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The Summer 2024 Anime Preview Guide
Suicide Squad ISEKAI

How would you rate episode 1 of
Suicide Squad ISEKAI ?
Community score: 3.7

How would you rate episode 2 of
Suicide Squad ISEKAI ?
Community score: 3.9

How would you rate episode 3 of
Suicide Squad ISEKAI ?
Community score: 3.8



What is this?

suicide-squad-nd4.png

In the crime-ridden Gotham City, Amanda Waller, the head of A.R.G.U.S., has assembled a group of notorious criminals for a mission: Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Peacemaker, Clayface, and King Shark. These DC Super-Villains are sent into an otherworldly realm that's connected to this world through a gate. It's a world of swords and magic where orcs rampage and dragons rule the skies—an "ISEKAI." Harley and others go on a rampage after arriving in ISEKAI but are captured by the Kingdom's soldiers and sent to prison. They only have 72 hours before the bomb on their neck explodes. The deadline is fast approaching. After negotiations with Queen Aldora, the condition for liberation was the conquest of the hostile Imperial army. They have no choice but to throw themselves head-first into the front line of battle.

Suicide Squad ISEKAI is an original series featuring characters from the DC Universe. The anime series is streaming on Hulu and Max on Thursdays.


How was the first episode?

suicide-squad-nd1.png
Richard Eisenbeis
Rating:

I should make two things clear right from the start. 1) I am a huge comics fan and 2) I think anime adaptations of Western comics tend to suck. Everything from Marvel Future Avengers and X-Men to Batman Ninja and Witchblade has been disappointing. The only anime I've seen that gets Western superheroes right is the lowest budget of them all: DC Super Heroes vs. Eagle Talon. The rest have either a shallow understanding (or a fundamental misunderstanding) of the characters they portray. So, to say I was dreading Suicide Squad ISEKAI would be a fair statement—and I was not looking forward to watching three episodes of it for this guide.

Now in retrospect, did Suicide Squad ISEKAI need a three-episode premiere to tell its story? No. Am I glad it got a triple-length premiere? Yes.

To me, the first episode is a mess—a regurgitation of what the Suicide Squad is with the characters besides Harley not even reaching the level of being one-note. Instead of focusing on our anti-heroes, the episode focuses on the action. However, the animation is overly-fluid and seems to move at a glacial pace—to the point that it feels like the fight scenes were performed by real fight choreographers at half-speed for clarity and the animation team just rotoscoped that without speeding things up.

Episodes 2 and 3 are much better. We get a ton of character development, much of which feels true to the comics. I particularly like how the writers remember that while Harley is crazy, she's not an idiot—she was a practicing doctor after all. Moreover, the extended flashback between Deadshot and Ratcatcher is comedic gold and shows so much about both characters and how they view the world.

As for the actual plot, it's solid enough. I don't know if I buy the whole “Amanda Waller thinks it's a good idea to invade another world for water and natural resources” bit (it sounds like some BS Flag made up) but I like the opposing teams of Suicide Squads with magically boosted powers duking it out in a fantasy world setup.

While the show had a rocky start and I was coming in expecting to hate it, I came away from these first three episodes generally optimistic.


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James Beckett
Rating:

Within the first fifteen minutes of its very first episode, Suicide Squad ISEKAI manages to clear one very important hurdle: It is, functionally speaking, at least three times better than the entirety of that original 2017 film. The premiere handily sets up Amanda Waller and her eternal obsession with stuffing bombs into the necks of supervillains and sending them on impossible missions with the reward of a reduced sentence for anyone who survives. It neatly introduces the likes of The Joker, Harley Quinn, King Shark, Deadshot, Clay Face, and Katana (her sword traps the souls of its victims, you see). Granted, being better than Suicide Squad is one of the easiest challenges any piece of media can accomplish. Still, given the franchise's rocky track record, I will award Suicide Squad ISEKAI its due. Hell, at this point, that original movie has been rendered completely obsolete. Just watch less than twenty minutes of an episode of Suicide Squad ISEKAI, and you've got everything you need to know to move right along to James Gunn's fantastic sequel.

There's a more impressive achievement to recognize here, though. Over the course of the two-and-a-half episodes that follow, Suicide Squad ISEKAI proves that it also has the chops to outclass every other isekai anime that you're bound to see this season, too. Hell, it wasn't more than a minute into the Squad's unceremonious field trip into their extra-dimensional new home that it became clear that we were dealing with an anime that was actually going to put some effort into executing this ridiculously overdone concept. The nifty monsters, floating islands, and celestial backgrounds of the new world are instantly more compelling than almost every other isekai setting that has ever existed. I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. It is just another piece of evidence to toss onto the damnably tall mountain of proof that even the most worn-out cliches can still be fun when the stories responsible for them try just the littlest bit.

Make no mistake, though! There's more to Suicide Squad ISEKAI than the fact that it achieves the bare minimum of quality that you would want from a show with the words "Suicide Squad" and "Isekai" in the title. For one, Studio Wit is absolutely killing it with the production, here. The character designs are slick and appealing for the most part, and even if I might quibble that their version of the Joker is just a little too "Supermodel Cosplay" for my tastes, I'm not about to complain when we could have been cursed with a more direct adaptation of Jared Leto's assassination of the character. The action kicks ass pretty much across the board, too. The whole appeal of the Suicide Squad formula is that you get to see an improbably diverse team of superpowered psychos let loose with their plethora of murderous impedimenta, and Suicide Squad ISEKAI brings the goods.

Most importantly of all, though, is the fact that the story we've gotten so far in this first batch of episodes is genuinely fun and compelling. Harley has her usual Joker stuff to deal with, which is fine, but this anime is at its best when it's using its cast to mess around with the perks of being a DC Comics adaptation that's also a riff on anime cliches. The show has a lot of fun subverting some of the traditional isekai tropes while also giving the Squad an appropriately hard time of getting anything done. Making Clayface into an insufferable dweeb that can't handle not being treated like a self-insert isekai hero is an inspired choice, to say the least, and Peacemaker's psychopathic devotion to enacting his particular brand of justice is the kind of thing that just fits perfectly well into the whole fantasy-anime vibe that we're going for.

And get this: When Suicide Squad ISEKAI starts weaving the Squad's antics into the ongoing political strife of the new fantasy world, it's actually…interesting and well-developed!? I mean, it's far from Prestige Television™, but it's good. Guys, it's almost like someone at DC knew about my specific hatred for both the original Suicide Squad movie and all of the crappy isekai anime we've had shoved down our throats for the last decade and said, "You know what? We can do something about that. We have…a team."


suicide-squad-nd2.png
Nicholas Dupree
Rating:

It was hard not to come into this particular title feeling burnt out. While DC has published many of my favorite superhero stories, the last decade or so of their film adaptations have left me cold, both iterations of the Suicide Squad included. I'm also really sick of isekai in general, so combining the two in such an obviously market-tested way made this whole thing an unappetizing proposition. Thankfully, while I've got some problems with these three episodes, they make a strong case for why this series could be a dumb, fun time.

It was a good call to release this with all three episodes to start since the first alone barely manages to introduce the three words in the title. That's some assemblage of the Suicide Squad, and they are, in fact, in another world, here awkwardly referred to as "an isekai," even though nobody in this cast should know that term. It's not until mid-way through episode three that we establish why this crew of supervillains is in Fantasy Land or what the larger plot is going to be about, but once we get there, it's a pretty solid idea. We've got DC villains on both sides of a fantasy war, using their special abilities to turn the tides as they see fit. That's honestly a great premise, and was just enough to hook me into following more.

My biggest issue is the cast, and specifically their banter. A weapons-grade concentration of unpleasant, unlikable, or just antisocial personalities is meant to be the Squad's charm, but that's a tough act to balance, and not every writer is able to keep the characters entertaining without sanding off the rough edges that make them "bad guys" in the first place. The script here mostly accomplishes that, but can get over-indulgent with having every character insert their shtick into a conversation. At times, it feels like a group of table-top players who are more interested in bantering than actually advancing through the story line, to the point where it takes nearly three full episodes for them to even learn what's going on at all. It's not terrible, but it's enough of a hitch that I found myself most attached to Rick Flag of all people, just because he's the only person trying to get anything done.

Thankfully, the animation and overall look of the show more than make up for any pacing issues. The animators have clearly been given a lot of room to experiment with this project, and it lets the show play fast and loose with its art style and tone in really fun ways. The action is lively and violent, but also tongue-in-cheek enough to never feel overly gory, which is exactly where these characters fit best. The jailbreak sequence is a ton of fun, allowing the cast to show off their personalities through how they fight, all in the form of an official AMV. It's still odd to see these familiar characters rendered in a distinctly "anime" style, but they all look good, and the staff has lavished a lot of love onto Harley in particular.

Overall, I'm not in love with the show yet, but I've seen enough to trust that it can be a fun time for anyone with even a passing familiarity with these characters or DC villains in general. It looks good, sounds good (minus the horrendous ending theme), and worked for me despite my almost total ambivalence for any other form of this cast.


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Rebecca Silverman
Rating:

I'm not sure what it says that after watching Suicide Squad ISEKAI I needed to catch up on the animated Harley Quinn series. I'm choosing to frame it as it was good enough to remind me that life had gotten in the way of finishing season four of a show I genuinely enjoy because I did find this version of Harley Quinn and those other guys who are there with her a lot of fun. Admittedly, I like Harley Quinn as a character, particularly once she's gotten free of the Joker, so this didn't have a high bar to clear on that front. And while I do find it a bit odd how young she and Katana look, there's a lot of fun to be had.

Most of that is, of course, watching the Suicide Squad wreak absolute havoc in a fairly standard isekai world. There are orcs, there are more human-looking people, and there's a clear good-evil divide between them – or so they want us to think at this point. That Katana seems to be on the orc/wolf side while Harley and the gang are on the human side may be indicative of something, although to be fair, everyone in this franchise who isn't a superhero can be viewed as “less good.” But that makes them so much fun to watch, and this isn't an exception to that rule. This is hammy as all get out, primarily in any scene in which Clayface opens his mouth; he's one of the more entertaining interpretations of the characters with his smarmy dandy look. He can get a little annoying, but generally, his smarm works nicely in concert with the other large personalities on the team, as well as the one large appetite. I must admit that I got a kick out of King Shark consuming everyone he could get his mouth around, as well as Rick Flagg's repeated bad luck. The story largely seems to run on adrenaline and insanity, and that's a pretty good combination.

The animation is generally good, with moments of intense fluidity during fight scenes. That's more than I can say for the ending theme, which is…something. I'm not sure who decided that sexy dancing Amanda Waller was what was needed, but I think they may have missed the mark. Still, I think I spied Zatanna in the opening theme, and that's enough to make me watch more. It doesn't have the Chuck Tingle-infused insanity of Clayface falling in love with his butt, but it's an entertaining take on the characters and concepts, and certainly better than the 2016 movie.


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