REVIEW: ‘The Boys Presents: Diabolical’ Showcases Everything Adult Animation Can Offer

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The Boys Presents Diabolical - But Why Tho

The world of The Boys is a dark superhero satire that has pushed violence to the limits on Prime Video. The live-action dark superhero world has come to animation with The Boys Present: Diabolical. This eight-episode animated anthology series set in the universe of the series, Diabolical, has an extensive cast of directors and voice actors that make up an incredibly diverse animation roster. Each episode has its own unique animation style that showcases the different stories that adult animation can tell and how diverse animation is as a medium. On top of that, at only 12-14 minutes apiece, these shorts are so incredibly digestible I doubt anyone will only watch one at a time.

Starting from the top, “Laser Baby’s Day Out” is written by Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen and directed by Crystal Chesney-Thompson and Derek Thompson. It captures the simplicity of classic American animated shorts with the right amount of cute with the right edge. “BFFs” written by Awkwafina, directed by Madeleine Flores, and captures an absurdity of loneliness that only Vought’s Project V can provide in the style of Saturday morning animation imports.

But directly off of this, we dive into Justin Roiland’s signature visual and comedic aesthetic with “An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supes Kill Their Parents.” Written by Roiland & Ben Bayouth, and directed by Parker Simmons, this episode is hilariously violent, directly connected to the series’ revelations in Season 2, and is just what the episode title says —and it works. Not to be outdone, though, Garth Ennis’s installment in Diabolical, “I’m Your Pusher,” takes the hyper-violence, puts on a more traditional adult animation veneer, and turns the volume to 11. Directed by Giancarlo Volpe, “I’m Your Pusher” is an homage to the original The Boys comics. This episode is vulgar and violent in a way only Ennis could make. Then there is “One Plus One Equals Two.” Written by Simon Racioppa, and directed by Jae Kim and Giancarlo Volpe, this episode captures what we know superhero animation to be in the US and stretches it to an even darker end as we watch Homelander come apart.

But the true standouts of the series are “Boyd in 3D,” “Nubian vs Nubian,” and “John and Sun-Hee.”

“Boyd in 3D” is a dark monkey’s paw of a comedy inspired by French comics and animation, written by Eliot Glazer and Ilana Glazer, and directed by Naz Ghodrati-Azadi. Built on a “be careful what you wish for” foundation, the animation is a highlight, but the narrative and twist at the end make it an episode that you’ll hold onto, but not one I can go into much detail about.

On the other hand, “Nubian vs Nubian” is written by Aisha Tyler and directed by Matthew Bordenave. This episode is an anime-inspired supes family story with supes who are also a pair of bickering parents and their daughter. Visually the animation here is some of the strongest of the series, and the concept of having a child use a supervillain to get her supe parents back together is the right kind of endearing and hilarious. The most charming of the series, “Nubian vs Nubian,” manages to tell the most in-depth story of the series that balances adorable elements with some serious brutality.

All of that said, “John and Sun-Hee” has the most magical animation of any episode in the series. The story is the most emotional that Diabolical has to offer and has an aesthetic that is most easily compared to work that Science Saru and Studio Chizu has done but blended with Korean horror, which served as the episode’s inspiration. Written by Andy Samberg (something I was extremely shocked by) and directed by Steve Ahn, it’s emotional action at a peak when a man steals V from Vought to save his dying wife. The way that the body horror cuts through a whimsical animated environment is truly something special. I would take a feature film from Samberg and Ahn that expands on this vignette. “John and Sun-Hee” achieves has a full three-act structure, a beautiful climax, and offers a bitterly sweet end that captures love in a way that I didn’t expect Diabolical to.

The beauty of anthologies is that you can capture a world through different lenses, which is why Diabolical is so damn good. The Boys has proven to have a vast world of supes and humans with some truly awful and awesome intersections between the two. But even with two seasons, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. Diabolical blows open the doors on the world, exploring supes with awful powers, Vought’s experiments, and the way V is something everyone wants to get their hands on.

There is something special to see ordinary everyday people interact with the world of supes in such an extended capacity. Diabolical isn’t concerned with the stories of the supes we know already. Instead, it’s all about the stories in the in-between spaces. Every episode offers up something for different fans. Whether it’s an animation style you love, voice actors you love to follow, or story type, it’s not exaggerating to say that there is something for everyone —every adult.

The Boys Presents: Diabolical captures the diversity of storytelling that adult animation has to offer. It’s hilariously vulgar, bombastically graphic, and a hell of a good time. From episode one to episode eight, this anthology is a hell of a good time.

The Boys Presents: Diabolical is streaming exclusively on Prime Video March 4, 2022. 


The Boys Presents: Diabolical
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    Rating - 10/10
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TL;DR

The Boys Presents: Diabolical captures the diversity of storytelling that adult animation has to offer. It’s hilariously vulgar, bombastically graphic, and a hell of a good time. From episode one to episode eight, this anthology is a hell of a good time.