Overwatch’s Warring Brothers Get Animated Short

I was in a plane/jetlagged for most of Monday and Tuesday so I missed the Genji/Hanzo animated short for Overwatch [official site]. It’s called Dragons and is about brothers and dragons and things. Here are some thoughts, including how Casualty is totally relevant to discussion of this mini movie.

I’m enjoying the overblown comparison of siblings who don’t get on to mythical sky dragons. The blue wind dragon defeating the green wind dragon is Hanzo losing his temper about the fact his brother doesn’t want to help out with the family crime business and just wants to be a playboy ninja. It’s an EastEnders plotline being dressed up in mythological pyjamas.

Like, you could use majestic dragon battles to explain my sorrow at the fact my brother hit me in the knee because I wanted to watch TV and he wanted to watch a VHS when we were children and it would look similarly robustly generic. Or maybe the dragon mythology re-enactment of my blazing row with my sister when she was really late picking me up for town and I had to stand in a cold car park for ages worrying that she had been in a car accident or something.

Anyway, the dragons reconcile and Genji and Hanzo are kind of in the same game which is basically a reconciliation or whatever I don’t know the trailer is really really about the action and really really not about a story that makes sense or is in any way not generic.

As an aside, and going back to soap operas for a minute, the story of the dragons works FAR better as a tale based on Cal and Ethan’s relationship in Casualty and how the brothers fell out over the fact that Cal didn’t tell Ethan that he had found their birth mother OR that she had Huntington’s and then they shared the Crisp Sandwich Of Lies when Cal chickened out of telling Ethan and then they didn’t speak for ages when Ethan DID finally find out and then they stole an ambulance and drove their mother to the coast so she could die on a beach and Ethan pretended he didn’t have Huntington’s so she could die happy and then it turns out he does have Huntington’s and Cal doesn’t and the world is a dreadful place because Ethan thinks Cal always gets to have fun and not have Huntington’s and then he decided to Embrace Life and now he wears a hat.

Anyway, there’s also this video doing the rounds where SFM creator Krunkidile animated his own prediction for the trailer and got it pretty much bang on:

Oh. And here’s a different video about games with “Dragons” in the title:

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  1. The Dark One says:

    The Source Filmmaker version is glorious

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah they really nailed it. :D

    • Don Reba says:

      And thanks to Philippa for the Warriors video. Have been listening to it in a loop for hours, now.

  2. Author X says:

    Having not paid attention to their backstories (other than that were ninja brothers or something), I was actually pretty amused at how the trailer sets up Genji as the Evil Assassin to Hanzo’s Honourable Warrior, but once they actually talk it turns out Genji is pretty chill and Hanzo is mostly a dick.

    Of course, if I had paid attention to their backstories I would have known that Genji is a good guy that has achieved some kind of robot-assisted enlightenment. But the point of the videos is to bring in new fans, and a lot of players like me (and unlike Krunkidile, evidentally) don’t read the bios and wiki entries, so I still think it was a good trick.

    • Foosnark says:

      Yeah, my muddled view of things was similar. I had Hanzo pegged as a former villain trying to redeem himself and Sword Asshole, I mean Genji, had turned completely over to the dark side.

      Whatever. I still enjoyed the video more than the previous ones. The parody was on point though.

  3. Abacus says:

    I really don’t have a tolerance for this kind of empty, focus-group-driven writing that Blizzard has adopted for Overwatch.

    • Zankman says:

      Can you elaborate?

    • gou says:

      less focus-group-driven and more paint-by-numbers

    • Jane Doe says:

      What now?

    • SuddenSight says:

      I feel precisely the opposite. While everyone seems happy to jump down Blizzard’s throat for their non-stellar writing, I like the simplicity of these plotlines. The action, voice acting, and animation all seem great.

      Some better dialogue might be nice (though I personally think the dialogue in this short was better than the previous two). However, I don’t see why they need to throw in a surprise twist or avoid easy tropes. Easy tropes are great (it’s why they seem easy!), and surprise twists are overrated.

      • Arkayjiya says:

        The dialogue was marginally better. It’s still pretty bad though. Otherwise I agree with you, I don’t think “focus group writing” is Blizzard’s schtick, they really tell story they want to tell, it just happens they’re not very good at making them original nor at writing dialogues (although I do suspect there is a slight truth there in that they purposely keep the dialogue simple).

        Overall, I’ve loved what they’ve done with Overwatch’s universe despite these problems.

      • GHudston says:

        For some reason I enjoy that Overwatch is just a bag of cliches all mashed together. I think it’s the fact that they aren’t even trying to hide it.

    • McCool says:

      I feel you, the writing is by far the weakest aspect of this game, most of the character work is in the art and the animations. Half of the lines the characters say are just taken from Holywood films.

      It feels like the absolute lowest amount of talent and effort went into the writing, everyone is a paper thin walking trope that, as you say, feels like it came out of a focus group or board meeting.

      • TillEulenspiegel says:

        That’s in keeping with the Hearthstone flavor text, for example, which are just a litany of the laziest, most unfunny jokes you can think of.

        Blizzard is almost impressively bad at writing.

        • McCool says:

          It’s a shame because the animation is wonderfully characterful, and as are half of the designs themselves.

          Then Valve have the obscene advantage of having some of the best writers in the history of the business for some reason on their staff apparently just to add flavour text to multiplayer games.

  4. Ksempac says:

    That video made me notice how desperate they are to not show any death or even a single drop of blood. Killing robots is A-OK, but all humans are only knocked-out. That was really jarring for a video about an online shooter.

    I don’t particularly want blood or violence in games, but there is a huge disconnect between how they present to us theses badass and/or evil assassins/warriors, and what actually happen afterwards.

    This immediately reminded how TF2 doesn’t have that problem. They are able to display violence and yet still keep it comical/light hearted.

    I then checked Overwatch website and it turns out the game is PEGI 12, so that kind of make sense (meanwhile TF2 is PEGI 16).

    Additional fun fact: i hadn’t noticed that “problem” in the previous two shorts, but I checked again, and sure enough, even evil Widowmaker doesn’t kill anyone beside her robot target.
    I think they hid it better before because Winston is a good guy/a scientist, and Widowmaker is trying to be sneaky, so they had good excuses for not firing guns everywhere.
    I’m guessing it will be harder for me to not notice that in later videos…

    • Hoot says:

      It would be more jarring if there WAS blood, in my opinion.

      It just doesn’t fit. I mean I look at Overwatch and I think “Pixar”. I couldn’t imagine Woody or Buzz or any other cartoon character in this style getting brutalised or shot to shit. And it doesn’t have any impact on the actual game, in fact I really enjoyed the beta and despite noticing the things you did (the robot only kills, etc) in the videos, when you’re playing the game, it’s not really a factor.

      • Ksempac says:

        Oh, I’m sure it’s perfectly fine in game. There are lots of PEGI 12 shooters with only cartoons violence, and that’s OK.

        My concern was only about the video. It starts as a dark tale of assassins and/or opposing brothers. Then the main character prepares his arrows, shoot, kill a robot…and then suddenly the arrows start arcing around, hitting phones walls, etc. but never any humans (with that one guy “comically” fumbling, in a poor attempt at replicating Pixar style).

        That brutal change of feel was the thing i felt jarring.

        And weirdest thing about it is that it’s for only 30s, afterwards it goes back to super serious mode with the brothers fighting.

      • Phasma Felis says:

        You can’t imagine bloody death in a Pixar movie because Pixar doesn’t make movies about people who kill for a living.

        If you are making a movie about people who kill for a living, then censoring it like that looks really weird.

        • Phasma Felis says:

          Especially when the game the movie is based on is about two groups of people killing each other over and over and over.

    • int says:

      I really don’t like the PG-13 violence in the trailers nor in the game.

      When I play, every time I kill someone I put a spoon of ketchup in my mouth and spray it on my monitor so as to simulate cool blood effects.

    • Metr13 says:

      Widowmaker does kill the guys on the roof offscreen though. It is kind of ridiculous how no heroes can shoot one another.

      On topic of Dragons – you have to remember that this is his family place, even if he left.

      He visits Every. Single. Year.

      So, they know he’s coming and he knows that he wants to come another time. So instead of killing all those mooks he knocks them out (sans the omnic), and instead of putting competent guard they put some incompetent mooks.

      • Arkayjiya says:

        I don’t think the Shimada are trying to stop Hanzo anymore. They’ve been systematically chased by Overwatch and Genji over the years and nearly destroyed, they’ve sent assassins before against Hanzo but they’re not doing it this time (and it has obviously never worked). I think it’s pretty clear they neither have the will nor the mean to stop Hanzo (especially if they’re trying to keep a low profile after their quasi destruction) so the security was mostly there for show.

    • SaintAn says:

      The comics show death. Hell, Junkrat and Wild Hog hang a CEO of a corporation to death from the top of his corporate tower then blow it up, likely with everyone still inside. The Symara comic has her organization blow up some rival, and they catch a bunch of innocents in the blast including a little girl, which disfigures her. And the cowboy guy shot a lot of people to death in his comic.

      But just a heads up, this isn’t TF2. And these shorts are being used for marketing, so they don’t want to give the wrong impression about the game. It’s Pixar-like, not Happy Tree Friends-like.

  5. elden says:

    Even without the action, I thought it was well done and the story was quite compelling. Not sure why there seems to be so much pretentious criticism – normal people seem to really enjoy it.

    • SonofSeth says:

      It’s a straight forward story told in an epic way, Blizzard way, and it gets treated like some sort of pretentious posing when only pretentiousness I see is from those criticising it.

    • Arkayjiya says:

      Seriously because the “mass” (a group I’m part of, I truly enjoyed these shorts movies so see no condescension there) enjoyed them, doesn’t mean the writing isn’t a deal-breaker for some people or that the short should not be criticised.

      • elden says:

        Sure…everything can be criticized. I am just criticizing the criticism.

        • Arkayjiya says:

          I should have phrased that better. The writing is very uneven, you don’t need to be pretentious to think that, and here’s your answer.

  6. Don Reba says:

    Ah, Hanzo’s incessant angry inquires: “Do you want to take your grill?”

  7. Banks says:

    – I come to kill you.
    – You won’t kill me.
    – Yes I will.
    – Ok you win kill me pls.
    – No I won’t kill you now, I must go.
    – Ok bye.

    Give this shit an oscar.

  8. Durgendorf says:

    No Tracer. A++ would watch again.

  9. Buzko says:

    Off-topic: I fucking loved Warriors. Operatically thrilling and ridiculous. So disappointed when the rest of Imagine Dragons’ discography seemed to epitomise wuss-rock bullshit.