“Cannon Busters” is clearly an unfinished series but it has the potential to be great. This a show that reminds me of “Cowboy Bebop” and “Gurren Lagann” with the mechs, A.I., technology and politics that drive this compelling space western world. The series was created by LeSean Thomas and is a Netflix anime. Without getting into SPOILERS, this is a show I’d recommend if you are looking for a fun space western.
The story follows Android Sam and repairbot Casey as Casey is seeking Prince Shelby of Botica and believes only the immortal outlaw Philly the Kid can do so.
The Opening Song – Marty Grimes and BJRNCK’s “Showdown” is one of the best anime opening songs. I never skipped it when I would say I end up getting to the point of skipping most anime openings as they simply aren’t catchy. This one captures the outlaws and outcasts on the run feel of the show really well and it is so catchy and fun.
The Animation – The animation is beautiful. There is some CGI with Philly’s transforming far Bessie and other robots but besides that the show opts for the flowing 2D animation. It serves the show well and it gives it a unique feel that captures both the advanced technology of many of the factions but the desolation of the Wasteland that many of the characters live in.
The World – The world is fantastic. You have 5 kingdoms and coup that happens early on when King Bulgher’s son Locke returns to get revenge for the exile of him and his mother and uses magic to conquer the Kingdom. From here we see his expansion of power as Prince Shelby escapes with the Captain of the Guard Odin as Shelby’s friend and protector android Sam seeks him out. In this is a world with humans and tons of other alien species all living together though it seems humans are the ones who control the kingdoms. I’m curious if this aspect of the show will get more exploration as so far we have met members of very few kingdoms outside Botica.
Red Horizon Fraternity – The Red Horizon Fraternity is Locke’s all women cyborg squad of enforcers and assassins. They are lead by Dax who doesn’t have arms and controls her robotic hands with her mind, Bridge the pilot of the airship mech who has rocket legs, Coin who can replicate themselves into multiple people and Mainic an android whose body is a weapon that can shoot explosive oil and a lazer for an eye. They are amazing and they manage to be victorious too as they capture Prince Shelby in the end and in the cause of Mainic manage to fight 9ine into a draw. I can’t wait to learn more about their story and why they serve Locke.
9ine – 9ine is a drunk samurai and the best swordsman. His whole deal is his running away from his order and seeking just causes and alcohol as that is what leads him to watching over Philly, Sam and Casey. His story is tragic and you see why he left when the Mercenaries he was a part of kill a family and he realized he can’t do it anymore. He is a character constantly seeking to runaway (like Philly) from his past whether it is through a challenging fight or drink. In the end he officially joins the team to rescue Prince Shelby from Locke.
The A.I. – The A.I. are one of the most interesting aspects of the story as we see many humans have them as companions but they are also weapons of war too and the weapons of war have no sentience that we witness compared to the repairbots or Sam, who is a Cannon Buster (Powerful War Golem). This is something the show explores and it suggested that Cannon Busters have souls but whether other A.I. does too is never fully addressed.
Casey – Casey is the repairbot who loves collecting and fixing things. They have a really cool arc where they find other repairbots like them and learn they are seen as obsolete (it is in a junkyard with a repairbot recycling other repairbots). At this point Casey believes their only purpose is to be recycled too as they feel abandoned as Philly and Sam are away. Luckily Sam saves Casey and Casey sees their value as Sam’s best friend. Sam is also the only person through most of the series who knows that Sam is a Cannon Buster as even Sam doesn’t remember her transformations. Casey is a character that could have gotten annoying quick but their quips and actions have purpose and I liked their arc of self-discovery.
Sam – Sam is Prince Shelby’s protector and best friend and is known as a friendship bot who is kind to everyone and is able to turn most enemies encountered into friends. I like how Sam’s arc involves learning jokes, sarcasm and finding purpose beyond her programming (which continues the arc of learning nuance) as she is friends with both Shelby and Philly (and Philly wanted to kill Shelby at one point for what Botica did). She is the heart of the team and is the one looking out for the others.
Philly the Kid and Facing Trauma – Philly has elements of Spike from “Cowboy Bebop” as he is the protagonist who is always pushing others away and running from his mistakes. Hell he made a deal with a demon for revenge and to become the immortal he is but doesn’t care enough about himself to get revenge. Throughout the show he is shown to be a thief and drunk but his time with Sam, Casey and 9ine changes him as he finds purpose beyond revenge and realizes he does have friends. The arc itself is common but it felt real here with only his revenge motivation needing more setup earlier on. Curious to see where the story goes and I really hope Locke isn’t the one who really killed his parents.
Mystic Emperor Locke – Locke looks like a giant animallike human (think a monkey with sharp teeth) so his humanity has been gone for a long time. His motivation beyond revenge isn’t really known and he serves the Essence of Magic whose motivation we also don’t know. This is really the main problem, I can ignore bad character design if the character is compelling (The Fraternity Designs are much more interesting than his). We don’t know why he does what he does and we don’t see how he rules beyond destruction. He is a weak character at this point and I hope he can be made interesting later.
Prince Shelby – Prince Shelby’s arc goes from compassionate and caring to hardened to ending up captured. The characters around him like Odin, Hilda and Sam are who make him compelling as he is flat character. Both of King Bulgher’s kids (Shelby and Locke) are very poorly written with only the characters around them making them at all compelling.
Cliffhanger Ending – Prince Shelby is captured, Bessie is destroyed and the new party is now Sam, Odin, 9ine, Philly and Casey to go and rescue the Prince. I really hope this gets resolved in a film or another season as I can’t think of anytime a cliffhanger ending is a good way to end a story.
I really hope this story gets finished. I found the world and most of the characters compelling as the animation and soundtrack beautifully bring this world to life. This is an anime well worth checking out, and it is a story worth finishing. If you are looking for a good anime and a good Netflix show, this is one I recommend.
Final Score: 8.2 / 10 Boosted by the main characters.