On the animated movie front, May 2021 is looking like a rather quiet month, with no major American premieres beyond a few Blu-ray releases previously released digitally. Fortunately, the month should be more excited as far as TV animation goes, with a handful of promising new shows and some returning favorites. Here's what every animation fan should be aware of this month.
Justice Society: World War II
Technically this came out on digital platforms at the end of April, but we missed it in our April guide, and the Blu-ray comes out in May, so Justice Society: World War II deserves a mention. CBR's review of the film says, "with its all-star cast and an immersive look at the JSA in action, this animated film is a love letter to the Golden Age and its superhero vanguard."
Produced by Warner Bros. Animation, DC and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Justice Society: World War II stars Stana Katic as Wonder Woman, Matt Bomer as The Flash, Elysia Rotaru as Black Canary, Chris Diamantopoulos as Steve Trevor, Omid Abtahi as Hawkman, Matthew Mercer as Hourman, Armen Taylor as Jay Garrick, Liam McIntyre as Aquaman, Ashleigh LaThrop as Iris West, Geoffrey Arend as Charles Halstead/Advisor, Keith Ferguson as Dr. Fate and Darin De Paul as Roosevelt. The film is now available digitally and will be released on 4K UHD and Blu-ray on May 11.
Star Wars: The Bad Batch
May the Fourth be with you as Disney+ premieres a new animated Star Wars series. A spinoff of Star Wars: The Clone Wars taking place after the events of Revenge of the Sith, The Bad Batch follows Clone Force 99, known as "The Bad Batch," as they go on the run from the Empire. Among other reasons for Star Wars fans to get excited, Ming-Na Wen will be reprising her Mandalorian role as the elite mercenary Fennec Shand.
Created by Dave Filoni, Star Wars: The Bad Batch stars Dee Bradley Baker and Ming-Na Wen. The series premieres May 4 on Disney+.
Castlevania Season 4
Throughout its first three seasons, Netflix's Castlevania has stood out as one of the best-reviewed video game adaptations ever. It was announced last year that Season 4 would be the last season of the show written by Warren Ellis following sexual misconduct allegations, and it was confirmed recently that Season 4 would be the show's last season period. However, the end of Castlevania will not be the end of this universe, as Netflix has confirmed spinoffs about new characters are in the works.
Castlevania stars Richard Armitage as Trevor Belmont, Alejandra Reynoso as Sypha Belnades, James Callis as Alucard, Theo James as Hector, Adetokumboh M'Cormack as Isaac, Jaime Murray as Carmilla, Jessica Brown Findlay as Lenore, Bill Nighy as St. Germain, Jason Isaacs as The Judge and Rila Fukushima as Sumi. Season 4 arrives on Netflix May 13.
Love Death + Robots Volume 2
Love Death + Robots' first season featured some of the most stunning animation ever made for streaming, as well as sci-fi stories that were both thrilling and thought-provoking. The second season of this Black Mirror-meets-Heavy Metal anthology series, consisting of eight shorts, promises more adults-only fun. Viewers who were put off by the first season's heavy male gaze might be happy to hear this season's being overseen by a woman director, Jennifer Yuh-Nelson.
Created by Tim Miller, Love Death + Robots Vol. 2 releases on Netflix May 14.
Adventure Time: Distant Lands - Together Again
So far, Adventure Time: Distant Lands has released a fun "BMO" prequel special and the excellent Bubbleine sequel special "Obsidian." The next special, "Together Again," recenters Adventure Time's focus on Jake the Dog and Finn the Human. It promises to be their "biggest adventure ever," and between the set-up of the two best friends drifting apart and the implications about their fate in "Obsidian," we're already preparing tissues.
Created by Pendleton Ward, Adventure Time: Distant Lands - "Together Again" stars Jeremy Shada and John DiMaggio and premieres on HBO Max May 20.
Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. is an orphaned series of sorts. It was originally intended to kickstart a series of four adult animated Marvel movies leading to a crossover titled The Offenders, but said crossover and two of the other shows were canceled last year. This Robot Chicken-esque take on the Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing was far enough along in production to avoid the chopping block, and it looks funny enough to stand on its own.
Marvel's M.O.D.O.K. stars Patton Oswalt as M.O.D.O.K., Aimee Garcia as Jodie, Ben Schwartz as Lou, Melissa Fumero as Melissa, Wendi McLendon-Covey as Monica Rappaccini, Beck Bennett as Austin Van Der Sleet, Jon Daly as Super Adaptoid and Sam Richardson as Gary. The series premieres May 21 on Hulu.
There are a lot of Netflix Original Anime, but until now, all of these have either been shows Netflix licensed from other companies or at least partially American productions. Eden was announced two years ago as being the first purely Netflix-owned Japanese anime. The four-episode CG series about robot farmers secretly raising a human child will finally launch this May.
Created by Justin Leach and directed by Yasuhiro Irie, Eden stars Marika Kōno, Kyōko Hikami, Kentarō Itō and Kōichi Yamadera and will premiere on Netflix May 27.
Animated sitcoms on FOX either last forever or get completely forgotten. You have The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bob's Burgers on one end of the spectrum and Allen Gregory, Bordertown and Napoleon Dynamite on the other end. We'll see where HouseBroken fits within this dichotomy. At the very least, its premise about a therapy dog leading a support group for other pets is distinctive, and the voice cast is stacked with strong comedic actors.
Created by Jennifer Crittenden, Clea DuVall and Gabrielle Allan, HouseBroken stars Lisa Kudrow, Tony Hale, Will Forte, Nat Faxon, Clea DuVall, Sharon Horgan, Jason Mantzoukas and Sam Richardson and premieres on FOX May 31 at 9 PM ET/PT.