Netflix is betting that the buzz surrounding its live-action Cowboy Bebop series might transfer to their new series Super Crooks, an anime based on a comic written by Mark Millar of Kick Ass and Kingsman fame. They cut a trailer with fast cuts and a fun voiceover that made me think, well okay, I haven’t watched an anime in a while, why not? So how does it hold up? Let’s find out.
1. AC, DC, or EC
A kid named Johnny Bolt discovers he has the power to control electricity. One of the tragedies that unfolds as he decides to costume up, recruit his best friend as an assistant, and put on a big show to prove his bullies wrong, is that he changes his name. Johnny Bolt is already a great electricity-related name, doofus! Ahem.
I could explain how Johnny is picked on by other kids, has a miserable home life, and spends his time experimenting with his new powers via a montage but honestly, we’ve seen this type of thing so many times that it seems unnecessary. The series goes through the motions, though, showing how Johnny psychs himself up to his big superhero reveal before everything goes wrong. The only thing that actually surprised me about any of this was just how wrong it all went.
2. Be a man and … blame it on the girls?
Johnny, in the pursuit of his new hero identity, can’t wait to escape his old life. Specifically, his mom. She doesn’t let him watch his classic superhero shows and blames him for her lack of a love life, then later hits on a TV repairman. She’s like a caricature of a bad mom who cares more about herself and her boyfriends than her kid. Is that fair? Maybe, or maybe Johnny is a selfish brat who doesn’t have any idea what it’s like to raise a kid? We don’t know because all we get are brief, awful one-dimensional glimpses of her. Boo.
When he does grow into his powers, Johnny’s first big stunt is ostensibly to protect the town from a non-existent crime wave. But really, he wants to impress a girl. When his best bud Tom finds him at the end of the episode after things go very extremely wrong, he says, “It wasn’t my fault.” But yeah, yeah it was bud.
3. Jupiter’s Ascending. Actually, wait, that’s something else…
Disclaimer: I’ve never read “Jupiter’s Legacy,” nor did I watch the Netflix show, same with Millar’s other works. It’s not that I’m not a superhero fan, quite the opposite. But I only have enough brain space and time, so I don’t even watch a lot of shows starring characters I already know I love. So I’m coming into this without having formed an opinion on his stuff either way.
That said, the primary reason I thought this sounded fun was its focus on villains. The world of the heroes has only just been introduced in the first episode but we’ve already gotten teased on the fact that they all went to a mysterious island and then got powers, plus our main character, Johnny Bolt, doesn’t know who his father is. I have to say, I really don’t care. I’m in this for the heist and the wacky anime action. Your mileage may vary but I hope the series doesn’t dwell too much on the hero melodrama and daddy issues of its main character. Because honestly, if that’s what I wanted to watch or read, I have access to any number of Batman films and comics at my disposal.
4. Bad things happen at the public pool
Really, really bad things happen as a result of Johnny deciding to use his electric powers at the pool. I mean, honestly kid, you should’ve seen that coming. Maybe they don’t teach science at his high school? As an aside, it’s unclear where this series is set but it looks Los Angeles-ish. But in a time period where people still go to the mall? And arcades? But it also doesn’t seem like a big town and Oakland is mentioned, so generic California is what I’m getting. Maybe I missed something but a sense of place would have been a nice touch, otherwise my brain can’t decide if the anime style and palm trees mean Japan, or if the mall and American names mean California.Continued below
Getting back to the pool. A chain of very bad accidents happens as a result of Johnny Bolt electrocuting everyone in the dang pool, including a semi-truck full of cows flipping over and falling onto the pool deck and the cows themselves falling into the electrified pool. It’s absurd, gruesome, and the most grimly entertaining part of the entire episode. This sequence was a bit much but it’s exactly what I expected this series to be: over-the-top and unexpected. Everything else about the episode was humdrum superhero/supervillain stuff that I feel like I’ve seen a million times. But what I haven’t seen before is a pool full of cows accidentally getting electrocuted. So there’s that.
5. No PIN needed
The first episode ends with Johnny discovering what we knew he would: that having electric powers means you can manipulate ATMs. Cha-ching! Finally, Johnny does something useful after all that mayhem. And that’s our crook/villain’s origin story. As the series goes on, I’ll be curious if it was a good idea to be this upfront with Johnny’s past as opposed to exposing us, bit-by-bit to flashbacks. Because the episode itself was a bit slow and if they don’t make it to the pool scene, might not make viewers want to come back and see what kind of havoc adult Johnny Bolt unleashes on the world.
I hope the reason they aren’t doing small flashbacks to Johnny’s past is that there are so many bonkers action sequences and wackiness that they don’t think they can fit it in but we’ll just have to wait and see. Until next time!