Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Gungrave

Original Run: October 7, 2003 - March 30, 2004 
Number of Episodes: 26 
Genre: Action, Crime, Science Fiction 
Based on the Video Game: Gungrave

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Gungrave. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

Mika Asagi (voiced by Kumi Sakuma) is on the run from the powerful crime syndicate Millennium. Before her death, Mika’s mother spoke of an old friend that could protect her. Having been cornered by Ogremen, Millennium’s personal super soldiers, Mika is saved by said person, Brandon Heat (voiced by Tomokazu Seki).

The leaders of Millennium cannot understand how someone can defeat their Ogremen. Their leader Harry MacDowell (voiced by Tsutomu Isobe), puts all the group’s resources into finding this person. Once identified, Harry is shocked to learn that his former friend has seemingly returned from the dead.

We are then taken back thirteen years to when a young Brandon and Harry (voiced by Kenji Hamada) are living as common street thugs. The two work their way up from the slums and join the ranks of Millennium. While Harry makes a name for himself as one of the organization’s best executives, Brandon rises to become its top-ranked enforcer.

Much like oil and water, while Brandon has nothing but extreme loyalty, Harry wishes to climb to the very top no matter the cost.

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Series Positives

It took me some time to nail down why I liked Gungrave so much. What I realized was, although there were a ton of great characters, this show really came down to two: Brandon and Harry.

Part of this story’s intrigue was seeing how things got to the way they were shown in episode one. When Brandon and Harry were introduced as their younger selves, their life was hard, but they were content. The two were like brothers. They had each other’s backs and were willing to die for one another. It was a seemingly unshakable partnership; the key word being “seemingly.”

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Unfortunately, Brandon and Harry had two very different goals in life. Harry wanted to take on the world and be the person on top. Brandon didn’t have much purpose and just went with Harry’s flow. Upon joining Millennium, their aspirations heavily influenced the men they became.

This series did a fantastic job of developing these characters. As the narrative progressed, we could follow the growth, we could experience the changes. We could understand Brandon and Harry through and through

In Brandon, he was the idealist learning what his life was about. He was the protector, and a protector must never betray those who rely on him. Sadly, that wasn’t always a positive. Occasionally, it bordered on tragic.

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Harry became someone whose ambition turned him dark. His sharp mind grew manipulative and conniving. There was only ever the primary goal, and those who stood in the way of it were eliminated. Harry believed himself infallible; always blaming others for his mistakes. If he ever acknowledged the damage he caused, he was either unable or – frankly – unwilling to do anything about it.

As both Brandon and Harry went on their journey, Gungrave allowed us the chance to be there when the cracks in the two’s relationship began to form, all the way to when they finally burst.

Also, it helped that this series was also a pretty kick-ass action anime.

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Series Negatives

There were several times when Gungrave felt awkward, jumpy, and things just didn’t sit right.

While watching this show, I had forgotten it had any science-fiction elements to it. This story did eventually become more sci-fi than a crime drama, but the transition between the two was shaky at best. There was no build up, no warning, and there wasn’t a single clue that any form of advanced technology existed in this world.

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The following is Gungrave in a nutshell:

Two best friends joined a powerful crime organization where they found great success and influence. The two then slowly started to drift apart. This was a tale of growth, discovering purpose, loyalty, betrayal, and heartbreak. Oh, and there were also monsters.

This show came off as not being that well thought out in areas where it probably should have been.

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Final Thoughts

Overall, this was a fun series. There was a lot to like.

While not perfect, and certainly not the greatest, this show added to the already impressive list of outstanding action anime shows.

With unforgettable characters and great atmosphere, this series is a treat to experience. Therefore, Gungrave gets a recommendation.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this show? What would be your advice concerning Gungrave? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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