Review: Cannon Busters
Ya'll, I can not tell you how much I loved this series.
For a little bit of background, Cannon Busters was a 2005 comic series by LeSean Thomas that only really got three issues out, but was very well received at the time. It was going to be be finished as a graphic novel but saw delays, and then they decided they wanted to turn it into an animated series.
The animation project had a big push in 2014 as a Kickstarter and backers did see a pilot in 2016. The Netflix series announcement was back in 2017 and it got pushed back until late 2019. So basically, the entire history of this series is unfortunately plagued with delays. There's no word yet on a Season 2, but hopefully we'll get lucky and not have to wait another 4 years.
But hey, if it takes 6 years to get as awesome an opening theme song and animation as we did, I can wait another 6 years (assuming 2020 doesn't kill us all).
Quick viewing note, I viewed this with subtitles, so if you're someone who prefers dubbing our experiences may be a bit different. I enjoy the voice acting more with subs, that's just my thing. The trailer above actually threw me off a bit because I never heard the english voice actors until just now. So you do you in that regard, but I do recommend trying the subbed version.
So Cannon Busters is basically a Afrocentric sci-fi western fantasy crime action adventure. It is literally everything and the kitchen sink. It's is heavily influenced by the anime and manga of the late 90's and early 2000's, wearing that influence on it's sleeve with pride. There's a pinch of Cowboy Bebop, a dash of Trigun, a sampling of Battle Angel Alita, a hint of Outlaw Star, and much much much more. And while it heavily homages the tone and styles of all of those things, it's very much a truly original piece with a style and tone of it's own.
The core of the story follows Sam, an innocent friendship droid and her friend Casey (also a droid) as they are searching for the young prince Kelby. The story flashbacks to Sam's time with Kelby before their kingdom was attacked and they were seperated.
Sam seeks out the aid of Philly the Kid, an immortal outlaw whose morality is questionable at best. With every death he experiences, a new number is tattooed on his body, leaving plenty of mystery and backstory to develop over time.
Parallel to Sam's quest, Prince Kelby and his bodyguard are also seeking refuge. There's an interesting arc for Kelby as he develops from spoiled royalty to.....well, still spoiled royalty, but one that's slowly starting to understand the big picture.
Also, there are mechs, which as you can guess make me incredibly happy. The core mech is Philly's huge ass car named Bessie, which turns into a giant bull robot.
This is a show that just perfectly clicks with me for a number of reasons. The plotting and scripting are incredibly tight, and there's just no wasted effort. If something doesn't move the core plot forward it moves the character arcs forward. This all goes hand in hand with the high production values in the animation, stellar voice acting, and an engaging soundtrack that just makes everything pop.
The stories pacing of flipping between the current time frame which has a more post-apocalyptic western feel to it to the flashbacks which have a more fantasy feeling give the world a unique flavor. On one hand your getting used to the mutant cyborgs, and then the big evil magic bad guy shows up and it's just as engaging.
There's a certain point where the real bad guys show up, and by that I mean the villains who get to be a part of the really cool opening credits. There' a certain point where the opening expands to include them, and then you are incredibly eager for them to debut and do their thing because while they are the minions to the larger villain, their the ones with all the flair and style. Which might almost seem like a bad thing because that might detract from the main villain, but it somehow all balances out just the right way.
Stylistically the show really has that late 90's anime vibe to it, but with the crispness of modern animation as well. There is a big of CGI, usually reserved for the mech scenes so it works out well. The 2D animation style is what really drew me in, as it gave a little bit of nostalgia while still feeling really fresh.
The Afrocentric nature of the world is incredibly refreshing. Black characters are at the forefront as the heroes, villains, you name it. We need more of this in our fiction in general, and to see it in such a vibrant and expertly crafted piece of work just emphasizes that we need more of this now.
So yeah, it's safe to say that I really really really liked this series and I really hope there will be a season 2. A season 2 that I might live to actually see as well.
If you don't like anime it might not be for you, but if you haven't sampled any anime it won't hurt to start here.