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Netflix’s The Cuphead Show! gets a manic trailer and timely release date

Toon antics abound in the adaptation of the cult game

Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Netflix has announced that The Cuphead Show!, the animated series based on Studio MDHR’s hit game Cuphead, will debut on its service on Feb. 18. The streamer released the first full trailer for the series and a batch of images, showcasing its commitment to the game’s distinctive, early-20th-century animation stylings.

Released as 12 episodes running 12 minutes apiece, The Cuphead Show! is described as “a character-driven comedy series” following the receptacle-headed Cuphead and his brother Mugman on a carnival-themed adventure through the Inkwell Isles. The journey will bring them face-to-face with The Devil himself.

Tonally, the show seems to split the difference between a modern smart-aleck animated comedy and the simpler pleasures of the early cartoons that inspired its look; like the game, it mimics the rubbery animation, slapstick violence, surreal characters and mildly seedy air of the jazz-age cartoons of Max Fleischer.

Doubtless this striking stylistic choice is what will have drawn Netflix to the project, though some have noted that Cuphead is — however innocently — celebrating an animation tradition with troubling racist undertones. The game, an old-school boss-rush shoot-’em-up, drew more notoriety for its stern difficulty, however.

The game’s creators, Chad and Jared Moldenhauer, serve as executive producers on the series alongside seasoned animation producer Dave Wasson (Mickey Mouse Shorts) and co-executive produced by Cosmo Segurson (Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling). The episodes are directed by Adam Paloian (SpongeBob SquarePants) and Clay Morrow (Mickey Mouse Shorts). Presumably not that Clay Morrow.