‘Scott Pilgrim Takes Off’ Review: Fans Are Surprised By Its Odd Flaws

Netflix revealed plans to adapt the Scott Pilgrim graphic novels into an anime series in January 2022. The cast of the live-action film has been reunited on Netflix for the animated version.

And I think the show, titled Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, is the stunning anime adaption when the first trailer drops in August 2023. Old and New fans of O’Malley’s cult comics will enjoy Scott Pilgrim Takes Off because it is a bold and brilliantly performed reimagining.

Despite its odd flaws, Netflix has created another anime-style hit with a ton of humor, satisfying over-the-top action, and subversive and surprising storytelling.

Release Date17 November 2023
CastMichael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Anna Kendrick, Jason Schwartzman, Johnny Simmons, Ellen Wong, Aubrey Plaza, Mark Webber, Brie Larson, Chris Evans, Mae Whitman, Kieran Culkin, Alison Pill, Satya Bhabha, and Brandon Routh.
CreatorsBryan Lee O’Malley and Ben David Grabinski
Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

Table of Contents

Story Line

The setup is the same. Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is a shiftless Toronto twentysomething, who lives with his gay best friend, played by Kielan Culkin as Wallace Wells, and dates a high school student, played by Ellen Wong as Knives Chau, in a way that’s both spooky and completely pure, which isn’t too scary.

Scott doesn’t have a sinister motive for dating a high school student. After an unsuccessful relationship with a quickly popular rock star (Brie Larson’s Envy Adams), he’s hurt emotionally.

Although Scott’s personal musical goals are a bit lower, he nevertheless plays bass in the young band Sex Bob-omb alongside his ex-girlfriend Kim Pine (Alison Pill) and Stephen Stills (Mark Webber).
He is usually lost. Then he meets the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who has purple, pink, blue, or green hair. Literally.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

She delivers Netflix DVDs, so part of her job is to rollerblade through his dreams. That is, not his dreams. A handy little subspace highway runs through Scott’s head. Although Scott and Ramona have a cutesy flirtation, their relationship is thrown off when the first of her seven evil ex-boyfriends shows up. Scott must defeat this legion before love can blossom.

Thus far, you’re saying, “Yes. That is the comic books. Also the film. even though she is currently delivering for Netflix rather than Amazon. But would you believe that if I told you that instead of mentioning Pac-Man when Scott is making out with Ramona, he now brings up Sonic the Hedgehog? Completely different, correct?

My Opinion On Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

I don’t think the revised version of the story is perfect, but it has such unwavering charm that I was only a little bothered by the story’s diminishing returns. Though it might not be what you were hoping for at first, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off isn’t always that way.

Scott Pilgrim Takes Off

Nevertheless, something changes at a point that I cannot disclose. For O’Malley and Grabinski, it’s an additional chance to dig into and highlight the themes of the story, which center on how new relationships are always tainted by the fact that both people have the past they aren’t quite ready to let go of. Even with the extra layers of meta humor, it remains a celebration of Canada, anime, and video games.

Without giving too much spoiler, the new strategy improves the focus, but by making the story less solely about Scott Pilgrim (backstories and subplots aplenty!), it turns into a series of absurd genre-mashup antics with no clear focal point.

It’s not very well executed, but conceptually it works quite well, and at least there’s a lot of concept. Probably too much concept—this was a story with a TON of concept already.

Although I can appreciate that Scott’s character sometimes comes across as a spoiled brat and that you don’t want to blame him for the entire plot, I’ve always thought that Scott’s frustration was a positive trait rather than a drawback.

It is intended that he be a fetus. And Ramona is meant to be a fetus, if a more intelligent one. Because of this, they are even more relatable. Even though you believe the main couple in the story is doomed to fail, it’s still a love story nonetheless.

Because there is so much going on, the love story feels hardly relevant in this version, and the pacing and character development are less compelling overall.

Thankfully, despite the story’s lackluster content, there are often entertaining side events taking place, beginning with the animation produced by Science Saru and directed by Abel Góngora. It is incredibly satisfying that it appears and feels exactly like O’Malley’s books, but it is also a less amazing feat of imagination compared to the magic Wright was able to accomplish in the film. Rather than focusing on how the wonder is accomplished, the series allows the surprises to emerge naturally from the story.

They are both worthwhile, even though I might favor the latter. Here, the music by Joseph Trapanese and Anamanaguchi, along with a suitably epic soundtrack that opens with Necry Talkie’s “Bloom,” make everything incredibly colorful and show energy.

Above all, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off serves as a reminder of the film’s incredible casting and vocal transplantation. Cera’s callowness, Winstead’s smoky cool-girl maturity, Culkin’s pre-Roman snark, Pill’s cutting sarcasm, Chris Evans’ gruff movie-star machismo, Brandon Routh’s himbo vegan bluster, and, especially, Wong’s untethered youthful enthusiasm are all still favorites of mine.

There are also some special guests. However, they are a SECRET. (They’re also not mind-blowing in any way. They’re just for entertainment. That’s pretty much my take on the entire series. It’s not spectacular. But it’s entertaining.)

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