Scavengers Reign
‘Scavengers Reign’ (Credit: Max)

From the moment the first episode started to play, it was evident to me that I was watching something worthy of my full attention. I must admit that as a self-proclaimed sci-fi junkie, I was quick to love everything about this show, the now cancelled Scavengers Reign

The animation is the first thing that struck me. In a rather crowded American playing field of animation styles that largely can become homogenous, this show was stepping outside of the prototypical serialized style and instead approached the characters, world and music score with a sense of deliberate choice that would ultimately allow Scavengers Reign to shine vividly.

Created by Joseph Bennet and Charles Huettner, the original concept actually went through multiple iterations before landing on the final look and feel of the show. Early versions still showed off the imaginative flair that would ultimately make the show feel wildly different than almost anything you’ve likely seen before.

The show premiered on HBO Max with a run of 12 episodes, and at the time of this writing sits at 8.7/10 on IMDb and a 100% certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. It was the winner of 2023 TV Scholar Award for Best Animated Series.

If you are the type of person that often laments how for better or worse Hollywood tends to play it safe and larglely makes microwaveable meal worthy sequels and prequels to established IP’s, well, you owe it to yourself to watch this show, and if you have, then I’m as the saying goes ‘preaching to the choir’.

At the risk of sounding as though I am gushing, and hopefully without giving too much away for anyone who may not have yet watched; I did not have a pure hatred for a sadistic psychic salamander on my bingo card for the summer but I can assure you my emotions swang wildly while watching under the incredible weight of the story and overall ambiance. I am a fan, full stop. I am happy I am not alone as almost everyone I’ve spoken to after watching it shared my sentiment.

But yet…

In what appears to be an unfortunate fate, Scavengers Reign was not renewed at HBO Max, and has instead and with a certain sense of hopefulness been moved to Netflix available to stream as of May 31st.

Scavengers Reign (Credit: Max)

However, while this particular show’s fate hangs in the balance, it rhymes with an all too familiar tune as of late: the cancellation and overall abandonment of mature animation in recent years amongst American markets. The CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery has been clear on this stance that he wants the company to focus more on utilizing established IP’s. IP’s promoted at the expense of all original IP’s, therefore less original adult animation.

Which is surprising, considering that the animation market as a whole, including anime is a roughly a $1.175 billion industry, and that’s based on 2020 numbers, which have no doubt grown. So with those robust numbers and the subscriber boost that animation would no doubt bring, why are so many seemingly fighting to stay alive while others are spared, especially if its viewership and accolades are so high as the case is of Scavengers Reign?

Despite critical acclaim and response from viewers, the future for Scanvgers Reign remains unclear.

However, there is a sizable demand of animation that is only growing in 2024 and beyond and that looks unlikely to change anytime soon, despite what new technologies and ways to monetize come to the forefront.

What does the future look like for shows that dare step away from the beaten path, and how can they hope to compete in this ever-changing market? Where do the new ideators find their footing when the ground seems to be shifting beneath their feet? Many creators are now turning to self-funded projects, gaining backing on platforms such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, Patreon, and even on sites dedicated to e-commerce.

Scavengers Reign (Credit: Max)

Viewership numbers are great for animation, but increasingly it seems that Execs and Marketing professionals are more attuned to ‘online engagement’, wanting things to become viral. Suppose instead of leaning into streaming platforms that feature animation exclusively, we as viewers turned our attention to actively speaking about and promoting the shows we watch via social media. In that case, it may lend itself to securing these original IPs’ future.

It now takes unrelenting and almost overzealous levels to gain attention and traction, as the term ‘quiet success’ seems no longer to apply. What we watch and talk about largely defines the success of a show. The notion that only established properties can be successful comes from a fear of failure when attempting something new.

Is it worth skipping the next iteration of ‘Big Summer Blockbuster 7’ or ‘Sure Thing: The Sequel’ to reinforce your desire to see new and audacious ideas on the small and big screen? Will the content a streamer chooses to forgo impact your decision to resubscribe as much as the new content they add?

Will more shows break the rules and captivate us in the way Scavengers Reign has?

That largely remains up to you.

Scavengers Reign is available to stream on Netflix.

Julian Cooper

Hails from Sunny Los Angeles. Enjoyer of all things animated and only held back by a crippling caffeine addiction.