The 12 Days of Anime project was started 4 years ago by CCY, now known as Canon-chan via twitter and Manma via crossplaying tumblr photos. His blog passed away recently, although it was in a vegetative state for a long time, but I didn’t want the project to die along with it. So I half-heartedly suggested, in a post topped by a moustache touting Snorlax, that perhaps the anime blogosphere would like to resurrect this tradition for another generation. I’m not sure how many other people are joining in, but this will be my third year participating. So here we go, kicking off this Christmas with a short CGI anime with a grand total of two characters that stole my heart this year.
I can trace my knowledge of Fireball right back to the announcement of Fireball Charming and arguing over the new character design (Drossel’s character design change between seasons is to Fireball fandom what the console wars are to gaming fandom). I didn’t pay much attention to it then, because it was some CGI kids thing or something. I don’t know, I was ignorant and unknowing of its beauty back then, so I’m not quite sure what my thoughts towards it were. It was around this time that I started making those bloody seasonal charts. The promo pictures for Fireball Charming really caught my eye. That, combined with psgels review stating it was a sort of bizarre off-kilter comedy, prompted me to check out the original series.
Fireball is an absolute gem of a series. Each episode is only 2 minutes long and follows the tales of Drossel, the robot empress of god only knows where-ville, and her robot butler Gedächtnis, as they chat and waste time discussing everything from the meaning of life, the nature of humanity, and the whereabouts of the monkey. What I love about Fireball is the leaps in logic that occur within a simple conversation between the two of them. Drossel will pause for a fraction of a second, apparently deciding to skip several lines of her script and simply read the line down the bottom, leaving us to fill in the gaps that led her to that conclusion, all while being dryly responded to by Gedächtnis.
Fireball acts like a check list for what all series of shorts should do. Not a second of those 2 minute episodes are wasted. The dialogue flows thick and fast, the pauses for comic timing lasted no more than a second themselves, with that being all you need. The establishing shots last all of a second or two at the start of an episode, and any more information you need about the world is interspersed naturally into the dialogue. What’s brilliant is you learn a surprising amount of information about the world they live in simply through their comedic interactions. The dolphins have all died out. Humans and Robots can’t understand each other and are therefore at war. Drossel’s father tried to bring peace to both factions but never succeeded and instead wrote out numerous books so his successor could achieve what he never could. We get all this despite the fact the series never leaves the one room with no more characters other than Drossel and Gedächtnis.
Most of all though, it’s hilariously funny. It’s pure dry comedy where punchlines can sometimes come totally out of nowhere, mainly due to the leap of logic Drossel frequently makes, often catching you off guard. It’s also very assured of its own ability to make you laugh that it openly mocks the idea of having to point these jokes out to you. When an episode introduces canned laughter, the two characters spin around in confusion, wondering whether spies have entered their building. The best point of the entire franchise is, oddly enough, the Making Of Fireball special episode. I originally thought it would be an actual Making Of, with the staff behind the series describing how they made this CGI look so pretty. Instead, it was a spoof where Drossel and Gedächtnis talked about how they were hired as actors (Drossel being a BIG FAN of the original material while Gedächtnis is some irritated professional who doesn’t give a shit about the original material). It even mocks its own near non-sequitur format, showing Drossel read out a line of dialogue from the TV show, only to walk off camera asking what on earth did that mean.
I know a lot of people who read my blog find my most entertaining posts to be the rage ones where I rail against some piece of crap. Which is cool and all, I’m glad I’ve got that part of my writing down to a tee. But discovering and writing about Fireball, unearthing this gem of a series, and getting people to check out the original and watch this year’s Fireball Charming, was a great moment in my blogging career. Moment in Anime #12: Discovering Fireball.