The Strop Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup: 5 Animated Shows to Add to Your To-Watch List

The Strop is a place to whet your appetite for damn good stories. Check back every Friday for our latest recommendations.

1. Hazbin Hotel

Hazbin Hotel is an independently funded, years-anticipated project from creator VivziePop and her team of artists that make up SpindleHorse. The pilot dropped on YouTube shortly before Halloween, and in the meantime has amassed nearly 5 million views. The pitch for the series is simple: Charlie, Princess of Hell and daughter to Satan, wants to open a rehabilitation center for sinners to solve Hell’s overcrowding issue. Along the way, she’s joined by a motley crew of Hell’s denizens, and pitted against the chaotic, destructive, evil nature of her people. Some of the writing can be predictable. Charlie is a Disney Princess anachronism complete with soprano musical numbers, and Angel Dust, a coke-snorting, foul-mouthed gay porn star, makes daddy jokes. But the animation, character design, and voice acting is some of the cleanest work I’ve personally seen from an independent animation team since the “Freak of the Week” music video in 2014. The humor is crass, and sometimes misses the mark, skewing juvenile, but as a cartoon aimed at adults that doesn’t fall back on shock humor or punching down, it’s refreshing and worth the look. – Daniel Mazzacane

2. Love, Death & Robots

I was way slow on the uptake on this animated anthology. I remember seeing some really interesting clips and GIF sets when it first came out, and kind of let it fall by the wayside. I can honestly say that I was doing myself a disfavor at the time. Love, Death & Robots is an animated anthology that cover a wealth of topics mostly under the sci-fi, fantasy, or horror genres. Each episode is under 20 minutes long and handled by a different animating team from around the world. Since each episode is a stand-alone piece, there are plenty of places to jump in, but I have to recommend “Good Hunting,” directed by Oliver Thomas and animated by Red Dog Culture House. The episode deals with some heavy topics, including the literal and metaphorical sexual objectification of women’s bodies, colonialism’s role in fetishizing Asian culture, and what it means to be free, and it does so with beautiful, subtle animation and acting. I don’t want to give more away, as the episode really should be experienced fresh, but if you haven’t already, give this show a watch. – Daniel Mazzacane

3. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is possibly the craziest show I’ve ever had the pleasure of watching and is definitely a show that can take up an entire day of binging if you’re down for the task. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a manga-turned-anime, and the first two parts (Season 1) are available on Netflix. It originally aired in October 2012 and is still an ongoing series. The premise of the show centers around the Joestar family. Each part of the series focuses on a different member of the family, and we watch as they face supernatural enemies with powers of their own. The first season focuses on the characters Jonathan and Joseph Joestar, and each of them have their own personalities and traits that will make you fall in love with their characters. The show is full of humor, absolutely bonkers fight scenes, and actual depth in its characters and their motivations. I can’t forget about the opening credits, too — they are amazing in their own right, and you’ll understand when you watch it. Watch the first season on Netflix, and you can find the rest of the series on platforms such as Crunchyroll. – Eric Paredes

4. Archer

Possibly the best dialogue on TV. Certainly the most irreverent, and certainly the most unconcerned about whether the viewer will get the references. There are things happening constantly, ridiculous things like cyborg invasions and the zaniest of spy thriller situations, but the actions themselves don’t matter. All that matters is the opportunity to play with language, to make an allusion, and all these people care about, even more than their own lives or the success of the mission, is scoring another point in their conversational battle with one another. If a plot happens to show up along the way, then great, maybe somebody will get tricked into watching it and wonder about all these obscure writers and theologians getting name-dropped in just about the only place left in the world that’s ever heard of them: Archer‘s writer’s room. – Brandon Williams

5. Avatar: The Last Airbender

It’s been over 10 years since the finale of this beautiful show aired. I don’t think I ever finished anything feeling more satisfied than I did with Avatar. Nothing is perfect, but this show comes damn near close. When I think about complicated characters, relationships, and motivations, half the time I find myself thinking about what I learned from Avatar. What I love most is how the creators made their characters grow, and how they allowed the greatest growth to come from the first season’s main antagonist. I’ve never seen a redemption arc more well done than Prince Zuko’s. “What if he gets worse before he gets better?” During an episode of The Writers Panel podcast, the creators revealed how they were asked this question while drawing up Zuko’s arc, and it has resonated with me ever since. Every character is given the opportunity to be better. Every character makes choices that have consequences that resonate throughout the story. The integrity of the world is at stake, yet the smaller conflicts feel just as weighty and important. Though this is a show meant for kids and is set in an insanely well-made fantasy world, the show deals with incredibly complex and relatable themes and problems: crushes, found families, sibling dynamics, living up to impossibly high expectations, grief, abusive family members, the effects of war and imperialism, genocide. Some episodes border on the darker side of things, but always manage to make the complicated issues PG while still highlighting the realities of their character’s trauma, exhibiting a certain amount of trust for the young viewers. – Sierra Stonebraker