For newcomers to this series, here are two ways to make watching it more enjoyable: Firstly, as I mentioned in this post, you should definitely skip the first episode. Episode 1 is literally scene-for-scene episode 18 so not only does it make the series more confusing when it jumps back to the beginning of the story in episode 2 with no explanation as to why, but it also has spoilers for decent plot-twists that are to come later on. Secondly, start this series with the awareness that it actually consists of two different genres of anime in one. The first half of the anime follows the formula of a mafia drama with a little action sprinkled here and there in similar fashion to something like Cowboy Bebop. The second half changes this completely to follow a more monster shoot-em up action genre more along the lines of the Hellsing or Devil May Cry anime.
This dramatic shift is because Gungrave is adapted from a Monster Shoot ’em up game by the same name, the second half working as the game itself and the first half working as a more serious prologue leading up to its events. By themselves, both of these genres are entertaining but without being aware of this shift the anime will seem inconsistent and, depending on what style of anime you prefer, may change it for the better or worse after episode 14. With this in mind I’ll just say that before I watched Parasyte – The Maxim I hadn’t seen such good character development arcs in a show. Their visual changes along with their attitudes work very well with the plot especially the conflict between the main characters Brandon Heat and Harry McDowell. Where Brandon’s goals are constantly changing depending on his situation, Harry’s goal remains consistent from the very beginning. This makes the change from them seeing eye-to-eye to being completely against each other have some very interesting relationship dynamics.
Although the character arcs are definitely worth watching this anime for, there are also many downsides to this anime. Like many 90s anime who’s budget wasn’t as large as the major studios these days, the animation changes in quality a lot, there are repeated cuts and the artist could plainly not draw women at all. Another quibble I had was that, despite the adult tone of the anime, it seemed to break into shonen-esque problems with characters constantly screaming each others names, retarded looking monster final forms for the bad guys (seriously one of them turns into a helicopter for some reason), things that plainly make no sense and the obvious plot armor where main characters survive things that kill off the minor characters like flies. On an upside the music is decent and works well with both the mafia and monster fighting genres.
So should you watch Gravegrave? Yes, but having these things in mind will definitely make the experience more enjoyable. For new comers to anime in particular it will help you see what kind of anime they like, if the first half of the series then you will enjoy more serious drama anime like Bebop or Baccano, if the second half, over the top action like Hellsing. It has decent characters and a decent overall plot and despite the shifting in genres and inconsistencies, I would say it was a classic from the 90s and that, considering their similarities, the first half of the plot could work as a spiritual prequel to Cowboy Bebop.
Total Rank: 7.5