Tuesday, December 15, 2015

TWELVE DAYS OF ANIME 2015 Anime Review: Gangsta.

Yep, still catching up with these anime reviews! But after this one I'm onto the more traditional 12 Days of Anime posts with smaller moments and more introspection. This show has some of both of those but a far less personal connection.


The town of Ergastulum has many people living in it, mafia members, prostitutes, drug lords, "handymen", and the descendants of genetically modified people called Twilights. Worick and Nic are two handymen who will take on any unpleasant job offered to them, whether it comes from the suspiciously cooperative police or their former mafia contacts (or rather Worick will and Nic will follow him around because he holds Nic's contract). Not much seems to change in this city as newcomer Alex discovers, it has enough shadowy allies and corners to hide all kinds of darkness , but it looks like some folks want to upturn this uneasy peace and no one is safe from his wave of violence.

On the surface this is a perfectly fine show but looking at it a little more closely and there are a few, niggling problems. To start with, at this point it's still not clear why Alex is the viewpoint character, she's just not connected enough to the story. Sure that's partially the point but her lack of connections and in a way lack of self (missing memories) makes her feel paper thin at times, there is nothing to her aside from her new relationships. I also feel like the story wasn't clear enough at the start that Alex had not only been drugged to be docile but that this had also taken away most of her memories, it wouldn't have changed my feelings on her as a lead but I still think it's a rather important detail. I don't think anyone will disagree with me calling her a "passive" lead here, until she figures out who she is there really is very little she can do to interact with the larger story arcs and it's frustrating that of course, out of the three leads it would be the female lead who has this problem.

The anime's biggest problem however is that it literally doesn't have an ending. It had a sudden recap episode (which is a bad sign) and then the last episode ends as if there should be another one. Maybe not one that would wrap up every single plot point in an on-going story but one that would end the arc and create some closure to the story. Personally I think something went wrong in the production and, with Mangaglobe's bankruptcy, it's very unlikely this story will ever be continued in anime form. At this point it seems like too much to even hope for a DVD-only finale, a la Blood Blockade Battlefront, but the show desperately needs it. At least the manga is licensed over here so even English speaking fans have a chance to continue with the story, although I won't be one of them.

I feel like I've only talked about this story in really general terms but you know what, this just wasn't really a series for me. I wasn't precisely bored but as the season went on it slipped down to the very bottom of my watching list, the characters were interesting in theory but I just couldn't make the effort to watch every week. I'd been interested in other shows like this before, Jormugand etc, but after this you know, I think I'm good. This story was fine but showed that this just isn't the kind of story for me, I'm a little too easily bored by "dark and gritty" stories with oodles of casual violence and tragedy as the leading backstory (that does honestly sell short Nic and Worick's stories but I stand by my observation that everyone here has a pretty tragic past). If you like character focused stories and don't mind the violence then I do recommend it, it's not bad and handles several issues really well (it's worth noting that Nic is deaf, but not mute, which is both a rarity and handled well) but it just didn't quite work for me.

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