Adult Swim has been known to create cartoons that are wacky and different than anything else on TV, for better or worse. Their cartoons are often divisive, as a lot of their shows feature an ugly-looking art style and are packed with shock humor and gore. One of the network’s current stand-outs, however, is Ballmastrz: 9009. While it does feature some typical Adult Swim tropes, it’s still different than other shows like Mr. Pickles and King Star King.
For one thing, the overall art style and animation is cleaner and more appealing to the eye. Another thing that makes it stand out is the way it references anime. It wasn’t the first Adult Swim show to reference anime; shows like Perfect Hair Forever that did so more than a decade prior. However, Ballmastrz: 9009 embraces the absurdities of anime in a sincere manner and uses them to enforce the show’s comedic value, whereas Perfect Hair Forever was mainly making fun of anime.
The most anime-esque character is Duleena Duneeda, A.K.A. Dee Dee. She’s drawn with big glistening eyes, outrageous facial expressions and she had a tendency to act like a yandere. In the episode “Children of the Night Serenade Wet Nurse of Reprisal; Scream, Bloodsucker, Scream!,” she revealed that she was a vampire hunter in the past. She wore an outfit similar to that of D for Vampire Hunter D. Leto, her love interest, even referred to her as “Vampire Hunter Dee Dee.”
Another episode that heavily references anime is “To Catch a Princess.” Team leader Ace was playing a game reminiscent of a dating simulator, which ended up being a trap. Luna, one of the princesses in the game, turned out to be the captain of the Ashigari Princesses, one of the rival teams. Every member of the team bears a striking resemblance to Sailor Moon characters. The formation of Ballmaster between Ace and Baby Ball is also an example of the show’s anime influence, with a transformation scene straight out of a mecha anime.
The the show is over-the-top and fast-paced. Each episode is only 11 minutes long, but they manage to pack a lot into those 11 minutes. There’s a lot of wild action as the teams compete against each other in “The Game” and outside of the arena, there are also many over the top jokes and facial expressions like what would normally be present in anime. In a way, it feels particularly indebted to the absurdity of anime like Kill la Kill.
What really makes Ballmastrz: 9009 unique is the fact that it’s able to blend these anime influences and references with the typical style of Adult Swim cartoons. The anime tropes are executed well enough and with the right amount of respect that it works well with the psychedelic visuals and often crude or off-color jokes. The pacing of the show can make it challenging to follow at times, but it’s not too hard to get into the flow of it after a couple of episodes. Anime fans are used to giving shows the “three episode test” anyway.
Adult Swim has aired a lot of anime over the years alongside its own original comedy programming. Ballmastrz: 9009 is proof that the network can combine elements of both and make something that appeals to both markets. It also proves that it doesn’t need to make fun of anime by only using character stereotypes and stale humor like what was present in Perfect Hair Forever. Ballmastrz: 9009 is an entertaining and colorful show that may be an inspiration for future Adult Swim originals to come.
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Adult Swim is known for its unusual style when it comes to its cartoon, but Ballmastrz: 9009 breaks the mold with its use of anime tropes.