Spice Frontier

By Jalil Sadool and Adam Meyer | Animation
An intergalactic chef hunts for rare Earth spices and gets a big surprise.

A century ago, Earth was destroyed, and humans now live among alien species spread throughout space. Kent is among them, and as a struggling chef, he just had his cookbook rejected from a publisher. But now he is on a quest: he wants to discover the culinary secrets of his ancestors.

With the help of his cyborg sidekick, C-LA, and his ship The Serrano, Kent hunts down rare spices throughout the galaxy, trying to find them before they disappear from human knowledge entirely.

But when Kent pays a visit to an abandoned space aquarium in search of sea salt, he discovers something much bigger -- and more momentous -- than he thought.

Fun, entertaining and a rollicking ride through a unique take on the typical sci-fi space adventure story, this animated short has a jaunty sense of momentum, building a richly compelling world and engaging characters that feel much bigger than its short runtime.

There's humor inherent in its premise, combining the obsessiveness of early 21st-century foodie culture in an action-adventure quest. The writing offers a solid foundation for the story, deftly evoking familiar and comforting types and stories while giving them a whimsical twist, complete with quippy asides, witty banter and rhapsodic musings on the richness of different Earth cuisines.

Its bona-fides as a space adventure story are solid and well-crafted as well, with storytelling that deftly builds a world, tension and plot with dynamic, colorful visuals and an energetic editing style that knows when to pause for effect -- and when to put the proverbial pedal to the metal.

Highly entertaining, fast-paced and always engaging, "Spice Frontier" is often sheer fun and joy to watch, evoking the almost primal pleasure of storytelling and balancing the comfortingly familiar with the fresh and quirky. It has the spirit of the Saturday morning cartoon adventures of the 80s, with a fizz of optimism and a pop of positive energy.

The short is a proof-of-concept for a larger episodic project, though it's highly enjoyable as a chapter on its own and wraps up its tidy little episode nicely, it also gestures to a larger story and world ripe for exploration. Audiences will be left wanting more -- especially since there's a whole spice rack -- and set of adventures -- that Kent and C-LA can work through, in their quest for the lost spices of humankind.

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