Nov 29

Anime Retrospective – Gungrave

Sometimes I like to go back to an older show to remember the good old times where anime made no sense and you still loved every second of it. In this regard you could argue that these memories are pure nostalgia, however there are a few occasions where one show raises to the top and is genuinely enjoyed by all that viewed it. Most long term fans of the media will have heard of it, but most will not be able to recall exactly what happened or indeed why they may have loved it, but they know the name regardless and remember that it was famous way-back-when. Toward this end, I present to you a completely nostalgia-fuelled and entirely biased (but I believe accurate) review of Gungrave.

The 2004 anime Gungrave tells us the story of how two teenage street boys decide they have had enough of the street life and want to rise to the top of the world’s biggest criminal organization known as “Millenion”. One is willing to do whatever it takes to get there, and the other is willing to sacrifice everything to help his friend achieve his dream. It’s a relationship that was born through survival and forged through the fire of loss, making for a very powerful connection, giving massive potency to all their interactions while they continue to “climb the ladder”, leading to the completely believable notion that these two are much closer to brothers than simply friends.

This is an anime that just hits all the right notes for me as it shows every step of the process that our characters (both these and the new additions along the way) go through to get where they need to be as partway through the series, the plot switches from one of determination, to that of intrigue and betrayal.

I won’t dare spoil where the story goes, but to get an idea of what the show eventually becomes, one may only need to look at episode one of the series. It almost seems out of place as it essentially takes one episode from the final sequence of events and just plays it straight to us without context. Let’s just say that it sits as a stark contrast to the majority rest of the series until that point, as the latter part takes a much greater science fiction twist to the proceedings; however I assure you that this remains entirely within the rules of the universe and is massively paid-off when it happens for real.

The show sits at 26 episodes long in total and I believe that every last one of them is relevant as it maintains one single story arc throughout while maintaining obvious chapter-like divisions in the plot. By doing this, the show displays great progression of plot, characters and the universe as a whole through strategic and non-invasive time skips, making you completely fall in love with the characters and wanting to see more as the characters age and mature. No single part of the story disappoints me, which is impressive because if I WAS to describe to you what happens, there would probably be a ton of points that I would disagree with. Great designs, great voice acting, great music, astounding writing and amazing atmosphere all work together to make this show one of my favourites of all time, and I do not say this lightly.

When I attempt to describe this show without spoiling it to others, I will say it’s a show about two friends trying to make it in the mafia, full of deceit, intrigue, monsters and it still remains one of the saddest and most poignant stories I’ve ever seen out of anime and I stand by that analysis here. The show is legitimately heart-wrenching at times and never lets it somewhat silly plot twists and turns interfere with it. It has everything you could ever want out of this kind of anime and more, and is well worth watching, re-watching and re-watching again by everyone.