“Hazbin Hotel:” A Victory for Independent Animation


Cara Caulton, Staff Writer

This past week, an animated pilot for a comedy series titled “Hazbin Hotel” was premiered on YouTube by user Vivziepop. Created by a team of independent animators, writers, voice actors, and sound designers, this project has been in the works for years and was headed by Vivienne Medrano, also known as Vivziepop. The pilot centers around main character Charlie, princess of Hell, as she tries (and mostly fails) to achieve her dream of a hotel meant to rehabilitate demons. Hazbin Hotel is a comedy aimed at older audiences, with “badwords and innuendo galore,” to quote Medrano.

This pilot has been highly anticipated and already met with a warm reception of 3 million views in the first four days of its release. What truly makes this project impressive is that the 30-minute long animated pilot was not funded by any animation studio, but rather independent creators from all over the internet coming together to create something that looks and sounds professional. The amount of work that went into this project is obvious in every frame, and anyone familiar with the labors 2D animation can appreciate the effort demanded by such a momentous independent project.

So, where does this project shine? Visually, it is gorgeous. Medrano’s previous animation work has already demonstrated her eye for color and character design, but her skill truly shines in “Hazbin Hotel”. The designs of the various demons are varied and aesthetically pleasing, and every scene is full of bright colors which are characteristic of Medrano’s style. The animation looks amazing, with an emphasis on expressions and over-exaggerated, cartoony movements. This animation style is complemented by the extremely impressive sound design, which is filled with sound effects that emphasize every movement. The episode also features a score that fits seamlessly into every scene, as well as three original Broadway musical-esque songs. Along with the character design and animation, the second most impressive component of the episode is the voice acting. Every performance is full of energy, although Michael Kovach as adult-film star demon “Angel Dust” arguably steals the show. The jokes in the pilot do well, thanks to a mix of good comedic timing and brilliant voice acting. Often, I find adult cartoons fall flat in the comedy department because of obvious jokes that are simply revelling in the comedy of a colorful cartoon character swearing. But even though Hazbin’s jokes are undoubtedly juvenile, they are pulled off well and only grew tiresome a few times. Other small criticisms would be that the episode did feel very visually “busy” at times. The level of detail in scenes could be distracting or overwhelming, especially in shots that only lasted a few seconds. The fast-paced nature of the episode was likely due to time constraints and a desire to fit everything in, but in the future giving the audience time to absorb their surroundings and extending certain shots would do wonders to make the experience a little less jarring.

Overall, however, the episode blew me (and the rest of the internet) away with its fun characters, brilliant voice acting, and artistic skill that was achieved by a small and dedicated team. To call “Hazbin Hotel” a labor of love would be an understatement, and it set me up desperately wanting more. Considering that the 30-minute pilot took the team years to make, however, that may be awhile. They have not made any promises for a second episode, although they all hope to continue the series. Personally, I think the best bet for this series would be for it to be noticed and picked up by a studio that can finance Medrano’s vision, while still giving her the artistic freedom to tell her story. “Hazbin Hotel” is another example of the internet giving creators a platform to collaborate and express themselves in ways that they could not otherwise, and needless to say the results are amazing.