By far my favorite episode of Love, Death, and Robots, “Good Hunting” embodies everything mature animation is capable of and elevates the entire anthology.
Based on the short story by Ken Liu, we follow the journey of Liang, a Chinese spirit hunter, whose views on the supernatural are forever changed when he falls in love with a huli jing (fox-woman).
However, the rise of British imperialism in China gives rise to a steampunk technological future. The story lays out the transition from magic to machinery beautifully. The combination between steampunk and Chinese folklore is visually original and adds to the character drama– the fox-woman laments that her powers are weakening as magic is dying in the land.
The final act where fox-woman’s body is forcibly replaced with machinery was heartbreaking but it only makes her final form all the more powerful. Liang uses his skills with automata to build his love a new body that can shape-shift into her fox-form. The moment when she transforms into the fox-automata sent shivers up my spine.
“Good Hunting” uses 2D and 3D animation to their fullest potential to tell an emotionally riveting story. The short film revels in the beauty of the human form while also taking an unflinching look at violence and oppression. It’s a story that has power and I could easily see it as a feature film.
Love, Death, and Robots is currently streaming on Netflix.