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.

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 09:30 PM)
    I get to cheat and say those Rodriguez films are westerns =)
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 09:20 PM)
    What I can’t forgive Genesis for though is kiddifying terminator.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 09:18 PM)
    @Bam: Though I think Cameron may have gone mad after 1997.
    Ah-ha, but Miller is a true Aussie, they live through volcanic, Venus/Mercury summers there. =P
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 09:16 PM)
    @Bam: No, no avatar, my Alita movie, done right, done now. =P
    Terminator 3 and salvation were very very mediocre. T3 is fun to laugh at at least, salvation wasn’t very good but it did show the whole dark future schtick.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 08:52 PM)
    I’ll torrent it later just to see how they attempted to make sense of this fucked up chronology.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 08:51 PM)
    I haven’t seen Terminator Genisys, since I refuse to drop a penny on what is clearly a monument to artistic compromise. How Cameron lets these idiots desecrate his legacy for the money he doesn’t even need is beyond me. He should get his head out of his ass and either finish that 7 years-in-the-making Avatar 2 and make a good Terminator and set it right, or just live and let it die.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 08:38 PM)
    I also wanted to see a bit more of Max’s character, but I think Hardy did good with the little he had to do. I mean he spent the first act of the movie tied to a pole with a muzzle on his face. Guess we have to wait till the sequel. It’s crazy to have this 70+ years old man directing movies in the dry extreme heat of the desert. Mad props to Miller for keeping it real.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 08:35 PM)
    @Kaiser: see you updated the list. I’ve unfortunately have only seen Fury Road and what We Do in the Shadows from your 2015 lineup; I also liked both.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 08:32 PM)
    @Kaiser: pretty comprehensive list, just add High Noon, The Wild Bunch (another Kurosawa rip-off but done well), Once Upon a Time in the West, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and that Brad Pitt Jesse James movie and you pretty much have the important Westerns covered.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Aug 30. 2015 08:30 PM)
    =< Terminator genesis! why God why God why!

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Gangsta. – 08

Some focus on Alex this time around as with the drug out of her system she remembered that she had a younger brother. A pretty startling revelation for her as forgot about him the whole time she was under Barry’s control. It was done well on just how much this shocked her but I must […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 08

Itami continues to be a mystery as he is shown not only to be a ranger but also a member of special forces. Its not really confirmed whether he is a genius in hiding or a slacker who was tossed into high profile positions and got through it with minimum effort. The big part of […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 07

This episode has been a weaker episode than those so far. The opening has gone through a number of changes now that we have reached over the halfway point. Megumi’s part of the opening has been replaced by a shot of her grave, the colourful transition after showing the title is now a series of […]

Gangsta. – 07

Now the past has been mostly revealed, Worick’s friendship with Nicholas has become a more complex thing. Worick seems to see him as a good friend yet resent him for going kill crazy and murdering his whole family. Though the murder of his father looked to be an order he himself made to Nicholas and […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 07

I understand that for an anime adaption some character designs need to be simplified in order for an easier time to keep them in proportion in animation. But while the characters who suffer in this episode because of this are indeed minor characters, its really a shame to see them become something unrecognisable. The two […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 06

Well the story continues on from the flashback, showing Miki first joining the club. Right off the bat the episode pushes to answer the question of Megumi’s existence. It’s a answer that was pretty obvious by this point as the foreshadowing was pretty heavy on this particular detail but this episode makes it crystal clear. […]

Gangsta. – 06

When taking into account the show so far, I find that the quiet character moment stand out far more than the over the top fight scenes with knife wielding psychos on rooftops. The dialogue between characters is much more engaging that two characters jumping around like Bleach Soul Reapers. In particular it great seeing Worick […]

Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! – 06

Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” is a fairly iconic piece of music in pop culture. So much so that after Apocalypse Now (1979) whenever there is a helicopter assault in any piece of media, it’s practically obligatory to play Ride of the Valkyries. Even just today when finishing Far Cry 3 and had a […]

Gakkou Gurashi! – 05

As these episodes go on it really is something to wonder about the matter of Yuki being a hindrance or a help. I have said previously that she does push the group in the right direction but it is still a case where her mentality is dangerous. The group need to come up with excuses […]

Latest Reviews

Little Witch Academia The Enchanted Parade – 81/100

I wonder when it was that a film being childish became a flaw. As a medium grows it takes steps to aim to mature itself and seek a more intellectual level of presenting entertainment. Animation did it as Anime aimed to explore terrontry that cartoons refuse to explore and video games only recently broke away […]

Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks Review – 85/100

For a long time now this adaption has been the dreams of many a Fate fan with many believing it would never come to pass, but now that it is here is it everything that we dreamed? Short answer to this is no, long answer is nearly. I feel this show will have many divided […]

Shirobako Review – 80/100

When you see a harem anime and sigh as the breasts of the female lead jiggle with every step and wind that can flip a skirt it’s easy to forget that somewhere in Japan a group of people worked hard to get that jiggle right and draw each frame of animation. The hardships of the […]

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]