Rick and Morty changed the game for sci-fi cartoons when it came out in 2013. Now, after nearly a decade, it looks like the game will be changing again. Rick and Morty has put out five seasons since it took off like a rocket. Caring more about quality than quantity, each season was better than the last as the show refused to fall into a pattern of stagnation common to serialized cartoons. The show demanded there be character development and story progression from the previous season’s arc. Over the years, that quality has fascinated the public and led to the show taking a huge spot for itself in the zeitgeist. It was so popular that the demand for its intellectual property led to things that were not always properly licensed.
But now it seems the world of Rick and Morty is opening up more. Though there have been several alternate Rick and Morty projects in the form of comic books, video games, and music videos, none has mirrored its source material so closely as to take the form of another TV show. But it looks like the tight grip on spin-offs of the cult series is over. And now, on May 19th, Adult Swim has announced its ordering of Rick and Morty: The Anime.
A Standalone Rick and Morty Series
Rick and Morty‘s popularity is not to be understated. When the show ended its 3rd season, Adult Swim immediately ordered 70 more episodes of the series, which is unheard of in a typical renewal deal. That order more than doubled the number of episodes there were in the series at the time, and the current number of episodes guarantees us a solid five more seasons. So, needless to say, there is plenty of Rick and Morty on its way. But for some studio execs, it might not be coming fast enough.
In May 2021, Adult Swim announced they would make the first spin-off series of Rick and Morty, one based on the Vindicators episode in season 3. The show will likely premiere sometime this year. But soon after Discovery completed its purchase of AT & T’s WarnerMedia (who owns Cartoon Network, who owns Rick and Morty), calls for new projects rippled throughout the media giant’s empire, and it seems one of those new projects was this.
Rick and Morty: The Anime will not take place in the series’ current continuity. Though it will likely be informed and influenced by events that have happened in the main show, this particular spin-off probably won’t become canon. Of course, anything is possible in a universe with a portal gun, but the creators of the original series (Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon) probably will not be that involved.
The Rick and Morty Spin-off Is in Good Hands
This is not the first time Rick and Morty has gone into the world of anime, and the man in charge of this new series, Takashi Sano, is the one who has taken them there before. Sano has helped develop a lot of successful anime projects in the past. He has worked on many titles in the Lupine III universe, Tower of Godand Girls and tanks of the movie. But Mr. Sano was likely chosen to run this new project because he already created two anime short films along with the Rick and Morty titles Rick and Morty vs. Genocide and Summer Meets God (Rick Meets Evil). Both of them are available on YouTube.
The short films are full-on anime. That means Japanese voice actors and English subtitles. It adds a lot to the films’ charm. Since you have to take everything in the Rick and Morty universe with a grain of salt, you could not have expected these shorts to take themselves seriously and still be true to the show. The films take on the style of an older Japanese anime before the genre became self-aware. But because it Rick and Morty, the style is a more modern take where the genre is a parody of itself. The animation style reflects this a little bit. It feels like a strange mix of Speed Racera South park anime spoof, and the early days of Rick and Morty when Rick still drooled from his mouth.
The films do an excellent job of capturing the spirit of the original series and using sci-fi tropes and cliches intelligently and with good humor. The anime factor adds another dimension to the self-parodying style of Rick and Morty, taking cues from the original series in the form of deceptive plot twists and putting them through an anime trope’s dynamic. It adds traditional anime style in its specific brand of villainy, over-the-top drama.
Rick and Morty: The Anime is in good hands if the films are any indication. The 10-episode series is expected to land sometime in 2023 and will add to Toonami’s infamous lineup of excellent anime shows.
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