Watershed Moment, Kiss Me First (TV Review)

The first use of digital animation in a feature film was the 1973 version of Michael Crichton’s Westworld. Creating a grainy pixelated point-of-view shot from the artificial eyes of the android ‘Gunslinger’.

It would be eighteen years later, in the release of James Cameron’s Terminator 2 Judgement Day, that digital animation or CGI would be developed enough to have a major influence on motion features.

The next leap forward would come in 1999 with Wachowski brother’s Matrix Trilogy. Now, virtual cinematography or three dimensional computer graphics, was to be the foundation to create new wonders for the screen never seen before in history.

This technology has finally come to TV in Channel 4’s Kiss Me First.

Leila is a lonely teenage girl left to fend for herself after her mother passes away. And Leila does fend for herself. Between virtual gaming sessions in the fantasy world of Azana.

Our introduction to Azana is stunning. We follow Leila, whose gamer tag is ‘Shadowfox’, flying through a blue sky bordered in giant fluffy clouds. Then ‘Shadowfox’ swoops onto the world of Azana and hovers over the ‘City Of War’ before catching a friend on the outskirts who she zooms down towards, crashes into, and reintroduces herself by having a massive bone crunching fist fight.

While barley being able to catch our breath at the awesome scenes witnessed in Azana, the viewer is transported back into the real world and Leila’s pokey dank bedroom after she’s frozen out of the game for trying to enter a mysterious forest.

The forest is guarded by a secret group called ‘Red Pill’ whose members wear illegal sensor bands hacked by the mysterious group leader Adrian.

Leila will eventually get to meet the members of Red Pill when she’s invited into the group by the mysterious ‘Mania’, whose real life alter ego Tess extends the hand of friendship to her introducing herself while Leila’s on shift at the café she works in.

Channel 4, as is expected of a TV service created entirely to provoke, has once again taken the initiative. Giving terrestrial TV viewers a Avatar style experience jacked straight into their homes.

It holds a note to the times we live in that the viewer is increasingly made to appreciate the work done behind the scenes. Kudos goes to director of animation Kan Muftic for the outstanding graphics of Azana and its avatars.

The gamer world experience given to people who aren’t willing to devote their lives to actual computer games themselves, along with the introduction of future megastar Simona Brown, along with Bryan Elsley’s constant and brilliant grasp of young people’s issues following on from the excellent Skins, makes Kiss Me First one of the best programmes to air in 2018.

It’s new. It’s different. And it’s been long overdue for the couch potato army.

Kiss Me First has five episodes to go on Channel 4 Mondays at 10pm. Catch up with the first episode on 4 Catch-up.