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Web Animation / Broken Saints

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(from left) Shandala, Kamimura, Raimi, and Oran.

"What would you give to know the truth?"

Broken Saints (2001-2003) is an original web animation series in twenty-four chapters. It was created over the course of two years by writer Brooke Burgess, artist Andrew West, and programmer/Flash wiz Ian Kirby, featuring music composed by Burgess' cousin Tobias Tinker. The format is a hybrid of comic and animation formats, and is referred to by Burgess frequently as "cinematic literature". As in comics, characters remain mostly in static poses and dialogue is depicted in speech balloons, but there are a number of times when movement is used within 'panels', and the series frequently uses background music and sound effects to add to the overall cinematic effect.

The story focuses on four strangers from "the quiet corners of the globe", each from a wildly-different background and worldview than the others, who all receive similar traumatizing visions of impending doom and are drawn to the same place in search of answers. Along the way, they face their inner demons and learn about The Power of Love.

The story is told in twenty-four chapters, with many chapters frequently sub-divided into multiple acts. The total running time for the series is ten and a half hours. The series was released on DVD with added voiceovers, plus bonus features and commentaries, by 20th Century Fox in 2006. Among the voice cast are Janyse Jaud, Kirby Morrow, Michael Dobson, David Kaye, and Scott McNeil.

Brooke Burgess has stated frequently that some of his biggest influences in the conception of Broken Saints were David Lynch (specifically Twin Peaks), Terry Gilliam, The Prisoner, and Watchmen, all of which are referenced frequently over the course of the series.

The series in its entirety can be viewed here.

Best not to look at the spoilers here. Most of them relate to the last few chapters.

This series provides examples of:

  • Arch Nemesis Dad: The Big Bad is Lear Dunham who also happens to be Shandala's biological father.
  • Arc Words:
  • Animesque: The influence of anime in the art of this series was more obvious in the early version of the first episodes, before the Animation Bump, with those episodes being redone in a more realistic style. However, the anime influence was still noticeable.
  • Art Evolution: A very drastic one. In the DVD release, the first twelve episodes were completely redone to match the quality of the second half.
  • Artistic License Biology: Gabriel's "Walking on Coals" stunt was probably played up for dramatic purposes, as short walks on hot charcoals don't usually cause great harm (although firewalking can still cause serious burns, and relaxing and mentally preparing oneself before talking the walk can help with blood flow and in minimizing damage to the feet.)
  • Author Tract: Brooke Burgess makes no effort to hide the fact that the series' inspiration was his changing worldview around the turn of the millennium.
  • Berserk Button: Shandala's is a common one: when those close to her are in danger.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Shandala gets reeeeeeally scary when her familial Berserk Button is pushed.
    • Mysterious Nice Guy Gabriel reveals himself to have a seriously evil side to him.
  • Big Bad: Lear Dunham.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end, the world is saved, but both Shandala and Kamimura are dead, and Papa Tui has lost all his family.
  • Book Ends: Each chapter opens with an animation and ends with the same animation being played in reverse. For the entire series there is Shandala's opening speech, the island Lomalagi, and the shot of the two planets which are now blue instead of red.
  • Break the Cutie: Shandala. The entire execution of Lear's plan relies on Shandala being nurtured and loved in a utopian environment all her life, and then promptly subjected to this treatment.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The hobo with the apocalyptic sign, who turns out to be an holographic projection of the Big Bad, Lear Dunham.
  • Chekhov M.I.A.: Lear Dunham.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: The well-done kind, in many many chapters, especially early ones.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Benjamin Palmer, head of BIOCOM, and in a less conventional way, Lear.
  • Crapsack World/A World Half Full
  • Creator Cameo: Brooke Burgess voices Gabriel, which is considerably more than a cameo, but this is played straighter with Andrew West, who plays a street tough; Ian Kirby, who plays a Canadian soldier; and Tobias Tinker, who plays a bum.
  • Creepy Crosses: In Raimi's lucid dream in Chapter 7, rising crosses are depicted in the context of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. According to the commentary track, partly a nod to The Wall.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: At the end of the second act from chapter 19, Shandala is found by other main characters in this position inside Mars' club. In the Grand Finale of the series, she also appears in this way.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The four heroes. Big time.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Raimi, though he's a not a supporting character, but a main character. And a viewpoint one.
  • Depraved Homosexual: It is implied in the story, and even more so in the commentary tracks, that Palmer has a thing for little boys.
  • The Dragon: Gabriel.
  • Dream Sequence: Multiple times. Most notable, Acts 2 through 5 of Chapter 20 pretty much consist simply of revealing flashbacks told in this fashion, culminating in a final vision that spiritually unites the four heroes and awakens Shandala from her psuedo-comatose state.
  • Driven to Suicide: General Briggs, in the prologue to Chapter 24.
  • Driving Question: What's with the dreams? What is the truth this Tagline keeps talking about?
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And hoo boy, do they!
  • Elemental Powers: Subverted in that the four heroes do not actually have the ability to control said elements so much as the elements reflect their personalities. The connection comes from the spiritual analogy in the collective dream vision sequence epiphany thing of Chapter 20, Act 5.
  • The Empath: Shandala.
  • Empathy Pet: Shandala's kitty, Bula.
  • Enhanced on DVD: The first half was redrawn for the DVD release. Oh, and the DVD version is the one with voices.
  • Epigraph: At the beginning and end of each chapter.
  • Ethereal Choir: A number of pieces, used heavily near the end of the series.

  • Evil Redhead: Lear. His son Gabriel seems to be strawberry blonde as well, and it only gets redder in the evil lair's dramatic lighting.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The BIOCOM tower.
  • Expy: They may be rather different in terms of personality, but Charles and Bravado are practically identical to Guile and Charlie in appearance.
  • Eye Scream: Lear and Shandala.
    • Don't forget Oran. During one flashback, we see how he gets that scar. And in one episode he was going to have a chip placed inside one of his eyes.
  • Fetal Position Rebirth: Used in one of the introductory animations (a.k.a. 'covers') that bookend each chapter.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Poor, poor Shandala...
  • Foreshadowing: In "Forecast", Raimi and Oran met a fortuneteller who does a tarot reading for Raimi and advices him to "chose love". Guess what ends destroying the Big Bad plans.
  • Grand Finale: It all comes full circle, too.
  • The Hero Dies: Well, two out of four do.
  • Heroic BSoD: This happens to Shandala big time. Given what's happening to her, it's amazing she's not stuck in this mode the whole rest of the story.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Shandala and Kamimura.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Raimi and Oran.
  • Hidden Villain:Lear Dunham
  • Homage:
  • Hurting Hero: All four, and the significance of the title.
  • Inconsistent Episode Lengths: Every episode is longer than the one that came before it, and may be accompanied by multiple acts, usually including a POV shift; this culminates in a 5-act finale that takes up 1.5 hours of the series' 10 hour runtime.
  • I Gave My Word: "He had given his word... and his word was his bond."
  • Ironic Echo: Masayuki's "eggs and poop" metaphor, which turns out to be a much more important message than anyone would think...
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Both Raimi and Oran.
  • Just Between You and Me: Justified. Lear tells the heroes his plan because he wants them to know the truth and be his first apostles.
  • Knight Templar: Lear and Gabriel.
  • Locked into Strangeness: When Shandala wakes from her vision-induced coma, she undoes her hairwrap revealing that her hair has gone from light brown to pure white.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: While never stated in that fashion, Lear tells the other three heroes that he is Shandala's biological father.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Shandala, in an unconventional way.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    • "I believe."
    • Shandala's opening monologue from Chapter 1 is repeated almost verbatim as the final lines of Chapter Twenty-Four, only there they end with an actual resolution.
  • Meaningful Name: Gabriel, Oran's father Osama, Mars and his henchmen Phobos and Deimos, the island of Lomalagi.
  • Mega-Corp: BIOCOM.
  • Mind Screw: The early chapters can be a bit confusing, though it gets more clear as the story goes on.
  • Mind Rape: The visions the four receive are traumatic psychic assaults. Shandala's left her unconscious for days and whitened her hair.
  • Mood Whiplash: A few glimpses of humor can appear in the most unexpected moment.
  • Mr. Exposition: Raimi, especially in Chapter 15, but also in general until the last chapter, when the duty falls to Lear, as Big Bad, to unveil his scheme.
  • Nice Guy: Gabriel except not. So, so not.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: All courtesy of classical pieces from Chapter 24.
  • One-Woman Wail: Used to chilling effect in Chapter 24, Act 4.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: Oraimi, which is the name of an actual music cue on the soundtrack, combining Oran and Raimi's themes. invoked
  • The Power of Love: What the whole series is about—and best of all, it doesn't come off as cheesy.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Most prominently, Gabriel. This is kinda-sorta-lampshaded in one of the epigraphs taken from The Bible, referring to the Archangel Gabriel.
  • The Reveal: Many, usually at the end of a chapter.
  • The Quiet One: Kami.
  • Sad Clown: Raimi.
  • Scary Black Man: Deimos, bouncer at the Mars strip club.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Lear, at times. It might take some viewers a couple viewings of the finale to understand exactly what he's saying.
  • Sexy Secretary: Sandra, while not played as a complete sexpot, certainly catches Raimi's eye.
  • Ship Tease: Oran and Shandala get the most. Well, apart from Oran and Raimi...
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Oran through a good portion of the series.
    • Gabriel practically introduces himself by getting naked. He also goes shirtless for the final battle.)
  • Significant Anagram: LEAR SPEC SILO / CLOSE AS PERIL / ILL SCOPE ARES / COLLAPSE RISE / A SCORE I SELL / SOLAR ECLIPSE (which is never said, but does happen).
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: It's quite a rough road getting there, but in the end... firmly on the idealistic side.
  • The Smart Guy: Raimi—see also 'Mr. Exposition' above.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Lt. Charles and Lt. Bravado, while obviously not actual grunts, fit this description all too well.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Mad Shandala = completely terrifying.
  • Tagline: "What would you give to know the truth?"
  • Tarot Motifs: There's half a chapter dedicated just to laying out the spiritual arc the rest of the series would follow using tarot cards.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Oran and Raimi, after severe wounds in the final confrontation.
  • Urban Fantasy: While the series stays mostly in the realm of science-fiction, there are mystical elements as well.
  • We Can Rule Together: Lear's entire reason for explaining his plan to the heroes is so that they may see the genius of it and be his first apostles.
  • Wham Episode: The infamous Chapter 22 Act 2, Chapter 23 Act 3, and just about every Act of Chapter 24.
  • You Are Too Late: Either Type 1 or Type 5 here.