The story follows the title character, a hitman/monkey, as he seeks out revenge on the criminal underworld of Tokyo. A politically motivated conspiracy took the lives of Monkey’s tribe, his fast-talking assassin mentor, Bryce, and now Monkey and Bryce, as a ghost, are out for vengeance.
This ten-episode animated series is as ridiculous, absurd and over the top as the source material it comes from, and it makes for some legendary Marvel television. The mix of brutal action, comic-book stylization, and gut-busting comedy is topped off with a shocking amount of heart.
The episodes are short, running for 20-25 minutes on average, but they pack one hell of a punch. The pacing moves quickly, with the first seven episodes flowing into each other with rapid succession. Episode eight shakes things up with dual stories that follow Bryce and Monkey individually, exploring their histories and their identities in isolation.
HIT-MONKEY: 4.5 HOURS OF BULLETS, BANANAS AND LADY BULLSEYE
The ninth and tenth episodes are a two-parter that brings Hit-Monkey to a stellar conclusion. The stakes are high, and several lives are lost in the fray. The ending is as wild and unpredictable as the first eight episodes were. Expect explosive combat sequences, fascinating twists on comic book precedent, and ghost-quips ‘till the end of the line.
The cast of Hit-Monkey brings astounding depth and character to their respective roles. Fred Tatasciore plays the title character, and he gives Vin Diesel’s role as Groot a serious run for its money. Like how Groot can only communicate through one phrase, Monkey can only communicate to humans through grunts, growls, and barks. Considering this, the raw emotion found in Tatasciore’s voice work is all the more impressive.
Jason Sudeikis gets the lion’s share of speaking lines in Hit-Monkey. Bryce, the spectral former assassin, would give Deadpool a run for his money as the “Merc With a Mouth”. His dialogue is so loaded with pop culture references and salacious and/or self-deprecating humor that it becomes impossible to take everything in on your first viewing.
This isn’t a complaint, in fact, it makes the rewatch that much more entertaining. If you aren’t into sarcastic, obnoxious, hard-drinking antiheroes, then Bryce and Hit-Monkey probably won’t be your cup of tea. But if you like fun, outlandish comic book storytelling that kicks like a shotgun, you’re in for a damn good time with Hit-Monkey.
HIT-MONKEY: THE CAST ASSMEMBLED IS ONE OF THE BEST IN WESTERN ANIMATION
Tatasciore and Sudeikis are joined byGeorge Takei as Shinji Yokohama, Ally Maki as Haruka, Nobi Nakanishi as Ito, Olivia Munn as Akiko Yokohama, Reiko Aylesworth as Yuki and Lady Bullseye, and Noshir Dalal as Fat Cobra and Silver Samurai.
Hats off to Aylesworth and Dalal for delivering unique, frightening and sometimes hilarious performances in each of their dual roles. When watching the show, you would never guess that Silver Samurai and Fat Cobra, or Yuki and Lady Bullseye, are played by the same actors respectively.
Of the (generally) antagonistic lot, Lady Bullseye was easily my favorite. Her love for torture and murder is simple, yet told effectively and intensely. Her ruthlessness and commitment to the kill are, as Bryce would say, “poetry in motion”. Cobra, Yuki and Samurai are given less to do, yet none of them are forgettable. Each is featured in at least one phenomenal, kinetic action sequence, and their character design is top notch across the board.
HIT-MONKEY: REIKO AYLESWORTH AND NOSHIR DALAL WERE ON DOUBLE DUTY
The Yokohama’s are brought to life by Olivia Munn and George Takei, and their fight for political victory in Japan is surprisingly engaging. Munn plays Akiko, whose penchant for vengeance brings her to support the bloody vigilantism of Hit-Monkey. This doesn’t work for her uncle and only family, Shinji, who is running for office in Japan and wishes to avoid controversy.
Ally Maki and Nobi Nakanishi play Haruka and Ito respectively, two police officers following the Hit-Monkey case. Ito’s jaded, cynical and alcoholic demeanor contrasts with Haruka’s diminishing optimism and naivete. Both Maki and Nakanishi immerse themselves fully in the roles, creating some of the most interesting police officers on Marvel TV since Brett Mahoney.
Hit-Monkey is one of the best Marvel properties of all time. The soundtrack and score compliment the story perfectly. The art design takes glorious advantage of the project’s graphic roots, resulting in a show that truly feels like a comic book brought to life. The postmodern, meta jokes beat the Deadpool franchise at their own game, and the character arcs are gripping and well-written.
It’s a shame that the cancellation of this, the final project from the first era of Marvel TV, is all but inevitable. I highly recommend you check out this Hulu original series, because it may just be the finest Marvel offering of the year.
Let us know what you thought of Hit-Monkey in the comments below or on our social media!