High Risk, Low Reward!
Grifters gonna Grift
Watch Out For the Wet Spot
21 the Hard Way
Lady & The Kid
Squeaking Springs Afternoon
Innocence Lost Part 1
Innocence Lost Part 2
Cannon Busters is a show I’ve been following the progress of for quite some time. It originally flashed up on Netflix’s Coming Soon tab way back last year and it’s original slated released – March 1st – was pushed back until today. With advancements in both CGI and animation standards, Cannon Busters is a suitably rustic anime, one that stubbornly sticks to the same old-school animation found in shows like Cowboy Bebop and Ghost In A Shell. With an injection of charismatic, memorable characters and an interesting and diverse world, Cannon Busters is a reminder that Netflix can deliver the goods when it comes to this genre.
Without spoiling too much, the story here is split across 12 episodes and breathlessly begins right in the thick of action. Two robots, S.A.M. and Casey, stumble upon the immortal Philly The Kid in the midst of a bar brawl. Helping him out of a tight spot, he reluctantly agrees to help them track down S.A.M’S best friend, the Prince of Botican, with his own agenda for helping them. With mercenaries and assassins chasing them every step of the way, the 12 episodes swing between stand-alone character pieces designed to flesh out the history of our motley crew and a more direct, narrative-charged plunge to the main objective.
To complicate matters, Kelby himself manages to escape from his Kingdom, laid to siege by a mysterious behemoth calling himself the Mystic Emperor. Having captured the King and determined to track down the Prince, all of these stories converge upon a place called Gara’s Keep where a showdown ensues and the door is left wide open for a second season.
For the most part the story develops well, and there’s a clever mix of humour and action to keep things moving at a consistent pace. The sarcastic wit of Philly The Kid is constantly interpreted as straight talking by the two robots and this form of humour leads to some really clever bouts of comedy. As the series progresses, the dynamic between the group changes and grows, much to the benefit of the series, whilst the constant pockets of fighting and mecha-action help to flesh out the world.
The world building itself is consistently impressive too, seemingly taking nods from Cowboy Bebop in its style and tone. There’s enough here for it to avoid feeling too similar of course, and the smooth jazz score adds an undercurrent of calmness to the series as the characters stumble their way through hazardous situations. Believe it or not, the dubbing actually isn’t too bad here either. Although I watched the entire series in Japanese with subs, I did go back and watch a few memorable episodes with the dubbing on and it really wasn’t too bad. As usual, the subtitled lines are emphasized and changed but much like Aggretsuko, the changes don’t really hurt the flow or pacing of the series.
Visually, the anime looks great. I love this old-school feel of hand-drawn animation and although there are a few bursts of CGI, it’s subtle enough to avoid it spoiling the illusion of a fully hand-drawn series. To me, this style will always feel the strongest and reminds me of the old school feel of animes in the 80’s and 90’s. The colours are well worked, the costume design is cleverly implemented and overall the world itself is detailed enough to feel like Gearbolt is a living, breathing land.
Cannon Busters has certainly been worth the wait. It may not be the best anime out there, but what it does, it does really well. The hand-drawn animation is beautifully done, the characters all have their own quirks and well written arcs and the 12 episodes have enough bite to them to make this worth checking out. While the cliffhanger ending may disappoint those looking for something a bit more conclusive, there’s enough here to make Cannon Busters one of the better animes released this year.
Verdict - 8/10