Before we get into the anime in question, let’s go over a little history of its creator LeSean Thomas. He’s an animator who’s worked on The Boondocks, Black Dynamite, and Legend Of Korra. He created a comic book called Cannon Busters in 2005 that lasted for only two issues. He originally planned to continue the story of Cannon Busters in graphic novel form, but those plans were put on the shelf in favor of an animated series. In 2014, LeSean launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund the series, which would eventually be picked up by Netflix and was set for a 2019 release. And thus here we are. So how is this series? Well, let’s find out. This is Cannon Busters.
Two robots, an android named Sam and a maintenance bot named Casey, meet an outlaw named Philly The Kid in the hopes that he can help them find the prince of a kingdom that has been overthrown by a wizard. Because the original comic only lasted a few issues, this anime continues the story and expands upon what was established. The world that this anime is set in is a mishmash of a Western cyberpunk world with robots and cyborgs along with a fantasy setting. This is done on purpose as it’s an homage to a lot of 90s anime like Trigun, Outlaw Star, and Cowboy Bebop. Hell, the whole style and animation feels like a 90s anime. This is much more evident with the plot surrounding Philly The Kid and the two robots, who travel around in a pink Cadillac that can transform into a bull-shaped mecha.
If there is a flaw to be had with the series, it’s that it lacks depth. We get a basic idea of what the characters are like. Philly The Kid is an immortal outlaw who dies and comes back to life multiple times and he’s also a slob and an asshole. Sam is super nice and naive and so is Casey, who’s all about fixing things. There’s also a ronin named 9ine who’s pretty much an alcoholic. I wasn’t that invested in the prince character and the villains were all generic. Now this might seem shallow to some people, but there is a reason why I can overlook the flaws and enjoy the series: diversity and representation. The fact that this anime was created by a black guy and features dark-skinned characters who weren’t blatant stereotypes or racist caricatures was enough for me to watch. I don’t expect Japan to represent black people well in anime overnight, which is why I feel it’s important for us to create our own so that black anime fans can have characters they can relate to who looks like them. Just saying, we can’t keep claiming Piccolo or any tanned character and we sure as hell aren’t touching Mr. Popo.
Oh, I almost forgot. The opening and ending songs are bangers. That opening gets me pumped every time I start an episode and the ending song is a great way to end things. Any time Netflix asks if I wanted to skip the intro or go the next episode immediately, I’m like “hell, no,” and let the songs keep playing. They need to make full versions of those songs.
And that was Cannon Busters. Is it the best anime of the year? No. There isn’t much development in terms of character and plot. But it serves as a great love letter to anime of the 90s with great animation, entertaining interactions and action, and a damn good soundtrack to boot. I’m hoping that they a second season because the final episode ended on a cliffhanger and there’s a lot more story that needs to be told and questions to answer. It’s worth checking out. All 12 episodes are available on Netflix. Next time, we’ll be talking about Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.