Oh, man, the things I missed. I was about two when Aeon Flux aired, but a friend lent me her discs and I just finished watching it. I am so glad I did. I ordered the box set from Amazon shortly after, so that should tell you what I think already, but I still need to talk about this.
SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS...follow, so don't say I didn't warn you. Without further ado, Aeon Flux.
Aeon's an agent of destruction and chaos. Trevor's an agent of order. Both of them have strengths and weaknesses as people, and I can't really classify either of them as being bad or good--though I suppose Lawful Neutral and Chaotic Neutral would do. The plot as a whole for the ten-ep series is a little hard to summarize, but I guess it's about Aeon screwing with Trevor, really, and Trevor trying to capture Aeon--but in the context of a chaotic society fighting against a totalitarian utopia. There's also a tendency to examine hte macabre, weird, and kinky through a balanced lens, and a sort of examination of love, and its inherently destructive nature. (Well, for selfish love, anyway.) Various episodes where Trevor does weird shit and Aeon either aids and abets or tries to screw it up in a very Roadrunner/Wile E. Coyote dichotomy fill out the season, but not a single one wastes its screentime or fails to entertain and provoke. The alien episodes are particularly provocative and confusing.
Aeon herself has a very male-gazey costume, but she owns her sexuality in a really nice way that makes her far more than fantasy fuel or someone's dream puppet. She's a femme fatale, but she's genuinely dangerous, not just a sort of toy. Trevor himself is a perfectly good match, and that's pretty impressive--if he was any less dangerous or responsive, the show would have failed.
The plot is really based on philosophical concepts, and I love the way the episodes explore the meaning of freedom and constraint and fighting against one's essential nature. Peter Cheung, the creator, says that Aristophane's idea of two people separated and forming each other's perfect compliments (you might recognize this from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which is also awesome) underly Trevor and Aeon's relationship. It's definitely the case, and I love it. There's also a hell of a lot of fetishy...stuff...going on, so if very tidy body horror and BDSM aren't your leather cup of tea, you might have trouble stomaching it. And, again, it's got a loose timeline, so if you're easily confused, this show could piss you off. I quite like the ending, though I won't spoil it.
Holy shit, is this series gorgeous. It's one of the best-animated things I've ever seen in my life, and the way it pushes the boundaries of what you can do with animation is something that holds up even to this day. The voice-acting is great, the characters are compelling, and it's still both erotic and scary. It's like what Rocky Horror Picture Show was hinting at, but it goes a few steps further. And of course, it's genre-bending and transgressive, so I can't not love it. You can really see its influence on shows like The Venture Bros (which is also excellent), but there's much less wasting of screen time in this series than in anything else I've ever seen. There's no need for a warmup episode or two; it's good from moment one.
Well...can you even say there are cons? You have to watch this closely, and there's only a few shorts and the pilot and one season. That's it, to our collective eternal sorrow. I did mention the body horror and BDSM, but if you're not a fan of moral grey areas or possibly less-than-happy endings or uncertainty, you'll probably hate this. My partner-in-crime, Andrey, found the aesthetic really hard to watch, so there's that element as well. Also, it might be a bad choice for those prone to vertigo or religious extremism.
Holy shit, why aren't you watching this right now? A rare 10 out of 10. It hits all the right notes, it has as much substance as it has style, it's elegant, it's smart, and it catches humour, horror, and plenty of rich emotions along the way. Definitely a must-see, especially if you didn't watch MTV in the early 90s.