For most of us, Edgar Wright’s 2010 live-action adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim comics emerged as a cult-favourite that has aged like fine wine. It showed us how two people grappling with past relationship mistakes can accept their flaws and become better versions of themselves for their new partners.
Netflix’s recent anime adaptation, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, actually takes off with Scott Pilgrim, a 23-year-old bassist of the garage-rock band Sex Bob-omb, taking on the world for the girl of his dreams, Ramona Flowers.
There are many reasons to love Scott Pilgrim Takes Off, whether it’s the humorous portrayal of infatuation and heartache, Ramona’s ever-changing hair colours, or sheer nostalgia. Here’s what worked for us despite the show’s video game-esque approach towards love and loss.
Teen romance and ‘evil exes’
Directed by Abel Gongora and created by Japanese animation studio Science SARU, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off shows a bunch of garage-rock and Japanese anime lovers navigating the ups and downs of their lives. It begins with Scott dating a 17-year-old high school student, Knives Chau. Scott’s band members as well as his gay roommate, Wallace Wells, humiliate him for dating someone far younger than him. However, it is not long before Scott has a crush on quirky DVD delivery girl, Ramona Flowers, whom he had seen in one of his dreams while she was using his subconscious mind as an interdimensional shortcut.
Scott is awkward about approaching Ramona who seems way out of his league. But before they can get together, Scott has to fight Ramona’s seven ‘evil exes’ — led by her last partner, media mogul Gideon Graves — in classic Karate Kid-style combat to win her over.
The twist in the tale
That the anime takes a track completely different from the original film and comic books after the first episode might not make Scott Pilgrim fans uneasy. This is because Scott Pilgrim Takes Off fleshes out every character, good or bad, unlike the original film.
For example, one of Ramona’s exes, the obnoxious Hollywood star Lucas Lee, is left broke and gets cancelled by his fans around the world after a paparazzi incident. He is also seen reminiscing the days he spent with Ramona, making him humane rather than a one-dimensional villain who is out to sabotage his ex-girlfriend's new romance. Even the leader of the league of evil exes, Gideon, is shown as vulnerable after he loses Ramona to Matthew Patel.
Knives Chau’s journey of self-discovery
The Netflix anime also does justice to the curious Chinese high school student Knives Chau whom Scott cheats on with Ramona. The scene where she learns to play the bass guitar in just a day with the help of Sex Bob-omb’s fierce drummer and Scott’s ex, Kim, is particularly striking for how a young girl gets back up on her feet after being jilted and embarks on a journey of self-discovery.
The original voice artistes are back
The original cast members of the 2010 film have returned to lend their voices to the characters in the Netflix series. Michael Cera is Scott’s voice, while Mary Elizabeth Winstead voices Ramona. Other actors from Edgar Wright’s film like Ellen Wong, Satya Bhabha and Chris Evans have voiced Chau, Matthew Patel and Lucas Lee.