Scott Pilgrim Takes Off Spoiler Review
Have you ever seen the plot of JJ Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek film? Thanks to the power of time travel, Abrams could alter the circumstances around the day James T. Kirk was born and create a separate, alternate timeline from the established canon. The result was similar to what the Star Trek fans had known for forty years, but the dynamics between many characters changed, as did their paths in life. That’s what the new hit anime Scott Pilgrim Takes Off amounts to. Instead of being the adaptation of the popular graphic novel or the 2010 based on it, it does the same thing that Abrams did with Star Trek. While some fans might be mad we don’t get the adaptation of the graphic novels or films they wanted, I don’t care. This is like a licensed AU Fanfiction, and I freaking love it!
This is my spoiler review of Scott Pilgrim Takes Off. If you haven’t watched the show (or don’t care), do so and return. Or read my spoiler-free review.
Pulling the Wool over Everyone’s Eyes
The anime starts following the graphic novels and film. Scott’s a slacker who plays in his band Sex Bob-omb and dates a high schooler. He meets Ramona Flowers, the girl from his dreams, and asks her for a date. Then he learns that she has seven “evil” exes that he has to fight so he can date her. Everything is going the way fans expect it to go.
Until it doesn’t. As Scott starts fighting the first evil exes, Matthew Pattel, he seemingly dies, exploding into coins like Matthew should’ve. And everyone, in-universe and out, is going, “What the heck just happened?!?”
WHAT A TWIST!!
This is the moment where Scott Pilgrim Takes Off reveals its ultimate surprise. Going in, everyone thought that this was an adaptation of the film or graphic novels. Instead, a sequel a la Alternate Universe, and despite being the titular character, Scott Pilgrim’s barely in it
I loved this twist when I first saw it. I never read the novels and couldn’t get into the movie, but I knew the general synopsis of what would happen. To see everything go off the rails into AU territory before the first episode was done made me want to jump up from the couch and yell “holy snap, this is going to be good!” And while some people might not like this twist and how it changes things, I liked it—especially considering what happens next and who the series follows.
What the Cast Does Without the “Main Character.”
At first glance, it looks like Scott Pilgrim is dead, and the story’s plot is now lost. However, while the original canon is now impossible to follow, the show opens up to new possibilities as the cast grapples with Scott’s apparent passing and what this means for their lives.
Starting in episode two, everyone that knew Scott personally attends his funeral and takes the time to grieve for him (or not.) As is the case in real life, though, they eventually have to move on with their lives in some way, shape, or form. And while most of the cast handles this event in their ways, Knives gets the best change from the original story.
In the original story, Knives Chau was the high-schooler the adult Scott was dating, to everyone’s dismay. She got a little too obsessed with Scott for her good, and what happens with Ramona leads to a lot of drama. Initially, that part remains unchanged, with Knives blaming Ramona for getting Scott killed. However, once she takes the time to process everything, she realizes that her relationship with Scott won’t work out. In addition, she also joins Sex Bob-omb and proves to be an amazing musician, helping her move on with her life. This is one welcome change to the original story. People frowned upon an adult dating a minor when the story first came out, even more so today.
A Pointless League of Evil Exes=Character Development
The people in Scott’s circle of friends aren’t the only ones affected by the loss of Scott, either. After his surprise win, Matthew Pattel calls the League of Evil Exes and gets them all to realize something important: they have no reason to exist. More importantly, they realize that they’d never win Ramona back even if they won. Their leader, Gideon Graves, was using them to get her back for himself. As a result, the League falls apart with everyone their separate ways, with varying levels of importance in the series. The most important, though, are Matthew Pattel and Gideon, the former of which challenges the latter to a fight for his business empire and wins. Suddenly, the starter villain ends up being the top dog!
As interesting as this is, though, the fate of the League serves as a deconstruction of how silly their whole concept was. They were only united by their pain of getting dumped by Ramona. Most of them weren’t even evil. The second ex, Lucas Lee, even says they called themselves that for branding purposes. Furthermore, they all move on with their lives without the need to fight for Ramona (since she wouldn’t take them back anyway). Several of them go so far as to join the circle of Scott’s friends, proving that most weren’t evil. They were just upset over how bad things ended with Ramona.
Except for Gideon. He decides to keep being evil, not to get Ramona back but because he enjoys it. That, and his new girlfriend, Scott’s frenemy Julie Powers, thinks his evil is hot, which I find hilarious.
Ramona is the Real Main Character of the Series
With Scott seemingly gone, someone else has to take up the main character role. And that person winds up being Ramona Flowers. After dealing with the loss of Scott, Ramona discovers that he might be alive and that one of her exes might have kidnapped him. As a result, she makes it her mission to figure out who did it and get Scott back.
While some might wonder why Ramona would go so far for a guy she went on a single date with (including Scott’s friends), I don’t see it as too much of a stretch. I see it as her feeling guilty for what happened to him. Plus, there were sparks between them by her admission, so she thinks he might be worth it.
Ramona Was no Saint With Her Exes
Besides the added benefit of allowing Ramona to meet with and befriend Scott’s friends on her terms, the show also serves another, interesting premise. The source material only sometimes understood why she dumped her exes beyond the bare minimum of details. In contrast, though, the anime not only gives fans greater detail about what happened, but demonstrates how Ramona isn’t entirely innocent of what happened. As the show reveals, rather than handling rough patches with her partners when they came around, Ramona tended to break things off and bail. For whatever faults they had, her exes have every right to feel bitter at Ramona.
Ironically, this makes her a lot like Scott regarding their relationships. Scott had a problem with actually ending them, and Ramona has a problem with ending them too brutally. The anime allows her to find closure with most of her exes, helping everyone move on and become semi-better people. Even Gideon, the only evil ex, finds some closure with Ramona.
Scott Pilgrim’s Worst Enemy is Himself
Now, for the big twist at the end of the series with Scott’s inevitable return. As it turns out, he was pulled into the future by himself. Or rather, a version of himself from a timeline where things proceeded as they did in the original canon. Despite winning against the Exes and marrying Ramona, Old Scott got into a fight with Ramona after several years, and becomes convinced she dumped him. She didn’t; she just wanted space, and he overreacted by trying to change his past and stop himself from dating Ramona in the first place. All this created an alternate reality, like in the 2009 Star Trek film.
Despite Old Scott’s best efforts, he fails to convince Show Scott to stay away from Ramona. Telling Show Scott what would’ve happened helps Old Scott accelerate his character development. Thanks to Future Ramona’s help, by the time he gets back, he realizes that dating Knives was a bad idea- drama averted.
Old Scott Pilgrim ultimately proves to be the final villain of the series, as his inability to fix his problems leads to him, ironically, becoming another evil ex. Some might call it corny, but I like the idea of an alternate version of oneself being evil. It’s a look into what we’d be like if we decided to be the worst versions of ourselves.
I Would Watch a Season Two
Ultimately, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off doesn’t just adapt the movie or graphic novels but improves on them while becoming its own thing. The fans loved it, and I think it’s one of the best anime to come out in 2023. Considering the anime we’ve gotten this year, that’s saying something.
Will they make a second season of the anime? After all, the show has already broken free of the original canon and could keep going. I would want to watch it!