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‘Suicide Squad Isekai’ Premiere Review: A Unique Take on DC Characters

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Suicide Squad Isekai is an anime presented by Warner Brothers Japan, featuring DC comics characters like Harley Quinn (Anna Nagase), Deadshot (Reigo Yamaguchi), Peacemaker (Takehito Koyasu), King Shark (Subaru Kimura), Joker (Yūichirō Umehara), Amanda Waller (Kujira), and more. Recently released to the popular streaming services Max and Hulu in the United States, Suicide Squad Isekai brings a fresh and unorthodox take on these popular characters. The show revolves around throwing the team into an Isekai. For those who don’t know, an Isekai is a fantasy subgenre in which ordinary people are transported to a magical world.

The show opens with a scene that feels eerily similar to the Suicide Squad movie from 2016.  We see the already established Joker and Harley Quinn relationship, featuring the Joker’s getaway car that pretty much resembles the one we saw Jared Leto’s Joker driving. We go through a similar introduction to Amanda Waller, who is once again the director or A.R.G.U.S. in the show.

Part of the first episode showcases Amanda Waller opening a portal to this new fantasy world. As usual, Waller tasks the Suicide Squad with collecting resources for her own personal gain. The only difference here is the squad is thrust through a portal into a medieval fantasy world. We see the Suicide Squad be informed of time bombs implanted in their necks that explode in 72 hours if they do not send a signal back to Waller at A.R.G.U.S..

This team is made up of Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Peacemaker, Clayface, and King Shark. Similar to Suicide Squad, Waller uses Deadshot’s daughter as a blackmail tactic to get Deadshot to comply and join the squad. The Suicide Squad has no forewarning about entering a new world, which leads to the complete shock when they crashland in a medieval realm. At the end of episode one, Clayface proclaims they’ve found themselves in their very own Isekai. 

Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Clayface, Peacemaker, and King Shark in Suicide Squad Isekai
Harley Quinn, Deadshot, Clayface, Peacemaker, and King Shark in Suicide Squad Isekai (Warner Brothers Japan)

Suicide Squad Isekai gives ample amount of time to develop its characters

One of the strong suits of the series is undoubtedly the character development. After watching both Suicide Squad and The Suicide Squad, the show provides a drastic contrast in pacing compared to the two prior movies. The first three episodes are spent introducing and developing the dynamics between the squad members, something crucial to the human aspect of the show. Harley Quinn and Deadshot obviously get along easily as they do in the 2016 film. Peacemaker is mainly a solo act until the end of the third episode as well. Both Quinn and Deadshot are at odds with Clayface for most of the first three episodes, until all members of the squad find collective common ground to survive. 

Within the timeframe of the first three episodes, the show finds time to put the plot on hold multiple times, taking detours to allow the squad to naturally interact with each other and find simple common ground. Spending the first 90 minutes or so of the show allowing for the characters to develop relationships is a commendable decision from the writers and certainly benefited the show in the opening three episodes. 

Combing these DC characters with a fantasy element creates much needed originality

Even as someone who is not an avid watcher of anime, it can be immediately recognized that the show possesses an incredible sense of originality to it. A DC x anime crossover certainly makes a lot of sense, as anime has consistently been on the rise over the past two decades across the globe. The DC brand is on the rise as well. While the last decade has certainly been rough for the DC brand, Suicide Squad and Peacemaker being well received along with James Gunn filming Superman gives the DC fandom much to be excited for. 

Combining fantasy and medieval elements with the suicide squad is not a scenario I can say I saw coming, but the series, as mentioned, feels entirely fresh. Taking risks like this series does is a choice that should be commended in the current world of comic book movies. As a personal fan of medieval and fantasy stories, the show does work for me for a few reasons. The series feels much like a fish-out-of-water-type show, thrusting the Suicide Squad into a medieval realm, while also having them clash against an unknown kingdom, opens up plenty of possibilities in the coming episodes. 

Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad Isekai
Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad Isekai (Warner Brothers Japan)

In this fantasy world, Queen Aldora and Princess Fione are the known rulers of the kingdom. Aldora is entirely untrusting of the Suicide Squad, while Fione looks to trust the members of the squad and believes they can be of service to the kingdom. While this ultimately does follow some fantasy tropes, it works well with the consistency of the story that’s being built. It’s hard to judge the overall narrative of this having only seen three episodes so far, but the show finds a way to tell a true Suicide Squad story in a fantasy world. 

Suicide Squad Isekai is a massive win for the DC universe

On the DC side of things, this show lands the overall tone of what the Suicide Squad should feel like. It’s consistent with what both prior Suicide Squad movies felt like, and the writers clearly took inspiration from both of those films while writing this show. The characters of the Suicide Squad all have an enormous level of untapped potential, and it’s nice to see these characters be unleashed in new ways consistently.

The show adds Rick Flag, Ratcatcher, and Katana to the ensemble in the third episode, which opens up the story for further development between these characters. We were already shown that Deadshot and Ratcatcher had prior beef in prison, which leads to current strife between the two characters. 

While for DC this can be considered a win, the Isekai side of the story has yet to reach its full potential. The world the Suicide Squad has entered feels like it has the ability to become dense and lived in, but has yet to explore all that this realm has to offer. After all, we are only three episodes in, so it is difficult to judge the show. But my critique is mainly me hoping for this new world to continue to be fleshed out and given the proper development. 

Overall, this series lands in ways that are unexpected. Prior to watching this show, I had no prior knowledge of what an Isekai is. As the premiere concluded and the team entered this fantasy realm, I found myself positively caught off-guard by this twist in the story. As a fan of medieval fantasy stories, I found the combination of a Suicide Squad story and a fantasy story to be charming and fresh. With only three episodes under its belt, Suicide Squad Isekai has the ability to make an impact in the world of DC animated series’.

Catch Suicide Squad Isekai now streaming on Hulu and Max. Are you watching this new anime series? Let us know what you think on social media @mycosmiccircus.

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Drew Reed

Hey I'm Drew Reed, Staff Writer here at The Cosmic Circus. I love Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, The Lord of The Rings and many more fantasy and sci-fi universes. You can find me on twitter @ DrewReed1099

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