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(Image courtesy of Netflix)

‘Scott Pilgrim Takes Off’ is a ‘What If…?’ show done right

The new “Scott Pilgrim” animated series released last Friday on Netflix, and its unique retelling of the cult-followed story is a hit. Spoilers follow.

More of an alternate-universe spinoff than a 1-to-1 adaptation, “Scott Pilgrim Takes Off” is aimed largely at existing fans, featuring a familiar ensemble of characters – with virtually the entire cast of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” (2010) reprising their roles as the English voice cast – in a version of the story that remains largely the same as the film and graphic novel, up until the first major fight scene.

It’s at this point that the twist hits: Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) quite literally takes off, seemingly disappearing from the story, thought dead by most of the characters. While his one-time date and eventual girlfriend Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) investigates his disappearance, episodes two through six follow the growth of the rest of the major characters – from Scott’s friends to the classic rogue’s gallery of Ramona’s evil exes – in a world without Scott.

It’s a fun and, honestly, beautifully animated follow-up to the previous works of the franchise, using a few changes to the timeline to not just show off interesting scenarios, but explore additional dimensions to the characters and this strange comic book/video game world they all inhabit. Hurt characters heal, some relationships fracture while others are repaired in the absence of the Scott versus Evil Exes conflict central to the source material.

And as opposed to a single episode, the show spends an eigh-episode season answering what ends up being a much more complicated “What If…?”-style question. It also spends plenty of time making little comedic nods to the 2010 film, with the plot briefly taking the cast to the set of an in-universe “Scott Pilgrim” movie directed by “Edgar Wrong” – a not-so-sneaky reference to the 2010 movie’s director Edgar Wright.

Wright also served as an executive producer on the new series, and was reportedly the one to convince the original cast to reprise their roles. 

Bryan Lee O’Malley, the author of the original graphic novel, served as co-showrunner alongside BenDavid Grabinski. Much of the soundtrack is credited to Anamanaguchi, the chiptune pop band behind the “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game” soundtrack.

It’s like a grand crossover of nearly everyone who’s ever had a part in the franchise, and it is well worth the watch.


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