The Winchester brothers get animated in this cartoon version of the monster-hunting TV hit

(Warner Bros)

IT’S difficult to establish whether this is little more than a curiosity or a worthwhile spin-off in its own right, and as there has never been an anime reimagining of a live action TV series before, this release stands and falls on its own merits.

The show’s original creator Eric Kripke and series stars Jared Padalecki and Jenson Ackles are all involved in this animated version of the Supernatural TV show, which largely covers the events of the first two seasons with a mix of episode adaptations and all-new storylines.

Because of the expanding mythology at the heart of the Supernatural TV series, watching that version is almost necessary to understand much of what’s going on here, which then creates the weird situation where you end up watching cartoon versions of stories you’ve already seen, albeit with Japanese anime flourishes that take advantage of the format and budgetary freedom.

The concept of the series follows similar lines, with Winchester brothers Dean and Sam travelling the highways and byways of America to hunt the demonic and otherworldly forces, including a lake monster, a murderous shapeshifter, killer ghosts and the infamous “Bloody Mary” spectre.

There are additional details about the brothers’ childhoods, and more scenes featuring their parents John and Mary, but perhaps not as much as you’d expect, especially as this is one of the special features highlighted in the publicity material.

Not having to film everything in Vancouver helps to broaden the geographical feel, although again there are opportunities which have been missed here to present different sides to America not seen on screen.

The two leads are designed to look like their real-life counterparts, but many of the secondary characters are completely changed for this format. Additionally, although the live actors introduce each episode, only Jared provides voice duties on every episode, with Jensen stepping in for just the last two, creating a weird situation where someone else is effectively playing Dean.

A very dark series, capturing the look of the live-action show by mainly working from a palette of greys, reds, browns and black, and there’s plenty of graphic violence of the sort you’d never get away with on the parent series.

More of a companion to the Supernatural TV show than a product in its own right, there’s a lot to recommend here, but there is a feeling that it could have been just that little bit stronger.

That said, if you’re looking for a Supernatural fix to get you through the gap between seasons, and are quite happy revisiting some of the Winchester boys’ earlier adventures through a new perspective, then this is a must-have purchase.