Great Pretender is the sort of anime masterpiece that could put carbon-based actors out of work. Created by Tokyo’s Wit Studio and paying sly homage to the chicanery of the smoothest fictional con artists, Great Pretender aspires to the ingenuity and, yes, wit of movie Ocean’s Eleven (2001) and even comes with opening titles descended directly from Catch Me if You Can . Which is to say that its narrative twists, engaging humour and logic-defying yet credible animation have vaulted this 14-part first series, now streaming on Netflix, straight into the crime-caper big league. Aiming for the world series himself is Makoto Edamura, self-anointed greatest swindler in Japan. But he discovers how crushingly little league he really is when duped by effortlessly suave gentleman thief Laurent Thierry. The pair wind up in Los Angeles, Edamura gradually realising he’s been sucked into a lucrative but perilous swindle targeting a Mafia drugs baron posing as a film producer. The fast-paced tone and candy-coloured palette established, our charming charlatans carry on scamming, from Las Vegas to London to Singapore (with a starring role for Marina Bay and other landmarks), but always targeting bad guys exclusively as new adventures in deception, as well as new allies ready to join the gang, present themselves. They are Robin Hoods rather than robbing hoods, high-stakes action sequences littering their histories, told nimbly in flashbacks, as their individual characters emerge. And if you’re wondering: Freddie Mercury fans, and others seeking yet another layer of class from this already exuberant effort, should stick around for the closing credits. Raised by Wolves: Ridley Scott’s small-screen, sci-fi philosophy delivers Humans can be so bigoted when it comes to the virulent nonsense of “my make-believe god is better than your make-believe god” that it’s becoming increasingly rare to find creative endeavours courageous enough to try dismantling the superstitious claptrap underpinning all religion. Raised by Wolves , however, shows great promise. Earth has been left uninhabitable by a 22nd-century religious war; cities have returned to their constituent lumps of concrete and stray rat is on the menu for supper. Survivors from each side have fled the planet in search of another world to colonise (or infect, take your pick). The Mithraic, sporting cult kit with sponsor’s logo, are devoted to an omnipotent idol they are convinced will save their flock. Meanwhile, two science-worshipping atheists (looking like ex-Olympic cyclists who forgot to return their skinsuits) have beaten them to the punch and landed, with a cliffhanging tribute to The Italian Job (1969), on rocky planet Kepler-22b and begun raising their children – including a rebellious son destined for some sort of greatness. Campion (Winta McGrath) has his own ideas about how the future will unfold, but for now he’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy, causing all sorts of bother that Kepler-22b’s only bipeds could do without. This despite the early reminder served on these children that they “are atheists, peaceful, technocratic, [on] the only path to progress”. The biggest twist, however, is that Father (a compliant Abubakar Salim) and Mother (Amanda Collin as a ruthlessly protective matriarch with stupefying powers) are androids, forbidden by Mithraic mandate to raise human “offspring”. Cue resumed ideological and bloody conflict for the future of humankind, all wrapped up in a sci-fi-philosophy package realised by the master of the genre: executive producer and occasional director Ridley Scott, which partly explains the series’ big-screen flavour. Watch the off-world, meaning-of-humanity struggle unfold on HBO Go (two new episodes every Thursday) and wonder, while you’re about it, why advanced beings, who zoom through space at warp speed, so often end up living in stone huts.