Did anybody ask for a snow-monkey slicing and dicing bad guys through the streets of Tokyo to avenge his fallen tribe?
Yes! Thank you Marvel. For the blood, gore, ghosts and jokes.
Based on comics created for Marvel by writer Daniel Way, the 2021 animated series has been made by Josh Gordon and Will Speck. It follows the bloody-adventures of a monkey, whose entire tribe was brutally murdered along with American assassin Bryce, who had taken shelter with the monkey pack in the mountains after killing a man who could’ve been Japan’s next Prime Minister. Bryce however turns into a ghost after his death and guides the monkey to Tokyo, to take down those behind the mountain massacre.
Jason Sudeikis has lent his voice to Bryce, a very Wade Wilson/Deadpool like character, who is annoyingly talkative and full of himself. He is probably jabbering for a good 75% of the series, which obviously gets on your nerves at points, but also serves as adequate comic-relief, versus the quiet monkey hero who has close to zero dialogues. The animation wasn’t the best, and looked very early 2000s, but works well for those who are suckers for nostalgia (like me). The artwork might remind viewers of Marvel’s animated TV series X-Men Evolution (2000-2003), even though ‘Hit Monkey’ aesthetics is definitely better, but looks like an immediate upgrade, not something from 20 years later.
The first two episodes do a great job of setting the pace and direction of the series, where Bryce and monkey are still trying to find their rhythm as a team. The third one titled ‘Legend of the Drunken Monkey’ was hilarious as hell, the duo goes gambling in a casino and locks horns with some deadly baddies. Monkey’s personal vendetta mission soon starts making headlines in Japan and every hired assassin is out to get his butt, including the best – a dangerously temperamental woman who can slay folks with her hair-pins.
Composer Daniel Rojas and music supervisor James Cartwright have peppered the show with some fantastic tracks from Japan. Foot-tapping groovy electronic and psychedelic tunes behind the action sequences make the viewing experience more exciting.
Episode 8 titled ‘Home Sweet Home’ shows a flashback to Bryce’s introduction to the world of crime and while it seemed like the episode could potentially slow down the series, it was surprisingly interesting and does a good job of explaining his past. The show has so much going on, ensuring the pace never slackens. You have the Yakuza, corrupt politicians, a complicit police-force, rigged polls, legendary ghosts, spiritual monks who talk in circles and then obviously – our cool killer monkey. A sub-plot about two cops trying to crack the string of gruesome murders poses a moral debate – is the ‘Hit Monkey’ a hero or a villain? He is wiping out bad guys the system is too scared to take on, but is unhinged violence the answer to solving the dirty Yakuza-Politician-Police nexus?
The last two episodes end with a bang (Episode 9 & 10), monkey and Bryce are close to achieving their vengeance, and are aided by some expected supporting heroes. The climactic twist doesn’t come as a surprise, but the makers cleverly keep throwing red-herrings at the viewer until the end, so while you don’t exactly expect the final villain, you may think ‘I knew this asshole was responsible!’ to yourself, but in a satisfying way. There’s ample scope for a season two… so ‘wohooo’ to that.
I loved watching this series and am going to go with a 8.5/10. You can stream in on Hulu or Disney Hotstar.
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