Netflix’s Love, Death & Robots: Volume II Review
Netflix’s acclaimed animated series Love, Death & Robots returns for another volume of mesmerizing, mind-bending tales centered around its three titular themes.
When this series first debuted back in 2019, it instantly caught fire for its set of beautifully animated shorts that nabbed the series plenty of Emmys. It’s genre-bending shorts that came with their own unique animation catered to my interests in looking for great anthologies and freshly animated stories really well, but I missed the boat. So, when I came across the trailer for Volume II, there was no way I was missing out on this series again. Now, having seen what Volume II is all is about, I’m absolutely obsessed.
For first timers, like myself, the series consists of mostly animated shorts that generally relate to at least one of the titular themes of the series – Love, Death, or Robots. The genres they tackle can range from dystopian sci-fi thrillers to suburban dark comedies. The animation for this series continues to be incredibly ground-breaking and diverse in style. The CG animation for shorts like “Snow in the Desert” and “The Drowned Giant” look absolutely amazing with the level of realistic texture quality it has. There are times where it’s so good-looking that it almost looks live-action, and they look better than most modern video games. The artistic looks of other shorts are equally incredible as the character design of the kids in “All Through the Night” are ripped right from a Christmas book and the characters and world design in “Ice” totally give off anime dystopian vibes.
The stories are equally diverse and continue to bend and blend genres together to give a fuller experience. They range from showcasing a darkly comedic story of an older woman dealing with a snarky automated customer service while fending off her murderous futuristic vacuum as well as a darkly dramatic world where a detective faces a conflict of conscience with his profession of eliminating unregistered children. There really isn’t a bad short in this bunch and its great how each one leaves its own unique impact. Every second of Jeanette (voiced by Nancy Linari) trying to get the edge on her murderous vacuum is dark comedy at its finest and the very dour feel of Detective Briggs (voiced by Nolan North) coming to terms with the brutality of his line of work and life choices in “Pop Squad” deeply tears at your heart. There’s even a twisted Christmas tale, an animated Stephen King-like tale, a profound look into humanity through a washed-up giant that all feel unique.
There are also some really strong performances with North in “Pop Squad” and Peter Franzen as Snow and Zita Hanrot as Hirald in “Snow in the Desert” being top standouts. It’s also great to see Michael B. Jordan have a tense bout with a deadly maintenance bot in “Life Hutch” and although all of these stories can easily be seen as one-offs, there’s a lot of great lore built within these shorts that it would be cool to see these stories expanded. The idea of where else the train might stop in “The Tall Grass” or who else faces the creatures that exist within the titular tall grass is very interesting to me and the whole idea of “All Through the Night’s” twisted Christmas story is something that needs to be explored more because it’s just so awesome. Even something more on Snow and Hirald’s adventures together would be cool. The stories here are super rich and really show great potential to be further explored.
The only mistakes this volume of Love, Death & Robots makes is in a bit of its execution. This season is remarkably shorter than the previous season with it going from eighteen episodes to eight. There could’ve been some more episodes added in simply to just add new stories in and maybe even diversify the series a little more since there are a few episodes that kind of have the same premise. Although they have different looks, feels, and endings, it’s hard not to see “Automated Customer Service” and “Life Hutch” similarly having their human protagonists fight off defective robots. Also, while most of the shorts fit well into the three themes and even have them come in surprising ways, “All Through the Night” sticks out in a weird way. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing short, but it doesn’t really connect to the themes of the series and is so short that it almost feels shoved in to get this volume to eight episodes.
Love, Death & Robots continues to deliver ground-breaking animated shorts with intriguing concepts that instantly get you hooked with its latest volume. It’s an absolute must-watch for anyone wanting to see a set of thrilling, mind-bending, and stunningly animated stories or are looking for some more adult shorts that are of Pixar quality – some possibly better.