Hazbin Hotel has had quite the production journey to get to where it is. Originally starting off as a project made by a motley crew of independent creatives and helmed by Vivienne ‘VivziePop’ Medrano, the thirty-minute video quickly gained popularity on YouTube, eventually catching the attention of production company A24. Four years after its humble origins, Hazbin Hotel is out with its first season on Amazon Prime, and it is worth the hype.
Hazbin Hotel is an adult animated comedy musical show following Charlie Morningstar, the princess of Hell (voiced by Erika Henningsen). Bearing witness to the latest annual extermination of her people, she decides to open up a rehabilitation centre for souls looking to redeem themselves called the Hazbin Hotel, hoping to save her fellow demons from facing their final death. However, this venture attracts all sorts of attention, from mocking demons who treat the establishment as a joke to angels who want to wipe out demonkind for good.
Hazbin Hotel manages to commit to the balancing act of welcoming new viewers while maintaining the original feel of the YouTube pilot, with witty comedy and sharp writing that hits every emotional beat. The central conflict of the show revolves around the question of whether sinners who go to hell are redeemable, and this creates a lot of interesting characters – a personal favourite is Carmilla Carmine, an overlord of hell who has made a name for herself as a top weapons dealer but is simultaneously a fiercely protective and loving mother who will do anything to keep her daughters safe.
At eight episodes which last 25 minutes each, it is easily binge worthy, being just short enough to hook you into the story (don’t worry, a second season has already been approved). With crass but well-timed humour, emotionality and even a little bit of horror coupled with a simple yet effective premise and memorable characters, this show has a little bit of everything for everyone.
While mixing different genres to create something new might sound risky given the fact that the show has only a set amount of time to set up the story and characters, it works quite well here. This blend creates intrigue for different viewers, whether it be laughing at the dialogue between the main cast or pondering on the more serious aspects of the show, like why the powerful radio demon Alastor (voiced by Amir Talai) is so interested in the hotel, besides him stating he simply wants to see demons fail at redemption.
Those familiar with the original will notice a few changes. Though the overall aesthetic is still the same stylish animation, there are small but noticeable changes, from a more polished look to updated character designs. Charlie, for example, looks more, well, demon-like in this iteration, with a sharper and more angular design than her counterpart.
Also, the voice cast has completely changed, and while each of the new VAs plays their parts rather well, some choices were better than others. Blake Roman gives a respectable performance as Angel Dust in the Amazon series, but he doesn’t seem to fit into the role quite like Michael Kovach did. Then there are exceptional casting choices, like Keith David as the grumpy bartender of the hotel, Husk, who is perfectly suited for the character.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan who’s followed the show’s progress since its inception or is simply curious about this cartoon from the internet that you’ve vaguely heard of, the first season of Hazbin Hotel is well worth your time. It is a fantastic piece of animation, with a funny yet emotionally enthralling narrative that is only just beginning.
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The first season of Hazbin Hotel is a wonderful Frankenstein creation of different genres coming together to create something truly memorable.
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