Netflix’s track record with their ‘original anime’ have been hit or miss with the scale leaning more to miss these days. While I am glad that another company is trying to stand up against the Crunchyroll monopoly (with Disney waiting in the wings), I do wish their fair would be a bit better. Case in point is the show we are looking at today. One that does a lot good, but with missteps that are too big to ignore. Join me after the cut as we take a dive into Super Crooks.
Based on an American comic and adapted into a full length anime series. Crooks is set in a world of superpowers and superheroes and follows one Johnny Bolt. After a bad first attempt at being a hero, our hero finds himself turning to a life of petty crimes. Yet when the chance for a career capping heist comes his way, Johnny will join up with a team and try to make the catch of his life, just as long as the superheroes don’t get in his way.
That is a good concept and credit should be given for Super Crooks taking a new angle at a concept that is probably more run into the ground than the Isekai genre. Despite the world being full of the usual superhero stuff you expect, Crooks decides to focus on the small-time world and the day to day operations of its villains. Instead of the world-ending baddies of the usual faire, Crook’s villains gallery are more street-level thugs who get sent to prison for robbing a bank. I also appreciated how established the world was, and how all of this seemed like everyday faire, though being such a well worn genre probably helped this greatly.
Furthermore, Crooks is blessed with a good cast. While the majority of the cast feel pulled from your usual heist story, both Johnny and his honey bear Kasey are fully fleshed and established characters. While the story only gives you hints at their past, it is clear from their attitudes, conversations and sexual tension that these two truly love each other. Kasey herself has a good head on her shoulders, being able to see the long-game and wants nothing more to get out of her life. Johnny meanwhile is the head-strong short-term thief whose love for the game keeps pulling him back in. Their relationship forms the crux of the overarching story and it’s a good back and forth dynamic that makes up those really great pairings. I was also glad that the show doesn’t skimp on letting these two get their freak on, and being so open about their sexual lives. You never see anything, but in an artform that still is hesitant to show that level of intimacy, it was nice to see.
Sadly, as good as all that is. Crooks is weighed down by some strange editing choices and an almost baffling lack of caring for some of its characters’ actions. While the story flows well overall, having a clear beginning, middle and end, I couldn’t shake the fact that at times the story felt rushed, haphazardly thrown together, or that not enough time was given for this or that plotline. For a show carried by its characters, that can be forgiven, but once the shine wears off and you start to focus on the story, you can see the cracks starting to form.
And then there is the violence, which the show throws at you in spades and then completely ignores. The first episode is the biggest offender with its ending minutes throwing out so much death and destruction that is both comical and eyebrow raising. Yet what makes it infuriating is that it has no long-term effect on Johnny. And I’m sorry, that shit won’t fly for me. I can accept “cutting to the chase” for some story beats, but when your main character is a teenager and causes that many people to die? That is some trauma I would expect to come up once or twice more. Instead it is completely ignored, as are later scenes of destruction that feel overly senseless for how little the show cares. It feels like lazy writing, pure and simple.
Super Crooks was a show I was never going to watch, until I saw that killer opening and Kasey shaking her very fine ass. Thankfully my time with the anime was decent and enjoyable, with a great pair of leads, interesting take on a well-worn genre, and a runtime that doesn’t overstay its welcome. Yet it is still stapled to an uneven pacing and editing and an almost crippling disregard for how its violence should affect its characters. That wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, but I won’t ignore it either. If you are in the mood for a heist show and some nice anime ass, give this show a look, especially for that damn catchy opening.