Posted by psgels on 19 November 2009 with categories: Anime Reviews



Wow, what a ride. The underworld is a popular setting for anime, and this genre has already produced quite a few wonderful gems, such as Kaze no Youjimbo, Michiko e Hatchin, Baccano and many more. Gungrave, without a doubt, also belongs in this list.

This series tells about the lives of two thugs called Brandon Heat and Harry MacDowell, and chronicles their lives. And boy, it really takes the extra mile to develop these two! The majority of this series is just one huge flashback, which takes a look at the many, many events in their lives that made them into the characters that they are at the beginning of the story. Throughout the series, we get to see the two of them, and the people around them, during all kinds of different ages, ranging from when the two are about 10 years old, until they’re in the middle of their forties. Now that’s some awesome character-development right there!

On top of being a character-study, this also is an action-show. Quite a few of the fights are beautifully animated (courtesy of Madhouse) despite the rather sloppy drawings at times. The fights are varied, ranging from simple duels to huge shoot-outs, although during the second half, I do admit that they turn in this series’ weakness. Especially the fights against the big overpowered monsters are a bit dull, because these monsters have no personality nor free will at all. It’d be just like fighting your way out of a bunch of paper bags. I also didn’t quite like the concept of the so-called “Superior”-monsters: to me, they seemed a bit of a convenient excuse to give the important characters some cheap superpowers.

Nevertheless, this series ends with a very strong finale. All of the important characters get enough of a chance to close off their stories (and considering the development they’ve gotten, this really is a great thing) and that makes the entire finale just bittersweet. This series explores themes like trust and betrayal, family and loyalty, and it does this so well. This definitely is a series to look out for, with its deep characters and in-depth look at large mafia-organizations. Despite the few humps in the middle I really give my thumbs up for this one.

Storytelling: 8/10
Characters: 9/10
Production-Values: 9/10
Setting: 9/10

10 Responses

  1. egress63 says:

    Yeah, excellent show. This brings back the memories of my college days when I used to watch a 26 episode series in 2 days flat. Anyhoo, the only thing which ticked me of in Gungrave was the gangster (forgot his name) who kept following Brandon throughout the series…

  2. Zaric says:

    What’s great about Gungrave is that it has two story-lines. Discovering just how things got so screwed up is a joy of watching the series.

  3. Canne says:

    Gungrave’s action is decent in terms of production quality but I rather love the drama portion of the show. It’s really a tragedy. I think the zombie/superior things is added to please the sci-fi fans. It might be a bit out of place but I was okay with it. Definitely a great show, nevertheless.

  4. tea says:

    It is the best show ever produced out of the beond crapy source matirial,some shooting game with excuse of a plot from what I heard. Most of the over the top sf comes from the game while the whole character study is anime creators going their own way, talk about reversal of the usual situation with game adaptations.

  5. AKI says:

    Ah.. GunGrave. I’m surprised that you haven’t seen this one yet. Anyway, GunGrave’s selling point is its two main characters and their differences made them the best of enemies. Brandon was the family guy, Harry was overly ambitious. The last episode was a gem in terms of art because everything looked superb.

  6. Copern says:

    I remember watching this about over a year ago and being turned off by the first episode. Some months later I decided to give it another shot and started with the second episode. The first thing that came to mind was “Did I really watch the first episode before? There’s no way this is the same show.” From the second episode and for over half the series, Gungrave was quite awesome.

    The second half (last third perhaps?) while still decent was not as good as the first half, that is until the ending. The last episode definitely more than made up for the lacking second half.

    Personally, I would recommmend that those who have never watched it start from episode 2. Episode 1 is shown again later in the series in a better way and with more background info.

  7. PhuzyBuny says:

    OMG…I had just recently downloaded the episodes and am on the last couple of episodes! I wouldn’t think to see a review since this series is already finished! What a coincidence!

  8. Smurfy says:

    Hmm brings back memories….
    Millennium!!!!!!!!!!
    closing Ending = Brandon (thumbs Up)

  9. Sanity says:

    Gungrave is pretty awesome. Brandon’s life was just tragic… Harry Macdowell at least got to enjoy quite a bit. I also felt that the monster-a-week part was one of the weakest point of the show, but I let it go since it’s adapted from a game.

    SPOILER ALERT**
    Brandon’s love life makes me feel anguished. I could never really understand why even though he felt that he had sinned greatly, he pushed Maria towards someone who technically is the “mastermind” of killings and extortions… only that guy doesn’t have to do the dirty jobs himself, while Brandon does.
    This part was great as a plot, but bad for my heart hah.

  10. gandalf8 says:

    Just finished watching the last episode. And what an ending too. The tears just kept on flowing near the end, the ending is really one of the best endings to a series I’ve ever watched in my short life till now.

    The main draw of Gungrave for me was really Brandon and Harry, watching these two best of friends make their way to the top of Milennion. The whole story is basically about these two guys life that we all know will end in tragedy. Although the best of friends, they both chose a different way of life; Brandon, who lives and fights to protect those he loves; Harry, who seeks power to also protect but gets lost in his ambition. I really have to applaud the producers for being able to portray these essentially “evil” people as just human. Although they are the mafia, and they have done all manner of heinous crimes against their enemies and each other, yet they also are human, who have people they love, and trust and need to protect. One of the most powerful moments I remember was when Widge, Brandon’s first boss, took it upon himself to pull the trigger when they were ordered to kill some people, and Gary told Brandon of how it was his own way of responsibility, in the way he opted to pull the trigger instead of letting his subordinates do it.

    Overall, I am very glad that I had the privilege to know the story of these two best friends, Harry McDowel and Brandon Heat.

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  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Jun 30. 2015 01:51 AM)
    @ak184: Sporadically mildly entertaining with an enjoyable final stretch. Though at times I found myself falling in and out with the series.
    @Aidan: I would be more than happy to read your yahari review.
    @RatsgnoF: Looking back at being a teenager, I can’t say that moment of a persons life isn’t free of melodrama.
  • ak184
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 11:53 PM)
    Out of curiosity, for those who were watching it, what did you all thought of jojo stardust crusaders? Now that it has recently ended
  • ratsgnoF
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 05:35 PM)
    IMO I think that emphasizes how important their relationships are with each other. It shows how the characters have developed and change. They’re very vocal about how they feel and what they want. To the point where it would seem melodramatic.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 03:17 PM)
    @Emma, I never disliked the movie. And I do think it did that archer vs Shirou fight much better. But the problem with it is that it basically removes coherency from the story. People would just be downright confused watching it if they have no knowledge. The movie is pretty much fan service.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 03:13 PM)
    I was actually thinking of writing up a Yahari review. Overall I enjoyed it but I felt that it got far too melodramatic at points over relatively little. It just felt like the characters where making mountains out of molehills.
  • ratsgnoF
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 07:59 AM)
    That exactly why it’s so good. It’s not very cliche like most animes. The characters themselves have very interesting personalities. Personalities that are actually unique. Not those personalities that every main lead has. Very cliched anime is bad. I can literally predict what happens next watching it the first time. Seeing those 3 interact and struggle is very enjoyable It’s kinda down to earth in a way.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 07:02 AM)
    I think, watching Yahari, that its time I stopped bashing the “Too many teenagers thing in anime”, better to make the teenage characters we get actually interesting people.
  • ratsgnoF
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 06:57 AM)
    If they do plan a season 3, it probably won’t be out for about a year or two. The last 2 episodes were adapted from volume 11 which was released 5 days ago.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 06:48 AM)
    That final episode of Yahari’s second season pretty much left me saying “Season 3 where and now”
    And “You can’t end this here”.
  • ratsgnoF
    (Monday, Jun 29. 2015 06:35 AM)
    I preferably want Yukino. She’s the favorite IMO. I have no idea how it’s going to end. I’m a little scared to found out, but I want more! WATARI more LIGHT NOVEL NAO!!!

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