In concept, a fan-made animated series about Nintendo’s Star Fox games following the continuity of Star Fox 64 sounds like a recipe for charming failure, akin to the many passionate but ultimately cringe-inducing Star Trek fan films. So it’s an unexpected delight that animator Matthew Gafford’s A Fox In Space is so damn good. It’s beautifully drawn, recalling ’70s and early ’80s animated films like Heavy Metal as well as more modern space-noir like Cowboy Bebop. Beyond the visuals, the bigger surprise is that Fox is not only well-voiced (mostly by Gafford himself), but well-written, with a wry sense of humor and a world that feels more lived-in than that of the game.

But while A Fox In Space feels like a Star Fox show that could have existed decades ago (though its TV-14 themes would never fly with Nintendo’s family-friendly, all-ages approach), the 12 minutes that make up episode one, “Don’t Call Me Star Fox,” would also fit right in to a late-night Adult Swim slot. Still, given that Star Fox 64 pseudo-remake Star Fox Zero just dropped on the Wii U last week, A Fox In Space seems perfectly poised to capitalize on Star Fox nostalgia while stoking additional excitement for the new game. Here’s hoping the notoriously litigious Nintendo lets Gafford see this project through to its conclusion.

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