Ascension [2004]

This bizarre reworking of the story of Alexander the Great features character designs by Peter Chung (Aeon Flux). It's a singularly weird mixture of anime conventions, sci-fi and fantasy elements, special effects, and muddled ancient history. Alexander's comrades and future generals, including Hephaestion and Ptolemy, have been recast as effete courtiers. Bucephalus ("Ox-head"), his steed, is a flesh-eating monster. His mother is a Medea-esque sorceress, and his tutor Aristotle has the inevitably spunky niece, Cassandra. The magician-disciples of Pythagoras appear and disappear, searching for the "Platohedron." The elongated, mannerist figures bear Chung's distinctive stamp. The women wear revealing robes; the men run around in bits of armor and codpieces. Reign is slated for the Adult Swim bloc on the Cartoon Network, but editing this violent series to American broadcast standards will pose real challenges. (Unrated; suitable for ages 17 and older: violence, nudity, alcohol use, grotesque imagery, sexual situations) --Charles Solomon

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