I’ve made it no secret that I’m a huge Scott Pilgrim fan. I’ve been reading the comics since I was a teenager, the video game is one of the best brawlers of the past several console generations, and the film is one of my favorite films of all time. So needless to say, when an anime was announced earlier this year, I was thrilled by the news. In fact, if there was only one panel I wanted to cover at Comic-Con this year, it was for Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. So please try to act surprised when I say that what I saw at the panel today has me convinced that this will be one of the best anime of the year.
Unlike previous panels which seemed to lament the fact that none of the cast was present to talk about the projects they’re involved in due to the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, this panel had series creator Bryan Lee O’Malley and producer BenDavid Grabinski talking about not only their vision for the upcoming series but also the impact of the franchise as a whole since next year will be Scott Pilgrim’s 20th anniversary. The panel also had a surprise appearance by Edgar Wright, who introduced the audience to the first full trailer for the series.
And boy what a trailer it is. The energy was palpable with the crowd cheering with each cast member’s name flashed across the screen. Add on the Mortal Kombat theme, complete with getting the same person who screamed the Mortal Kombat if BenDavid Grabinski is to be believed, and all of my love for the series came flooding back. Scott Pilgrim is back baby and I am here for it!
Getting back to a more professional state of mind, one of the primary themes throughout the panel was questioning why bring Scott Pilgrim back and why do it as an anime. Bryan Lee O’Malley basically said that the live-action film was the closest that a live-action adaptation of the series could be to perfect and he has no regrets about it. He did however wish that he could do some things differently with it. Both he and BenDavid wanted to find a way to introduce elements from the comic that were left out of the film as well as rectify some things from the original series that could have been improved.
As for why it’s being revived as an anime, Bryan Lee O’Malley said that he has been a fan of anime ever since he was a teenager, with his favorite titles being Neon Genesis Evangelion and FLCL. When Netflix approached him about working together and said that Science Saru wanted to collaborate with him, everything lined up perfectly. This timed out relatively nicely with there being a renewed interest in the series thanks to the cast reuniting during the COVID-19 pandemic for a table read in honor of the film’s 10th anniversary. Granted, it was a bit difficult to get all of the talent together to record their dialogue since basically all of the cast are now major Hollywood figures, but it was still possible and BenDavid said that most of the cast slipped right back into their roles like no time passed at all.
Speaking of Evangelion, Bryan Lee O’Malley compared the series to the Rebuild of Evangelion films. That film project attempted to retell and recontextualize a lot of the original series while adding minor touches intended to improve upon the original story. If there was one thing that Bryan Lee O’Malley wanted to do with Scott Pilgrim Takes Off it was to give more time to Ramona’s exes. At the time the graphic novels were being written, most of the focus was put on Scott and his supporting cast while the exes became villains of the week. Now, thanks to their appearances in the film and games, fans gravitated towards these villains and wanted to see more of them, so there will be several original scenes that focus on the villains in this show.
We then saw a scene from the first episode in which Matthew Patel, played by Satya Bhabha, and Gideon Graves, played by Jason Schwartzman, meet to discuss Scott Pilgrim and his relationship with Ramona. The dialogue they have hits a lot of points and jokes covered in previous entries in the franchise, but the framing device is akin to villains meeting to discuss their heinous plans like in Sailor Moon. It works, especially how much Bhabha is living it up now that Matthew Patel has more to do. Science Saru also made sure to put just the right amount of anime touches in the scene, like giving Gideon the stereotypical glasses glare, Gendo Ikari pose, and massive monitors examining Scott and his actions.
It all just looks so damn fun and exciting for someone who’s been a fan of the franchise for so long. Newcomers are sure to enjoy what Scott Pilgrim Takes Off has to offer as well, but no matter what there’s something for people to enjoy when watching the series. As the panel began to wind down, Bryan Lee O’Malley assured fans “don’t be scared, you’re in good hands.” After everything I saw with the panel as well as the cute-as-hell intro sequence, I’d like to think we are.
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off will premiere on November 17th exclusively on Netflix and will run for 8 episodes.