Love, Death and Robots: Alternate Histories

Fun fact: when I play video games, I really don’t like killing humans.  I prefer to play games where you get the option to find another way.  Most games don’t give you the option and I frequently feel bad, but my preferred games do allow you to get around a tough situation.  Unless we’re talking about Nazi’s.  That seems to be a different kettle of fish.  When the bad guys are Nazi’s its not the same thing.  Interestingly, Alternate Histories seems to feel the same way.  

Alternate Histories is another really brief episode and the whole 8 minutes is done like an infomercial, advertising Multiversity for those who want to experiment with historical outcomes.  

The Good

Althistory1I found this episode delightful but in a very different way to others.  It’s not a story.  It’s a commercial and it’s a good one.  We get a demo of what this program can do and we see 6 possible alternate deaths to Adolf Hitler.  Each make him look like a loser to varying degrees (beyond the obvious).  It starts off in the “semi-but-distantly plausible” and moves into the “utterly absurd” quickly but it does a good job in hinting at the role a man plays in the world around him.  Conceptually, that’s brilliant even if the fantastical elements are utterly warped.

There are also a number of little references throughout.  Personally, my favorite is a bit obvious but the Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb image was a standout.  I also felt we had a look at the comic book Maus, a story about the holocaust but told with mice.   The voice acting is fun to listen to and there’s a blue screen crash that is worth pausing just to read through it.  A really fantastic, fun episode.  

The Bad

Althistory1Like the animation of When the Yogurt Took Over, I can’t say I was overly pleased with the visuals.  It just about works but only because it’s an informercial but is just too silly for my liking.  Aesthetically, this episode failed me.  I also felt it didn’t lend itself well to the fairly graphic nudity that appears at one point in the episode. Sure, it’s animated, but the group sex scene is still an unneeded part of the story, although it does have a very clever depiction of a swastika.  Not to sound like a broken record, but this is an otherwise excellent episode and this scene neither fits thematically, nor adds anything that couldn’t have been done with a lot more class.  I think the point was to emasculate Hitler and, sure, I get it, but the point of the episode is partly to make fun of a man universally viewed as a villain, so weren’t there better ways of going about that?  Did it really need to have “hookers” and porn stars making animated cameos?  And that says nothing of the idiocy of Hitler dropping his nude drawing before being run over by a carriage. 

The Ugly

Althistory2A very interesting thing happened a few nights after I watched this. I had some friends over; close friends who I’ve known for over 30 years.  We got talking about ancestry and found out something that took over 30 years of friendship to get around to talking about: each of our families can trace their history back to Bari, Italy.  On top of that, one of them said his dad learned about military vehicles stored there during WWII and how, if Germany knew about it, Bari would likely have been bombed.  There’s an alternate history where, if this blog exists at all, it’s written by someone else entirely.  It really is amazing how tenuous things are and we don’t even know it.

On top of that, one of those same friends and I have often spent time in The Book of Questions and one question that we’ve gone back to many times has been: if you had one wish, what would it be? The logical answer should be contentment.  The truth is, people are rarely content.  There’s always that Columbo-like “one more thing” that would add oh so much to our lives.  “This epic event was wonderful.  If only we had that one more thing…” We often think about what might have been, and that’s ok, because there’s something interesting to think about how the image of our lives would have turned out had the dominoes fallen differently.  This episode takes a look at how the world would have been different had Hitler died under different circumstances.  It does a really good job, even when it goes down a silly path, of showing us outcomes many years later.  I can’t help but apply that thought to my own life: where would I be now if completed college when I was supposed to?  What if I stayed with my first girlfriend?  What if I didn’t have that car accident all those years ago?  And the further back you go to make the change, the more it seems to change the present.  

Now, I grant you, this episode takes a bad person to examine but we can see the impact he has even on things that take place 20+ years after he died.  That begs the question: how great is the impact of our lives?  We might not be leaders of a country, but our lives have impact on other that may cause the dominoes to fall in ways we can’t even imagine.  It’s like those posters that are made up of hundreds of smaller images.  We might not know the whole image because we can never get far enough away from our own lives to see the whole collage.  Maybe it’s a masterpiece!  So why don’t we get contentment out of that?  Or at least some solace that our lives mean something beyond the scope of the jobs we do and the families we raise.  And that’s not to downplay those things, it’s just to remind us that we have lives that extend outside the sphere of influence we know about.  That should make us very happy indeed.  So why do we always have something more to wish for?

The Game

Three icons and two are repeated.  The series title seems to indicate that the X is death so we can accept the double use to represent all the ways we’re about to see Hitler wiped out.  The clock, in my mind, is just a representation of history.  

The Verdict:

In most of the execution, this is a classic and really enjoyable.  I wish the creators had a bit more class in their animation.  This is a fun idea and would be nice to share, but there are things that make this impossible to share with a younger audience.  I may never understand that either: why automatically limit the audience.  I took a marketing class and understand target demographics to some extent, but I still can’t explain why you would try to limit the audience, especially when dealing with such an intelligent show otherwise.  ML

This entry was posted in Anime, Entertainment, Reviews, Television and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Love, Death and Robots: Alternate Histories

  1. scifimike70 says:

    The ways that all the newfound sciences of the multiverse can affect both our science fiction and our consensus of possibilities in reality are certainly amazing. Thank you, ML, for your review.

    Liked by 1 person

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