Combine water and anise in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook until mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup. Strain mixture, reserving liquid and 1 1/2 teaspoons anise seeds. Let cool to lukewarm (105° to 115°). Add yeast, and stir until dissolved. Let stand 20 minutes.
Sift together flour, cinnamon, and salt; set aside. Combine yeast mixture, sugar, and 2 cups sifted dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add shortening; beat at high speed of electric mixer until smooth. Stir in remaining dry ingredients to make a soft dough. (Dough will be very sticky.) Cover and let rise in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.
Grease hands. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface, and knead 8 minutes or until smooth and elastic.
Divide dough into 30 pieces; shape into balls, and place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Brush each bun with melted butter, and sprinkle heavily with Sweet Bun Topping. Cover and repeat rising procedure 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes or until golden brown.