Fireball (ファイアボール, Faiabōru?) is a series of CGI anime shorts created by Jinni’s Animation Studios in conjunction with Disney. The designer is Hitoshi Fukuchi. It is animated entirely in 3D with no cel-shading of any sort, as would be typical for the medium.
The show takes place in the distant future of the 49th millennium, and revolves around the happenings inside a giant manor (named ‘Tempest Tower’) inhabited by two robots; the gynoid duchess Drossel von Flügel (title and full name: the 19th Lord of Uranos’ Kingdom’s Tempest Domain, Drossel Juno Vierzehntes Heizregister Fürstin von Flügel; voiced by Miyuki Kawashō) and her massive cyclopian arachnoid servant, Gedächtnis (voiced by Toru Okawa). The episodes are usually nonsensical in nature, normally showing the two characters making idle conversation in the midst of a war with humanity. A third character, a monkey-robot named «Schadenfreude», joins them later.
Very little context is given about the setting of the show. Of that which can be discerned (explained by Gedächtnis), the characters reside in a gigantic manor surrounded by a presumably Robot-inhabited city, beyond which is a desert that humanity’s forces slowly encroach across during the 144-year timeframe in which the series is set (Merkur Era 48,650-48,794).
Gedächtnis is Drossel’s servant and guardian, having sworn to her late father to protect her. Drossel treats him very much after the manner of the ‘spoiled princess’ stereotype (no doubt to further the comedic aspect of the show, but also in-synch with her appearance and the stylised postures she assumes).
running gag in the series is that, at the beginning, Gedächtnis waits for Drossel to arrive and is called by a name Drossel chooses seemingly at random (although some, such as Sancho Panza and Rasputin, infer an unambiguously subservient status upon him). Gedächtnis then attempts (in a gentile, butler-like fashion) to remind Drossel of his name, upon which she abruptly tells him not to interrupt. Another recurring joke is Drossel claiming that she practices karate despite her moves obviously being capoeira.
Drossel was manufactured as having the mind of a 14-year-old girl, with Gedächtnis’ being that of a 50-year-old man; neither’s age is explicitly stated, although both are known to be at least 2,800 years old — Gedächtnis stated that he entered service with the von Flugel family 2,800 years ago, and that it has been his duty to remain by Drossel’s side for all of that time. Both Gedächtnis and Drossel move and speak in markedly unconventional ways, for example: instantly replying to each other at inhumanly fast speeds; freezing in postures until a new one is assumed (this is especially true of Drossel, what with her many princess-stereotype poses); replying in seemingly unrelated ways (although this may be due merely to the series’ nonsensical nature). They remark upon how illogical human speech seems to them and act in what could be said to be an unemotional manner (although some emotional elements are retained for the sake of comedy and dramatic convention).
The characters occasionally display knowledge of elements that would normally be considered on the other side of the fourth wall — Drossel makes reference to what happened ‘in the last episode’, and at another time points out that she has heard something already in an anime; Gedächtnis stops a laughter track (and indeed, the episode) by punching the screen, causing it to fracture in the accustomed glass-splinter visual code and then to fall sideways to the floor.
The series sometimes makes serious points in otherwise complete nonsense — the city in which Tempest Tower is built (shown during the opening title sequence) appears to be stereotypically dystopian in appearance; in the episode Butterfly, Gedächtnis discusses the nature of rules, and what it is to be ‘real’ in an almost philosophical fashion, and the last episode features some distinctive ‘last stand’ elements (it is this episode in which Drossel recites her entire name and title and then walks to face the human forces just as the series ends).
On August 10, 2010, it was announced on the official Fireball blog that the production for a second series had been green-lit. Director and writer Wataru Arakawa will be returning, and is planning for a 2011 release date.