Scavengers Reign proves we’re in a new golden age of animation

Scavengers Reign, now streaming in full on MAX, helps solidify that we’re living in the best timeline for grown-up animation. It’s beautiful and bizarre, alien and fantastical, and oh-so-human at the same time. The show follows survivors from the Demeter, a spaceship shipwrecked in space, as they navigate the treacherous landscape of Vesta, an alien planet brimming with mystery, danger, and life. It is a breathtaking blend of the alien and the familiar, the bizarre and the beautiful, with a deep and meaningful message about loss, grief, and resilience. 

Sapient transgressions on a world alive

[Editor’s note: This is a spoiler-free review of the MAX animated show Scavengers Reign.]

The show is simultaneously mesmerizing and horrifying. Scavengers Reign is unmistakably inspired in the best ways by animation heavyweights like the Japanese studio Studio Ghibli and the work of Moebius (and The World of Edena), along with the cosmically horrifying and Lovecraftian Annihilation. Every frame of Scavengers Reign bursts with life and meaning. 

Although Scavengers Reign is set in space, on an alien planet that is alive (and with a grudge against the main characters), it is not a pure science fiction show. Despite a space disaster on the Demeter, stasis pods, and other sci-fi tropes, Scavengers Reign avoids technobabble and instead focuses on telling a compelling human and ecological story.

Scavengers Reign showcases survival on a hostile organic world

If you had to categorize it, Scavengers Reign is more like an alien nature documentary, where the complex ecosystems of the planet Vesta at the same time repel and absorb the humans who have unfortunately crash-landed on its surface. every creature, plant, and spore feels like it could be real – drawn from long ago times on Earth. That’s the power of the incredible creature design. The planet isn’t really actively hunting the humans, but it’s clear they’re at the mercy of the interconnected world. Vesta is a world that is mix of David Attenborough show and a stunning and at times grotesque flora- based Cthulhu, where the humans are both the unwanted interlopers and also insignificant.

Ursula (voiced by Sunita Mani) and the Bushwall creature episode 3, “The Wall.” Image courtesy of MAX.


Sight and sound combine for a win with Scavengers Reign

The art of the show is so beautifully hypnotic that you won’t want to stop watching. Desperate people fighting for survival on the planet (against the planet!) is the human throughline across the episodes. The survivors are complex and meaty characters in their own right, and we go on a journey with them through all of the episodes of Scavengers Reign as they come to terms with their emotional, physical, and psychic wounds, some self-inflicted.  

The music and sound design also elevate the animation and bring Scavengers Reign to life. Beautiful, haunting melodies accompany visceral sound effects tied to the physical actions on screen. The synergy between sight and sound is masterful, transforming the animated designs into living and sometimes breathing beings – sometimes grotesque in their realism.

Try watching Scavengers Reign on mute. It’s still beautiful in that ligne claire style, but it lacks the pop and oomph of the sound design, which makes it so much more. The sound completes the viewing experience and is vital to the fantasm of the show.

Season  2 of Scavengers Reign

The final sequences of the Scavengers Reign finale episode, “The Reunion,” open up the world and have so much potential. It’s exciting and full of karmic justice (one word: Kris) and exciting (and some head-scratching!) possibilities. A second season of this original animated show is a no-brainer. The brilliant creators and cast behind the show should get the opportunity to realize the potential they’ve built out and so enchantingly brought to life. 

You can now stream the entire season one of Scavengers Reign on MAX. You  out all 12 roughly half-hour episodes. If you’re feeling adventurous, watch three at a time, like MAX originally released them. 

The cast and talent behind Scavengers Reign

Scavengers Reign’s voice cast is quite excellent. It includes Wunmi Mosaku as Azi, Bob Stephenson as Sam, Sunita Mani as Ursula, Ted Travelstead as Kamen, and Alia Shawkat as the AI Levi. 

Titmouse, Inc. produces the show, although artists across the globe contribute to show, making it an international effort. It is executive produced by Joseph Bennett and Charles Huettner. Chris Prynoski executive-produces, Sean Buckelew and James Merrill co-executive-produce, and Benjy Brooke is the supervising director for Scavengers Reign.

Scavengers Reign is based on a low-budget dialogue-less original short (with some of the characters from the television show) by Huettner and Bennett and aired on Toonami via Adult Swim. 

Your thoughts on Scavengers Reign

What did you think of Scavengers Reign?  Did you enjoy it? Join the conversation below, or follow us on X (formerly Twitter) @MoviesWeTexted to continue the discussion.

If you’re interested in our thoughts on other animated projects, we have you covered. Check out our review of The Super Mario Bros Movie, or our thoughts on Ruby Gillman Teenage Kraken, including what we think about the villain of that movie.

If animated isn’t your cup of tea, check out our thoughts on the latest Marvel movie, The Marvels.