REVIEW: ‘The Cuphead Show,’ Season 1 – A Classic Style For Modern Times

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The Cuphead Show Season 1 - But Why Tho

The Cuphead Show Season 1 is a Netflix Originals animation series based on the video game Cuphead. Cuphead and his brother Mugman enjoy their days on the Inkwell Isles living with their caretaker Elder Kettle. But where these two brothers go, trouble is never far behind. But whether it’s perilous adventures up an active volcano or facing down the Devil himself, these two brothers will always find a way through their troubles together.

They say it’s good to know your limits. To understand what you can achieve and focus purely on nailing that. As I look back at my time watching The Cuphead Show, I can’t help but feel like this was the overriding approach of this series. With each of its 12 episodes coming in at a little over 10 minutes, the series understands what it does right and takes great pains not to wear out its charms before the viewer gets to the end.

The primary charm that this series hangs its hat on is the visual style the show employs. Harkening back to the classics of western animation, The Cuphead Show sees cheerful, carefree characters bouncing along, even when standing in place. While the series seeks to invoke the memory of those old-style cartoons, it doesn’t restrict itself to that bygone era’s limitations. Like a pixel art game that looks 8-bit, but does far more than any Nintendo cartridge could ever dream of, this series expands upon what could be done with the chosen style, allowing it to be thoroughly pleasing to a modern audience.

The other place the show attempts to win viewers over with is the charm of the cast. Particularly, Cuphead and Mugman. These efforts unfortunately are not as universally successful as the visual’s efforts are. Cuphead, built up to be a roguish boy who’s always dragging his brother into trouble, more often than not just comes across like a jerk. When it comes to Cuphead, it’s basically like Bugs Bunny. If you think Bugs is funny, you might like Cuphead’s antics. If however, Warner Bros. trademark rabbit just makes your eyes roll, I feel like there is a good chance that Cuphead will have a similar effect.

The biggest surprise that came to me when watching The Cuphead Show is its target audience. Given how challenging the game that the series is based on was, I had expected the humor to be geared toward an older audience. That is not the case. Despite frequent appearances by the Devil, this series feels like it is clearly catering to the pre-teen to early teen demographic. That’s not to say there is nothing an adult might find entertaining among the show’s goofy jokes and occasional musical numbers, it just isn’t aimed at them.

So, when all is said and done, The Cuphead Show Season 1 delivers a uniquely presented series, whose star and humor I found to be hit or miss. But, given how short the series runtime is, if you find the premise, or even just the unique visual style intriguing, the show never fails hard enough that I would try to dissuade you from giving it a shot.

The Cuphead Show Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.


The Cuphead Show Season 1
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

So, when all is said and done, The Cuphead Show Season 1 delivers a uniquely presented series, whose star and humor I found to be hit or miss. But, given how short the series runtime is, if you find the premise, or even just the unique visual style intriguing, the show never fails hard enough that I would try to dissuade you from giving it a shot.