The Amazing Digital Circus Episode 2 is a candy-coated existential crisis

The pilot episode of The Amazing Digital Circus, released on YouTube last year, begins with a character in a jester costume realizing she is trapped. She is trapped in the costume and makeup but also in a cartoon circus run by Caine, an AI ringmaster with no head, just giant teeth and eyeballs. The other characters are also humans in various cartoon bodies, all of whom put on a VR headset and somehow ended up there, unable to remember their names. Caine sends them on an adventure, which gets sidetracked by the group attempting to find a way out instead.

It is gorgeous and funny in "Ha, ha, everything is a nightmare." kind of way. It is kind of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, but with cute animated characters in a circus instead of humans in a post-apocalyptic hellscape. The first episode was a huge success, with three million views in three days. This allowed Glitch, an indie animation company that describes itself as "…making fun, colorful shows with occasional violence and existential breakdowns," to produce an entire season. 

The second episode was just released, and in it, Caine sends the group off on another "adventure," this time sending them on a pink Mad Max truck chase with Aussie crocodiles who have stolen some maple syrup. As with the first episode, do not be fooled by the cuteness. This episode ends with a gut punch and a funeral. I've watched both episodes several times, even though they are brutal.

I encourage everyone to watch the Amazing Digital Circus and also to read I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream.  For an even more disturbing experience, listen to the audiobook with the voice of the AI provided by Harlan Ellison. It is chilling. For a preview, here is Harlan Ellison's voice-over mashed up with The Amazing Digital Circus. 

Previously: Rediscovering Harlan Ellison: greatest hits collection and Dangerous Visions reissue