Ranking Robots: Zima Blue

Ranking Robots is the newest tri-weekly series that will be making its appearance on the site every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday as I make my way through Netflix’s Love, Death + Robots. For those that are unaware of the Netflix Original, the show is a series of short stories that have to do with, you guessed it, Love, Death, and Robots. If anyone reading this ever saw the incredible collection of short films called the Animatrix (if you haven’t go check that out now) then you won’t have any trouble jumping into this new series.

Often, narration in a story comes off as a way for the storyteller to avoid having to do the hard work of actually creating moving images that create any kind of emotion in the audience. A prime example of that is in the episode Lucky 13 where an interesting concept is ruined by the creator’s decision to tell the audience what they should be feeling instead of allowing the images on the screen to make them feel a certain way. To counter this and to prove that not all narration is lazy, Zima Blue’s is used to help the narrative move along with the visuals. The two work together to enhance the story rather than hide the faults of the other in hopes that the audience won’t notice.

The story of a once in a lifetime artist who rises from the depths of painting family portraits to a multi-planetary deity in the art world is yet another beautiful example of how the show can deliver stories that tell such epic tales in only a short amount of time. With a run-time of only 10 minutes, Zima Blue uses every second of its run-time to show the audience the entire life of one person. It’s done so masterfully, in fact, that when the story comes to a close, all that’s left to do is sit and ponder any meanings that might have missed.

Whether it be the story of someone realizing that home is the only place they are truly happy or that no matter how famous we become we can never outrun our past, the story of Zima Blue is one that nerds like myself can and will discuss for a long time. When the episode came to an end though, all that matters is the fact that this piece of art accomplished everything it hoped to. From its standout art style to the memorable main character, Zima Blue truly is a masterclass.

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