This chaotic jumble is then assembled into something akin to ‘90s classics Trigun and Outlaw Star — i.e., a space western. But even then, it’s a world with no rules, limited only by imagination — which turns out to be a bit of a double-edged sword.
On one hand, you never know what the next episode will bring. It could be anything from a shootout in a saloon to a race of underground creatures who want our heroes to prove themselves through the power of song.
On the other hand, it’s a world with little-to-no tension. With both futuristic tech and magic, it’s impossible to know what is truly threatening and what is not — especially since our three main heroes are technically immortal.
Cannon Busters is the story of Sam, a friendship android; Casey, an out-of-date engineering robot; and Philly the Kid, the most wanted man in the badlands. Across a series of loosely connected stand-alone adventures, the three of them search for Sam’s lost master, Kelby — the prince of a recently destroyed technological kingdom.
Sam serves as the comedic center of the show. As a friendship android, she views everything with the kindest possible interpretation — whether it’s being thrown into a pit and electrocuted or being all but kidnapped off the street for an impromptu gangbang. She often plays off of Philly, who acts as the frustrated straight man to her willful naivety. But beneath it all is a truly caring personality that seems to go beyond her simple programming towards something far more human.
Casey, on the other hand, is the heart of the show. She is a robot who is obsolete and knows it. But more than anything she wants to prove she is still useful. She constantly accumulates junk throughout the show — trying to fix things rather than discard them. This is a reflection of her own fears; she doesn’t want to be left broken and abandoned and so finds it hard to do that to other machines.
And then there’s Philly.
Cursed to be brought back to life every time he dies, his thoughts are focused on the immediate: food, sex, and safety — often in that order. He has no real aim in life other than to not be painfully murdered (something that happens with alarming frequency once he teams up with Sam and Casey). Far more of a buffoon than a badass, he wins his fights not due to skill or strength but rather just because people don’t expect a dead man to get back up.
As a gag character he’s enjoyable enough, but it’s when his backstory enters the picture that things go wrong. Halfway through the series, he suddenly remembers that he actually has a vested interest in Sam’s search, for reasons we won’t spoil. However, since that obviously wasn’t important for the first half of the season, it’s hard to give it weight later on.
Still, the adventures of Sam, Casey, and Philly are fun enough — especially in such a crazy world filled with excellently choreographed action and enjoyable humor. Unfortunately, they’re not the only characters we follow.
A notable chunk of the season is spent following Prince Kelby as he, along with the head of the royal guard, flees his burning kingdom. Kelby is your typical sheltered and spoiled prince. He has a good heart and big ideas, but little-to-no real-world knowledge. Of course, this would be fine if he actually grew as a character over the season. Unfortunately, that development is lacking.
From start to finish he makes foolishly impulsive decisions that are, for the most part, ignored by the other characters. His only real narrative importance is derived from the fact that Sam cares for him. And as she is the show’s most enjoyable character, we don’t want to see her hurt – but that’s not really enough to justify all the time we spend with him.
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