‘Scavengers Reign’ could be 2023’s most unique TV show
From the beginning of “Scavengers Reign,” you get the sense that you’re watching something different. The title music is elegant but there’s something off about it. In other words, it’s perfect for what the series is attempting to convey. As beautiful as the world of Vesta is, there are plenty of dangerous and nightmarish creatures who fill the natural world of this planet.
Often, and frustratingly, science fiction is lumped in with fantasy or it is too focused on its concepts rather than how said concepts would affect the human condition, as good speculative fiction should do. “Scavengers Reign” never strays from its science fiction roots, though the world of Vesta is so bizarre and strange that it sometimes feels like you’re watching a fantasy show. The design of the show has been compared to Hayao Miyazaki, and the influence is definitely there. But I find a far more appropriate comparison would be to the legendary comics artist Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud, whose otherworldly designs have a clear influence on the series’ art direction. While the animation is wonky at points, the art design in this series is otherworldly and ethereal, while also emphasizing the brutality and unforgiveness of this world.
This is a survival story. While the dialogue is light and the creators prefer to allow the atmosphere to tell the story, the characters feel real and are given their own personalities that we can latch onto. “Scavengers Reign” also excels at amping the tension and constantly keeping the characters as well as the audience on their toes. I was particularly affected by the relationship between Azi (played by Wunmi Mosaku) and the friendly AI Levi (played by Alia Shawkat). While Azi is initially cold towards Levi, what comes from it is a heartfelt friendship that still works even if there isn’t much dialogue in the show. It reminds me of Genndy Tartakovsky’s style of visual storytelling and how he can somehow get us to still empathize with his characters without using too much dialogue.
There aren’t very many shows that are like “Scavengers Reign.” It’s too bizarre, too unusual, and it doesn’t fall into the pitfalls that many adult animated shows fall into. It won’t be for everyone, but I really enjoyed it.