The origin of the Cuphead franchise
Cuphead initially started as a game released all the way back in 2017 to some very positive reviews. And yes, I am talking about the same game that was compared to Dark Souls until the two might as well have been the same. But stay with me here. The basic plot beats of the game are that our two main characters, Cuphead and Mugman have accidentally gambled their souls away to the devil himself, and now are forced to collect everyone else soul contracts in order to avoid having their souls taken. Now that you’re familiar with the game, why was this entire paragraph relevant, anyway? Well, thanks to the success of the game, the game’s creators (Chad and Jared Moldenhauer) were able to launch the Cuphead show and become executive producers on it, and now we shall actually look into that.
The Cuphead show characterisation
Season one of the Cuphead show is by far the gold standard for the characterisation of the show. Right from the very first scene, with no dialogue at all, you get a sense of the character’s personalities. What do I mean by that? Well, let’s take a deep dive into it. It opens with the elderly caretaker of the two boys, Elder Kettle, making some pancakes. His facial expression and subtle energetic movements show how Kettle is happy to be taking care of the boys as he joyfully makes them some pancakes. It then cuts to Cuphead, who is reading a comic book. Without even looking at Kettle, he holds up his plate and catches all five pancakes on his plate at once, which implies that things usually go his way, as well as showing us some subtle confidence from him.
Mugman, watching his brother attempts to do the same thing, only to fail instead, showing that Mugman is definitely down on his luck. Witnessing this, Cuphead cuts his own pancakes in half and slides them over to him, showing the bond the two brothers share. Mugman, now happier at this revelation, goes to pour some syrup onto it. Only for it to be revealed that Cuphead had taken all the syrup, showing that Cuphead can act selfishly.
Later on in the episode, Elder Kettle tasks both Cuphead and Mugman to paint the fence, and we get another scene that shows off the characters’ personalities. Cuphead is complaining about all the chores they have to do, without actually painting the fence properly, showing a more rash nature, meanwhile, Mugman is daydreaming about being able to get things done quicker, while still painting the fence, showing he has a less proactive nature to his brother. Cuphead then tells Mugman he’s “way ahead of [him]” before he shoots out the paint from a cannon, which shows more of the rash nature I touched upon earlier. Elder Kettle then comes outside to check on the boys, only to be hit with a glob of paint and a destroyed fence around him. Ouch. They’re not the only ones who have interesting characterisation though, characters such as Baroness Von Bon Bon (more commonly known as The)
The Cuphead Show art style
Don’t worry. That opening paragraph will now make a lot more sense. Taking inspiration from older cartoons such as the aforementioned Betty Boop. The Cuphead show’s art style is devised of meme-worthy facial expressions, extreme movements and incredible background and set designs. Now, unlike the original game, where they used the now retired ink and cell technique to create the game, the Cuphead Show uses flash animation, but they do their best to emulate the game’s style (let’s be honest, using the same technique as the game would liquefy the budget faster than Cuphead can send logs into space). As well as an animation style based on older cartoons, the show also utilises claymation for backdrop sets much like the original game. With some of the best examples being most of Candyland in season 2 or even the spooky forest from season 1.
The Cuphead Show OST
So, how do the songs fare? Well. Season 2 is definitely an improvement. Now first, let’s talk about the good. The opening theme tune is great, with some very nice vocals sung by Gizzelle Andrea Becerra. The rest of the season 1 OST is decent, with a standout definitely being Miss Chalices’ solo Turn up the charm. Season 2 is a massive step up for the Cuphead Show, with one of the best songs to ever appear in a cartoon. I am the Cala Maria. I’m not kidding. If you haven’t somehow heard of this masterpiece, go look it up right now because it is fantastic. The vocals are incredible; the animation is at an all-time high, and the entire scene and song by itself are just perfect. Aside from that, unfortunately, besides the two standouts, most of the songs are forgettable, which is a huge shame considering when the show goes hard, it goes hard (and no, you are not allowed to use that out of context.)
In conclusion, the Cuphead show is great, and this article was basically just written to highlight why you should go watch it. Also, this was my first proper article that wasn’t mandated by a school exam, so please excuse the quality of it not being on par with everyone else. I’m just doing my best while also fighting past procrastination. And in the words of Tim Urban, a master procrastinator “Actually, let’s read the entire page of the Nancy Kerrigan Harvard scandal because I just remembered that happened.”