Korea — Seoul Station is a little less obviously political but is thrilling nonetheless.

watch on prime video
https://www.amazon.com/Seoul-Station-English-Subtitled-Joon/dp/B071F9VJ2L
1. ‘Junji Ito Collection’

Although it would be impossible to capture the precise and hideous drawings or intellectually sophisticated plots from horror master Junji Ito’s manga in animated form, this collection of shorts does a pretty amazing job of reducing the major themes and motifs into short, digestible segments. Ito’s stories have little in common with Western horror, so each episode is hauntingly fresh and original compared to the formulaic scares we get on this side of the world. The Tomie OVAs are particularly dismal.

watch on crunchyroll
https://www.crunchyroll.com/junji-ito-collection
Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 20 Best Anime Films on Netflix

Demon Slayer just became the highest-grossing film of all time in Japan, surpassing the previous record-holder, Spirited Away. Anime movies are only getting bigger and bigger. With that in mind, we compiled a list of the best anime movies on Netflix for you to watch right now. Although Spirited Away isn’t in the catalog, there are some great options for everyone out there, from Hayao Miyazaki diehards to people looking to dip their toes in the genre. Without further ado, these are the 20 best anime movies on Netflix right now. 

1. The Castle of Cagliostro

While movies like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke have firmly found their footing as some of the greatest animated movies of all time, some older movies of Hayao Miyazaki’s go overlooked. The Castle of Cagliostro was the legendary director’s feature film debut, and it tells the tale of master thief Arsène Lupin III. The movie is thematically different from many of Miyazaki’s later entries, but still features his telltale beautiful portrait shots and witty characters. The Castle of Cagliostro is a must-watch for Studio Ghibli fans, as it provides amazing insight into the genesis of Miyazaki as a filmmaker. 

2. A Whisker Away

This is one of the most recent entries on the list; A Whisker Away released in English on Netflix this past June. The film depicts the story of Miya Sasaki, an unhappy middle school girl who receives a magical Noh mask from a mysterious seller, which grants her the miraculous ability to transform into a cat. As she spends more and more time as Tarō the cat, Miyo has to face numerous questions regarding the self and who she truly is. The animation is beautiful and the film poses questions about what makes us who we are. It’s introspective, colorful and adorable; you’ll come away from the movie with a totally new perspective on relationships and the self. The film was directed by Sailor Moon director Junichi Satoh and written by Anohana writer Mari Okada.

3. Flavors of Youth

Flavors of Youth is an anthology film, so it actually covers three seemingly disparate stories: “The Rice Noodles”, “A Little Fashion Show”, and “Love in Shanghai”. All of the segments of the film, which was a Japanese-Chinese co-production between CoMix Wave Films and members of Haoliners Animation League, take place in China, beautifully highlighting the country’s distinct cityscapes. Flavors of Youth is only 75 minutes long, with each segment making up roughly a third of the runtime. But directors Li Haoling, Jiaoshou Yi Xiaoxing and Yoshitaka Takeuchi manage to pack in tons of sentiment and commentary on family dynamics in the film’s short runtime.

4. A Silent Voice

A Silent Voice, which is based on the manga of the same name, is an incredibly heartfelt teen drama from 2016. The film investigates the horrors of teen bullying, invoking characters who have been both the perpetrators and victims of harassment. In this way, director Naoko Yamada (and original manga writer Yoshitoki Ōima) provides a less black and white narrative of teenage trauma. It’s a thematically dark film, rendered beautifully by Kyoto Animation. This movie is truly a must-watch; you will come away from it a different person than when you began.

5. Okko’s Inn

The 2018 film Okko’s Inn is based on the series of children’s novels of the same name, released between 2003 and 2013. The film tells the tale of young Okko and her grandmother Mineko (and a ghost or two) as they manage the Hananoyu Inn. It’s a beautiful movie, which includes scenes of cutting sadness peppered in amongst moments of pure joy. Unlike some of the other options on this list, Okko’s Inn is a great choice for children and adults alike. 

6. Expelled from Paradise

Expelled from Paradise is another great entry for fans of science fiction. The film, directed by Seiji Mizushima and written by Gen Urobuchi, tells the story of agent Angela Balzac, who works on the space station DEVA. The inhabitants of the station have no physical bodies; their minds have been inputted into a virtual reality environment. This is a super cool movie for fans of science-fiction world-building and post-apocalyptic/dystopian futures. The animation, from Toei Animation and Graphinica has a cool, paler color palette, but the complicated sci-fi narrative is what makes this 2014 film really stand out. 

7. Children of the Sea

Children of the Sea is a 2019 film from director Ayumu Watanabe and producer Eiko Tanaka (of Studio 4 °C). Like many of the entries on the list, this movie is also based on a manga of the same name, written by Daisuke Igarashi—who also wrote the screenplay. As the title suggests, the movie is set near the ocean and uses the backdrop to interrogate numerous questions regarding the relationships between humans and nature. The film follows the relationship between junior high student Ruka—and her two new friends, brothers Umi and Sora—and a series of aquatic supernatural phenomena. 

8. Mary and the Witch’s Flower

Mary and the Witch’s Flower was directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, a former animator for Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. That much is clear when you watch his 2017 film. Yonebayashi certainly takes cues from legendary Miyazaki in its tale of young Mary Smith, who discovers “fly-by-night”, a curious flower which grants her the ability to become a witch for one night. This film is incredibly cute, and a great option not only for scratching your Miyazaki itch, but for anyone interested in discovering an up-and-coming auteur in the anime genre. 

9. Mirai

Mirai is an extremely cute movie that finds its biggest strengths in its simplicity. From legendary writer/director Mamoru Hosoda and Studio Chizu, the critically acclaimed anime (it was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards, among numerous other accolades) tells the story of young Kun Ota as he adjusts to having a newborn sister. The screenplay was inspired by Hosoda’s own experience with his three year old son and explores family dynamics and coming-of-age, told through numerous invocations of fantasy and time travel. 

10. The End of Evangelion

Neon Genesis Evangelion is widely considered to be one of greatest anime television series of all time. The television show tells the tale of Shinji Akari as he pilots the massive humanoid mecha Evangelion Unit 101 in a series of battles against the hostile alien race, the Angels. The End of Evangelion serves as a parallel ending to the TV show; it picks up where the 24th episode of the show ended and answers some of the questions posed in the series’ 25th and 26th episodes. You honestly can’t consider yourself a diehard anime fan if you haven’t seen this landmark film. 

11. MFKZ

MFKZ (Mutafukaz) is a French-Japanese co-production between Ankama Animations and Studio 4°C from 2017, directed by Shōjirō Nishimi and Guillaume “Run” Renard. MFKZ is a deeply chaotic and turbulent science fiction movie, which takes cues from many great films of the sci-fi canon. The English dub cast also includes some bigtime names, from legendary actor Giancarlo Esposito to Long Beach rapper Vince Staples. The film features a super unique animation style reminiscent of sketched-out video games like Borderlands. It’s truly worth a watch just for a glimpse of the unique animation style. 

12. Naruto Blood Prison

Naruto requires no introduction. Although this movie was met with semi-mixed reviews upon its 2011 release (2014 for North America), Naruto diehards are desperate for any content we can get with our favorite nine-tailed demon fox Naruto Uzumaki. Blood Prison depicts the story of iconic protagonist Naruto after he is wrongly arrested and sent to prison for attacking the Fourth Raikage. 

13. Pokemon the Movie: I Choose You

Unfortunately there aren’t a ton of Pokemon movies available on Netflix right now, but of the limited selection, I Choose You is certainly a cute entry to the franchise. Released as part of a 20th anniversary celebration of the anime series’ initial release, the film (based loosely off of the anime’s pilot) tells the story Pokémon Trainer Ash Ketchum and his pals, Pikachu, Verity, and Sorrel, on their quest to meet the Legendary Pokémon Ho-Oh. It’s not exactly a cinematic masterpiece, but certainly a fun watch for any big time fans of the franchise. It’s also exactly 1 hour and 37 minutes long, so we had to include it. 

14. The Garden of Words

The Garden of Words is only 46 minutes long, but manages to pack in a lot of narrative and themes of maturity and loneliness. The film was written, directed and edited by Makoto Shinkai and animated by the studio CoMix Wave Films. The narrative focuses on Takao Akizuki, a 15-year-old aspiring shoemaker, and Yukari Yukino, a 27-year-old woman, as they keep bumping into each other at the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden. Rain, poetry and the Japanese garden are motifs throughout the film, contributing to the film’s overall aesthetic which highlights the beauty in traditionally gloomy spaces.

15. Lu Over the Wall

Lu Over the Wall, directed by Masaaki Yuasa (of studio Science Saru) and written by Yuasa and Reiko Yoshida, is a really cute entry on the list. The film tells the tale of Kai Ashimoto and his burgeoning friendship with ningyo (a fish creature from Japanese folklore) Lu. It’s a beautifully eye-catching and colorful film with a fairly simple narrative, making it an easy and fun watch for any fans of the genre.

16. NiNoKuni

NiNoKuni is a film adaptation of the renowned video game series of the same name. The games, which have been released since 2010, include animated sequences produced by legendary Studio Ghibli, and most of the games’ music was composed by Joe Hisaishi, the composer for all of Miyazaki’s films. The magic-filled adventure that is the 2019 film may not be a masterpiece, but it’s certainly a solid watch for any fans of the franchise.

17. Evangelion Death (True)

This film is another followup to the legendary anime series, Neon Genesis Evangelion. This iteration is an edit of the film Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death & Rebirth, which was released as the first installment of the film series following the anime. The film consists of a recap of the series’ first 24 episodes as well as a substantial amount of new animation, setting up the events of The End of Evangelion, mentioned above. You could hypothetically watch this movie as your first entry into the franchise, as it explains many of the events of the series. However, the anime series is truly a masterpiece, so there’s good reason to binge it before diving into the films. 

18. Sol Levante

Sol Levante is only 4 minutes long, but it’s still technically a film, albeit short. It is the first hand-drawn anime using 4K HDR technology, which allowed the artists to provide even more detail than traditionally permitted, giving the film an entirely fresh visual style. The film tells the story of a young warrior on a quest for a place said to grant wishes. The narrative aside, Sol Levante is an immensely innovative film for anime as a whole and the technological capabilities opening up to the genre.

19. Fireworks

Fireworks is a 2017 anime based on the 1993 live-action Japanese film, Fireworks, Should We See It from the Side or the Bottom? It tells the story of a romance between Norimichi Shimada and Nazuna Oikawa. Although the film doesn’t break any barriers from a narrative perspective, the gorgeous music (composed by Satoru Kōsaki) and beautiful animation (who doesn’t love animated fireworks?) make it a great choice for fans of romance movies looking to get into anime. 

20. Berserk: Golden Age Arc I – The Egg of the King

The first entry from the Berserk: Golden Age Arc is such a banger. Based on the Berserk manga series, the first film tells the story of mercenary Guts in the war against Midland’s rival kingdom. The series is set in medieval pseudo-Europe dark fantasy world, and follows the tale of Guts and Griffith, the leader of the mercenary band called the “Band of the Hawk”. All three movies (released between 2012 and 2013) from the series are available to stream on Netflix, so this trilogy is a great option if you’re looking to binge. 

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

24 Best Sci-Fi Series On Netflix to Watch Right Now

We’re currently surviving about 8 separate armageddons all at once — so there’s something oddly comforting about fiction in which humans have to deal with only one doomsday at a time. Netflix’s sci-fi section specifically has been an unlikely balm for the radioactive burns of this current dystopian moment, with selections ranging from cyberpunk adventures to philosophical meditations on the difference between man and machine. Unfortunately, there’s a whole lot of garbage on there, too, so you might be wondering: What are the best Sci-Fi series on Netflix?

Like a diligent robot farming for minerals on a distant planet, we’ve sorted out the valuable resources from the detritus and curated a playlist of Netflix’s greatest sci-fi series for your post-apocalyptic viewing pleasure. Check out our (superhero free!) curated list, below.

1. ‘Twin Peaks’

David Lynch’s psychotic TV show somehow charmed American audiences in the late ’80s with its bizarre combination of fantasy, sci-fi, neo-noir, and surrealist tropes. What starts as an investigation into a homecoming queen’s mysterious death unravels into an oneiric journey into other dimensions and unknown realities. It’s not exactly hard sci-fi, but the show’s influence is patently obvious throughout the genre in the ’90s and beyond.

2. ‘Black Mirror’

Near-future dystopias are the name of the game in Black Mirror. For a moment, it was easy to dunk on the show’s premise for its facile predictions about the future of social media, but as the real world increasingly resembles the program’s darkest realities, there’s something nauseatingly prescient about even the earliest episodes. The violence and nihilism have gotten toned down a bit since the show’s inception (there are even a few romance episodes thrown into the mix these days) and the quality isn’t always even — but there are few series willing to give such dire warnings about our current digital hellscape. Each episode is a stand-alone story, so feel free to hop in wherever and skip around.

3. ‘Stranger Things’

The speed with which Stranger Things became a ubiquitous cultural phenomenon would have been downright irritating if the show wasn’t precisely as charming as it’s die-hard fans profess it to be. Stranger Things is essentially a pastiche of 80’s sci-fi cliches executed with precision, deftness, and a whole lot of heart. It’s far from original—and the quality takes a dip after Season 1—but the excellent acting from the show’s adult and child stars elevate what could have been rather corny into something extraordinary. The series’ supporting protagonist, Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) even became an unlikely streetwear icon.

4. ‘Gurren Lagann’

Gainax, the studio behind the greatest Japanese cartoons of all time, brought forth this bizarre shonen series in 2007. Gurren Lagann follows the same beats as most giant robot anime — but turns the speed and intensity up to 11. It’s filled with a lovable cast of miscreants, fast-paced action sequences, endlessly endearing character design, and a truly hyped soundtrack of next-level J-rock. Considering how unapologetically stupid some episodes are, the final emotional moments are shockingly powerful. We bet you’ll be sobbing by the last episode!

5. ‘Sense8’

What if eighty minds suddenly became one? The seemingly simple conceit for this series, helmed by the legendary Wachowskis, contains far more political and social commentary than one might immediately assume. A deep and meaningful exploration of identity, sexuality, gender, and embodiment is hidden not so subtly beneath the show’s action-oriented exterior. The series functions perfectly well as a post-cyberpunk thriller as it does as a contemplation on posthumanism.

6. ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’

Widely viewed as the greatest anime series of all time (and often hailed as a sci-fi masterpiece), NGE is a both a Freudian and existentialist meditation as much as it is a story about child soldiers fighting for the world’s survival. What starts as a typical anime quickly devolves into something far more strange and avant-garde. The series’ conclusion doesn’t make much sense as a result of major budget constraints at the time, so expect to follow up with the supplementary film, The End of Evangelion (also currently available on Netflix), which provides more clarity. (Note: due to ongoing licensing issues, the version currently streaming has been re-translated, re-dubbed, and re-scored from the original series that had at first aired on [adult swim] in the early aughts. The general consensus is that this new version is good enough, but not quite as impactful as the original).

7. ‘Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045’

GITS began as an obsessively detailed manga by Masamune Shirow in the late 1980s and spurned several films and TV series since — all of which have become essential texts in the cyberpunk canon. SAC_2045 is the latest offshoot of this story, and although it doesn’t quite pack the same punch as the first entries into the franchise, it’s still pretty amazing. The CGI rendering is certainly a step down from the gorgeously animated films but there’s something delightfully uncanny about watching the doll-like figures navigate the treachery of various virtual realities. In this iteration, cybernetic super-soldier Motoko Kusanagi attempts to thwart a post-human threat as multiple cyber brains suddenly and spontaneously go rogue.

8. ‘Dark’

Dark is a nexus of sci-fi concepts, a post-apocalyptic show, a time-travel show, a moody forest show (with advanced technology), a show rooted in German esoterica. It asks the viewer to watch like a detective from a timeline continuity bureau, taking copious notes to keep the story intelligible as characters create their own futures by their travel to the past. Often compared to Stranger Things.

9. ‘The 100’

The 100 might at first appear to be a generic teen dystopian drama — but it rapidly turns into a sci-fi thriller about adaptation to ceaselessly changing circumstances in war and peace. You might expect a show that originally aired on the CW (and is helmed by the producers of Gossip Girl) to be insipidly sexy, but the lightly erotic juvenile dream the show seems to promise quickly turns into a sophisticated post-apocalyptic nightmare.

10. ‘Altered Carbon’

Set in a Blade Runner-esque world where human consciousness can be transferred from body to body, Altered Carbon is a difficult to follow but an intricately woven story. Because mankind is no longer limited to one corporeal vessel, characters are sometimes played by multiple actors, making the twisty espionage story and accompanying fan interpretations somewhat dense but worth investigating.

11. ‘The OA’

How could one possibly summarize this truly strange series in just a few sentences? Near-death experiences, alternate realities, miraculous dance routines, extensive torture sequences, some kind of dimensional-bending clandestine seance: throw it all in a bizarrely emotional blender and you get The OA. There are definitely high art aspirations in the show’s somewhat avant-garde premise and presentation, but it’s a sci-fi story at heart. That being said: where the show begins is extremely far from where it ends up. Comparing it to any other film, book, or TV show is simply doing this shockingly original program a disservice. You really have to see it for yourself.

12. ‘Godzilla (Planet of the Monsters, City on the Edge of Battle, The Planet Eater)’

We’re cheating a little here: this latest Godzilla anime is technically a trilogy of films but they function as a self-contained mini-series more than as stand-alone movies. Think of it as a total re-imagining of the Godzilla mythos: What if the original Kaiju was so powerful that humans had to flee the planet to escape his wrath? And what if they came back thousands of years later to find the monster still stomping around the globe? Does the human spirit really have enough resilience to endure such serious calamities and humiliations? Or would it be better to just … give up? It’s hard to imagine Godzilla as an existential parable, but it somehow works here.

13. ‘Neo-Yokio’

Jaden Smith stars as the main character in this Afro-centric, postmodern parody of anime’s most obvious cliches. This ultra-fashionable show is unexpectedly hilarious and winkingly smart while still featuring absurd action sequences: in one scene, for example, Smith’s label-obsessed main character battles a possessed Damien Hirst sculpture during a hyper-futuristic art gala. How Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon even got involved in this project is beyond us.

14. ‘The Twilight Zone (Original Series)’

Would we even have contemporary sci-fi without The Twilight Zone? Seems unlikely. This expansive original program, the first series of which aired from 1956 to 1964, spanned the gamut of sci-fi subgenres — exploring dystopias, alternate timelines, near futures, alternate dimensions, the supernatural, psychological terror, and more. Each episode is a perfectly self-contained little nightmare. With powerful, expressionist aesthetics and ultra-sharp dialogue, every moment of this intelligent show is absolutely iconic.

15. ‘Dragon Pilot’

The premise of Dragon Pilot sounds absolutely infantile, but the show has a surprising amount of emotional complexity for something so seemingly stupid. Air Defense rookie Hisone Amakasu is far from the best soldier, but when she pair-bonds with a mysterious dragon that can miraculously transform into a fighter jet, her whole world changes. Obviously inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s anachronistic steampunk fantasies, Japanese studio Bones turns a goofy adventure story into a moving metaphor for growing up.

16. ‘Mobile Suit Gundam UC’

Gundam is the paradigmatic giant robot anime and the franchise is comparable to the Star Wars in how far-reaching and detailed the mythology really goes. MSG: UC follows a different continuity from most of the other series in the same universe but has plenty of outer space fight scenes to keep regular fans satisfied. The interplanetary politics are not always the most accessible, but the lushly gorgeous styling of the mechs are something to truly obsess over.

17. ‘Attack on Titan’

Attack on Titan is often hailed for sparking yet another resurgence in American interest in anime, with its ultra-dark plot about giant, skinless humanoid beings attacking major cities. It’s much more gritty and far less colorful than your standard anime fare, but the series is often hailed for its gut-wrenching storytelling and high-stakes action sequences.

18. ‘Star Trek: Deep Space 9’

Deep Space 9 is a bit of a departure from your standard Star Trek series: Instead of tracking the adventures of information-gathering spaceships, this iteration of the iconic franchise is about a space station located on the outskirts of a wormhole. Playing with the standard formula of the show allowed for creators to take interesting creative liberties, leading to plenty of unexpected moments.

19. ‘LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS’

A spiritual successor to the psychedelic 1981 animated film Heavy Metal, LOVE DEATH + ROBOTS is an anthology of internationally animated, ultra-violent short films helmed by Academy Award-winning director David Fincher. At times strongly aesthetic and at times shockingly misogynistic, these bite-sized stories (each rendered in an entirely different visual style) range from darkly comedic, to abundantly absurdist, to deeply poignant.

Stories center around army werewolves, trash monsters, unlucky space marines, sentient yogurt, history-manipulating iPhone apps, and a pool-cleaning robot that changes the fate of humanity.

20. ‘Ultraman’

The so-called “Ultra Series,” an expansive sci-fi franchise starring the eponymous tokusatsu cyber-soldier, Ultraman, and his various allies and nemeses, has garnered a massive cult following since its inception in 1966 — and Netflix’s adaptation is a perfect update of the original program’s thesis. Despite it’s very 2019 looking sheen, this new Ultraman is shockingly faithful to the original manga on which it’s based. Expect bonkers action and quintessentially Japanese transformation sequences.

21. ‘Lost in Space’

There’s something impossibly lazy about “grimdark” updates of camp classics — but who could possibly resist Parker Posey starring as a duplicitous space vixen?! Not entirely humorless, this reboot of the 1960’s sci-fi classic (itself a reimagining of the 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson) is pretty clever, if not a bit expected.

22. ‘Hunter X Hunter’

Aesthetically reminiscent of the Final Fantasy video game franchise in its blending of steampunk fantasy and harder SF elements, Hunter X Hunter is remarkable in that zero out of its 148 episodes are filler. The more sci-fi stuff doesn’t really begin until the second season, but the fast-paced action of the first plot arc will surely keep even cynical audiences interested until then. Hunter X Hunter tracks the journey of Gon Freecss, a young boy from a fishing village, hoping to find his long lost father. During his misadventures, he befriends Killua Zoldyck, the heir of the world’s greatest family of assassins. The duo somehow becomes humanity’s last hope as they fight off various super-powered enemies — while also, of course, discovering the power of true friendship.

23. ‘American Horror Story: Apocalypse’

Ryan Murphy’s campy horror anthology series doesn’t too often veer into sci-fi territory, but the show’s 8th season took an expected turn with its strange and sometimes delightfully silly ventures into a post-doomsday scenario. The first episode depicts a nuclear holocaust, during which the world’s smartest teens have been whisked away to an underground bunker run by a suspiciously satanic matron. Then, it turns out, humanity’s last hope is a bunch of very trend-aware witches living in New Orleans. It’s hard to tell how much AHS: Apocalypse makes sense if you haven’t been keeping meticulous track of the program’s extensive lore, but there’s a good amount of easter eggs, fan service, and throwbacks for attentive viewers.

24. ‘Puella Magi Madoka Magica’

What Evangelion is for giant robots, Madoka is for magical girls. Although the show at first seems like a frivolous fantasy story about fanciful female fighters in frilly dresses, Madoka unravels into a deeply nihilistic allegory about the meaninglessness of human life: What if all the earth’s inhabitants were just livestock for another planet all along? Stunning, experimental animation and reality-bending plot twists are plentiful in this bizarre mini-series.

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The 15 Best Stephen King Titles Available to Stream Right Now

Known for his suspense and horror story lines, author Stephen King’s books have provided ample fodder for movies and television shows. Adapting his stories for screenplays has resulted in many crime dramas and sci-fi fantasies coming alive on TV. Here are a few now available for streaming on Netflix, sure to keep you glued to your couch and sometimes wanting to leave the lights on just a little longer.

‘Carrie’

The suspense-filled, supernatural horror was nothing anyone had ever seen before when the iconic original starring Sissy Spacek first released in 1976. The 2002 remake of the movie, about a teenager who uses her telekinetic powers to wreak revenge on her bullies, is available on Netflix but the 2013 version starring Chloë Grace Moretz is a better bet if you have that streaming in your region. 

‘Gerald’s Game’

A dark, psychological thriller of a sex game gone wrong, the movie is based on King’s novel of the same title. A couple heads to an isolated lake house to spend time together but unexpected scenes and characters are conjured when the husband has a heart attack, leaving his wife handcuffed to the bed. She must deal with visions and voices in her head as she plots her own escape from the precarious situation. Now on Netflix.

‘1922’

Based on King’s novella of the same name, this is a murder thriller set in 1922 – the story of a small family that grows smaller yet thanks to greed and wrongdoing. Farmer and husband Wilfred doesn’t want to sell the land his wife inherited and enlists the help of his teenage son to do away with his mother so they can be rewarded by the riches of the soil. But their sinister actions don’t go unnoticed by the darkness that now surrounds them. Also on Netflix.

‘The Shawshank Redemption’

One of the best-known adaptations of King’s works is this 1994 gem on Netflix, which earned seven Oscar nominations, starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins. A move away from typical King thrillers, this movie is the inspiring story of a falsely imprisoned man who goes on to embrace life behind bars with the help of another inmate and assists in a money-laundering scheme for the prison warden as a safety net for himself. 

‘The Mist’

A sci-fi show based on King’s novella, the first season on Netflix has ten episodes covering how a village in Maine deals with a mysterious fog that has enveloped the area and brings horrid creatures in its shadows. How the locals defend themselves against these creatures while trapped within a grocery store and the dynamics at play given the different personalities forms the crux of the storyline in this horror show.

‘Haven’

The perfect binge-watching exercise in King’s creative works is this five-season supernatural mystery series on Netflix. The drama follows a young FBI agent who arrives in a fictional town in Maine and is quickly absorbed by the strange events that occur in the secretive town and among its inhabitants. She is soon engulfed in mysterious situations in a place that seems connected to her past life in some way. 

‘In The Tall Grass’

The latest of King’s works now available on Netflix will scare you from entering a garden maze ever again. A sibling duo on a road trip is attracted by the cries of a child when they stop along the way. The cries appear to emanate from inside a field of tall grass but once inside they realize they cannot find their way back out. Others come along to find them and are also sucked into the evil of the landscape they are surrounded by.

‘The Shining’

A cult classic and one of the best performances by Jack Nicholson, the Stanley Kubrick-directed suspense is available on Amazon. A young writer and his family come to an isolated resort in winter as the temporary caretakers, but things take a turn for the worse when the said writer loses his sanity and begins terrifying his own wife and son. A thriller for the ages and one that has been referenced time and again in pop culture. 

‘Doctor Sleep’

The sequel to The Shining is also available on Amazon and stars Ewan McGregor in the role of the son, now an adult but still haunted by his childhood trauma. Fighting a battle with alcoholism, he uses his psychic abilities to calm patients he works with as an orderly but is introduced to a teenager with powers stronger than his and a cult that is after her for exactly those special qualities. A worthy follow-up to its original story. 

‘IT’

Disappearing children. Evil clown. Perfect Stephen King suspense. What nightmares are made of.

Available on Amazon, the movie adaptations over the years have been plenty, the latest in 2017 and 2019 starring Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise the Clown. With gore factor galore, the movie looks at how the clown preys on his victims, and the loss of childhood innocence as each character faces their own versions of fear and hell.

‘Pet Sematary’

Any King compilation would be incomplete without a mention of this horror flick which is inspired by ideas from the author’s own time as a writer-in-residence, living in a rural area and by a road frequented by fast-moving trucks that often ended in dead pets. The 2019 version of the movie has a shocking plot twist. No spoilers here but the change was King-approved and makes it worth watching both adaptations of the story. Available on Amazon.   

‘The Outsider’

Season one of this gruesome murder mystery is now on HBO, as well as Amazon, and will leave you addicted. An 11-year-old boy’s murder in the woods has the local detective and an investigator questioning everything they believe when what should have been a simple and straightforward crime case brings supernatural forces to light. A gritty crime drama with sufficient King factors to have you committed to the entirety of the show from the start. 

‘Castle Rock’

Two seasons of gore await on Hulu, centered in this fictional place created by King and referenced or featured in many of his works. Consider it a classic compilation of several of the famed author’s themes, characters, storylines and imaginary worlds. If you are a King aficionado and experienced his past works, then this show will be a bit of a walk down memory lane with enough horror strewn along for good measure. 

‘11.22.63’

James Franco in a King time-travel thriller? We’ll take it! Connected to President Kennedy’s death, the mini-series looks at one high school teacher’s journey back in time through a time portal to try to stop the assassination. The story is complicated by elements outside his control, and he learns quickly that his attempts to change history aren’t well-received. Now on Amazon, this is one of King’s only works closely related to historical events.     

‘The Green Mile’

Another unlikely King-crafted story that moves away from his typical horror slants to a somewhat feel-good narrative. Guards on death row dealing with vicious prison inmates are faced with a new case when a gentle giant accused of murder and rape lands in their care. One of the guards, played by Tom Hanks, is especially aware of special powers the new inmate possesses and begins to question if he is truly guilty. On Amazon now. 

Categories
Leaders Style

The Impeccably Clean Japanese Streetwear of Netflix’s ‘Terrace House’

In 1992, the idea of filming strangers living together in a house was a radical postmodern revolution. MTV’s The Real World would change the course of television history, essentially catalyzing the creation of a new Warholian genre, now somewhat ironically known as reality TV. Almost 30 years later, as producers struggle to spin reality TV into something fresh, it turns out that going back to the basics was what the medium needed all along. Terrace House, a Japanese reality TV program co-produced by Netflix, returns the genre to its roots with its endearingly minimalist conceit.

Modern Reality TV Style

Terrace House and The Real World are almost identical in premise—what happens when people from different backgrounds are forced to cohabitate?—but while most Western reality television focuses on bombastic conflict and spectacular explosions of emotions, Terrace House offers the quieter moments of contemplation and serenity. Instead of fighting, the characters spend most of their time making small talk, cooking together, planning friendly outings and sometimes falling in love.

There’s a hypnotic dullness to the show for sure—Refinery29 writer Cory Stieg even compared its soothing qualities to ASMR—but there’s something compellingly predictable about how perfectly boring the program can be. And the emotional payoff is often devastatingly heart-wrenching: Viewers have been blindsided by the sincere romances that, although often banal, through gorgeously shot cinematography are rendered as existential parables of the human condition.

Netflix

Terrace House has been almost universally critically acclaimed, but in all the reviews of the show, I couldn’t help but notice that one aspect was starkly under-examined: How the hell is everyone on it dressed so well? Nylon and Jezebel have covered the delightfully eccentric womenswear of the commentary panel (Japanese television shows often have a group of hosts dissecting the action between scenes), but the topic of Terrace House menswear is wildly under-examined.

The topic of Terrace House menswear is wildly under-examined.

Fashion Brands on Netflix’s ‘Terrace House’

The oversight is a shame because Western streetwear aficionados would do well to study the shockingly clean and often starkly simple fashion choices of the Terrace House roommates. Because the show takes place largely inside their bizarrely brutalist living space, much of what the cast is seen sporting is cozy and comfortable loungewear—and the omnipresence of sleek athleisure also reflects Tokyo’s growing fitness fanaticism and the city’s specific obsession with cardio workouts. Although clothes are seldom the topic of conversation for the characters, it’s stunning how unequivocally put-together everyone looks at any given moment. 

Adidas, Louis Vuitton, Nike and Supreme are the brands that are most often on display in the show. Still, the mixing and matching of labels are consistently depicted with a kind of effortless cool that Americans (who tend toward flashier forms of conspicuous consumption than Japanese fashionistas) have trouble approximating. Muted color palettes (most of the outfit choices don’t venture beyond white, black, beige and gray) keep these expensive labels from seeming too ostentatious.

Netflix

Indeed, Japan has become one of the largest markets for luxury brands in the world. “Over half of local luxury executives surveyed by McKinsey viewing Japan, which accounts for as much as 30 to 40 percent of some global brands’ profitability, as a growth engine and profit generator,” concludes Business of Fashion writer Kati Chitrakorn. This trend is apparent not only in the cast’s clothing but in the rather chic ready-to-wear of almost every civilian in the background as well.

Where Terrace House cast members excel is in both emotional and sartorial restraint. Whereas American style gurus often bask in power-clashing, color-blocking and excess, Terrace House members are wise enough to pick only one statement piece per outfit—usually a smart jacket or hoodie or dashing hats and berets with slightly louder sneakers. Unlike in the United States, ill-fitting or boxy loungewear seems rare—even their joggers are mostly slim fit. And on the infrequent occasions in the show where formal wear is appropriate, the group’s men prefer skinnier cuts and streamlined silhouettes. Boldly patterned button-downs with splashes of brighter colors—the kinds the Queer Eye men are such unfortunate proponents of—in general, are avoided.

Influences on Japanese Menswear

One big influence on Japanese menswear seems to be skateboarding, snowboarding and surfer culture, the ubiquity of which was a surprise to me in the series. Western urbanites have certainly become fixated on the trendiness of brands like Thrasher and Stüssy, and the fad has rubbed off on the cosmopolitan men of Tokyo, as evident in the well designed graphic imagery of even non-branded items (although without the sometimes Satanic imagery).

Gaijin tend to put a lot of misplaced emphasis on utility, as evidenced in perpetually sloppily dressed cities like Boston and Philly, who excuse their bad fashion by pointing toward neverending inclement weather and their slavish devotion to local sports teams. Japan’s more temperate climate allows for more exploration in terms of functional outerwear—but what Terrace House teaches us is that there’s plenty of ways to stay comfortable while still looking stylish.

Categories
Leaders Style

Who Knew the New Pope Was a Style Gawd?!

The clandestine operations of The Vatican are largely obtuse to those without faith. Still, the organization’s opulence remains an object of fascination for fashion scholars and style industry insiders, as evident with the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s ostentatious Heavenly Bodies gala and exhibit in 2018. Only two years before that, Paolo Sorrentino’s bizarre vision of Catholic leadership enraptured audiences and critics alike. His HBO series, The Young Pope, explored a world in which a trendy but deeply fascistic and power-hungry American (played by Jude Law) ascended as the leader of the Church — but as he introduced sweeping conservative policies and performed a slew of miracles, a more moderate wing of the Vatican plotted to have him removed. The show abruptly concluded when Pope Pius XIII inexplicably collapsed. Now, Sorrentino is revisiting his transgressive interpretation of the spiritual world with a continuation of Pius’s story in a follow-up miniseries confusingly titled The New Pope.

HBO

What made The Young Pope stand out as a TV show was its high art aspirations: Sorrentino’s absurdly gorgeous cinematographic eye complemented the dark tale of corrupted faith. The story explored the Catholic Church’s entrenched global power and their history of atrocities, including sex crime coverups and the persecution of homosexuals while simultaneously investigating the existential turmoil of spiritual leaders—all set to a soundtrack of sweeping orchestral music, minimalist synthpop and contemporary disco. It was Sorrentino’s sleek styling that made the show stand out—and the extravagant costuming throughout the program was a huge part.

Now, in The New Pope, universally beloved thespian John Malkovich has taken on the part of Sir John Brannox, an uber-wealthy cardinal who, through a series of internecine manipulations from Vatican higher-ups, has become Pius’s unlikely replacement. Brannox acts as a perfect foil to Pius: where Law’s character had been bombastic and despotic, Brannox is melancholic and whimsical. But will Brannox’s new position of power drive him mad?

HBO

“When we read the new scripts, we noticed that each character had evolved so much that we were forced to renew the type of costumes and go in completely different directions,” costume designers Carlo Poggioli and Luca Canfora told GQ, adding that the “boisterous and accursed” aesthetic inspirations for Brannox included Oscar Wilde, the Duke of Windsor, Prince Michael of Kent and David Bowie. 

From the moment the audience is introduced to the harp-playing Brannox, it should be immediately apparent that this vaguely queeny character is an emerging style icon. Dripping in wealth and regality, Brannox’s stylistic smarts perfectly compliment his depressive personality and display a smart, mysterious sensibility. 

Brannox’s color palette exudes majesty: maroons, beiges, arrogant blacks, deep blues, eggshell whites, purples, mauves, and forest greens are the dominant hues — all colors that have traditionally been associated with royalty and poise. The textures: lots of expensive velvets, shiny silks, and thick wools. Accessories: abundant, but somehow not tacky. The fit: Either billowing or slim-cut—harking back to the gothic tropes (no wonder he’s a Marilyn Manson fan!) of vacillating agoraphobia and claustrophobia. The patterns: Ornate and hyper-intricate paisley and houndstooth.

HBO

“The prints were made by one of the last craftswomen who still carry out fabric printing by hand using wooden molds,” Poggioli and Canfora explained. “It was made in a small workshop in Venice by two elderly sisters who work very little nowadays, but who accepted to produce it for us because they’re both devoted Malkovich fans!”

Similarly, much was made of Pius’s red Louboutin’s — but Brannox couldn’t be bothered with such garishness, which is why he switched out the loud red leather for a softer and subtle velvet damask.

A key aspect of Brannox’s character is his lilting and ambiguous effeminacy; he regularly receives calls from Meghan Markle asking for outfit advice. When an advisor notices his sartorial supremacy, she asks if he’s gay—to which he responds with a resounding and inconclusive belly laugh. And Brannox’s styling matches this kind of quizzical androgyny, calling to attention the already confusingly gendered nature of most papal robes: He’s usually seen sporting heavy emo-inflected eyeliner (a detail which had been emphasized in the script itself!), and his flowing coats are almost dresses. Is he intentionally genderfucking—or just pleasantly eccentric?

HBO

When Brannox is elected Pope, taking on the name Pope John Paul III, he is forced to swap out his moodier outfits for more traditional robes, which are (despite the solemn martyrdom required of his position) dripping in gold and jewels. The color palette changes to crisp whites and robust reds, colors that indicate his purity and power.

Brannox begins his Papacy with a message about love, but questions remain as to whether his socialite proclivities will turn him into more of a celebrity than a leader. Considering the excellent costuming the series showcases so far, it will be interesting to watch as John Paul III’s outfits change to reflect what’s happening in the rest of the story—or if he’ll abandon his Louboutin’s in search of something more.

HBO

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

10 TV Shows Airing in 2020 That You Need to Watch

We all may be doomed—we’ve seen too much TV in the last decade. 

The number of original scripted TV series in the United States more than doubled from 216 at the start of the decade to 495 in 2018. Just the first half of 2019 had 320 original scripted TV series air. The past decade didn’t see a single year produce that much until 2013. Worst of all, a lot of that TV has been really good.

The 2010s saw five seasons of a chemistry teacher’s transformation into a meth kingpin, seven seasons inside a women’s prison, four seasons following around a mentally unstable hacker who takes down America’s 1 percent, five-and-a-half seasons of a law professor trying to get away with murder, three seasons of children from the ‘80s battling demons from an interdimensional realm, five seasons of an animated horse suffering from depression and we ended the decade with a season featuring a blue god disguised as a Black man in a world where cops wear masks. That’s only a fraction of what has been dubbed “peak TV.”

This new decade will have to do more than any other decade in recent memory in order to wow people. Russians disguised as Americans? Been there, loved that. America’s most wanted man helping the FBI? We can already binge that. A Marvel TV universe? OK…and? 

It’ll be difficult—but not impossible—to amaze us in 2020, especially when major players like Netflix, Apple and Amazon are prepared to collectively spend tens of billions of dollars on original video content. So, ONE37pm decided to round up ten of the TV series coming in 2020 that will start the decade off on the right path.

‘High Fidelity’

For every person who obsesses over the minute details of past relationships the way they do favorite albums, the 2000 romantic comedy High Fidelity spoke to you deeply. Rob Gordon, played with sardonic charm by John Cusak, is a record store employee who deals with a breakup by trying to understand the futility of past relationships. 

The trailer shows Hulu’s serialized version staying true to the roots of the film while also branching out. Rob is still the protagonist who works at a record store and pines over the top five breakups of their relationship. But, Rob is now Zoe Kravitz and the record store is located in the “rapidly gentrified” Crown Heights, Brooklyn, according to the trailer’s YouTube description. Kravitz’s mother plays a small yet indelible part in the original as a singer, and the Hulu series will be more than a full-circle moment. As Kravitz’s first leading role in a TV series, the burgeoning star that has stunned on HBO’s Big Little Lies, Hulu’s High Fidelity could be the launching pad for the decade’s next great TV star.  

Season Premiere: Feb. 14

‘Homeland’

A TV character’s transcendence from trendy to epochal is wholly dependent on acting prowess convincing enough to make the TV character and the actress inextricable. If Claire Danes walked down the street in a business suit and simply glanced over her shoulder once, I’d fully believe she was escaping and/or hunting a secret terrorist cabal. For seven thrilling seasons, Showtime’s flagship spy drama Homeland did just that in award-winning and convincing fashion as CIA agent Carrie Mathison. She’s given birth to a terrorist’s child, ordered drone strikes on a family celebration and has had more psychotic breaks than this series has seasons, all while etching the “Carrie cry face” into pop culture. Since its 2011 debut, Homeland has been a searingly unflinching look into the fear-mongering and conspiratorial corruption that has shaped the United States post-9/11, and the series looks to end with a few bangs.

Season eight, the final season, finds Carrie seeking retribution on her captors who drugged her into a seven-month amnesia spell that has her CIA colleagues unsure if she even remembers if she switched sides to the enemy or not. Mandy Patinkin as a CIA agent and Carrie’s work dad, Saul Berenson, is bringing Carrie full circle by returning her to where her career started—Afghanistan. For a man who has seen the horrors, Saul saying in the trailer where Carrie going is ten times more dangerous than when she last came all but ensures that the final season of Homeland will be its wildest one yet.

Season Premiere: Feb. 9 

‘The Boys’

Regina King and Watchmen showrunner Damian Lindelof completely subverted the superhero genre in 2019, uncovering the dark and insidious side of people who disguise themselves in order to fight for the truth. Before that, Amazon Studios’ The Boys was a shoo-in for the crown of 2019’s darkest superhero drama. The first season fully fleshes out a world where a consortium of people with superhuman abilities, known as The Seven, are depended on to uphold the law and the drama that comes from their temptation to stand above it. After a superhero kills Hughie’s (Jack Quaid) girlfriend, he and superhero hunter Karl Urban search for a way to take down The Seven.

The first season established the world of the insidious nature of commercializing superheroes and hinting the fascinatingly nightmarishly possibility of militarizing superhumans. So, without a single word being uttered in the 90-second teaser trailer, fans of the first season already see a few questions answered. For those new to the series, the trailer gives you a taste of the gory glory of a truly R-rated superhero franchise, a genre of TV that may prove to be staples of the 2020s. If you ever wanted to know what Superman would be like as a corporate asshole or if Aquaman was a pervert, then The Boys is perfect.

Season Premiere: Mid-2020

‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

What started as a one-hour HBO mockumentary about the process of getting Seinfeld co-creator Larry David back on stage to do stand-up comedy morphed into a nine-season series about the misanthropic adventures David goes on in his everyday life. When a show can have an entire episode based around pants fabric, creating the illusion of an erection and elicit laughter that rips tears from your eyes, that’s a mark of comedic gold. Each episode is a different slice of David’s neurotic life magnified by TV cameras and the hilarious ways he sucks people into his absurdist takes on normal social discourse.

The slow-walking elderly and ineffective attire during confrontations are just a few of the mundane everyday conventions that catch David’s ire in the short trailer for season ten. This season also will introduce new celebrities into Larry’s web of nihilism. Rachel McAdams, Jane Krakowski and Laverne Cox are a few who make appearances in the trailer with visible uneasiness about the way David lives his life. After taking six years in between seasons eight and nine, the latter season showed no signs of comedic atrophy proving Larry David’s humor can adapt to any decade


 Season Premiere: Jan. 19

‘Shrill’

For seven years, Aidy Bryant has been one of the most versatile comedians on Saturday Night Live. She could channel a level of unhinged hilarity into making Cardi B look tame in the same scene and confidently tell Eddie Murphy to thank God for her ass. The Hulu comedy Shrill, Bryant’s first TV role as a lead actress, follows Bryant’s character Annie Easton as she fights for respect at her job, her relationship and herself. By the end of the first six-episode season, Annie was emasculating an internet troll and his body-shaming mentality.

For the second season, Annie is “shaking my shit up a little,” as she quipped in the trailer seconds after being seen smashing into a piggy bank rummaging for money. In the world of Shrill’s second season, shaking up your life appears to involve oral sex in public and the feeling insane and amazing simultaneously. Shrill’s impressive first season flew under the radar a bit, but Bryant’s penchant for smart comedy is too magnetic to be ignored for much longer. The second season is looking like it’s shaping up to be the sort of modern coming-of-age story that Broad City was for the previous decade. One where turning booty calls into relationships and being comfortable in your chaos are marks of maturation.

Season Premiere: Jan. 24

’30 for 30: The Last Dance’

For the last decade, the standard for sports documentaries has been ESPN’s 30 for 30 series. They explored the biblical parallels of Steve Bartman’s interference in game six of the MLB National League Championship game in 2003, how O.J. Simpson created reality TV and drug lord Pablo Escobar’s connection to the Colombian soccer team. Yet in more than ten years of award-winning storytelling, the legacy of arguably the greatest basketball player of all-time has been relegated to his forgetful time playing baseball. That, and the way we view the greatest sports legacy of all time, is about to change.

The Last Ride is set to be a ten-hour documentary series about the 1990s Chicago Bulls. After a decade without a definitive retrospective looks into the biggest sports team of the 1990s, fans are getting treated to over 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ final championship run in the 1997-1998 season. In just the trailer, we see Jordan dejectedly recounting the times no one would know where his teammate Dennis Rodman was for 48 hours and footage of the team playing cards on the flight. After decades of unauthorized biographies and documentaries that feature everyone but Jordan, His Airness will finally sit down to give us his insights into the decade that perched him on the top of a sports kingdom. 

Season Premiere: June 2020

‘Westworld’

For two seasons, HBO’s Westworld has bent minds around the idea of rich people living out their most debased fantasies in a man-made wonderland with human-like robots and the carnage that ensues when those robots become sentient. The show has had human consciousnesses uploaded to a cloud, samurai robot showdowns, people injecting USB chords in their arms and pretty much any dystopian nightmare you may have had about robots taking over the world. Thandie Newton, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson and Evan Rachel Wood are stellar, and they’ve helped immerse fans so deep into the sci-fi world to the point of being satiated in confusion.

The first two seasons of Westworld, while enthralling, were cumbersome and complex at times, and season two’s end left more questions than answers. By the looks of the trailer for season three, it’s going to get weirder and wilder. After two seasons in Westworld, the new season will be the first where the robots have to survive in the real world, and by the sounds of the voiceover by Delores (Wood), a robot revolution of the real world is imminent. Add Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul, in his usual disheveled and petrified self, to the mix and you have the makings for one of the most anticipated TV seasons of 2020.

Season Premiere: TBD 2020

‘Better Call Saul’

Spin-offs have a high failure rate for many reasons, primarily because they remind people of the original show without most of the central figures of the original. Better Call Saul is a beautiful anomaly that hasn’t borrowed from the Breaking Bad universe—it originates as much as it’s expanded it. The show follows lawyer Jimmy McGill’s (Bob Odenkirk) slow descent into the immorality that turns him into the crooked Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad. Throughout the series, we find out how Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) and Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) became a criminal partnership, the origins of Saul Goodman and the way crime worked in Albuquerque, New Mexico, before Walter White blanketed it in his sky blue meth.

The first four seasons take place before the events of Breaking Bad, but the two worlds may soon collide in season five after McGill hints that he’ll be practicing law under the name Saul Goodman at the end of season four. If that wasn’t enough, this short season five teaser trailer seems to have Saul trapped in a car being driven by a few nefarious-looking dudes as he nervously looks around for a way out. It looks like the Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad timelines may soon merge. 

Season Premiere: Feb. 23

‘For Life’

The only reason Isaac Wright Jr. isn’t a superhero is because superheroes only exist on TV. Wright received a life sentence after being wrongfully convicted in 1991 of being the kingpin of an expansive drug empire in the New York/New Jersey area. No alien gamma rays or genius gadgetry miraculously engineered his freedom. Years of teaching himself law and an unwavering determination helped Wright be his own lawyer, expose corruption at the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office helped free himself and many other inmates he represented while imprisoned. A prisoner who doubles as a lawyer to expose corruption and free people is real-life heroism made for TV.

Luckily, ABC and 50 Cent feel similarly. Created by Hank Steinberg, For Life is a new ABC drama inspired by Wright’s story. It follows Aaron (Nicholas Pinnock), a man convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, fighting for his freedom to reunite with his family after his daughter reveals to him that she’s pregnant while visiting him in prison. In a two-minute trailer, Pinnock’s steely resolve when snarling at a prosecutor incredulous of the inmate being a lawyer, as well as his tender but firm love for his daughter and wife Marie (Joy Bryant) are on full, engrossing display.

With How to Get Away with Murder ending in 2020 and Shonda Rhimes leaving ABC for Netflix, For Life could be ABC’s next legal drama gem.

Season Premiere: Feb. 11

‘Kidding’

There’s a level of delusion necessary to be as perpetually positive as children’s television personality Mr. Rogers was for generations of kids, and Showtime’s dark comedy Kidding delves into that delusion to emotionally deep, and at times surreal, effect. With Jim Carrey as the moralistically sound and universally beloved Jeff “Mr. Pickles” Piccirillo, Kidding spent a remarkable first season showing what happens to the Jesus archetype of Mr. Rogers when shattered after Jeff loses one of his twin sons in a car crash he was involved in. The second season appears to dive deeper into those dark topics.

Kidding is far more than a dark satire of children’s television—it’s an insightful analysis of the problems that arise when parents willfully neglect their children enough for a man on TV to be a surrogate parent or their children, as well as the mental state of a man who shoulders an almost innate proclivity to do good. By the looks of season two, the depths of Jeff’s mental state after ending the first season running over his estranged wife’s boyfriend were only scratched on the first season, which makes for an even more compelling second season.

Season Premiere: Feb. 9

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

The Samurai Films That Inspired ‘The Mandalorian’ Are Better Than ‘The Mandalorian’

Nostalgia addicts have been rapt with Disney’s streaming service, but the breakout success of the new network has by far been the new Star Wars TV series, The Mandalorian. The popularity of the new show, which has already broken streaming records, was pretty predictable given the American public’s insatiable craving for all things from a galaxy far, far away.


The Mandalorian has exceeded expectations in its first batch of episodes by presenting new faces for the growing franchise—and catalyzing endless memes to boot. But cinephiles were quick to notice that the basic concept of the show isn’t exactly original. A roaming, hyper-skilled assassin pursued endlessly by attackers while simultaneously protecting a young and vulnerable child? If you’re a samurai film aficionado, the source of inspiration for the new show is quite obvious: Lone Wolf and Cub, a series of manga written by Kazuo Koike and artist Goseki Kojima and later adapted into six films starring Tomisaburo Wakayama in the 1970s (and an eventual TV series after that) is an obvious influence for the new space opera side story.

Lone Wolf and Cub tells the story of Ogami Ittō, a professional executioner whose wife is killed through a labyrinthine series of betrayals that prompts him to swear allegiance only to Hell in a quest for revenge against the shogun who ordered his partner’s killing. But the wandering warrior refuses to abandon his 3-year-old son and takes the child along with him on his bloodthirsty ordeal. Ogami survives as an assassin-for-hire as his he travels the countryside, getting closer and closer to the emperor responsible for ruining his life.


At first glance, this isn’t exactly the same as The Mandalorian, whose eponymous hero does not decide to protect what fans have affectionately dubbed “Baby Yoda” out of a desire for retribution. But the themes and motifs are quite apparently similar: Can this hardened killer learn to care for a creature so weak? What are the ramifications of witnessing such violence for these young children? Can Ogami or The Mandalorian ever truly escape from their hunters—and will their souls be devoured by darkness along the way?

Disney+
The Mandalorian with Baby Yoda.

Samurai films have always been cited as an influence on the Star Wars franchise, along with serial sci-fi series like Flash Gordon and spaghetti Western cinema, which, in turn, had also been inspired by samurai films. But never has the connection been so glaring as between The Mandalorian and Lone Wolf and Cub, which often resemble each other not only thematically but cinematographically. Like The Mandalorian, Lone Wolf and Cub films are abundant with scenes of the titular ronin walking through an existentially barren landscape, or outnumbered by ornately clad villains. The melodrama of the fight scenes in each series is counterbalanced with more quiet moments of contemplative pastoral scenery. 


And already it’s been easy to pick up a few details of where the plot is heading having rewatched the Japanese movies: Baby Yoda has already been made useful in battle, as did the young Daigoro, whose stroller was equipped with secret blades—and in the later films hidden firearms. Like a main villain in the second Lone Wolf and Cub film, Gina Carano’s character in episode 4 came prepared with an iron fist-type weapon. And like Ogami, The Mandalorian is finding it increasingly difficult to abandon his adorable counterpart, setting up for further adventures down the line.

Mapping the world of Edo-era Japan onto extra-planetary affairs is not without orientalizing or exoticizing elements, as suddenly classes of actual historical fighters become transmogrified in The Mandalorian into literal aliens. Ironically, this transformation has now also occurred in reverse, with Star Wars recently adapted into a kabuki theater production in Japan—meaning that maybe the relationship between American sci-fi and Japanese aesthetics is more symbiotic than parasitic and that the discourse of cultural appropriation doesn’t exactly apply here.


So, you might be asking, which series is better? If you’re not familiar with the slow pacing of decades-old ultra-violent movies, the Lone Wolf and Cub films can feel like a bit of a slog. They’re certainly far more filled with sexual violence and gore, although the bloodshed looks more campy than horrific these days. Which is to say: the Lone Wolf films are undoubtedly more adult—the world of feudal Japan is far from the kid-friendly universe of Star Wars. But once you’ve watched The Mandalorian’s predecessor, it’s hard not to see precisely how derivative the new show actually is. Lone Wolf and Cub is undeniably more historically important and intellectually curious, given its widespread influence, but what viewers prefer will largely boil down to personal taste.

Categories
Culture Movies/TV

‘The Mandalorian’ on Disney+: Your Guide to Plot Details and Episode Release Dates

While you might only know the Star Wars franchise from the movies that have collectively grossed over $9 billion since 1977, the culture phenomenon possesses an expansive universe that is full of stories and adventures that extend beyond what has appeared on the big screen. Besides the movies, there are TV shows, books, video games and even an entire theme park dedicated to telling the complete tale of a galaxy far, far away. 

The latest addition to the Star Wars canon is The Mandalorian on the new streaming platform Disney+. This new show will tell the story of a bounty hunter with no name (as of now). 


Starring Pedro Pascal, Gina Carano, Carl Weathers, Werner Herzog, Nick Nolte, Emily Swallow, Taika Waititi, Giancarlo Esposito and Omid Abtahi and executive produced and written by Iron Man and Lion King director Jon Favreau, The Mandalorian promises a more neo-Western look at the Star Wars universe, one that will have a darker, more violent edge to it.

So, if it’s not following the format of a “traditional” Star Wars story, what will it all be about?

“The Travails of a Lone Gunfighter”

Per the official synopsis of the show, Disney+ describes it as such:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The protagonist’s latest job will lead him to come into conflict with various criminals and rogues, as well as what remains of the Empire. What conflict is exactly, remains to be seen, but it’s been said that a major revelation regarding a major part of the Star Wars lore is revealed during the show’s first episode. 

Fans have speculated that this revelation is that Boba Fett—the bounty hunter from the original trilogy, last seen being dragged into the jaws of the monstrous Sarlacc in Return of the Jedi—is actually alive. It would make sense, given that Fett wore Mandalorian armor, the same type our protagonist will don in the show.

Traversing the ‘Star Wars’ Galaxy

In keeping with Star Wars tradition (maybe the only theme it will share with the movies), the show will not limit itself to one planet or location. We will see The Mandalorian travel to different locations as he embarks on his mission, but the planet Mandalore, aka the homeworld of the Mandalorian people, has been confirmed as being one of the places he visits. In case you couldn’t tell, the protagonist is, indeed, one of these Mandalorians. 

What exactly is a Mandalorian? They are humans that hail from Mandalore as well as the planet’s surrounding moons and are described as fierce warriors that have often come into conflict with those that seek to control them, aka the Empire, the Republic and even the Jedi.

Lucasfilm/Disney+

Setting Up the Events of the New Trilogy

Despite being defeated at the end of Return of the Jedi with the destruction of the Death Star, it only makes sense that parts of the Galactic Empire survived past the events of that movie. After all, the galaxy is a big place and the Empire controlled a lot of it. The villains of the “sequel trilogy,” the First Order, are essentially the Empire in all but name, and it looks like The Mandalorian will begin to plant the seeds for how that organization came to be. 

Esposito’s character, Moff Gideon, is a former leader within the Empire who controlled the area that the Mandalorian will be visiting. In addition, the bounty hunter is shown in the trailers fighting Imperial Stormtroopers, so it looks like the Empire might have been defeated, but it certainly isn’t dead—yet.

Exploring the origins of the First Order is an interesting prospect and comes at a perfect time, with the final movie of the Skywalker saga, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, premiering in December.

Lucasfilm/Disney+

The Mandalorian is set to premiere on Disney+ on Nov. 12. Its eight episodes will be released over the course of seven weeks, following this schedule:

  • Episode 1: Nov. 12
  • Episode 2: Nov. 15
  • Episode 3: Nov. 22
  • Episode 4: Nov. 29
  • Episode 5: Dec. 6
  • Episode 6: Dec. 13
  • Episode 7: Dec. 18
  • Episode 8: Dec. 27

The show is bound to be an absolute blast, so be sure to get that subscription to Disney+ ready and prepare yourself to once again travel to a galaxy far, far away.