TL;DR – This is a well-made animation, with an interesting story, world and characters. Full of interesting juxtapositions like magic and technology.
Score – 4 out of 5 stars
I was thinking the other day of my joy at the old Monkey Magic stories. It had me wonder that it has been a long time since I have seen a good travel story where a group of disparate people are brought together through fate and then discover all their flaws and joys in the face of shared adversity. Well as fate would have it just a couple of days later a little surprise dropped on Netflix which was everything I didn’t know I wanted.
So to set the scene, we open in on a desert wasteland on an alien (maybe) planet with a disintegrating moon floating in orbit. Our first clue that this is an interesting place is the image of a giant bull trampling across the plains in search of a toilet. We cut to a town on the frontier full of dust, wood, and a casual disregard for life. There are humans and other creatures, and all sorts of robots, mechs, and mechanical augmentations. In the streets walks Sam (A Special Associate Model) (Kamali Minter) from the faraway kingdom of Botica. She does not seem to fit the tone of the local area, making friends in a land of gunfights and wanton murder. But she is on a mission to find a lost prince and the one person who can help her do that Philly the Kid (Kenn Michael). One issue is that he does not really want to help, also he is cursed and can’t die, also he had a large bounty on him that everyone is trying to collect. So Sam, Philly, and Casey (Kamali Minter) a maintenance droid head off on the mission in their pink coin-operated Mustang that can transform into a bull. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole, so there will be some [SPOILERS] ahead.
art style is an interesting blend of the more realistic science fiction
elements, with the more esoteric magical side. This juxtaposition is a hallmark
of the show and it could have been very distracting if that commitment to
making it work was not there. You can see this most clearly in the action
scenes where they have and interesting flow speeding up and slowing down when
they need to. At all times it is clear what is going on because they don’t hide
it behind sifting lines and blurred images. It also helps because the
iconography is both unique to the show, but it is using a design language that
is familiar to understand. Add to this some fascinating settings and
interesting architecture and you have a visually striking anime.
This juxtaposition expands from the art style to also the tone of the film. We see that first in the interactions between Sam and almost the rest of the world. She is naïve about the world or at least she is always optimistic about the world even when everything about it gives her no reason to be optimistic. This is of course in full contrast to Philly, who does not trust a single person he meets, for good reason, he has been killed many, many times. This is all taken to eleven when 9ine (Greg Chun) joins the group as the drunken Ronin. It also jumps in tone from casual conversations about skinning and tanning human skin to jokes about types of cheeses. There are times when I get a real Cowboy Bebob feel but more like if Bebop was going through its teenage years, well more so that it was already. Though I am here for the extended discourse on potato chips.
it comes to the story, I liked that it had both simple and complex elements. At
its bare core, it is a twofold story, one of Prince Kelby (Zeno Robinson) and
Odin (Darien Sills-Evans) escaping an ambush and trying to get to a sanctuary
of Gara’s Keep and the other of Sam, Philly, and Casey trying to catch up with
them. But at all times there are layers to each of the characters that
complicate things more. To begin with the big bad this season Lock (Billy Bob
Thompson) is the son of the king and possible rightful heir. Indeed, there
seems to be a gulf between the stories of Botica and the realities of how it
came to be that start to get peeled away throughout the season. For Sam, there
is a potential monster hiding underneath the calm friendly demeanour. For
Philly, there is the reason why he made a deal with a daemon for immortality.
For Casey, well actually for Casey you pretty much get what is there because
they are an open book with everyone. All of these complications come to ahead
in the finale and really makes me want to see where it goes next. It was also a
show that was not afraid to sit there and talk about some real issues like the
role of obsolescence and the humanity of the artificial.
As well as this, I really liked the world they created that blended fantasy and science fiction in a way that supported both and made for a greater whole. There is underlying history that a long time ago there was magic but it got ripped from the world, or so everyone thought. I liked that is a lot of ambiguity about the world, is this a fractured post-apocalyptic Earth ala Adventure Time, or is it on some alien planet. I love this kind of worldbuilding that uses this setting and hints at more, rather than large exposition dumps, and I am sure there are more clues that I missed that may make a second watch through a must. This is a world that is slightly irreverent and silly at times, and harsh and brutal at others and it is a mark of a quality product that there were able to balance both sides.
In the end, do we recommend the first season of Cannon Busters? Yes, yes we do. It had an interesting world, some great characters, and a story that had me clicking the next episode to see what would happen next. Here’s hoping we get Season Two because I want to see more of this world.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow
Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV,
he’ll be talking about International Relations,
or the Solar System.
Have you seen Cannon Busters yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.
Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Cannon Busters
Directed by – LeSean Thomas
Written by – LeSean Thomas, Natasha Allegri, Nilah Magruder, Anne Toole & Matt Wayne
Created by – LeSean Thomas
Production/Distribution Companies – Netflix & Satelight
Starring – Kenn Michael, Kamali Minter, Stephanie Sheh, Greg Chun, John Bentley, Darien Sills-Evans, Billy Bob Thompson & Zeno Robinson with Mela Lee, Marianne Miller, Kausar Mohammed & Angelique Perrin
Episodes Covered – High Risk, Low Reward!; Grifters gonna Grift; Watch Out For The Wet Spot; 9INE; 21 the Hard Way; Unfettered; Lady & The Kid; Turnbuckle Ex-Machina; Lullaby of The Stars; Squeaking Springs Afternoon; Innocence Lost Pt.1 & Innocence Lost Pt.2