A fun, brutal cultural collision that combines Mexican culture with Eastern martial arts to fun and nostalgic effect.
New on Netflix today, the streaming giant’s on-going crusade for domination of every international market imaginable continues with Seis Manos Season 1, a fun, nostalgic hybrid of Mexican culture and Chinese fisticuffs with the frame-skipping animation and grainy aesthetic of classic grindhouse. It’s a fusion of elements that takes some getting used to, but it’s a two-hit international acquisition combo with a solid voice cast and strong production (courtesy of Powerhouse, who worked on Castlevania for Netflix) — and it’s good enough to find an audience.
The plot concerns a trio of orphans — Isabela (Aislinn Derbez), Jesus (Jonny Cruz) and Silencio — out for revenge when their Chinese martial arts master mentor Chiu (Vic Chao) is killed; it’s a grab-bag greatest hits compilation of demonic possession, drug cartels and ancient rituals stocked with fun archetypes, including parts for Luke Cage‘s Mike Colter as vet-turned-special agent Brister, and Danny Trejo as — you guessed it — dangerous drug lord, El Balde. The characters, like everything else, are entertainingly exaggerated, knowingly leaning into their types to fun effect.
Seis Manos Season 1 isn’t particularly reliant on its narrative’s gonzo developments, though it’s well-paced regardless. Of more immediate importance is the moment-to-moment pleasure of its warring influences and cultures. It all fits together better than you might expect, united with stylized brutality that shines through in the frequent fight sequences. The action, as with a lot of Netflix’s original anime output, is the main draw here, and it’s quite something. The brutality won’t be for everyone, but those in the market will get a lot out of it.
With only eight half-hour episodes, Seis Manos Season 1 is an effortless binge-watch, and you have to imagine its wide-ranging appeal will entice a substantial audience. Some will, inevitably, be put off; it’s a weird, unique show that isn’t trying to be broadly appealing, and that sometimes shows as it lurches awkwardly between tones, styles, and ideas. But it’s a lot of fun all the same, and anyone who’s a fan of its many influences will doubtlessly find something to keep them tuned in for the duration.