Alma Winograd-Diaz is a young American woman of Spanish, Jewish, and native Mesoamerican ancestry. Twenty-eight years old, in a long-term relationship, employed as a childcare worker, Alma is also bored by what she regards as the mundane uniformity of her existence – and terrified by the prospect that her present circumstances also represent her future. One day, after separating from her partner and provoking a furious argument with her younger sister, Alma is in a serious car accident and suffers a severe head injury. Regaining consciousness in hospital, she makes the unnerving discovery that she has become “unstuck” in time: reality no longer consists of a regular procession of days and nights, but of loops and folds and interconnections between past, present, and future. What is more, Alma can move through these loops and folds and change the timeline. That’s when her long-dead father appears and tells Alma that his work as a theoretical physicist was on the verge of discovering how “quantum entanglement” could unlock the secret of time-travel – and that he didn’t disappear as Alma believes, but was murdered by a rapacious corporate executive who wanted to use his work for destructive ends. As Alma sets out to discover the truth of her father’s death, she is haunted by a nagging thought: has her accident unlocked strange powers she inherited from her father and grandmother – or is it all an illusion, the product of her traumatic injury and her own desperate desire for “something more”?
Created by Raphael Bob-Waksberg and Kate Purdy (the team who also created the cult anime series “Bojack Horseman”), and co-produced by Amazon Studios and the Tornante Company, “Undone” received its global premier in 2019. Delivered in stunning visuals that are a combination of hand-drawn watercolours and extreme rotoscoping that produces creepily real character renditions, “Undone” is driven by a superb script characterised by dark humour and snappy dialogue. The combination of cutting edge physics and supernatural themes creates a compelling narrative context, and the interplay between ideas about the operation of space-time and human psychology recalls the very best of Rod Serling and “The Twilight Zone”. The time cuts and repetitions that occur in the early episodes can be confusing; but patience is rewarded as the narrative arc resolves these issues without resorting to clichés or convenient deus ex machina devices. Along the way “Undone” explores the nature of reality and memory, the currents that move within interpersonal relationships, and the question of what constitutes happiness, fulfilment, and the sense of a meaningful life well-lived. “Undone” is thoughtful, intelligent, adult-oriented anime that truly justifies the term “binge-worthy”. The open ending also suggests another series will be in the offing.
Text ©Copyright Brendan E Byrne 2020. All rights reserved.