Drossel: It's karate.
Fireball is a series of 2-minute-long anime shorts depicting the antics of robot girl Drossel and her gigantic, one-eyed robotic servant Gedächtnis, who dwell in a mansion in the center of a huge robot city, somewhere in the 486th century. Later the duo is accompanied by Schadenfreude, a robotic monkey of sorts.
Drossel looks like the robotized version of a pigtailed spoiled princess and pretty much behaves that way, complete with stylized poses. The discussions she has with Gedächtnis are generally nonsensical, with lots of emphasis on speed of delivery and flights of fancy, although occasionally they become more serious in tone.
The series was produced in 2008 by Toei Animation and Jinni's Animation Studio in cooperation with Disney Studios and is notable for the usage of pure 3D imagery, a phenomenon that was rare among anime at the time.
A third season—this time of only three episodes—subtitled Humorous, aired sometime in 2017.
This series provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: See the Running Gag about Gedächtnis' name.
- After the End: The series takes place during the last decades of a war between humans and robots. The robots started the war 40,000 years ago, defeated humanity, and created a golden age for machines. After millennia of conflict, humans have turned the tide and poised to defeat the machines.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The robots apparently started the war, but it was so long ago records don't indicate why. If Drossel's and Gedächtnis' actions and conversations are any indication, intelligent machines have become insane over the eons.
- All-CGI Cartoon
- Animated Actors: The Making of Fireball DVD special has interviews with both Drossel and Gedächtnis' "actors" - Drossel is a cheerful Genki Girl who has trouble keeping quiet on set and doesn't always understand the script, while Gedächtnis is a gravel-throated Man of a Thousand Voices who hates filming and hadn't bothered reading the book Fireball is supposedly based on.Gedächtnis: The original? Never read it. Rather than going by the original, I made the character my own.
Gedächtnis: ...You think I'm just being lazy, yeah?
- Art Evolution: Drossel and Gedächtnis have both received updated character designs in Charming — Gedächtnis in particular is significantly more detailed. These may simply be examples of older hardware, however, considering that Charming is a prequel to Fireball.
- Badass Cape: Drossel wears one in an episode of Charming. Her father also has one during his appearance in Humorous
- Bolivian Army Ending: Implied in the last episode of the first season. Conspicuously, the second season is a prequel.
- Bookends: The first episode of Charming starts with a dream Drossel has of standing in a classroom, in front of a chalkboard cluttered with writing. In the last episode of Charming, the classroom and chalboard is seen again as a representation of Drossel's memory and loss of which as she wipes the chalkboard clean. More importantly, however, is Drossel's wiping away "Gedächtnis", and the first season's Running Gag of Drossel's inability to remember Gedächtnis' name. When Drossel mentions that this might happen, Gedächtnis laughs. The fool.
- In the beginning of Fireball, Drossel wants to see dolphins. At the end of Fireball Charming, Drossel asks Gedächtnis to count dolphins to help her fall asleep. (Since Charming is a prequel, the former is probably a consequence of the latter.)
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Gedächtnis does this one time to disable the laugh track.
- Catchphrase: "Incidentally, my name is Gedächtnis." In Charming: "M'lady, it's time for the ball."
- Cute Machines: Drossel.
- The Cutie: Drossel, though she can be kinda selfish at times.
- Disappeared Dad: Drossel's father is oft-referred to, but never present. Apparently having died some time before even Charming takes place. He finally shows up, albeit only briefly, in the final episode of Humorous
- Drop the Washtub
- Dystopia: The imagery of the citadel city gives that feel. The robots are fighting a losing war against humanity, and according to the prequel series, their only hope of success is for humanity to evolve into a peaceful species before being wiped out.
- EMP: Several episodes feature humans detonating them around Drossel's tower fortress, signaling the robot's impending defeat.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Yes, even robotic ones.
- Expressive Hair: In Charming, Drossel's "pigtails" have been replaced with a single articulated ponytail-like... thing. It droops whenever she becomes disappointed or nonplussed.
- It's kinda like a third leg attached to the back of her head. Creepy...
- The Faceless:
- After Drossel has her Juno-XIII face taken off (to be refitted with the Juno-XIV), whatever was beneath is conspicuously not shown.
- No humans are ever actually seen. The machines are in possession of a human encounter suit dating back thousands of years ago, but we're not shown what humans are currently wearing. Drossel seems to believe the ancient encounter suit is what a human actually looks like.
- Flower Motifs: Blue Roses. Drossel gets one for her birthday. Apparently they are biohazardous. Also, the antiquated puppet representing human beings contain blue rose petals, and blue roses are components in Drossel's "bed"/stasis chamber.
- Forever War: The series takes place during the end of one. The robots don't know why the war began or how to communicate they've been wanting mutual peace with humanity.
- Girlish Pigtails: Drossel's design in the first season.
- Glowing Mechanical Eyes: Drossel also has a flashlight feature in her eyes.. which renders her unable to see.
- Gratuitous English: The game board robot in Charming episode 9 says "WOULD YOU PLAY A GAME?"
- Gratuitous German: Drossel, Gedächtnis, and Schadenfreude's names are all German.
- Hammerspace: Gedächtnis has an internal cargo space that he retrieves various items and visual gags from.
- Hartman Hips: Charming Drossel (AKA Juno-XIII's) design sports these, which enable her to do a mechanical-looking Sexy Walk.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Gedächtnis is a gigantic construction machine. Drossel is teenage gynoid.
- Humans Are Cthulhu: A rather comedic take. Humans are seen as weird warmongers who can't be reasoned with. It doesn't help that the machines misinterpret everything about humanity: including speech and ancient history.
- Humans Are Warriors: The robots believe humans are only good at war and eating sea cucumbers.
- Humanity Came From Space: There's a throw away line that humans came to the machine world in starships. This questions if the planet is Earth, or if the world was Earth, that humanity has returned to take it back from the machines.
- Hurricane of Puns
- Keigo: Gedächtnis speaks in this fashion, to underline his butler-like persona.
- Laugh Track: One starts playing in one episode, much to Drossel's dismay.
- Little Miss Snarker: Drossel, ocassionally to Gedächtnis.
- Lonely Rich Kid: At times Drossel gives that impression.
- Meaningful Name: Gedächtnis is German for "memory". Schadenfreude is German for ... Schadenfreude.
- Meido: The mansion apparently has thousands, but they are all invisible.
- Necktie Headband: Gedächtnis during the "flower viewing" in the Charming finale. He does not appear to be drunk otherwise.
- Not So Stoic: Gedächtnis actually screams aloud when Drossel shows him that the human vehicle has "Warning" written on it.
- Oh, Crap!: Gedächtnis actually screams aloud when Drossel shows him that the human vehicle has "Warning" written on it.
- Ojou: Drossel. And how!
- Once per Episode: See the Running Gag about Gedächtnis' name.
- One-Word Title: The seasons are named Fireball and Charming
- Overly Long Name: The 19th Lord of Uranus' Kingdom's Tempest Domain, Drossel Juno Vierzehntes Heizregister Fürstin von Flügel.
- AKA Juno-XIV.
- Rapid-Fire Comedy: Frequently resembles a Boke and Tsukkomi Routine.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Despite being a robot, Drossel appararently has a (deceased) father. She also has some human quirks, like arrogance.
- Robot Girl: Drossel, but no effort has been made to make her humanly cute.
- Robot Hair: Drossel has absolutely gigantic pigtails. They can transform into a rocket engine to enable her to fly. In Charming, they're replaced with a gargantuan ponytail. And in Humorous, she instead has four, for lack of a better comparison, dreadlocks.
- Running Gag:
- Every episode in the first season, Drossel summons Gedächtnis using the wrong name. Gedächtnis reminds her of his correct name only for her to tell him to not interrupt her and then use the same or a new wrong name.Drossel: Hey, Durum Semolina! Durum Semolina, where are you?
Gedächtnis: Yes, milady? Incidentally, my name is Gedächtnis—
Drossel: Don't interrupt me when I'm speaking, Barcelona.
- Also, Drossel referring to her obvious capoeira moves as "karate".
- Every episode in the first season, Drossel summons Gedächtnis using the wrong name. Gedächtnis reminds her of his correct name only for her to tell him to not interrupt her and then use the same or a new wrong name.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: Quite.
- Shout-Out: Several, but most notably to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
- Most of the alternative names for Gedächtnis that Drossel comes up with also qualify.
- Mankind has been locked in a dark future of eternal warfare lasting over 40,000 years.
- Let's not forget about the reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy while discussing dolphins (i.e. humans are number 3 on the intelligence scale).
- The training program in Charming episode 2 is a reference to the one Paul Atreides undergoes in Dune.
- In episode 8 of Charming, Gedächtnis claims that if she so chooses, Drossel can reverse the earth's rotation to turn back time.
- The human-puppet throwing the Vulcan salute ("live long and prosper") in the Charming finale. Maybe the Charming Mankind did show up for the Ball.
- Drossel starts humming "Daisy Bell" as she is being prepared for stasis at the end of Charming.
- On meeting a human in Charming ep 1, Drossel holds out her hand as if for a handshake, then uses the Curwen hand gestures from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.
- Drossel's eye beams from episode 1 are reminiscent of Astro Boy's eye beams, right down to being a gift from her father.
- In the scene where Drossel plays baseball, Gedächtnis asks if her pitching form is Baritsu, which is the martial art practiced by Sherlock Holmes.
- The mansion in the first season resembles the Tower of Babel seen in Metropolis (itself based on the painting Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel), but the more detailed version of the mansion in Charming looks more like Genom Tower from Bubblegum Crisis.
- The Smurfette Principle: Drossel is the only known female in the series.
- Time Skip: Years and years pass between each episode. It doesn't affect much.
- Title Drop: In the first season, "Fireball" refers to a plan devised by Windstille regarding the war with mankind. In the second season, "Charming" refers to the stage of mankind that will be devoid of senseless warmongering.
- Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: Drossel's father wrote one, foretelling of a future when humans and robots could co-exist in peace. His prophecies are bit insane, to say the least. Seeing how humans are winning the war, it's difficult to understand why humans would be willing to give the robots a good deal when the conflict ends.
- Unexpectedly Dark Episode: The series is a comedy, but Cryptic Background Reference paints the world in a somber scenario. The robots are losing a 40,000 year war against humanity, and millennia of distrust and miscommunication prevents a peaceful resolution. The robots are shown to simply not understand how to hold a meaningful conversation with mankind, and unable to relate with humans at all.
- Widget Series: In terms of pure nonsense, Fireball is up there with latter day purpose-built-for-confusion anime like Ai Mai Mi and Pop Team Epic, despite its marginally more sedate tone. The fact that it's the only series ever helmed by director Wataru Arakawa only adds to the strangeness.