Hazbin Hotel- a review

The thumbnail for Hazbin Hotel’s pilot, created by Vivziepop.

Have you ever felt that you could change the world, but the world doesn’t want to change? That it’s up to you to convince the world that you have the answers, but the world doesn’t want to listen? That’s basically the plot of Hazbin Hotel summarized into about two sentences. Hazbin Hotel is an animated series first uploaded on October 28th, 2019 to Youtube with one half-hour-long pilot episode currently available for free, which came along with a 15 minute pilot for a spinoff series in the same world called Helluva Boss. Both are created and produced by the user Vivziepop on Youtube. Both are aimed at a more mature audience, which is ironic for a Youtube show. Combined, the two episodes have about 30 million views. In this article, I’ll focus mainly on the first of the two episodes, the pilot of Hazbin Hotel.

Overall, is it good? And what is it about?

Uh… Sure. It’s good, I guess. Why the indecisive answer? Well, let’s discuss the actual plot and what the show does good and bad. Hazbin Hotel is set in hell. The actual hell. That place the worst people in the world go, hell. That’s the most important thing to remember throughout the entire show. It’s in hell. And hey, guess what? Lots of people go to hell. And apparently, hell gets pretty full every year. To make room, the angels decided to have an annual purge to make sure that there’s space for everyone to kinda chill and do awful things, I guess? There’s not a whole lot of the usual “burn in hell and repent for your sins” thing, everyone just kinda acts horribly and goes about life. Anyways, now that the setting is set, let’s talk about characters. The main character is Charlie, a demon princess born in hell because apparently, that’s possible. She doesn’t like the whole purge thing and thinks there’s another way to make sure hell isn’t overpopulated without the purge. Redemption! She decides to open a hotel to let demons redeem themselves and go to heaven. Nobody likes the idea because there’s usually a good reason for the majority of these people to be in hell. Enter the protagonist and sidekicks to try and change the world! The pilot doesn’t go very in-depth into either the whole hell thing or the characters, but for a pilot, it does a good job of establishing what’s going to happen from here on out.

Is there anything, in particular, that’s well done?

The animation is the most obvious well-done part of the show. It’s fluid and lively, and it’s really put on display in the two musical numbers within the pilot. Oh right, there are two fully animated musical sections in just the first episode. Is it a bit much? I don’t think so personally, as they both serve to exemplify the character’s personalities and style. The two songs are sung by different characters and are distinct in coloring, pace, and overall tone. The music itself is catchy and the animation complements the songs with a nice visual touch. For an independently animated show without the usual large budget or team of animators, it’s done extremely well. The animation is on par with and exceeds the quality of some modern shows. With complex character designs and lots of movement, it makes other shows look like stick figures with no emotion or liveliness. On the topic of characters, they’re all uniquely designed, with colors and features that I’ve never seen anything even comparable to. There’s a four-armed pink and white spider looking demon thing whose design really sets him apart from just about anything else I can think of, for example. They give the show a distinct style and stand out amongst Youtube’s interface and a lot of other series that all have similar color schemes and designs. The plot overall seems interesting enough as a story about changing society in hell. Charlie’s uphill battle to give this hell a chance to become redeemed sounds really interesting and could lead to interesting conflicts given that Charlie’s a princess and demon royalty. Her dad has been mentioned to not approve of her idea already, so that seems like a fight waiting to happen in the show. There’s a lot of interesting concepts waiting to be explored, and with over 20 million views in just over a month, it seems like the hype will continue and the series will have the steam it needs to get more episodes out.

Is there anything, in particular, that’s bad?

The humor isn’t really complex or that funny. The majority of the jokes and punchlines boil down to “character says something funny/offensive, now laugh”, which isn’t the most entertaining way to write any sort of joke, even adult humor. It works well enough since the show is set in hell and the characters are supposed to be awful people, but there’s much more potential than just what the show does. I’m also kinda disappointed there’s absolutely zero jokes about religion for a show set in hell and about redemption. There are so many jokes about sex, drugs, and alcohol that you can almost see them coming, but nothing about religion. I’m not sure if there’s a reason they couldn’t, but it feels like a big missed opportunity. Aside from that, the pilot tries to cover so much in half an hour that nothing really gets developed well, which might become a problem the show constantly deals with. The whole purge thing is quickly covered at the start, the angels that apparently carry it out are nowhere to be seen, and there’s some sort of turf war between some side characters in hell that are shown for a few minutes but doesn’t seem to be too relevant to the plot. It’s not necessarily bad but leaves me somewhat disappointed that there’s so much to cover and not much time, even with half an hour. While the character designs are great, their personalities seem pretty one-dimensional so far, although that could change later. For the main four characters who work for the hotel, we have “the happy one”, “the cynical sidekick”, “the drug and sex addict”, and “red sans”. If you can already tell which characters I’m referring to with just those few words, that’s probably not a good thing. There’s definitely room to grow though, as the characters haven’t really started working towards the goal of redeeming hell and letting them move to heaven, which could lead to growth and change. It’s just been quick introductions, which sort of supports that idea of covering so much but developing so little.

So, should I watch it?

Yeah, give it a chance. The animation and music are a big reason alone to watch the pilot, even if you can’t stand anything else. It’s refreshing to see so much work put into something like this, and you can tell the creators were passionate about making this as good as it can be. There are definitely issues with it that can’t really be ignored, like the lackluster humor and character personalities, but I don’t think they’re big enough to diminish the high-quality animation and musical segments. The show definitely could turn out great if the creators keep up the great animation and put more effort into the humor while developing the characters and plot. On the other hand, the show could also end up pretty bad if it continues to just try and cover too much too little and spirals out of control into a really nice looking pile of garbage. There are signs pointing in both directions, but so far, the show looks like it’ll be heading down a good path with high-quality animation and pretty good writing.

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