Saturday, October 15, 2005

TV: Gungrave

A few nights ago I finished watching all the episodes of Gungrave, an anime series from the creator of Trigun. I actually started watching it quite a while ago, but then got sidetracked with other shows (like House, and Ghost in the Shell: SAC).

The series turned out to be OK, but a bit different then what I was expecting. When I started watching, I didn't realize it was by the same guy who did Trigun, so it wasn't that I was expecting something similar to Trigun. But from what I had read on the Internet I was expecting a slightly different story then what was presented. Not that it was bad, it just wasn't quite what I expected.

The series started with an episode set roughly two-thirds of the way through the story arc. Then they flashed back and spent the next 15 episodes getting back to the point of the first episode. Then they showed the events of the first episode again over the course two episodes, and then finished up with a 8 episodes to tie up the story.

The original plot summary I had read talked primarily about the story elements that are featured in the first (and final ten) episodes. And those story elements are totally different then what was in the 15 flashback episodes, so I was pretty surprised after watching the first few episodes. But the flashback story picked up and got interesting, so I ended up enjoying those episodes. Possibly even more then some of the later episodes, where things started getting really weird.

I won't even try to summarize the plot twists and turns, but basically the story follows two characters, Brandon Heat and Harry McDowel, as they go from being young street punks to joining an organized crime group (Millenion) to rising in power within the family to...what happens in the final ten episodes.

One fairly unique thing about the series is that one of the two main characters, Brandon, is "quiet". To the point of having some episodes where he doesn't have a single line. Most 30-minute episodes he uttered around 4 sentences. That makes the dialog painfully slow and one-sided sometimes, but it certainly solidified the 'quiet man of action not words' aspect of Brandon.

I actually thought most of the characters in the series were pretty interesting. My favorite was probably Kugashira Bunji, an assassin hired to kill Harry early in the series. I can't put my finger on exactly why I liked him, but something about his laid-back cool made me enjoy the episodes he was in. I also liked Ballardbird Lee (until his final episode) and Bear Walken.

Gungrave used a fairly distinct graphical style, which I liked for the most part. The city really had a grimy look to it that fit perfectly as a mob-run town. The characters were drawn with a more clean-look, which I thought looked good.

Originally I thought my main complaint about the series was going to be the rather strange genre combining that was done in the story. What started as sci-fi/horror in the first episode, moved to a mob story in the next ten-or-so episodes, and then moved slowly back to sci-fi/horror. But after watching the whole thing I decided that was more a symptom of the bizarre script for the series, rather then having slapped two disparate stories together. The plot was consistently drawn through all the episodes, it just took some sharp turns that resulted in some later episodes having more of a sci-fi/horror feel.

Anyways, I enjoyed watching the series, it had some pretty cool moments. But on the other hand, I don't know that I'll have much of an urge to watch it again real soon.


Brenden Johnson said...

I may be interested in trying to watch those some time. Whadaya say?

Steve Eck said...

I probably could arrange that.