I was immediately taken with Zima Blue because of its use of 2D animation. Director Robert Valley brings his signature style of elongated proportions, heavy shadows, limited color palettes, and minimalistic composition to this episode. Based on the short story by Alastair Reynolds, Zima Blue is about the journey of a brilliant artist’s search for cosmic truth–which always seems just out of reach.
The art is mesmerizing and proof that you don’t have to be detailed or realistic to tell an emotionally affecting story. I love how the short balances the real with the absurd as we see Zima’s paintings grow larger and larger, until they finally exit the earth’s atmosphere. Its wondrous cartoon logic is utilized for spectacle rather than silliness.
The character of Zima is brought to life by legendary voiceover actor Kevin Michael Richardson. The richness of his voice and the afro-futuristic design of his body, work in tandem to create an elegant immortal character.
The appeal of Zima as a character is his transformation. He starts as a simple cleaning droid and then evolves into an Adonis-like perfect-man. But even after achieving success he is never satisfied; he pushes further and tries to learn as much as he can about the working of the universe. Having lived a great life for over a century, Zima elects to sacrifice his perfect body for the sake of art, leaving his audience and critics to ponder his works’ significance while he lives on, getting by on simple pleasures.