High in concept, low in depth, Ultramarine Magmell introduces a fascinating concept full of promise but is held back by its episodic nature and surface-level characters.
What do you think would happen if, overnight, a new continent appeared on Earth? One with an entirely new and interesting eco-system full of exciting opportunities to learn, explore and maybe even exploit. That’s right, humanity would find a way to express its worst qualities and treat it with the same lack of respect and contempt it has treated the rest of its planet. At least that is the thesis buried at the heart of Netflix’s new original Anime, Ultramarine Magmell.
Magmell is the brave new vista that appeared one day, a beautiful yet imposing new territory full of dangerous species of plants and creatures. Many of which, if harvested in the right way can enhance or prolong human life, be sold for significant funds or even turned into weaponry. Each year hundreds of thousands of people disappear into this wilderness to be lost forever or meet their doom. Fortunately, there is a special breed of person who, for a price, will go and rescue those that find themselves in trouble. Ultramarine Magmell follows the adventures of one of these, Inyo and his assistant Zero.
There is a lot to like about Ultramarine Magmell and it starts off promisingly. The premise is introduced efficiently, and the world is well drawn. Each episode brings with it a fresh set of weird and wonderful creatures, each of which looks great and is well-conceived. The action set pieces are well directed and do plenty to hook the viewer in.
There is an attempt to connect the viewer with a wider moral cause, each of the people Inyo is sent to save tends to have found themselves in Magmell for morally dubious reasons, each in their own way trying to exploit the natural wonders Magmell has to offer. It seems as though human greed overwhelms the desire to remain safe every time. Inyo uses his role as rescuer-in-chief to humble those he rescues and teach them to respect the world. This moral message comes through loud and clear and is in truth a bit heavy-handed, with each episode finding a new way to make its point.
With so much that is good about Ultramarine Magmell, it is a bit of shame then that the episodic nature of the show squanders the opportunity for something really interesting. Each new episode follows a similar format and brings with it another careless or greedy customer to Inyo’s door, Inyo initially refuses or shows reluctance to help, then helps anyway, rescuing someone before they see the error of their ways. Over the course of the series, this format gets old despite the pleasures of exploring and getting to know Magmell as a place.
Overall, there are lots of interesting ideas at work here with a well-realized world built on an interesting concept. However, the execution and surface level storytelling hold it back from being anything more than a missed opportunity for something special.
Andy joined the Ready Steady Cut team in October 2018. A Graduate of Exeter University, he writes mainly about films and TV.