Waste of Time, Wouldn’t Recommend
Netflix is back with another anime that I decided to give a try. This one was featured in their “documentary”, Enter the Anime, so I was already a bit weary coming into it. Cannon Busters is actually an adaptation of an American work that people have been waiting to see more of since it first began its run as a comic in 2014. A pilot for the anime would first be Kickstarted in the same year, and later released in 2016. That brings us to today, where the project finally got a proper adaptation in 2019. The only thing is, was this even worthwhile?
Cannon Busters is a mix between a few Western properties and anime such as: The Boondocks, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, and mecha anime/the Transformer series. In theory, this would make for a pretty dang good show, but unfortunately the resulting product was lackluster at the best of times.
The story centers on a female robot named, Sam. Her goal is to find a rumored location and reunite with her beloved prince. She is joined by Casey Turnbuckle, and shortly after, Philly the Kid in this journey. From there, you mostly get these episodic tales focusing on some aspect of the journey with the plot peppered in on occasion up until the final few episodes.
I want to start on a positive note and say that I did not think everything Cannon Busters set out to do was bad. There were several things I did enjoy or found interesting. For example, Philly’s car has different modes, and can even transform by putting quarters into an arcade-style device that interfaces with it. I’ve genuinely never seen that before.
Speaking of Philly, he’s an immortal. While that is kind of old hat in stories, what made this interesting, for awhile at least, was how it worked. Every time he died, a number would appear as a tattoo on his body. It was a neat concept that made for a nice visual gimmick, but not much else.
Eventually the story of Prince Kelby and Odin gets to see some light, and that was pretty decent. We learn about the world some and it feels like there are some actual stakes in the story. Will they make it to the keep? Can this person be trusted? All of that works, but it just wasn’t given enough time to shine as brightly as it could have. It reminded me of Avatar a bit, which is a very positive association.
Another case was with the character 9ine, who is introduced partway into the series. A drunkard who used to be a famous Ronin. He had some actual depth. The episode that focused on him was easily the best in the entire 12 episode run too.
Beyond that, I can only give praise to the general competency of the production. Most the time things looked good, sounded good, but is that really something that deserves praise? I kind of just expect that as a baseline. The times where I would say this matters at all is when the visuals make up for the lack of something else, much like how poor visuals can be made up for with solid writing. However, neither is true in the case of Cannon Busters.
By far the biggest problem this anime faces is with Philly the Kid. He is more-or-less the series protagonist, or at least the lens through which we view a majority of the show. Philly is a bad character with no traits that make him likable. His only real purpose is to bail the characters out of scenarios (which he is usually at fault for causing in the first place). Since Philly is immortal, there just aren’t any consequences for anything he does since he just shoots the problem and moves on.
However, that isn’t even the largest sin when it comes to his character. No, the place where Cannon Busters lost all respect from me was when they randomly had a villain tell Philly that he had forgotten his true motivations. Then all of a sudden Philly has this tragic backstory and motives that were never relevant before, but just happened to line up with everything going on so far. It was beyond stupid and not presented well at all.
As for the two female robots, they were just ok at best. Sam was pretty obnoxious with just how clueless she was. It did lead to a handful of funny moments, but it wasn’t enough to justify her character never learning anything. She’s meant to be this symbol of purity, how we should all be trusting of each other and all that. It’s a common troupe, but one that isn’t ever justified here.
I actually kind of liked Casey at first, but she too wore thin after a bit. She also doesn’t receive any real growth as a character. Everybody is pretty static, which is not good storytelling. Philly sees minor growth in that he never carries out his revenge plot (which was tossed in randomly), but of the main cast, there just isn’t anything substantive.
Credit where due, 9ine and The Prince, do see development, but it is shallow. They just don’t have enough time in the spotlight, so even though it is solid and moving in the right direction, it just isn’t enough to carry the lack of development elsewhere.
That brings me to the ending of the story itself. It doesn’t have one. Netflix once again promising that this one will continue, but based on how this was received both critically and by folks in general, I don’t see that happening. Cannon Busters was a genuine waste of time.
Did you end up watching Cannon Busters? Did you get more out of it than I did? Let me know in the comments. If you enjoy my writing, please click my Ko-fi button below and consider a donation. Finally, thank you so much for reading!
5 thoughts on “Cannon Busters – It Was a Show”
I was kind of excited for the show. But, I always appreciate honesty more. I’ll be a little more cautious with my hopes when I start it.
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Thanks for giving this a read. I know it is a bummer when something you are looking forward to isn’t received well by other folks. However, don’t let that stop you from checking it out anyway and potentially enjoying it 🙂 I think going in with some lowered expectations is a good idea anyway, because best case scenario is they are exceeded, and at worst, you get exactly what I said here on the tin.
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I feel like you nailed every single thought I had on it too. Maybe I’ll write something different about it later, but it was definitely a thing that exists. That’s about it.
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I had a few other tangential points that I could have brought up, like the claims that this adds diversity to animation, but I found it brought the other stuff out of focus.
Anyway, thanks for giving this a read Scott. If you do your own write up, let me know and I’ll come check it out as well. I’d love to hear your thoughts, even if they are fairly similar 🙂
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