Saturday 3 February 2024

Scavengers Reign - An Exploration of Xenomorphology

I saw this trailed last year and, as a big fan of the art of the great french comic book illustrator Moebius aka Jean Giraud, I was gobsmacked with how similar in style it looked to many of his amazing strips.

It immediately brought back memories of watching Les MaĆ®tres du temps (The Masters of Time) and I knew I would have to give it a watch.

Scavengers Reign - Azi & Levi

More than just a Robinson Crusoe Rehash

The story revolves around the lives of three groups of survivors who landed their escape pods on a lush and verdant planet in very different circumstances.  Many of their shipmates have not been so lucky and did not survive to reach the surface, although it is not long before you start to realise that maybe its the dead who are lucky.

The 12 episodes are a busmans guide on how to create a planet full of interesting and diverse flaura and fauna which spends all of its time trying to eat you.  Wrapped around this core survival trope are evolving backstories which explore why each of the very differnt characters chose to thrust themselves out into the great void.

Beautifully animated and biologically complex, the writers have crafted a world which has so much natural diversity and complexity in their life cycles and symbiotic relationships with each other.  This goes well beyond the simple and makes Gieger's Xenomorph look like a children's story book.  

In the same way, the individual backstories of each character are explored in detail from the venal and pathetic Kamen to the strange relationship between Azi and her robot companion Levi.  These are as complex and interesting as their surroundings.  However, sometimes I feel this is designed to lull you into a false sense of security.  Needless to say in these more tender moments their next brush with the disaster is only around the corner.

Traveller Eat Your Heart Out.

This is exactly how I remember early Traveller scenarios going back in the day.  Every scenario was an exercise in exploration and discovering new and deadly lifeforms.  I remember playing those classic double adventures like Shadows or the Chamax Plague and loving them.   

Justifiers - Out of The Mists
Traveller - Shadows

It also brought back memories of running my favourite long dead sci-fi exploration RPG Justifiers.  With only a little modification each of these episodes would make for an entertaining set of encounters for any party.

Is Scavengers Reign Worth Watching?

If you enjoy carefully crafted and beautiful landscapes filled with interesting biology then yes, absolutely.  If you want fast paced action then this is not the animation for you.  If you can imagine watching a 6 hour long Studio Ghibli masterpiece where your own mortality is repeatedly rammed down your throat in the most violent but interesting ways.  Only then are you getting somewhere close to the gorgeous grotesqueness of this show. 

It is rare for a show like this to ever get greenlit or make it past a 30 minute long short so we have to reward the creative geniuses behind the scenes and watch their show.

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