NYCC 2019: Seis Manos is a violent “Mexicanime” that should hit harder than it does

Seis Manos | Official English Trailer | VIZ

Representation matters when it comes to media and the creators of the Netflix animated series Seis Manos know that. Alvarez Rodriguez, the co-creator of the series, quickly pointed out that Latin Americans were sorely underrepresented in most forms of media, with rarely any Hispanic characters appearing in any meaningful way in TV shows in movies. People relate to what they see on screen and Rodriguez and crew wanted to create something that really connected to Hispanic audiences, a sentiment that cast members Angelica Vale and Jonny Cruz share. Cruz in particular states that “To see brown and not be seen as a drug dealer or a terrorist, but as a hero, is a dream.”

That central idea is built into the core of Seis Manos with nearly every character played by a Latin American or Hispanic actor or actress and most of the actors providing an authentic Spanish dub of the series. Rodriguez describes the series as being “Machete meets Kill Billon the set of Coco.” The series was tough to pitch due to not only its anime-esque art style, but how studio executive were concerned that they didn’t know what audience it would appeal to, a thought that seems almost laughable in its nature. There is an audience for Seis Manos that Rodriguez was aiming directly at and he wanted to deliver a show that really resonated with Hispanic and Latin American audiences in a real, authentic way. It just hurts that the show isn’t hitting as hard as it should.

The series is incredibly violent, which isn’t inherently a bad thing, but violence needs to be done well. The fight scenes need to be dynamic, that camera composition needs to keep the audience engaged, and the animation needs to accurately depict what’s happening. Seis Manos does two of those things well, but struggles with delivering good animation. Done by Powerhouse Studios, who also worked on the Castlevania series, the animation can feel super choppy during action scenes. Sure, we’re seeing a ton of violence, but none of it is landing as well as it could have. When a man is getting his faced smash in by a Kung-Fu master, only for his body to distort and bend itself back into place, I should want to see just how violent it can get, but instead the animation just came across as choppy and janky. It feels like the premise and concept are sound and ambitious, but is limited by its budget.

Which is a shame because this is the kind of show we should have more of. We should have more original animated series with unique settings and characters and while Seis Manos isn’t bad, it certainly isn’t memorable. The passion is there, but it’s presented in such an underwhelming way that it deflates the whole experience. I am willing to watch the series on with the Spanish Dub and embrace the Hispanic roots of the show, but a different language isn’t going to change the visual problems with the show.

Seis Manos is currently streaming on Netflix.

Jesse Lab
The strange one. The one born and raised in New Jersey. The one who raves about anime. The one who will go to bat for DC Comics, animation, and every kind of dog. The one who is more than a tad bit odd. The Features Editor.