Netflix's latest animated war miniseries dives deep into the psyche of the battered warriors of US Army's 157th Infantry Regiment as they travel from the womb of fascist Italy to the heart of Nazi Germany.
"The Liberator", based on Alex Krashaw's famous book on WWII, was initially planned to be an eight-part documentary series for the History Channel.
But, it was shelved for budgetary concerns until Netflix decided to remake it in form of a four-part adult animation miniseries.
The series opens in Southern Italy in late 1943 with the 157th Regiment, nicknamed Thunderbirds, of the US Army going through a foggy field where they are ambushed by German Infantry and Panzers. The Unit, led by Captain Sparks, faces dangerous situations as their campaign through Europe continues for years.
Jeb Stuart, the ambitious maker of the series, does not shy away from violent scenes. The series is extremely graphic at times and showcases the horrors of war from a close viewpoint.
The story follows Captain Sparks from his early days as he prepares his infamous "J-company" for combat back in Oklahoma, USA.
The captain's humane and passionate behaviour stands in a stark contrast to that of many military commanders (from both sides) when the plot throws him along with his entire unit in an unforgiving war, a war which had already devastated much of Europe, sucked humanity out of people and eradicated all hope.
Yet, The Liberator is not only about gloom and doom, it is not only about the horrors or graphic details of the war. It is also about loyalty and brotherhood.
The Thunderbirds work as a team although the mixed racial unit, as it is bluntly told in the story, could "never have enjoyed a beer in the same bar together back in home" because of racial segregation in the US which was prevalent in the 1940s.
The series' brutal honesty with racial hostility in the US serves as an important point in the plot as the soldiers from all races band together in a hostile environment to bring the Nazis to their heels.
The Battle of Anzio in episode two could certainly be qualified as one of the best moments the series has to offer.
The brutal battle and entrapment of allied forces in a plain field and subsequent artillery barrages that kills Americans and Germans by the dozens are powerful scenes.
Among all these, The Thunderbirds prevail in pushing German Field Marshal Kesselring to the north of Italy but at a grave cost.
The unit loses all but three of its original members leaving Captain Sparks to write back home regarding how he could never really leave this place where his brothers in arms are buried, psychologically if not physically.
"Remember the name", he writes, "Anzio."
Yet, the grim adventure does not end there and a newly-formed 157th Infantry Regiment is transferred to Southern France for Operation Dragoon to push the Nazis out of that country. With the Nazis falling quickly back to Germany, the allies follow.
The series follows the allied invasion of Germany where the Thunderbirds join in the battle of Aschaffenburg. The siege of the city is another of the series' high points. German brutality and German suffering both are shown here as the story unfolds.
The story also showcases the human side of the war. The scene where a horrified US soldier who, being mortified by German atrocities, wanted revenge yet could not bear the sight of a wounded little German girl dying because of American artillery fire is a powerful one.
The series also shows a powerful moment where German SS storm troopers spare the lives of American soldiers who came to help their comrades in the battlefield dispelling the myth that all Germans were brutal and animalistic.
Yet, brutality and monstrosity were there. The stench of dead bodies of the Jews who were murdered in Dachau Concentration Camp could be felt in the final episode as the American soldiers get enraged at the horrific war crimes of The Holocaust.
Subsequent murders of imprisoned Nazi soldiers by the angry Americans in Dachau also is shown without any reservation whatsoever - as is the subsequent investigation that ended Captain - now Colonel Sparks' military career under whose command the rogue soldiers committed the war crime.
Among all these, the series never forgets to show the acts of kindness or acts of gratitude and loyalty that really create an impact.
The Italian boy who gifted Captain Sparks his murdered grandfather's gun or the fierce Indian Coldfoot's return from a dark path show the viewers that goodness, however clichéd it is to hear, ultimately pays.
The series' visuals reminds us of "Rotoscoping" - a form of animation where the artists usually draw over live action performances frame by frame. Though it could look better, the series is by no means bad graphically.
The battles on the plains of Italy or the icy mountains in central Germany are extremely vivid to say the least.
As the 500-day journey of the Thunderbirds ends in episode four "Home", no one remains the same. Not the fighters, not the civilians, not even - dare I say - the viewers! War changes them all – some for the better, some for the worse.
The series is rated positively by viewers and critics alike. It is rated seven out 10 by IMDB and 7.6 by IGN.
But though The Liberator certainly deserves praise for its ambitious take on a war drama, both graphically and in terms of its structure as a web series, it does not dare (for the most part) to veer off from the familiar path set by famous stories of the genre such as "Band of Brothers" or "Saving Private Ryan".
But despite the many clichés and familiar tropes, the series does present an engaging storyline with a few unique things that are rare in this genre.
It focuses on humanity, both its presence and absence during the war, while telling the story, not focusing on rhetoric, nationalism or any other concepts that are prevalent in this genre.
With gritty animation and a touching storyline, The Liberator should give the viewers a good look into the lives of warring humans in a world at war and above all, a good show!