So, once upon a time, there is a man named LeSean Thomas. He is an animated TV producer, director, animator, writer….. pretty much the jack of all trades in the world of animation. He’s known for being involved in shows like The Boondocks, Legend of Korra, Black Dynamite and a bunch of other stuff he’s worked on. Now, back in 2014, he was doing a Kickstarter for an animated TV series pilot called Cannon Busters. Based off his comic book series, it was successfully crowd-funded and the pilot was released in 2016…. although there has been a few complaints about the backers not receiving some of their stuff and all, not to mention few delays of when the whole series is supposed to air and it finally aired this year.
Now with 5 years since the Kickstarter happened, we know get to see the hype with Cannon Busters, hoping to see what LeSean and crew can do.
Follow the adventures and exploits of S.A.M, a high-end, royal-class friendship droid who’s joined by a quirky, discarded maintenance robot and a brash, deadly fugitive. Together, the unlikely trio embarks on an unforgettable journey in a fantastic and dangerous world in search of S.A.M’s best friend, the heir to a powerful kingdom under siege.
Alright…… if you saw a few episodes of this, you can easily get the notable anime references in there. Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Outlaw Star, you name it. I’ll say this: there is a lot of cool shit going on here and I dig on something that plays the Rule of Cool, even if the plot is mostly basic for the part being. You get the plot of our three protagonists going to find one of their friends in a kingdom and we see a bunch of hijinks, cool action moments and some dramatic moments as well along with meeting a bunch of other colorful characters that have their spotlights in the series and while it does deliver in those departments, the resolution of it……..look, no spoilers, but it look like it was obviously going for a Season 2 and I don’t know if it’s going to happen or not but I’d hate it if it’ll end like that.
As for characters, while I do like Philly the Kid being the curmudgeon protagonist of the group and he can fight and have some humorous moments, if you’re very concerned about if he’ll live or die…..yeah, don’t, since he can return to life after any type of death so no worries over “Can he survive?”. Sam and Casey are pure cinnamon rolls too good for this Earth, although Sam can be naive when it comes to her approach to making friends with anyone, especially to those that are likely to take advantage of her. 9Nine (no, not related to 6ix9ine, thank God) is an awesome character being a drunk ronin that does shit talk some people, especially to Philly. The one character I didn’t care for that much is…. Prince Kelby. I’m sorry but he is the least interesting person on the show and kinda annoying at some points. Look, I get he’s a prince and all but I wasn’t just feeling him and he was acting like a brat towards the people that protects him. I felt more for his bodyguard and the traveler with them more than him.
As I said before, the atmosphere and style of this is reminiscent of those earlier anime I mentioned and all done by Studio Satelight and the Yumeta Company, although I do get an Avatar: The Last Airbender vibe in terms of the artwork, particularity Sam’s design. Note that the original character designs were done by French animator/character designer Thomas Romain (Space Dandy, Oban Star Racers, FLCL Progressive, etc.) This does start out with some solid animation during the earlier parts of the shows but you can see where the budget run out going further in later episodes.
The opening and ending songs for this was very choice. “Showdown” by Marty Grimes and BJRNCK is very upbeat and jazzy with some soul flowing in there and the ending “Regardless” by Mansa Imani is more of adult contemporary R&B going for it, but given that the ending animation is focused on Sam and Prince Kelby, I see why that song choice. The score done by Kevin Beggs and Bradley Denniston and the music fits within the tone of the series, especially going for some electronica/jazzy sounds.
Now, knowing who’s a part of this dub is special to me since there’s a connection between this and MFKZ as not only they share the same dubbing studio for this (NYAV Post), but the same ADR directors (Michael Sinterniklaas & Stephanie Sheh), same ADR writer (Amanda C. Miller) and the lead for Philly the Kid is played by the same guy who voiced Angelino, that being Kenn Michael and playing Sam being Kamali Minter and I dug both performances throughout the show. While we have some anime veterans doing their thing like Sheh being Casey (and excelling at it) and well-knowns in the game like Cristina Vee, Marianne Miller, Mela Lee in some minor roles along with Greg Chun as 9Nine, we do expand on the casting with people like Zeno Robinson (known for being in Young Justice and Ben 10 franchise), Debra Wilson, Camille Winbush (raise your hand if you know her from “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai” or “The Bernie Mac Show”…..also she was in “Children of Ether” as well) and playing Hilda and originally S.A.M for the pilot, Angelique Perrin, and her performance was pretty cool as well. Did I mention how wonderfully diverse this show is and seeing and hearing black voices in there just gives me a warm feeling.
FINAL VERDICT: Cannon Busters is just an overall fun action anime whose cool factor works greatly for them. Obviously, this is a project out of love from the creator and you can tell from the style, the story, the characters that this is just one creative crazy world that has so much to explore and hopefully more will happen if this gets renewed for a Season 2. I mean, it can’t end like that.
Now, here’s the thing…… I was going to rate it a 9 but after the last episode, it gets a strong…..
It’s still a good show. I highly recommend it if you’re searching for anime, especially for casual viewers.
But still, we need a Season 2!
And yes, it’s on Netflix!
I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and let’s hope S.A.M. doesn’t run into some pimps in the next season.
CANNON BUSTERS – animated by SATELIGHT/YUMETA COMPANY / streaming on NETFLIX / courtesy of LESEAN THOMAS