[Anime Review] Gungrave

gungravev2For 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.

Gun4-300x175This 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.

gungrave-brandon-heat-and-harry-macdowellAlthough 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.

110316aSo 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

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7 Responses to [Anime Review] Gungrave

  1. Annalyn says:

    Okay, so I meant to just take a quick look at your blog, since we just followed each other on Twitter, and then go back to winding down for the night. So I won’t spend too much time re-reading and commenting on this review. But it made me very happy to see that you’ve even watched and reviewed Gungrave at all. Too few anime fans have seen this show. And I enjoyed reading your perspective.

    I actually think the first episode helps bring continuity to the anime—it shows the sci-fi aspect, so viewers have a better idea of what they’re getting into. So when I recommend Gungrave (which I do often), I prefer to prepare the other person for the first episode, rather than tell them to skip it: “Don’t make a decision about whether to keep watching until after the second episode.” Once you watch the first two episodes, you have a pretty full picture of Gungrave’s cross-genre nature. Granted, the fact that I feel I must include any caveat about ep 1 at all is probably not a good thing. But still.

    Is the first episode really scene-for-scene the same as episode 18? I don’t recall that being the case. It seems like I should have noticed that at least one of the four times I watched it. Though, granted, my love for Gungrave as a whole might make me a bit blind.

    I’m glad you spent a few sentences on the character development. That’s the part that’s stood out to me from the first time I watched this, and the part that keeps me coming back to rewatch the show again and again. ^_^

    • Lazarinth says:

      I agree, great character development. Lol one of reasons I followed you on twitter was because you said you would give Aidan’s father’s fantasy book a read and was hoping you might catch on to my own fantasy book’s recent release and give that a try as well (which you might like with its religious themes). But also I’ve been following Beneath the Tangles forever, and thought I would reach out to a blogging friend of a friend in the sense of community.

      • Annalyn says:

        Whoops, just saw this reply. My notifications aren’t working properly, it would seem.
        Your book is certainly on my radar! I have trouble balancing reading, work, and aniblogging, but I’m trying. And I want to make a more conscious effort to buy work from self-published and/or new authors. One problem is that I tend to prefer reading hard copies of books, because I spend a lot of time reading on my computer for work. It’s easier to get out of proofreading mode if I have a hard copy… but I’m also reluctant to spend the money on hard copies of very many books when Kindle versions are available. One more reason I’m verrrrry slow to get through books on my to-read list.

        At any rate, I’m glad you followed me on Twitter. Now that you mention it, I do remember seeing your user name around BtT. Glad to meet you!

  2. Pingback: Are these newer anime worth watching? | Fantasy and Anime

  3. This is a rare example of a good video game based anime. It is certainly a show of two halves. I preferred the first part, which dealt with the rags to riches gangster story.

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