Subject: Alfabusa's Glorious Return (or, a guide to the application of the phrase "legally distinct")
Posted on: 2021-12-22 04:29:43 UTC
This news already hit the discord about three nanoseconds after it happened but I feel the need to bring it here because for a certain subset of us it's a really, really big deal.
As you may recall, a mere four months ago I joined the rest of the Warhammer 40k fandom in rage and mourning over the tragic death of Bruva Alfabusa's (NSFW) If The Emperor Had A Text To Speech Device to GW's fan animation ban. It's hard to understate what a bad idea this ban was. Over its eight year run, TTS had gone from a series of parody gag shorts mocking 40k lore by an edgy eighteen year old and his steam friends to a well-written long-form series with a seasoned production staff that managed to be funnier than ever even as it hit actual plot beats and developed real, meaningful arcs for its world and characters. It was a show that could follow up a chain of continuity gags with an innuendo-laden conversation between robots that sets up a questionably-diagetic diplomacy-themed musical number, followed by a genuinely touching (albeit also somewhat funny) moment between the Captain-General and his men, tying into the series' running theme of fatherhood and the importance of compassion in a setting that so very often seems devoid of it. And still have two thirds of an episode left. And it was beloved for it. When TTS was cancelled, every 40k fan community I knew of was angry about it. Alfabusa's patreon subscriptions practically doubled overnight. And people came out of the woodwork to tell Alfa and the team just how much the series meant to them. That it had gotten them into Warhammer, or reignited their love of it. That they'd bought an army or dug into some tie-in novels because of it. That it had gotten them through rough times, or just made them laugh or smile. That they cared about the show. And that no matter what the team was doing next, the fans had their back.
The plan that they came up with was ambitious. To guarantee that they'd never be so dependent on one IP, the crew decided that they'd run three shows at once, in different universes, on a rotating schedule. So each show would get a three-episode "arc" before being swapped out. They'd work with rights-holders that properly wanted them, and weren't about to sue. And they'd revamp their art and animation style into something that could be produced more quickly. And to do it all starting with nothing but eight years of experience and a stable of voice, writing, art, animation, and music talent. Which... is a hell of a lot, actually.
Four months later, we have the fruits of their labor and... it's good. It's so so so good. Hunter: The Parenting is the TTS crew's take on White Wolf's World of Darkness (currently owned by Paradox, which aside from members of the writing staff being WoD fans was probably another reason it was chosen. The people who literally paid you money to make content featuring one of their works probably won't sue you for doing more of it) and they took some of the cast of TTS along for the ride. But they're not unchanged: Kitten is now
Mag Marckus's fiancée, Dor Door is now Boy's father, and The Em Big D is more deranged than he ever was. These aren't the same characters. They can't be: they're humans, with human levels of power, and they're people of England in 2006, not of the far-flung future. And I immediately get the sense that this is a family (albeit a slightly dysfunctional one), and these are people who have a history and have developed connections with each other. And it can still be very very funny, so that's good too.
The art is a real shift. This new style, with its greater number (ie, more than one) of less elaborate drawings of the characters, sometimes with lower or higher detail (in something akin to, say, FMA:B's use of cartoonier versions of the cast at times) is more dynamic than TTS ever could be, and gives the show a very different feel (it seems to be consciously aiming for something similar to the Venture Brothers). It's not always pretty, but it's always visually interesting, and I never felt like any aspect of the aesthetic wasn't a conscious choice. What I'm saying is that I like it and it looks good. And in action scenes it... well, really looks better than TTS ever did, because of all that extra dynamism.
And it's just... really, really, really good to see Alfa and his merry band back in their rightful place: Making very well crafted dumb comedy videos about world and settings they love. It's great to know they've still got it, and that the end of TTS really, truly, did not mean the end of the incredible team behind it, and only gave them new opportunities to push themselves in new directions. I can't wait for the next episode and I'm really excited to see what else they have up their sleeves, since apparently after HtP's slot expires we are getting Half-Life and Stellaris content. And I want to see what they're gonna do.