“Well Cuphead and his pal Mugman, they like to roll the dice, by chance they came on Devil’s game, and gosh they paid the price.” The Cuphead Show tries it’s best to capture the spirit of the award winning game that came out back in 2017. The game is best known for it’s difficult gameplay and gorgeous retro style animation that was a huge hit with critics and gamers alike. The show tasks itself with having to develop personalities for the characters we saw in the game while also providing a narrative that ties into the story of the Cuphead game, where we follow Cuphead and Mugman defeating many foes in order to repay their debt to the Devil. So how well does this show do when it comes to fleshing out it’s characters and colorful world? In my opinion, it does a pretty bang up job, in both animation and flair that makes a wonderful companion piece to the popular video game series. Thing is, is that enough?
First of all, I want to give props that the original creators of the Cuphead game; Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, who were brought in as executive producers for the show. I think it’s only right to have them involved in this since it’s based off of their creation. They are accompanied by Dave Wasson, and CJ Kettler, who are also executive producers on this project and who were equally enthusiastic about taking on this project and developing it as best as they could.
We follow the many misadventures of Cuphead and Mugman which is very much reminiscent of the old 1930s slapstick comedy cartoons to which the original game was inspired by. The animation is absolutely gorgeous and stays true to what the fans have known to come and love from the series. The character designs blended with the gorgeous watercolor backgrounds really make this entire animation stand out and pop. A congratulations needs to be in order for the animation team being this show because WOW. They knocked it out of the park. I also really enjoyed the original music composed by Ego Plum, who crafted wonderful pieces that fit so well. The team have done a wonderful job creating this show, and you can tell a lot of time and care was put into every frame and I think it’s great that they’ve nailed the overall look without it feeling like a “cheap” attempt at capturing something retro.
So, what about the actual story? I will say that you need to keep in mind that the show plays in largely to a younger audience, since the antics our main characters get into feels very childish. The creators double down and lean into the aspect of this show being unapologetically zany and cartoony, right down to it’s over the top episodic mischief storytelling as well as it’s wonderfully performed over the top voice acting and animation. This sort of style fits in well for these type of characters in my opinion, so if you were expecting to come out of this show with a deeply complicated story other than what we see on a surface level, then you will be sorely disappointed. This show is fully intended to be for kids, so I can’t imagine an adult who’s not a fan of the video game series sticking around for too long in the series which is a shame. Needless to say, because of the nature of this show, it will not win over everyone because it aims for a young audience. If you are a fan of the video game, I say give it a shot and watch, as I do think it’s a great addition to the series. If you’re not a fan, then I don’t think there’s too much for you to enjoy if not just the wonderful animation.
The Cuphead Show! premieres globally on Netflix on February 18th, 2022.