Scott Pilgrim has many lives.
His first and most definitive is the graphic novels. Created by Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Bryan Lee O'Malley, the "Scott Pilgrim" series' eponymous hero is an aimless 20-something who is between jobs and is the bass player of a Toronto-based indie band. After meeting the girl of his dreams — Ramona Flowers — Scott learns he has to defeat her seven evil exes in order to keep dating her. The original six-volume series ran from 2004 to 2010.
Then there is the live-action film. Directed by Edgar Wright, the whimsically stylish "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (2010), starring Michael Cera as Scott and Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona, proudly flaunted its 8-bit influences. Despite its lackluster box office, the fairly faithful adaptation is beloved and embraced by fans of the series.
This mainstream Hollywood attention even led to bonus lives: a tie-in animated short (2010's "Scott Pilgrim vs. the Animation") and a video game ("Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game," originally out in 2010, remastered and re-released in 2021).
Now, nearly 20 years since its original debut, "Scott Pilgrim" is getting its next life as an anime series.
Created and executive produced by O'Malley and BenDavid Grabinski, "Scott Pilgrim Takes Off" is slated to launch Nov. 17 on Netflix, and it reassembles the 2010 film's cast for another go at the comically complicated dynamic between Scott, Ramona and their various exes.
The one thing O'Malley and Grabinski want to make absolutely clear is that this isn't a straightforward adaptation of the movie or the books: "If you think you know what you're going to see, you don't," promised Grabinski.
Netflix approached O'Malley a few years ago to gauge his interest in making a "Scott Pilgrim" anime series. It was only after the streamer mentioned the involvement of Science Saru — the acclaimed animation studio founded by filmmakers Masaaki Yuasa and Eunyoung Choi — that O'Malley's interest was piqued.
Especially after the release of "Devilman Crybaby," also on Netflix, "the idea of working with that particular studio was very exciting to me," said O'Malley during a recent video call. "And I've always loved anime. I grew up on anime and never thought I would ever get a chance to make or even be anywhere near the process of it."
"Scott Pilgrim" was deeply inspired by manga and anime. And with the live-action adaptation firmly in the rearview mirror, O'Malley thought that enough time had passed that revisiting it onscreen "wouldn't feel scary or awkward." Still, he was hesitant about just repeating a story he'd already told or constantly retreading familiar territory.
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