The visuals and animation leave a lot to be desired, but Make My Day excels thanks to great characters and a pacey, exciting adventure plot.
This review of the Netflix anime series Make My Day Season 1 does not contain spoilers.
The inherent advantage of animation is that it can do things live-action simply can’t, and at a fraction of the cost. What it might lack in actorly human nuance it more than makes up for in scale and imagination, and while Netflix might have shut down their own animation division, the streaming giant continuing to commission animated projects through third-party studios proves it isn’t giving up on the medium any time soon. Make My Day is a solid argument in favor of the form, in part because, at least visually, it’s easy to see how much better it might have been.
Make My Day Season 1 review and plot summary
A common misconception about animation is that it’s for children, but Make My Day is an adult-skewing sci-fi anime that has more in common with something like The Thing than it does anything aimed at kids. It’s a foul-mouthed, violent, often quite grim little story, with a chilly, alien setting, and a cast of extremely likable characters. At first, I hated it.
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It was all a visual thing. CGI anime almost never looks good and Make My Day doesn’t buck the trend. Characters lack expression and depth. The movement is stiff. The environments are spare and – this is more of a personal quibble – the creature designs are kind of bland, an orange hue making them stand out from the frigid backdrop but also feel slightly detached from it, as though they’ve been painted on after the fact (which they inevitably have). I wasn’t buying into the lack of detail and the overall feeling of cheapness.
I’m not sure when I realized how invested I had become in the story of Jim, a young aspiring artist working as a prison guard on the harsh planet of Coldfoot, where inmates are being exploited to mine a precious ore named Sig. It was probably halfway through the eight-episode season, which begins to rollick along at quite a pace as it develops. I realized I cared not only about Jim but the random characters he meets during his journey off the planet, which has been overrun by explosive alien bugs that the mining disturbed.
Is Make My Day good?
There’s a captivating sense of earnestness about the characters here that is very compelling. Jim is a fantastic lead, learning and developing as he finds himself in more and more turmoil, but everyone around him is equally engaging. While some backstory and worldbuilding are delivered, what matters most of all is what’s going on in the moment. Make My Day eschews mystery and eccentricity in favor of a simple pacey adventure, one packed with action and danger but also incredibly sincere character moments. The penultimate episode even proves to be a major tear-jerker, proof that despite all the obvious homage, Make My Day eventually becomes its own thing, defined by its original characters and their shared plights. By that point, any wonky, cheap-looking animation has ceased to matter all that much.
What did you think of the Netflix anime Make My Day Season 1? Comment below.
You can watch this series with a subscription to Netflix.
2 thoughts on “Make My Day Season 1 Review – Great characters overshadow lacklustre animation”
I didn’t think the animation was all that bad. It reminded me of Arcane. I stumbled upon “Make My Day”, and found myself watching in one sitting. The story was compelling. The animation was serviceable, and the story an pacing excellent.
I’m going to recommend Make My Day to all my friends.
I didn’t love the animation but since the storyline and acting and aliens were good (down to scientist obviously being on the spectrum and the aliens being tardigrade based but with their own body chemistry), I enjoyed it. I don’t even judge south park or the order of the stick web cartoon series solely on animation, so I’m not going to do that here. 🙂