The Cuphead Show! season 1 review – a hyperactive animated series supposedly for kids

February 14, 2022
Adam Lock 0
Netflix, Streaming Service, TV Reviews
3

Summary

It’s time for a double down! The Cuphead Show is an intense, sometimes funny, sensory overload. Not quite a kids TV show and not quite adult nostalgia either.

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3

Summary

It’s time for a double down! The Cuphead Show is an intense, sometimes funny, sensory overload. Not quite a kids TV show and not quite adult nostalgia either.

This review of the Netflix animated series The Cuphead Show! season 1 does not contain spoilers.

Critics often complain about a lack of originality in pop culture these days, though this isn’t solely aimed at sequels and reboots, adaptations also fall into this category as well. One growing market is the video game adaptation, which has so far garnered poor to average results if I’m putting it mildly. In an endless search for content, streaming sites turn to these dependable indie game developers in the hopes of stumbling upon the next big thing. Although Netflix hasn’t quite got there with The Cuphead Show!, an animated series based on the run and gun shooter released back in 2017.

The series features brothers Cuphead (the red one) and Mugman (the blue one), who find themselves in unfortunate predicaments each episode thanks to Cuphead’s reckless behaviour and their constant need to bicker. The defiant duo encounters many new acquaintances along the way, these include The Devil, King Dice, an evil baby and the boxing frogs called Ribby and Croaks. There’s also voice work from prolific TV and film actor Clancy Brown (Dexter: New Blood) as Porkrind.

As we are introduced to Cuphead’s world of the Inkwell Isles, the striking 30s animation is accompanied by a jangly piano show tune. This retro-style really stands out in today’s overcrowded marketplace, a kids TV show reminiscent of early Mickey Mouse and the Looney Tunes. The footage comes with that grainy film stock feel and the visual aesthetics of your standard rubber hose cartoons from a bygone era. The filmmakers have clearly poured hours into the minutest detail and it was worth the hard labour as the series looks stunning. There are plenty of these little throwbacks to enjoy like the end credits font style and a familiar period score that runs throughout.

That retro look seems like a gamble when you consider the show’s audience. Who is this actually aimed at? The earlier episodes can be quite intense, with a dark, adult feel to them, especially when the Devil is there sucking out people’s souls. The animation style will definitely appeal more to an older generation than those brought up on Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig. Yet the humour can be childish and the fast-paced, manic mayhem of this world accommodates more to those with a shorter attention span. This contradiction of tones may leave you confused; I sure was. It’s a bit too psychotic for children and maybe a little too dumbed down for parents.

Unsure of its audience, The Cuphead Show! meanders between cult classic and total misfire. It can be pretty funny at times, but I can’t imagine adults sticking around for the whole twelve episodes. The retro animation is beautiful if wasted on these short, repetitive vignettes. Maybe a sign of the times, the show is loud, in your face, and downright bonkers, meaning there’s no time to actually be bored, but the fun is fleeting.

What did you think of Netflix animated series The Cuphead Show! season 1? Comment below.

You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.

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