Entergalactic, the new animated limited series from executive producers Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi and Black-ish creator Kenya Barris, premiered on Netflix last Friday. The 90-minute animated special stars Mescudi as Jabari, a charming street artist who meets and falls in love with his neighbor, Meadow (Jessica Williams), an up-and-coming photographer.
Entergalactic’s story lands somewhere between High Fidelity, Someone Great, and How To Make It in America (which Mescudi starred in). What sets Entergalactic apart is the way in which it tells its story through animation. The special has an eye-popping look, with strong character designs accented by striking colors and bold silhouettes.
Entergalactic serves as a visual accompaniment to Kid Cudi’s album of the same name. Talking to Polygon over Zoom, director Fletcher Moules cited visual albums like 2016’s Beyoncé: Lemonade and Albert Magnoli’s rock musical drama Purple Rain as principal influences on the special’s production.
“Those were huge jumping-off points for Entergalactic,” Moules says. “Often in visual album releases, you have the narrative chasing the music. And so we were all very much on board at the start to make Entergalactic something where it was obviously a musical album, but the narrative and the characters were as strong as any other show. We looked at other musical visual releases, but used television as a format to really let the narrative drive the project as a whole.”
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, the 2018 Oscar-winning animated film executive produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, was a common point of comparison made by fans and journalists when the first trailer for Entergalactic was released in June. While Moules is flattered by the comparisons, the director pointed to a different Oscar-nominated animated film that inspired the tone and dramatic approach of Entergalactic.
“I looked at films like I Lost My Body, which is very similar in the fact that it’s a very adult story told through animation,” Moules told Polygon. “I wanted to make something that felt handmade, that felt like an art film. When an artist releases an album, an artist is expressing themselves, they’re putting it out there, creating an emotional response; love it or hate it like any piece of art. I felt like the visual component had to be the same.”
Another prominent influence on Entergalactic’s animation was “making of” art books from studios like Pixar and Disney, which is evident in the look of the special itself.
“I would always flip through those in my years working in animation,” Moules says. “And I would always look at the concept art and say, ‘But why didn’t the film look like that?’ Concept art is so beautiful, you really get to feel the artist’s hand there. So for me, with Entergalactic, what was imperative to me was to see the artist’s hand on screen the whole way through, whether that be in the character and background designs or in our lighting.”
It all comes together in a bold new image of New York City, where the skyline juxtaposes abstract shapes against more conventionally defined backgrounds.
“The aim of Entergalactic for me, when we designed the world, was to make it a great place to be in,” Moules says. “It’s a version of New York that’s appealing; it just washes over you with a sense of warmth.”
Entergalactic is available to stream on Netflix.