Posted on 4 October 2015 with categories: Anime Reviews, Currently Watching:, Gangsta, Reviews by AidanAK47

Gangsta is an anime with a lot of things going for it. A mature cast, gritty themes, a interesting setting and a trio of main characters who can carry the show. However due to a number of factors it never quite reached its potential. The main trio of characters are unconventional and quite interesting with them being a Prostitute, deaf man and a gigolo. The best moments of the show often come from the quiet times between the characters as their relationship and history make for some pretty engaging conversations. Gangsta really shines in the episodes where characters are reminiscing about the past or just talking to each other but these moments are often pushed to the side as the new super powered psycho shows up for our heroes to fight. Through the main trio are fairly decently fleshed out, the rest of the cast are not quite as developed and viewers can’t really gain an attachment to them due to brevity of their screen time. Which is a major problem as the last few episodes deal with too many side characters to bring a decent conclusion to the story.

One of the biggest issues of the show is the inclusion of superpowered humans known as Twilight’s whom turn the fights of this series into over the top Shounen bouts that contrast the overall more grounded aspects of the rest of the show. It’s an alien element which hijacks the show away from it’s more interesting aspects to focus on ridiculous fight scenes which throw all laws of gravity out the window. The plot was lacking a main goal and instead acted as a setup of characters and setting that lead to no payoff because the series ends unceremoniously at the beginning of a story arc. With little chance of a sequel at this time(Especially now that Mangalobe has gone out of business), this makes the series feel unfinished and nothing more than a poor advertisement to read the manga. Art and animation fluctuate between visually stylish to bad as fights are later hindered with still shots and facial features in certain shots, mostly regarding Alex, are positioned incorrectly.

Ultimately Gangsta is a show that attempted to present style over substance but failed due to lacking animation, a unfocused plot and over the top fight scenes. It’s a show I can’t really recommend due to its unfinished nature and good points being too few in number. As the last TV anime Mangalobe made it’s not too bad a way to go out but there is a sense that this story could have been presented better if picked up by those with a more stable company. In the end Mangalobe went out adapting the hard sell and paid for it. That’s commendable but in the end if you reach for high ambitions without taking into account your limits all that’s gained is a bad product. If Mangalobe is ever revived, I recommend you take this lesson to heart and work within your limits to present the best product you can. A polished, focused anime beats a unfinished ambitious idea every time.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Gangsta

Normally one expects a final episode to be well…final. Right from the start you could tell Gangsta wasn’t going to make an effort to form some kind of ending with it wasting far too much time on things that don’t really matter at this point. By episode’s end I was actually questioning whether this truly was the last episode as nothing at all signified an end. That is because Gangsta didn’t end at all, it simply stopped. Imagine watching a movie and at the halfway point you accidently pressed the stop button on the remote. That’s the basic feeling of the last episode of Gangsta, the only difference here is that you can’t ever go back and watch the rest of the movie. And what a way to end, Connies still being held hostage, Alex is sitting depressed waiting for the boys to come back, Nicholas is falling to the ground while his last lines potentially imply he’s committing suicide, the evil twilights are still going around indiscriminately killing and Worick is busy dying on the grass of Marcos Mansion. Happy times all around. Well there also something about the guy with white hair seeing his sister but let’s be frank, do we care?

It’s difficult to express an opinion on this episode as the end makes the large majority of it pointless but I will say if this wasn’t the final episode then it would have been one of the stronger ones. The standouts would be the grannies fury with Marco over Connie getting kidnapped and Woricks battle against a twilight. It was interesting seeing Worick try to take the twilight down by making use of his knowledge gained from being Nicholas friend. Throwing off his sense of smell to catch him unaware was quite a smart move. It just would have been better if he actually succeeded. Humans in this series are far too under powered when compared to the Twilights so it would be nice to show that the super powered demigods were still susceptible to plain human ingenuity. Though how Worick managed to hang upside down from a two story window is beyond me. It was a rare moment of compassion for Nicolous to listen to the Grannies request and take off to find Connie. It’s such a pity we will never actually see him accomplish that, adding an old granny in the rain with no hope to the list of unintentionally tragic outcomes.

Posted on 27 September 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gangsta

Gangsta has a serious problem on its hands. So far the past 11 episodes have been building up something and it’s clear that this buildup will not be utilised in the remaining episode. We got a setting, characters(though aside from the main trio a number of them need development) and an antagonist but we don’t have a plot. The last two episodes look to be setting one up but by now in the series it’s far too late and will not have a satisfactory conclusion. A second season seems highly unlikely what with there not being enough material for one. If Gangsta is to end here then the result of this anime would be a alright but an overall unsatisfactory experience, ultimately a anime that would feel half finished. After all it’s the second last episode and the series is still introducing new characters. I already stated that I don’t appreciate the action sequences and while the character moments can be great, it’s only the main Trio that truly carry the show. When looking at it from this perspective the previous episodes are like fueling up a car that’s going to get thrown into a car compactor. No matter how much fuel that car has it won’t matter if it isn’t going anywhere.

So that’s why Doug was suddenly so much more psychologically stable, so we can feel sorry for him when he dies. Nice try but no dice. Much like many of the other side characters, Doug didn’t really have enough screen time to form an emotional attachment to. We also learn why we were informed about Marco and Connie’s relationship, so Connie can play damsel and get kidnapped by Marcos old acquaintances. I find the kidnaping to be a weak development as for the love of god girl, you run a gun shop in one of the most dangerous places in the world. Might be good to be a little suspicious of the strange lady acting creepy in front of your shop. The anime could have at least shown her cocking a gun as she was getting the cigarettes to show she had her guard up. As for our evil Twilight gang, I find they are just trying a little too hard to be cartoonishly evil. Miss Lollipop chainsaw is a primary offender with the suggestive lollipop licking and a manner of speaking that truly couldn’t be any more condescending. In other important news, Miss Balalaika is a Lesbian with her lover being the red haired glasses girl. Sexual diversity is always a welcome addition to have especially when it isn’t there primarily for fan service or cheap jokes. It does explain why the redhead was particularly vicious when someone threatens Miss Balalaika. So as the events of Ergastulum come to a close I find myself with less reason to care about its conclusion

Posted on 20 September 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gangsta

So our girl Erica turns out to be the twin of Delio and I wouldn’t be surprised if you can’t remember who Delio is. He’s the white haired guy who’s a weak twilight that works as a bodyguard for Monroe. It’s revealed that she was abducted when she was a kid and this is the first time anyone has seen her since then. Now this may be just that I a not quite that invested in this show but this revelation only elicited a response of “Is that so?” Personally I feel that if she was the daughter of the police officer this reveal would have far more impact and potential story significance. Delio hasn’t had enough stage presence or development for this to be all that important. So Erica is Delio’s long lost sister? What of it? I am far more interested in her connection to Worick and Nicholas than Delio’s blood relation. It really is odd when I care more about minor characters Marco and Connie being a relationship than a matter regarding one of the villains. Speaking of which, it would have added much more tension to the fight scene previous episode if we knew about that when he was facing off against the twilight kid.

Art quality remains a concern as Alex’s face had a number of awkward distracting proportions this episode. With Alex’s brother on the evil twilight squad it’s really only a matter of time before the two encounter each other. One particularly notable thing in this episode was Worick momentarily mistaking Alex for someone. That someone is likely the same girl Nicholas was visiting in the brothel on episode 3. What this says to me is that Alex isn’t the first girl to hang out with the handymen. I couldn’t help but notice how psychologically stable Doug is now compared to previously. When he was attacking the handymen he seemed downright psychotic yet now that he’s no longer an enemy he’s a whole lot more calm. It’s especially evident which you have our new miss lollipop chainsaw coming along and chopping people up just like Doug did not to long ago. I hope this doesn’t start a trend within the show of characters being more psychotic when in the role of the villain but going though quick personality changes when they have been defeated because that’s yet another shounen trope.

Posted on 3 September 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gangsta

Action episodes really are the most troublesome to review. It’s hard to formulate an opinion on something which essentially speaks for itself. Basically this episode was one big brawl between a number of different twilights. Animation remains a hit and miss situation as they do make use of still frames and close ups to lessen the amount of animation needed. For the battle it does the job and only becomes distracting when you pay special heed to it. However that was some nice use of motion blur to cover up inbetween frames with some of the movements. How this girl managed to end up in a high position of power is rather beyond me as logically someone else would take the reigns till she was of age or more likely someone would try to usurp the position from her. A large majority of respect for her seems to come from who her father was. Her mother being a Prostitute seems to give her a soft spot for Alex and the two might end up developing a close relationship due to Alex being similar to her mother.

Nicolas and Worick seem to know the female twilight but it wasn’t made clear on just who it was. Based on how they mentioned Chad the detective I would make a wild guess on her being his daughter. The ranking system has been thrown out of wack as its now revealed that Nicholas isn’t actually a A1 tag but is more along the lines of a B and somehow stole or got the rank through his overuse of drugs. So having a ranking system seems pretty arbitrary when people can fake or jump up it with external means. The Shounen elements of the show continue to bug me, even more so now that we have an introduction of a enemy organization of colourful superhuman characters. How they will factor into the plot is something I can’t really predict as I don’t know how they plan to set up fights with the handymen. One in interesting thing is that Alex’s brother is in this enemy group which ignites the possibility of him being a twilight. If that’s the case then Alex may have some twilight blood in her. Not that I want her doing cartwheels in the air while firing a bazooka but it could lead to interesting story developments and her becoming more proficient in combat. After all as this episode showed, she can handle a gun decently enough.

Posted on 25 August 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gangsta

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 admit that Mangalobe’s animation is getting rather limited at points. There are some points with off art and still frames are increasing but it’s still respectable that they are sticking with such difficult character designs. These anti-Twilight people have me a little confused about just how powerful Twilights are. True it’s not exactly fair to compare the normal types to the likes of the top of the line like Nicholas but if a mid class Twilight can impersonate Shizuo pulling out road signs then you would think that they would be putting up more of a fight. Maybe if the Anti-Twilights were coming after them with guns that might be something but with Melee weapons? Seems a bit odd they can’t knock a few people out. However there is that issue with the rule that Twilights can’t harm normal people but they must have a Claus for self defense seeing as Nicolas and Worick can jump in.

I wonder if there will be a time when Japan realizes that boob jokes are just not funny anymore, if they ever have been. Plus having them being made about Alex, who recently just got out of forced prostitution…makes it a little awkward. But looks like Alex won’t be going back to prostitution to make a living after all with her performance as a Diva at club Bastard.(That’s the actual name of the club.) I pity the English dub voice actress who’s going to have to do that scene as they are generally the worst scenes to transition to English. Having to change the Japanese lyrics into something that works in English while also having a dub voice actress who can sing is a tall order. Add in lip syncing the lyrics and it becomes downright impossible. Still if they manage to pull it off I feel the scene would improve greatly as having her sing in Japanese when she isn’t japanese in a non Japanese setting doesn’t really fit. I understand that is something that cannot be helped but having it in English would make a whole lot more sense. Gangsta is currently getting a broadcast dub by Funimation so when they get to this episode I say godspeed to them. Though the big part of the scene was what seems to be her younger brother walking past the club and recognising his sisters singing. He looks to be a big part of next week’s episode.

Posted on 21 August 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gangsta

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 regretted. Honestly I am having trouble understanding just what there relationship is. I can’t tell whether Worick hates or likes Nicholas and whether Nicholas killed Worick’s family because of an order or rather out of resentment for Worick buying Celebrer off his father and giving him reason to ditch Nicholas. The whole affair comes across as Worick making a deal with the devil what with Nicholas ripping out Worick’s eye as some sort of payment. I still don’t like the one sided nature of Woricks father as I really don’t know what could spur on this level of violence. The only real factor given in this anime for his hatred is that he knows that Worick is smarter than him and that makes him feel inferior, or at least from what I can gather. There are likely other factors but it isn’t really made clear.

So yet again we have a Twilight defying gravity like no tomorrow, if I didn’t know better I would say this show was trying to spite me. No matter what I say these guys are here to stay so all I can do is try to accept their presence. Which is getting more difficult as they now have Darker than black Contract prices such as the kid not aging past puberty and Nicholas being deaf. That’s just…never mind, its here to stay so if Twilights also happen to be able to shoot ki blasts my only option is to roll with it. It’s nice to see Alex become more assertive even when I am certain no one else other than Worick would have reacted to that wake up embrace quite as calmly. She’s a much better character now that the drug is out of her system though I do wonder if she really plans to continue being a prostitute. So we have two new twilights on the block who have been killing other twilights and collecting tags and they remind me of the vampire twins of black lagoon. It’s hard to get a read on them for how briefly they were shown but they come off so far as a rather generic villain.

Posted on 13 August 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gangsta

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 and Nicholas talk especially when Worick’s doing most of the talking while Nicholas is saying the bare minimum. It shows that Worick has been around him for such a long time that he can tell what he wants to say just from his face and movements. The back story about Worick teaching him to write as a kid and being kindred spirits in abusive environments is all really great stuff.

One flaw I found with this episode however was the use of the age old stock character for tragic back stories. The alcoholic abusive father. That’s even above the overbearing religious zealot parent in backstory tropes. A prime example of just how overused this is that before I watched this episode, I watched a DC animated feature called “Superman vs the Elite” (Which despite the title and some lacking animation, was quite a good animated movie) and when it came to a character’s tragic back story time what kind of father had he? Alcoholic abusive father. I certainly are not saying that people like that don’t exist in reality however in cases of entertainment it just seems like a writer taking the easy route instead of building a more morally complex abuser. Or at least something less cliche, like Nicholas’s father who got a twilight prostitute pregnant and decided to make use of the kids abilities as opposed to just getting rid of him. As well as the fact that his father killed his mother. It’s still fairly one dimensional but at least it isn’t a standard trope.

As it turns out Alex wasn’t kidnapped and the visitor turned out to be the doctor like I suspected. Thankfully mangalobe didn’t go to weird heights again as Alex’s hallucinations were in fact the result of withdrawal symptoms from the drug Barry was feeding her to keep her in line. After checking up I am fairly certain this drug was fictitious as well as while there are pimps who use drugs to keep girls in line there aren’t drugs like what was described here. Closest thing to it from what I can find would be a liquid called toluene. Still, made up or not I like how it affected Alex as she went back on the streets prostituting herself over fear of an imaginary Barry. It explains the sudden mental instability of Alex better than a quickly appearing trauma. I a hoping that now without the drugs influence she will become more active in the show as she does need a little more personality. I am hoping for more episodes like this in the future.

Posted on 10 August 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gangsta

This point I will likely hammer into the ground but I will repeat it as long as it remains to be a problem. The twilight superpowered humans are just not suited for this show and what’s worse is that they are taking it over. I tried this episode to embrace the idea that these characters are here to stay and are a part of the setting but they just seem so absurd that this becomes impossible. The fight between Nicholas and the knife boy was just ridiculous in it’s presentation. You can say these are strengthened humans and add in made up drugs that remove pain limiters but you just can’t have a character use a guy’s shoulder to propel himself five stories high and expect me to accept that. Gravity still exists no matter how strong you are. On that note was it really necessary to invent a drug which basically functions as a powerful painkiller and to give it a name as strange as “Celebrer”?  That name makes it sound more like a celebrity gossip column than a drug. Basically when it comes to the Twilights this show operated on Shounen rules such as gravity is non existent and all wounds heal with bandages. But the other aspects function more as a Seinen rules causing a strange disconnect between the two worlds.

We also have the introduction of this new scared army woman who is in charge of a large group of twilights and keeps them in line. I will refrain from making a comparison to a certain show again but it’s pretty obvious just who this character is like. One thing that worries me about this show is a potential jump the shark moment with Alex’s pimp. It’s unlikely but with the complete ridiculousness of Samurai Flamenco, I can’t rule out the possibility of the pimp being still alive. The twilights shaking off knife wounds are not helping matters. I don’t think this show will slip up with such a grievous misstep and it’s much more likely Alex was just hallucinating due to her own trauma. If anything it makes more sense that the doctor kidnapped her as he did have the same umbrella. But the fact that I cannot rule it out is a concern. At the moment I admit that my interest in this show is slipping and while we learned a little backstory about Nicolas taking on Monroe’s goons once as a kid and nearly decimating them, I find that it doesn’t really give much insight into his character. The thing that caught my attention more was the mention of the girl called Verona who apparently overdosed on the painkiller drug. What she is to Nicholas is a much more interesting question than what was Nicholas’s track record of killing goons. Overall for this show to improve I think we need more character building episodes and the action to be more grounded in reality.

Posted on 25 July 2015 with categories: Currently Watching:, Gangsta

I have said it before but these twilight characters rub me the wrong way. This group of superhuman individuals just sticks out like a sore thumb in a grounded setting such as this. They are a Shounen element in a otherwise Seinien show so when they come out and start leaping on rooftops this just becomes another show altogether. While Black Lagoon had its share of superhuman individuals such as Roberta, at least the show recognized that they were indeed completely ridiculous. Here we have a kid wall jumping about the place and the main characters just treat it as another day in the office. It really undermines the skill of our main swordsman when you know that there’s a whole group of people with his level of ability, all of whom got it from some experiment. That’s one of the reasons I would respect a hero like Batman more so than Captain America, one was forged with skill and the other got it handed to him. Woricks photographic memory also runs on the borderline of being supernatural. True a person can have a good memory but you just cannot collect and process information just by flipping through the pages of a book. The father figure to the handymen looks to to be a old Cop which is admittedly a bit of a cliché. The crook that happens to have a mentor/guardian in the police is something that’s seen a bit too often. That said he seems like a decent enough character being kind to them in his own way while not such a morally upstanding person to not take advantage of their skills.

Woricks past suffers from characters who I will for now refer to as forced drama devices. The maids talking trash perfectly within earshot of him and the teachers being obstinate to teaching a boy who has already been taught. I have never been fond of these kinds of characters, they are less people and more the prodding hands of the writer. It’s lazy and merely a means to get the characters and audience to feel what the writer wants them to without putting in the effort to make less one sided characters or situations to do the same. But it at least reveals how the two met though it doesn’t quite explain why he killed his parents. Thought Worick does seem to have some paranoia that maybe he was given a deaf bodyguard on purpose so that he’s more easily killed off. Alex looks to be haunted by her experience with her pimp as it does seem like she started in a similar manner with them as she has with the handymen. It would make sense if they took her in and slowly pushed her towards prostitution. Its nice to see her get some development though I wish there was a bit more to her. At the moment she’s acting as a plot device to introduce and develop other characters so it would be good to see her gain more personality. This new twilight kid isn’t the most interesting, he mostly just comes off as a one time villain. Acting cocky, decimating the minor background characters and soon to be taken out by our main protagonists.

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