Prime Video has made a name for itself as the pre-eminent home of adult animation, and starting today (January 19), the streaming giant has a new addition to its R-rated anime ranks.
Step forward Hazbin Hotel, Prime Video's devilish new animated series, which aims to delight and amuse in equal measure. Amazon's latest anime is no ordinary show, though; indeed, it's billed as an 18-plus musical-comedy that fascinatingly fuses Broadway spectacle with unashamed violence and vulgar humor. In short: it's the kind of TV genre fare I love watching on one of the world's best streaming services.
You don't need a Prime Video account to see what all the fuss is about, either. Hazbin Hotel's first episode is available to stream for free on YouTube right now, so you can watch it immediately, and decide if it's worth catching the rest on Amazon's primary streamer. Spoiler alert: you'll want to do so, as it's really good.
For the uninitiated, Hazbin Hotel follows Charlie Morningstar (Erika Henningsen), the Princess of Hell, who's grown tired of the underworld's overpopulation problem. However, every year, numerous angels descend from Heaven and kill enough demons to prevent Hell becoming oversaturated – an event known as the 'annual purge' – that, despite her frustrations over the congested realm she calls home, upsets Charlie.
So, what's the solution? Open a new guest house – the titular Hazbin Hotel – that's actually a rehabilitation center, of course! With the aid of her girlfriend Vaggie (Brooklyn 99 and Encanto's Stephanie Beatriz), Charlie sets out to redeem Hell's inhabitants in order to put an end to the merciless purge, and ensure that more souls are accepted into Heaven.
Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of pitfalls and menacing obstacles en route to Charlie achieving her goal. Expect lots of audacious adult humor, abstract animated gore, and many stage play-inspired ditties that'll be lodged in your head for weeks.
A full-circle moment for a viral YouTube sensation
The arrival of Hazbin Hotel's premiere episode on YouTube represents a full-circle moment for a series that puts a delightfully theatrical and animated spin on, well, the seven circles of Hell.
Indeed, the Vivienne Medrano-created show actually began life as a pilot episode on YouTube years ago. Financed solely by Medrano's Patreon followers and made entirely by freelance animators, Hazbin Hotel's pilot was uploaded to the streaming giant in October 2019 and, to Medrano's surprise, was an overnight sensation.
At the time of writing, Hazbin Hotel's pilot has amassed 94 million views on YouTube, with 32 million of those coming in its first six months on the platform – and it wasn't long before Amazon Studios came calling to turn the quirky, dark-humor musical-oriented project into a full-blown show.
Making Hazbin Hotel's first episode available for free on YouTube, then, is a genius piece of marketing on Amazon's part. Yes, it's been done with the aim of enticing newcomers to check out its latest adult animated offering – Netflix did something similar with Blue Eye Samurai, one of the best Netflix shows of 2023 – and persuade them to sign up to Prime Video to watch the full eight-episode season.
With its 75% critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, Hazbin Hotel seems like it'll be the next animated series that joins our best Prime Video shows ranks. It'll be in good company if and when it does, too, with Invincible, The Legend of Vox Machina, and Undone among this genre's contingent. So, check into YouTube to check out Prime Video's latest R-rated anime now.
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As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.
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