It’s a tale as old as time. Around the beginning of every Halloween season, streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, and Peacock begin inundating their audiences with tv shows and movies that are sure to send shivers up people’s spines, and this year it is no different.
For this October and among the many other spooky productions already streaming since 2019, Hulu has exclusively released the next entry in the Hellraiser franchise as well as premiering a movie called Grimcutty, where a simple meme turns into something dangerously real. Over on the Netflix side of things, a few of the Halloween-centric stories include The Watcher, which is about a stalker haunting the lives of a couple who just moved into a new neighborhood, and of course, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. The latter sees the actor Evan Peters step into the shoes of the real-life 1980s serial killer for a 10-episode limited series. At the same time that it is showing in theaters, Peacock has exclusive rights to stream the finale to the current Halloween trilogy, aptly named Halloween Ends.
On the one hand, all this new content is excellent and will surely terrify fans of the horror category all month long. But what ultimately ends up happening in a genre-funnel marketing promotion like we see in the month of October is that some of these titles that could have no trouble finding a fanbase otherwise either rise to the top instantly or end up falling to the wayside as soon as they are released in favor of more well known and popular programs. Exception, a new Netflix horror anime released on October 13th, looks to be one of those sleeper hits.
Do not let this anime’s unusual and experimental visual appeal fool you. While some have turned away from the short series, claiming that the style looks too reminiscent of animated features from the ’90s, others have declared that the choice of animation is a complementary mix between Tim Burton and Brendan McCarthy (of Reboot fame). By the end of the first episode, anybody could agree that this creative approach does complement the overall premise of Exception. The almost cel-shaded appearance and delayed film-reel-like movements magnify the isolated consistent setting of the show.
Viewers of the anime are quickly thrust into a universe where Earth is quickly becoming uninhabitable. Five humans are reprinted from their original selves to commandeer a giant ship into space where they will study and eventually begin civilization on a potential planet, X-10. In the story of Exception, not only can reprints hold memories and emotions of their original selves but by using the powers of The Womb, which is a massive intertwining biological printer embodied on the ship, they can make another one of themselves if absolutely needed.
The mission of procedurally terraforming Planet X-10 quickly begins to unravel. A seemingly innocent solar flare corrupts the reprinting process of a crew member and turns him into a half-human, half-beast hybrid. Not only that, but while dealing with the mysterious intentions of the supposed monster, the remaining crew concludes that a traitor is on board.
As one can see, it comes as no surprise that on a show like Exception, where the story revolves around human clones that also have the ability to play god with not only themselves but whole planets, the themes of morality and existence take center stage.
Setting Up the Suspense
Created and written by Japanese short story writer and filmmaker Otsuichi, Exception was first announced by Netflix in June 2021 in conjunction with their yearly five-day virtual event called Geeked Week and produced by Tatsunoko Productions. They have also helped make many other anime properties, including Transformers and Robotech adaptations.
The five crew members’ designs were made by Yoshita Amano, who also creatively designed characters for franchises like Final Fantasy and Speed Racer, which recently was ordered for a live-action series by Apple TV. Consecutively speaking, each voice actor in this lineup has quite the career; Nolan North, Ali Hillis, Robbie Daymond, Eugene Byrd, and Nadine Nicole bring life to the five crew members featured in this anime, Lewis, Nina, Mack, Oscar, and Patty. Among many other accolades, North has been featured in many LEGO DC animated features, Hillis had a concurrent part in Cartoon Network’s Regular Show, Daymond was the iconic Tuxedo Mask in Sailor Moon, and Byrd recently had acting roles in Disney’s Secret of Sulphur Springs and CW’s All American.
Even though Exception only runs eight episodes long and feels like a small story on the surface, there is so much more to be found within the twists and turns of the plot. By the end of every episode, this anime seamlessly brings heavy topics to the forefront, such as the purpose behind being alive and having others’ lives in your hands. For this show to have such a small narrative but ever-expanding themes to consistently fall back on, it is no surprise to see that, from the creator to the character designer to the talent, the miniseries has an all-star cast and crew.
Between the numerous blockbuster franchises hacking and slashing their way to your television screens this October, do not forget to check out the underrated Netflix exclusive horror anime, Exception. Snuggled in between all the suspense, this show will also start making you wonder what life is really all about.