Let me start out by saying this......I'm not into this type of show. I love shoujo anime [and now manga], I also like shounen-ai stuff and I'd say it's pretty much guaranteed that I'll watch just about anything with bishounen. So if someone were to tell me about this show, Gungrave and all I had was his word-of-mouth to go on then I wouldn't have bothered watching it. The only reason I watched it was because they used to play it on Tech TV [now G4] back when they used to be a cool TV station and they played anime on the weekends @ midnight. I remember they used to play Gad Guard and this other show, Gungrave. Frankly, I was mesmerized by this show...simply because this story was that good. It had me hooked and I watched it religiously every weekend but I never got to see the ending so I bought the series and even one of those giant wall scroll posters, I loved the show that much......this coming from a person that's a self professed yaoi fan-freak that mainly watches shounen-ai and all other shoujo-type anime. So if I can like this show, I don't see how anyone else can't. What's not to like?
I liked the art in general, but I had issues with the overall character design. The guys' bodies were too big, they're always too big...so big that it seems disproportionate to their heads. Big arms, big shoulders, big chests, big ripped abs, stick legs and tiny head. And I'm not talking about the orc-men or whatever they were called no, this is Brandon, this is Harry, this is Blood War, Bungee and the rest. This happens all the time, not only within this series Gungrave—no—this is somewhat of a phenomenon occurring with all of shounen anime in general. But speaking of the orc-men mutants, how is it that they can get all big and mutated, bust out of their shirts bust out of their shoes.....but the pants and belts stay in tact, WTF!!! Other than that I had no issues.
The art was definitely shounen with all the bold, heavy lines and bulky silhouettes but even so there was this hint of a more grown-up aesthetic to the art that speaks out....”This ain't no little boys' cartoon.”
This is one of those shows that will always hold an indelible spot in my mind because of the music they used for the OP and ED. The OP theme is a melody aptly named “The Family”. There's no singing, it's just a jazz-like piece on keyboard [I think] but either way it's very cool sounding and mellow. I also liked the OP sequence that went with it; the gritty filmstrip effect used for the flashback to the days when Harry and Brandon were young but you also say elements to their dark side in the OP as well.
The ED I liked strictly for nostalgic reasons. I wouldn't say it's a spectacular song but it suits the show nonetheless and with the ED sequence with Harry and Brandon running towards the sunset......well, that speaks volumes [since nothing anime is coincidental, they have to plan it before they draw it].
The show was watched in English and they did one helluva job!
The only term I can think of for this show is.....badass! But not just badass, It's Tarantino badass. Scorsese badass! It's a little bit Good Fellas, a little bit Reservoir Dogs, a little bit God-Father. Some people may not see it as such because of the zombies and mutants and whatever but that's only if you allow yourself to become distracted by that. I admit it's pretty hard to ignore a bloated 500 pound helicopter mutant zombie-dude firing skull faced torpedoes out of his big belly, but it's just a fight scene....and a fight scene is just a fight scene. Just like when Uma Thurman went ballistic with her sword against Go-Go Yubari, Lucy Liu and the rest of the Krazy 88 gang in Kill Bill, awesome as it was it was just a fight scene.
The real art is in the storytelling and the flow of the narration. Gungrave starts in the middle, rewinds to the start of everything then goes back to the middle of the action and ends at the climax. It's not nearly as confusing as it sounds, Pulp Fiction was more confusing. With Gungrave, the story may have also been out of sequence but it was very easy to follow. One of the main reasons for it being easy to follow was that it was told from mainly one perspective which was that of Brandon Heat—the main character. Mika, another main character that really doesn't show up till the 2nd half, does the introduction as well as the narration for the latter part of the series.
Brandon Heat is supposed to be all cool with his badass big machine guns a blazing and eye-patch and killer cosplay outfit but the truth is you can't help but feel sympathetic towards the guy. It's like you feel protected with him next to you with his cold stare, quick moves and big guns but also you get the sense that he's this really meek and sensitive guy that's really the one that needs protecting. You just want to reach out and hold him and tell him everything is going to be OK.........well, I guess you can't if you're another guy, but you get the idea. Tho I don't think he's the type to care if the guy is Harry or even Big Daddy....ha-ha, that's the crazy fangirl in me coming out. Not that it would require a great stretch of the imagination, mind you, the devotion Brandon has for Harry [and vice-versa] is pretty legendary.
Harry is as beautiful as Brandon is profound. Harry dazzles with high-wattage smiles, designer suits and fast cars. I love his dark hair, piercing blue eyes and square jawline, the man is a shark....a very beautiful and deadly shark. He's no doubt a ladies-man, but say what you will....a piece of his heart belonged to Brandon, and that's why they held so much sway over each other. I call this “The Straight-Guy Crush Syndrome” it's a phenomenon where two dudes, even tho they are not gay, they kind of hold the other guy's balls in their hands due to unforeseeable emotional reasons, making each guy...the other guy's bitch. That's the long and short of it. Harry and Brandon's relationship with each other.
Gungrave also has one helluva supporting cast, take your pick, there's bound to be a favorite for you in there.
Worth it or NOT?
It goes without saying, if you don't already own it....go out and buy it! If you liked Bebop then you'll like this one too and if you didn't like Bebop.....well, I don't wanna know you!