The Cuphead Show: An Enjoyable Cartoon Adaption – Season One Review
In 2017, Cuphead, by Studio MDHR, took the world by storm, with its surrealist art style and inspiration from Disney. After almost 80,000 reviews, the classic run-and-gun game is currently sitting on Steam with a 96% positive rating (Overwhelmingly Positive). Now, they have transitioned their animation into a full-blown cartoon. The Cuphead Show aired on Netflix on February 18, 2022, to 12 episodes of animation magic.
“The Devil also gets a much-needed lift in the animation.”
True to the game, the art resembles the old rubber hose style from the Golden Age of Animation. The characters look and feel just as they do in-game, but with more expressions and wacky movement. The animators were given a lot of freedom to flesh out these scenes. It’s like watching an old Looney Tunes or Mickey Mouse short with how outlandish things can get.
While the game gave plenty of charm and personality to these retro stars, these 12 episodes escalated them to another level. The games established Cuphead as being brash but good-hearted and his brother Mugman as the more cautionary sibling. However, The Cuphead Show fleshes them in more detail, showing the ins and outs of how they think and work as a team. Elder Kettle goes from a kind guardian to a wacky but sometimes hot-headed old man, doing his best to raise two precocious cups.
The Devil also gets a much-needed lift in the animation; going from scary and intimidating to being sarcastic, conniving, but also sensitive. Furthermore, the shopkeeper Porkrind, Ms Chalice, and other minor characters in the game are given a chance to shine in their respective episodes.
“While there is a great amount of talent in the voice acting department, it doesn’t help with the narrative.”
The actors portraying each character are a hit and miss, depending on the headcanon. Admittedly, I was not expecting the cup brothers to sound like kids from Brooklyn in the 20s. Although, it weirdly works. Every actor gives their best performance, both in the acting and the singing, only heightened further by the animation and music.
A mix of great talent lends their voices to The Cupbhead Show, like Wayne Brady as King Dice and Grey DeLisle (credited as Grey Griffin) as Ms Chalice. Tru Valentino and Frank Todaro serve as Cuphead and Mugman respectively and the chemistry between the two is a delight to hear. Other noteworthy voices are Jim Conroy, Keith Ferguson, Candi Milo, and Gary Anthony Williams. While there is a great amount of talent in the voice acting department, it doesn’t help with the narrative.
“Many of the episodes in The Cuphead Show feel repetitive.”
In The Cuphead Show, the story is the weakest aspect of the series. In the first 12 episodes, there isn’t a lot to go off. Each part acts as its own separate episode with minor plot threads connecting it all together.
The story starts with Cuphead owing the Devil his soul, much like in the game. However, this time it’s due to a haunted skee ball machine, instead of a casino. That portion of the plot doesn’t come into play until the fifth episode when King Dice is introduced and then is stretched out even later afterwards.
Most episodes, with a few exceptions, serve as random moments of wackiness the brothers get up to on Inkwell Isle. While fine on its own, the fragmented nature of it can serve as a distraction and encourage viewers to skip episodes to get to the major plot. Also, many of these episodes feel repetitive in terms of the jokes and problems the brothers face.
“The Cuphead Show is a fun, wacky, adaption of the game.”
The music in The Cuphead Show is outstanding and feels similar to the game’s original score. Ego Plum, known for his work on Star vs. The Forces of Evil, alongside a talented music department, helped compose the soundtrack to create something memorable. A lot of the background music is either directly inspired or lifted from the game and it blends seamlessly well with the big song and dance numbers scattered throughout. Many are great homages to the jazz music of that era. For example, the Devil’s song and dance number feel like a unique blend of Minnie the Moocher and Oogie Boogie’s song from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Overall, The Cuphead Show is a fun, wacky, adaption of the game, and I highly recommend checking it out. Even if you haven’t played the game, there is still some enjoyment to be had. The current 12 episodes are available to watch on Netflix, so if you want something light to enjoy on a weekend, go check it out.
The Cuphead Show Review
The Cuphead Show offers a lot for both fans of the game and newcomers. The animation and music are incredible, and the stellar cast only adds to the positives. Unfortunately, the story could be fleshed out more, but with the show being greenlit for two more seasons, that complaint will hopefully disappear over time.